I’m Doing It Wrong: Why Medium Sucks

Feel Free to Set Me Straight

I have been reading Medium for a week or two now, and I think it sucks. I’ve been vocal about that, and lots of people have said that I have to find writers, tags, and “publications” that appeal to me. I think I’ve done that. I use the tags “humor” and “funny”, and, not to be mean, but the funny has been in short supply.

My Efforts to this Point

By wading through the mire, I have found some writers I enjoy. Why You Dirty Old Queer is entertaining, as are Meghana Indurti, Michelle Connolly, R, and Alana Hope Levinson.

I follow The Coffeelicious and Absurdist, both of which are very good, and I look at Medium’s “Top Stories” each day. I take the “Medium Digest” that is sent to me seriously. I have found a lot of wonderful articles on race, technology, and culture, but that is not what I am looking for.

As for commenting, I have left many comments. I have used notes.

I am looking for fun on the Internet. Medium seems promising, so I’m trying, but I’m starting to doubt that this site is worth my time.

I’m not sure I’m right. The site may be worth my time. There are a lot of wonderful writers here, and they seem to like Medium, so, as an old, it might be that I am all wet on this. I’m just not doing it right. I can accept that. Here are my theories on why Medium sucks and I would like for people to tell me why I am wrong.

The Lack of a Feedback Loop Is a Drag

Medium’s emphasis on notes rather than comments turns out to be a drag. I don’t know if the fault is the platform or the community, but I spent a year at HuffPo and a year at Gawker just for the comments. Even in the go-go days of LiveJournal, the comments often were better reading than the blog posts. Sometimes a throwaway entry would ignite an explosion of funny comments. Why are comments so deprecated here? Does Medium want to discourage readers, lurkers, trolls, and commenters who have no interest in writing pieces longer than their comments? If so, too bad. I could give you the names of ten Gawker commenters who are consistently more interesting than any of the writers on Gawker. Those people go to Gawker just to read, comment, and fuck around.

The notes, whatever the intention, don’t seem to work. The recent I Racist post by John Metta, which was great, garnered 33 “notes” on one paragraph. If you look at it, it seems clear that the readers wanted to have a discussion with the author and each other, but it is painful to read as a bizarre little sidebar on the side of the page.

Why didn’t they use comments? I think because comments become posts that you can’t subordinate on your own page. So, if people have carefully wrought, hard-worked entries, they get pushed down the page, LIFO-style, by their own throwaway comments on other people’s stories. If every comment has to be considered, then people won’t comment a lot.

My First Accusation: Comments on Medium suck, for some reason.

Nobody Is Here

Part of the fun of social sites is getting sucked into a discussion that you didn’t intend to have. The serendipity is the fun and the curse, because it is generally an avoidant behavior. You know how this goes; you’re at work, you have something to do, and you end up arguing with someone on the Internet about whether or not Lord Nelson’s last words were, “Kiss me, Hardy.”

That doesn’t happen on Medium because nobody is here. Everyone is cross posting from other platforms. Is this site really an eddy in the river of Twitter? It’s this just some place where people create content for other outlets? Is that the intent? It may be.

Maybe I’m standing next to the printing press wondering why I don’t see any readers.

My Second Accusation: Medium is a ghost town.

This Is Not The Site For Stupidity

The best things I’ve read on Medium were first-person explorations of personal topics. I mentioned I racist, but entries like Staphanie Georgopulos’s Coming Out As Biracial, How I Built Linkmoji in an Hour, and John McAlester’s lyrical Summer Fingers, are united in the fact that they are serious, sincere, and not anonymous. I enjoy reading these posts, but I’m looking for lulz.

I don’t mind trolls. I can’t write unless it’s anonymous. I am one of the countless, overweight, marginally stupid, white, male, neckbeards that believe they are the original colonizers of the Internet. I have spent time on and burned through the WELL, /b/, Suck, Something Awful, Portal of Evil, LiveJournal, Encyclopedia Dramatica, Digg, Fark, McSweeney’s, Slate, HuffPo, Reddit, and, most recently, Gawker. What unites those sites is that they eventually were overrun by my infantile brethren. I am like a honeybee come to North America, an invasive species that portends the arrival of a horde of destructive motherfuckers. The truth is, I hate them, and possibly myself, more than I currently hate Medium. There is a reason I am here. The rest of the Internet is too stupid to fathom, but maybe Medium is too smart for me.

My Third Accusation: The site is too sincere, too writerly, and too smart

I will stop here. This is long and boring and exactly what I hate to read. If you have made it to this sentence, I want to apologize for the lack of structure, interest, and meaning.

Addenda: When I posted this, I added the tag “blogging” and when I investigated that tag I found the article The Death of the Internet Community: Why LiveJournal Was, and Will Always Be, the Best Bloggin Platform, which, it a weird way, is the article I wanted to write.

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