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2 Parts: Functionality, then Medium’s Philosophy

1.Since I’m separating my “real” stories by putting them in a publication, I’ve noticed how convenient it is not only to be able to show readers which stories I care about, but also for me to be able to view their stats separately. While it is helpful to know that a lesser comment I wrote on a popular article brought me some numbers, it is still more user-friendly to be able to see what is happening to my most meaningful work. It’s a more manageable amount of information.

It would be nice not to have to use a publication though, since it is an extra click to navigate to, and all the font pointing to it is small.

2. Responses are a lovely way to link carefully composed stories, but Medium’s structure refuses to acknowledge that not every comment needs to be a Response. Some comments only respond to one or a few aspects of a story; being short and narrow doesn’t make such a comment worthless, so Medium is not going to prevent comments from happening by forcing users into Response mode.

What’s more is Medium Responses have limited application unless you have self-contradictory goals. While it’s true that good writing responds to work before it, a writer’s best work often responds to whole canons of expression that they have digested over years, not to a singular article on a plog. Responding to a trending piece usually, though not always, nets a work that won’t last beyond the trend. I can’t even get a piece done fast enough to catch a trend, not if I really care about it.

You can’t expect Medium users to treat every comment like part of their oeuvre, because the purpose of the web comment genre makes longevity nearly impossible. Even comments that show some effort don’t necessarily belong in a writer’s body of works. Look at this full 3-minute read, for example. If I ever want to take some of the material I’ve written here and put it in a “real” work, I’ll structure the piece differently. I’ll make it about something bigger than Medium. Literary criticism, perhaps. Ironically, “The medium is the message” comes from a 400-page book that could not afford to respond to just one article and would not have been ready in time to catch a pre-existing trend.

Let’s divide Medium posts into three categories: Comments, Responses, and Standalone Works.

Responses deserve the same treatment as Standalone Works. They are meant to have the same quality. Despite that true Responses may not happen very often, there’s no reason to get rid of the functionality. It’s useful to have linkage back to a prior article built into Medium. Users can even use the feature for reasons besides response, such as chapters in a novel.

Comments should have the same convenient linkage as Responses, but a user should be able to decide whether they’d rather their profile display more important work. Users should retain the ability to write full Responses to comments.

Standalone Works and real Responses deserve a larger space, maybe an unlimited space; they deserve their own category on the stats page too, so as not to overwhelm users. Standalone Works and Responses may be so well composed that a user can only complete one occasionally. These works should be rewarded for the time and scope, not buried under comments. Medium should reward a writer for both great work and active participation, not make them choose between one or the other.

Standalone Works can build off of ideas that humanity has been working on for thousands of years. Ideas that only build off each other are never going to reach the same scope.

Let’s make Medium more than a network of ideas that build off each other.