I’m not sure why, but it’s been tumbleweeds down in the comments this week, so this edition will be super short. In last week’s roundup of comments, I shared some of my readers’ experiences with Medium. Like me, most of you appreciate the upside of the platform, particularly the high quality of the content. I’m going to stick it out, and it looks like most of you plan on doing the same.
I got an interesting comment from Physics of Shadow and Light:
It seems that nearly every bidirectional communication system falls into a pattern I first saw on CB radio in the early1980s, then Usenet in the 90s… I’m glad good communicators haven’t disappeared but are occasionally buried under noise. I like medium’s profit model, but I hope the editing/ranking system is able to fight off the noise. Worth1000 had a ranking system that wasn’t easily gamed but some good content was scraped and stolen and eventually the entire site was sold to a clickbait profiteer. I’m hopeful that it won’t happen here.
I think Medium’s greatest strength and weakness are the same: that it’s a publication, and the company has taken on that responsibility. It’s not just a blogging platform where anyone can say anything, and the chips are allowed to fall wherever they may. There are human beings making choices about what gets promoted. The new, more in-depth stats feature shows whether or not a curator shared you work.
I think this human element is crucial in keeping the quality on the site high. Lazily written listicles don’t get promoted and, barring massive editorial changes, they will never end up on the front page. A standard is being held out that the writers on the site have to meet. Suppressing sloppy content is good for the site. It’s fair to ask what else is being suppressed, though. What gets classified as noise? Writers who helped build the platform and were doing well are having trouble keeping their stats up — even those with large followings. Something has changed. I’m too new to the platform to have witnessed the shift, but I believe it’s happened, and it’s something Medium needs to address.
As far as work being stolen, one of my Medium buddies had a whole piece of his copied word for word and re-posted back on Medium. It was one of the most blatant, bizarre pieces of plagiarism I’ve ever seen — even the formatting was exactly the same. I’m not sure what steps Medium has taken to prevent this, but it was pretty troubling to witness. I think there are probably unscrupulous sites that are stealing content from Medium, and when you throw translation into other languages into the mix, it becomes difficult to monitor and track down.
Medium’s whole business model is the opposite of click-bait — they’re trying to make the site reputable. That’s why they’re bringing in editors from places like TIME. If the strategy doesn’t work, maybe they’ll throw it all over, but I think it will be some time before that happens. For now, I’m keeping my head down, writing, and trying to build relationships on Medium and off it.
That’s it for this week. Hopefully there’ll be more comments next week!