Medium, Are You Serious About the Changes?
Will facts follow words?
Time for epic changes on Medium.
Or so it seems.
Major changes in the Medium tools have been announced a month ago. Those changes range from customization to short-form content.
But the announcement didn’t gain my enthusiasm. I’ve seen the Medium Partner Program coming, and that was huge, but I’ve also seen custom domains disappearing, multilingualism sabotaged by Medium itself, independent writers and editors crushed by Medium’s editorial taste and flagship publications, overdue changes ignored like there was a plan — the plan of a US pop magazine.
Simply put, I just don’t believe them anymore. The platform hosts a great community, but it just can’t be used in place of an independent blog. It can’t be home for your writing, unless you like a useless and undifferentiated list of your latest as a personal page, with no mailing list, no featuring, nothing at all. Not to mention the ridiculous admin tools, even incoherent between devices, and severely limited on mobile.
Words directly from Ev have a different weight, indeed. So, when he speaks about custom domains and better profiles, he can’t fail to get our attention.
Again, he got my attention, but not my enthusiasm.
Two simple reasons.
I’ll show the first one with an example. I’m speaking about newsletters.
Anyone who has ever written a letter or newsletter on Medium knows how much they suck. And they sucked for years, at an embarrassing level, with no attention at all from Medium. Worse, they suffer competition from Medium itself, which has obviously better tools available, also for its own flagship publications.
If I put a link on a story, I get that:
But, if I put the same link on a newsletter, I get that:
You have to write the title, and manually add a link to it. Forget the featured image and the subtitle, or anything else available on newsletters from Medium, like you can daily see in your inbox:
So, when Ev says “last week we shipped an improved newsletter editor”, while the editor still sucks exactly like the previous one, I have reasonable doubts that anything else about the announced changes is plain bullshit.
The second reason is that, for years, none of the major wishes from readers, writers, and editors — except for the MPP — has been fulfilled. On the contrary, everything went full steam with the pop magazine. A minimum of customization, both for profiles and publications, wouldn’t be rocket science, for Medium. But nothing. No improvements at all. Like such improvements were avoided by purpose. Do we want to speak about independent publications left with no means of monetizing on the platform, on the contrary of paid editors at Medium?
So, when I hear Ev or anyone at Medium speak of “brand,” referring to writers and publications, I can’t help but get pissed off.
Luckily, I then read the cornerstone from Ev, that I should have read before the one previously mentioned.
In that piece, Ev speaks about the difference between transactional and relational content. While transactional is not chosen by readers because of the source (e.g., Google searches), relational has everything to do with the source, like pieces from your preferred blogger or newspapers. Ev speaks of a Medium currently wrongly focused on transactional, wanting to switch to a model were relational matters.
Wow. Finally, that’s speaking.
A bit late, since too many of us already got it for years, still welcome. Loud and clear, and from someone who can change things on the Web, and already did.
Call me naïve, but I trust this vision more than practical announcements. If this is where Ev wants to go, there’s hope that things will follow, at least in part.
I don’t trust Medium when they speak of customizable profiles and newsletters. But if they also speak about wanting to enter the source — authors and publications — in the overall equation, that makes much more sense. Late, but not hopelessly late.
It feels like the right direction. We all know it won’t be all roses, but we can adapt to an imperfect world.
Anyway, let’s see how all that will translate into reality.
The last time that Ev spoke about better quality we got, instead, a US-centered editorial umbrella focused on news, political propaganda, and new-age revival.
I still can’t consider Medium as my writing home. And I doubt that I will change my mind after 3 years on Medium. But I can let them prove that they can be a better tool for me.
One question remains: why now? Why ignoring our requests before, for so long?
Why, all of a sudden, something similar to a U-turn, with such major changes all together? Is it a serious thing or marketing? What kind of pressure drove that? Just an epiphany?
I guess this was just boiling in the pot. The online world already has channels — YouTube in pole position — that allow us to build brands. The world is full of communities, and Medium was trying to relegate its own (a marvelous one) to an extra. Medium was out of touch, and that started to be so evident that they could no longer ignore it.
Medium, you got our attention. Now, if you’re serious about the changes, release them, and not a marketing façade, and they’ll be most welcome.
This can be an epic milestone in the history of not only Medium, but the entire Web, for readers, writers, and editors. Medium, you’re in the best position not to fail that. Please, don’t.