I think there’s a simple one-dimensional spectrum here, from intimidating/high perceived quality bar/not much garbage, at the one extreme, to really easy/low bar/lots of garbage, at the other, and Medium can decide where it wants to be on that spectrum.
I think you are right about this, and Medium just moved the slider towards the garbage end, for which I am grateful. It is still a highly moderated system. The troll/spam defenses are robust.
At it stands now, if an MRA troll were to catch the scent of Charlotte Shane’s The Meme-ification of Misandry he would have to create an account and write a response. That response would not get seen because he has no followers and Shane would not recommend it. If he were incredibly persistent and smart, he could try to trick Shane into following him by creating or stealing content, posting it, and then making one or two comments before being dismissed/unfollowed. That would take Shanley Kane level trolling, which may not be trolling at all.
If, on the other hand, I write a mocking response to 33 Websites That Will Make You a Genius it won’t get seen by the readers of the original article, but it will be seen by the usual gang of idiots that have followed my blog. It will also get seen by those who follow the dreck tag.
Those two scenarios seem pretty balanced to me.
I have been vocal that discussions couldn’t happen because the system was too tight. For there to be community, people have to be able to interact. I don’t like the idea that people can’t riff or expand on the jokes in my posts when I’m not around, but I can live with it. The pace of Medium is different. Things happen in hours and days rather than minutes, which is fine by me. I will try to stop hyperventilating after I post something, take a break, and calmly recommend most trolls when I get back to the machine. People may have to revisit a post to wade into the madness. The shitshow may take a day or two to explode. The delay is not much of a problem, for time on Medium is strangely elastic. We have all seen an old post float to the top long after it was created. Evergreen content has the potential to stay evergreen on this platform.
The slider is well on the conservative side of discussions. Medium is favoring choice and autonomy in its code. I can’t think of a scenario where I could inadvertently be introduced to content I found truly objectionable. I don’t see how a Troll could threadjack my posts. There seems to be no room for spammers. I am the moderator of my pieces, and the default is set to “don’t show comments”. I think that is a fair way to go. Personally, I would open the spigot much wider. I don’t mind getting wet, but I think Medium is being smart.
When Jezebel had the rape-.gif troll problem, there were two things that were annoying and disturbing. The first was that it seemed incredible that someone could build a platform and not anticipate that the monsters of the deep Internet would not eventually show up. The second, more vexing problem was that Gawker took forever to respond and then did so ham-handedly. I am, for the most part, amused by trolls, but those MRA, Stormfront, Breitbart, and Deep Reddit Boeotians are some evil fuckers. Medium is right to prevent them from playing here. Waiting is a small price to pay to make sure they gnash their teeth in the dark.
The conversation may be slow. We may have to revisit posts to have a conversation, but I am finding community on Medium. I’m beginning to have conversations, and I enjoy the people who are here very much.
This is the most interesting and exciting website I have found in the past five years.