Ev Williams
May 21, 2015 · 3 min read

Don’t be sad.

Dave, thank you for caring. Let me try and convince you to not be sad by annoyingly picking apart your complaint — which I really appreciate you writing, and so politely, by the way.

I’m sad because when you say “length is not a measure of thoughtfulness” its like saying a tweet has as much weight as a Steve Jobs biography.

Really? If I were to say “tacos are not a measure of nutrition” is that like saying a Cheeto has as much weight as a plate of delicious tacos? I don’t think I am. Nutrition may be a bit more correlated with tacos than Cheetos, but tacos are not actually the measure.

That’s a (purposely) silly analogy. And I do not believe a tweet has as much weight as a Steve Job biography (because that’s a heavy book). But I still believe 140 characters can be profound and brilliant, and a 500-page tome can be crap.

The more Medium can cause users to have a slight pause before clicking “Publish” to say to themselves, “Is this the absolute best I can do?”, the better the content, the purer the experience, the deeper the thought.

The impression that something has to be “better,” “purer,” and “deeper” stops many people dead in their tracks. You might say: As well it should! And, I might agree. But our research has shown it stops many people who have great things to say dead in their tracks, and that is a shame. The world is deprived of their unique perspectives, because they don’t consider themselves a “writer” (even though they’re perfectly capable of articulating themselves in prose).

Also, there’s that story Craig Mod quotes from Art & Fear concerning a ceramics class:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality.

His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality”, however, needed to produce only one pot — albeit a perfect one — to get an “A”.

Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work — and learning from their mistakes — the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

What if Medium were like that quantity side of the ceramics class and you only saw the good pots? We will work very hard to make the good stuff float to the top. By the way, there is already tons of crap on Medium; you just don’t see it. It’s not perfect yet, but the system works!

You wrote “the quality of an idea is not determined by the polish of the writing.” Ahh, but an idea can be lost in writing.

Ahh, but a nutritious taco is still nutritious (and delicious) if served with a messy presentation. But it can be ruined by a spoiled salsa.

If someone wants to voice an opinion, emotion, or view without giving a thought to how it’s presented, please go to another platform (namely your own, preferred social site). Keep Medium a place where writing is honored.

I’m glad you like good writing and that you find it on Medium. I enjoy it, as well. But good writing is not the point of Medium. It’s not what we’re optimizing for. The goal is to create a place people get smarter, share knowledge, understand and be understood. A place that where ideas that matter can be shared, built upon, and affect the world. Beautiful writing is a lubricant for all of those things — but it’s like the atmosphere of the restaurant the taco is served in.

This move towards responses is a move towards Facebook comments. This move towards quick posting is a move towards tweets. What’s next, tagging?

Really? You wrote a response to my post, and I’m writing a response to yours. And neither seem like Facebook comments (which, by the way, are sometimes really good). These are just simple affordances that help people connect ideas and drive conversation forward. Seems useful to me.

And, yes, tagging.

Ev Williams

Written by

CEO of Medium, partner at Obvious Ventures, co-founder of Twitter, thinker of thoughts

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