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Medium Has a New CEO, Let’s Start a Wishlist

What does the future hold


Exciting news.

Tony Stubblebine is now the new CEO of MediumEv Williams stepped down but will remain with the company as chairman of the board.

Huge congratulations to Coach Tony, first of all. I’ve exchanged a few brief words with Tony over my time on Medium.

If you don’t know who Tony is, he’s the founder/publisher of 3 of the largest, oldest, and most prestigious Medium publications still running today, Better HumansBetter Marketing, and Better Programming, among many other things.

I’m not familiar with the other contestants for the CEO job (if they were any), but Tony seems to be a great choice. In his first statement after becoming CEO, he already said something truly important to me, and you, I presume. This:

So before I go any further, let me put out a full-hearted invitation. Help mold the future of Medium by telling me what is important to you. This is exactly what Medium’s response feature is for. I am listening.

That’s what I want to hear.

Not that Ev didn’t listen to feedback or constructive criticism, but Tony might be a little more familiar with the wishes and desires of writers, readers, and publications on this platform.

Over my time on Medium, I’ve compiled quite a few wishlists or lists of changes to the platform. Some are smart, some are dumb. I’m human.

Let’s take a look at some things that are in desperate need of refinement. To my followers, those will sound familiar. As I said before, it’s not my first wishlist.


1. Make curation great again…

or just get rid of it.

This might be the most significant undertaking. Curation is broken. Curation not only fails to do what it did in the past and should still do, which is to increase views and reach, no, it somehow starts to negatively impact this goal. I’ve heard from countless authors over the past few months that their stories did great until they got curated. Then, views just died down.

Could be a coincidence, but cases pile up.

The ultimate question is: Should curation even be fixed? Or just removed altogether?

After all, curation isn’t the only way to find exposure on Medium. Recommendations are another huge factor. And those do not depend on distribution. Recommendations are based on multiple factors AFAIK, like topics and authors you follow, likes/claps and reading history, and more.

I liked curation back in the day. It almost always meant more views. And still, today, for me at least, most of my curated pieces (many in Better Marketing, FYI) do get more views than other stories.

Either make curation great again or completely rely on recommendations and improve the algorithm there.

Easier said than done, I know. But Medium is the greatest online writing platform there is today. Let’s keep it that way!


2. Writing on the go

Okay, that one, I still don’t get, Ev Williams and Tony Stubblebine.

Why on earth did you remove the ability to write inside the mobile apps?

At first, I thought you were going to add a new app to the mix. A creator app, for writers to write content. While the original Medium app stayed an app for readers to read.

But you didn’t…

Now, I’m confused. Smartphones are the most used personal tech products on the planet. Most readers and writers visit anything on the web via their mobile devices. It doesn’t make sense to remove writing on the go.

So, please, just give it back to us!


3. Not to mention

Mentions.

Brilliant concept, terrible outcome right now.

This is not your fault, Medium team. This is on us. We, or some of us, seem to take mentions as an invitation to mindlessly clutter the final third of a story with a long list of somewhat related or, even worse, completely random mentions.

That’s annoying as hell.

I love to be mentioned in a great story that has something to do with me. I don’t want to get mentioned with 50 other people at the end of a story of an author I’ve never heard of about something that has nothing to do with me or my work here.

So, let’s fix this, Tony Stubblebine!

Restrict the mentions within a single story to a max amount. Like 5 or 10.

That’s it.


4. Medium meta content

Love ’em or hate ’em, stories about Medium (writing on Medium, making money on Medium, look what I did on Medium) won’t go away. These meta stories as you like to call them are part of any online community.

There are YouTube videos on how to make YouTube videos and make money with it, there are tweets on how to use Twitter and earn money with it, there are TikToks about TikTok and how to make money from it.

You get the point.

They’re there. They won’t go anywhere.

But, we can do something about the quantity and quality of those stories.

First, Medium has already excluded these kinds of stories from distribution via the distribution guide. That’s great and should remain that way (if curation stays). I would add two other rules to this restriction set:

  1. Medium meta content doesn’t get recommended either. That would dramatically reduce the number of similar stories you’d find in your home feed.
  2. And, more importantly, Medium meta content gets excluded from partner program earnings. That means you don’t earn a dime for writing about Medium.

Funnily enough, I do write about Medium a lot. Like this story here. And I’d be totally fine with the decision to exclude these posts from the MPP earnings.

Most writers would just stop writing those stories if they can’t earn with them, don’t you think?

Worth considering. Tough to implement.


5. External views

A biggie to many of us writers on Medium. External views.

We all have a few stories that do horrible on Medium but drive loads of external traffic to our site.

It’s not uncommon to see a story getting thousands of external views, while only having a couple of hundred internal ones.

How can we profit from those external views?

You gave us one way. Referrals. We attract new Medium members and get a cut of their membership fee. A great start.

The other option is ads.

Ads aren’t my favorite thing on the internet. But they do provide an earning opportunity for otherwise free content.

I could see ads working on Medium. In the following way:

  1. Ads get shown to external viewers and free Medium members. Unobtrusive ads. Neatly integrated into the design.
  2. Paying Medium members don’t see ads. Because they pay.
  3. The limit of free Medium stories per month per user gets lifted or upgraded to a higher number.
  4. Ad revenue gets distributed among writers and Medium. (And maybe even publication owners and editors to compensate for their work).
  5. Users who hate ads can become members and never see them again. Readers who are fine with ads, enjoy more free Medium content.

To me, this sounds reasonable.


The bottom line, what do you want

This is the start of my wishlist for Medium’s future.

What do you like to see on this platform? Let’s exchange wishlists. Let’s talk about ideas. You never know. Tony Stubblebine might just like some of them.

Thanks for reading, and again, huge congratulations to Coach Tony.

Ev Williams, thank you for creating Medium and for everything you’ve done for writers and readers!

Medium is my favorite place to write online. I want this platform to succeed and thrive, now and in the future.

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