Thanks for your consideration

Dear Your Friends @ Medium:

I love so many of the changes you’ve made recently, from launching a great suite of tools for publishers to improving writing tools. The care and consideration in every feature is clear.

That said, things can always be improved. And since you asked for feedback (hi elizabeth tobey!), I have some to share!

In 2007, I designed a feature called “Give Thanks” for Larry Halff’s Magnolia, one of the early social bookmark sharing services. Miraculously it’s one of the projects I designed in the open, so I still have the mocks handy!

Beneath a link’s title, I added a link to “Give thanks”. While superficially similar to today’s “like” buttons, I questioned whether this should be a public or private gesture. Initially I thought that thanking should be public, and listed the “thankful people” at the bottom of the page:

My mockup for the Give Thanks feature on Ma.gnolia

Later I concluded that making thank yous public might cheapen the sentiment, or lead people to game them just like any other popularity metric. I wanted to preserve the sincerity of the sentiment between the thanker and thankee. Ultimately we kept the gesture private, possibly resulting in fewer but more meaningful interactions. Although I have no concrete data, anecdotally Ma.gnolia users loved the feature. It was a success.

Now I find myself wanting a similar feature on Medium—specifically for responses to posts I write. I’ll be frank, the ♥ just doesn’t work for my use case. At least historically, liking something meant that my followers would get notified that I liked it — so I like fairly carefully. I also know that liking things makes Medium get better at showing me things I’ll likely be interested in—and while I love and appreciate all the replies I get, liking all of them would dilute the power and value I associate with the ♥ button.

I propose a change to responses: add a “Privately thank [author name]” link to the footer of posts*:

When tapped, the icon becomes active and the text changes to “Thanked!”:

The response writer will be notified: Ev Williams just thanked you for your response to [Post Title]”

When visiting their response, the response writer will see that the original author thanked them:

In this way, Medium can address the ambiguity that exists when an original author reads a response but doesn’t want to like it or write another response. It creates good vibes on both sides of the exchange, without polluting the interaction paradigm.

That’s what I got. Thanks for your consideration!


Chris reads every response on Medium or reply on Twitter, so don’t hesitate to let him know what you think.

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Head of West Coast Biz Dev @ Republic. Inventor of the hashtag. Product therapist. Previously: Google, Uber, On Deck, YC W’18.

Chris Messina is the inventor of the hashtag, #1 Product Hunter, and an ever-curious product designer and technologist.