What does Medium want to be?
Sales versus quality
Clearly there are a couple of things authors should do, if they want to be read on Medium:
- Keep it short (there are posts on the optimal length of posts);
- Use a particular format (open letters, lists etc.);
- Choose specific, popular tags (and don’t worry too much if they really refer to what you are saying);
- Be catchy (with whichever means you have at hand);
- Display sensational pics (gifs are even better);
- Be provocative (the bit that refers to you and others I mentioned), best insult someone.
There are a couple more, but I’ll stop here. I used most of them to show, although I had much less to say in this than in my original article, this one would be recognised more. My success in this is still limited at present, but I guess the point is proven.
I agree that some of the above are characteristics of good writing, but some are not. They are only effective means of attracting attention. I am very new to Medium, but I am already growing tired of articles that tell you about “The X best ways of doing Y” or provide you with endless lists of why someone is really, and utterly dumb (preferably Trump). Traditional publishing may have its faults, but it works without using these stylistic devices (if you can even call them this) so excessively. My question to Medium is:
Do you want to prompt people to hit specific notes, or do you want them to speak out in their own way?
I also have nothing against Marketing and I don’t doubt that people who use means of self-promotion have profound things to say. But when a platform is becoming more about ‘selling’ things to others than about what you have to say, it might be worth considering if something needs to me changed. My question to Medium is:
Do you want people to promote things that they or others have said elsewhere, or do you want them to craft and proclaim original pieces of work?
Finally, I accept that recoginition increases with persistence, but this is only part of the equation. Recognition is the product of persistence and quality. I don’t challenge that professional writers’ work is valuable. But those writers could be or are also successful someplace else (traditional outlets for instance). The way Medium presents itself though, its ambition is to give voice to those that have something to say, even if they don’t have the capacity, means or willingness to write regularly. The way it appears to me, however, quality can be made up for by quantity. Or that quantity is just indispensible. My question to Medium is:
Do you want people to write as much as they can, or do you want them to raise their voice when they feel they have something profound to say?
None of this is about “either…or.” It is about “more” or “less.”
Apologies if this has yet again been too pointed. And please don’t assume that I expect attention for my original article about current events to materialise out of thin air, because it is so much better than anything else. I only think that I’ve made some good points and I’d have loved to see that some people outside my existing network had learnt about them. Plus, the prompts above are valid and relevant beyond my own work and experience.