Medium’s Black Hole Problem
Arin Basu
293

The Change We Need

Exactly, that is the problem. The news feed should be intelligent and know for instance that if I read 90% of the stories that Matter publishes, then it’s a pretty good chance that I’d want to read other stories by Matter. Once that determination is made, unread stories by Matter should get higher priority in my newsfeed regardless of when the story was written. Even better is if you could dismiss a story from your feed, so just in case it’s from Matter and unread, it doesn’t keep showing it to me over and over again.

Now the real interesting part is if we take it a few steps further than that. Let’s say that once you dismiss several stories, Medium tries to determine what commonalities those dismissed stories have, and after a while curates your newsfeed even more based on your decisions.

One of the issues is in the nature of following/followers. Possibly because of Facebook, we view following/followers as a social nicety. It’s a compliment to follow someone and there is often a level reciprocity assumed under certain circumstances. Furthermore, even though I may like you, that’s not a good reason to follow you on Medium. The only good reason to follow you on Medium is if I wanted to read the type of stories you write. We’re never going to do away with this mentality unless we do away with following/followers and try to switch to a system based on intelligent algorithms.

In addition to this issue, following/followers also presents a vanity issue that by nature becomes a popularity contest. We start focusing on numbers rather than the quality of our audience. Does it really matter how many followers a well-known writer has? Do we really need to know that information? Does it make our experience any better by seeing that? Presenting the numbers of following/followers adds absolutely no value to Medium besides sticking to an old way of thinking that serves no one. It should go.

I’m confident that there hasn’t ever been a place like Medium before. While Medium does have a lot in common with other blogging platforms (both past and present) they’ve been able to get right what a lot of others have done wrong. That being said, it’s all too easy to try to solve a problem from the work of others who came before you. However, if you’re trying to build something that no one has before, you’re going to need to think about every issue in a way that no one ever has as well. Ev Williams How about you hire me and I’ll get started on this right away ;)

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