The feature I miss most on Medium is the customizable profile page.
Why is it the most important lacking feature for me? And why is Medium obviously avoiding it?
From personal blogs to Medium
Many authors have or have had a personal blog. Maybe spending countless hours for its setup, getting some views and zero comments.
Medium changes all this. No setup needed, and a community that sometimes stumbles on your stories and leaves a crumb of love. So refreshing.
But Medium goes beyond. Gathering content from many authors and establishing the similarity between articles and comments, it opens the doors to a big common community of readers and writers, for the benefit of both.
The promise of a Nirvana in reading and writing. That’s how it feels, at first.
To add up, ads-free zone and the Medium Partner Program to let some money flow in the pockets of wealthy authors, whose meals starving authors can have the crumbs. Better than nothing.
Then posts begin to accumulate
After some dozens of posts, unless you already became the new Oppong, or you have been put on a pedestal by Medium as the new crypto-evangelist, you ask yourself: “Where do my posts go, after few days?”
Reply: buried. Forever. Someone will come to visit and leave a flower, occasionally. No more.
You justify yourself: “My posts are in the publications!”
No, check better. A couple of them are still on their home page, if you’re lucky. The others are in their archive, that no one consults.
The only hope, your profile
It happens that someone visits your profile. Or that you want to refer to your profile. But they’ll see just one featured story and a useless list — long and unscrollable — of some articles and comments. No one checks more than few pages, there.
You could feature a recap article but… Do you think anyone would click on such a catching post?
You could open a personal publication, replacing your blog but… You know that you need to post on visible publications, on Medium, and duplicating content isn’t a good idea (at least, claps and comments will be dispersed).
So, it could be great to show a small portfolio on your profile page. More or less like publications.
Nice to have but…
Hey! I already had that on my old blog! It’s not rocket science. And Medium has indeed the resources for that. Why Medium didn’t implement that from the start, and still doesn’t implement it?
The first time I asked myself that question, I froze. Because I feared the answer that my guts were suggesting. And that the whopping 160 characters allowed to describe yourself were saying aloud.
Where does Medium focus all of its efforts? On home page and curation. That’s where you see most of the changes and the most important hirings. They always had a thing, with prioritizing the editorial work.
The Medium Partner Program is a big and welcome innovation, of course, but it usually feeds the featured authors. It’s a wealthy cycle that starts from the featuring act by Medium. As long as you are not featured, unless you already have a big audience, you get the small change. And when you are no longer featured, you return to famine.
Medium wants your stories to stay on their home page, or that of publications (remember that they still have hope of attracting the actual top magazines). Or in the daily digest.
Out of that, they don’t care where your stories go.
And the reality is that your stories will go to the virtual graveyard of the Web. The huge trash can that sucks down all that is not featured or heavily indexed. The altar of the game of quantity is merciless.
The Exhaust Flow of Blogging
My doubts about blogging, after seven months, seems to have become certainties.
When I asked Santa — oops, Medium — for their plans about a customizable profile page, that should have been there from the beginning, they replied: “This will be added to our user suggestion list. We appreciate hearing how we can make the Medium experience better for everyone.”
Maybe is good that this feature is just a “user suggestion,” and elves are not at work on this gift. The last time the Medium Staff paid attention to “custom” they removed the possibility of custom domains.
Medium likes the content to stay in the community channels and to be picked by algorithms or editors. Possibly, fresh and trendy.
They may have reasons for this “strategy.” Just, I’m left without a home for my writing.
A customizable profile would allow you to feature and gather your writing, avoiding to set up an external blog. A comfortable little home with a link to share, that would not take anything away from Medium. Maybe, it would let some of your stories survive the grinder of the Web and let Medium attract more authors.
Will I ever see that feature on Medium? I’m afraid not. They don’t seem to want it.
How is it that they say? Hope dies last.