People don’t read 27 minute short stories on Medium
Stephen M. Tomic

It’s important to factor in, though, that Medium measures “reads” by the length of time the visitor stays on he page — and NOT whether or not they scroll to the end of the piece. Their estimate of 27 minute read time is based on the number of words in the piece divided by some statistical average number of words per minute people read online. A lot of frequent fliers on Medium are writers, which would suggest to me that a significant segment of us are above average readers, as well. We read a lot, and so we very likely skew above the average reading speed of the population at large. So, if Medium estimates your story as a 27 minute read, and I finish it in 26 minutes and click away, that is going to show on your stats as a “view” but not a “read.” For that reason, I think “views” are a more accurate and useful measure of reader engagement. This really matters for short works, like a lot of poems. The smallest estimated read time Medium ever assigns is one minute. Most people can read a 6 line poem, click the heart, and move on in less than that. So those works get all “views” and no “reads,” leaving folks scratching their heads. My suggestion for a fix would be for Medium to cut estimated read times to about two thirds of the average reader’s word per minute count, and to assign pieces under 100 words a read time of zero.

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