Dear Your Friends @ Medium:
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:
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.
Privately thank the author
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!
☞ If you like this idea, please tap or click “♥︎” to help to promote this piece to others readers on Medium like you.