Topics on Medium Speak Volumes

The truth about the organization of Medium topics may be unpleasant.

Vico Biscotti
Aug 16, 2018 · 3 min read

If you ever looked at Medium topics, you may have noticed that something weird is at work there.

Yes, you checked topics when you registered. But that doesn’t count. You didn’t know, at the time.

True Crime

Scrolling topics, you soon find True Crime. In the Arts & Entertainment category.

And that feels good news.

If there’s True Crime there, I can follow Science Fiction or Poetry too.

False.

At best, you can follow Comics or Humor. And that’s good, but no Science Fiction, nor Poetry. Nor a lot of other topics it would make sense to have there, besides True Crime.

First taste of the Big Illusion at work here.

Checking better, I see that True Crime is not a genre (I’m non-native English, so I get confused easily, but I’m not the only non-native here). It’s most, actually, about true crimes.

Damn, I should have guessed.

But, wait a moment… Is it in the Art & Entertainment category?

Now, I’m really confused.

Does Medium consider crime entertaining or rather a form of art?

I get that crime can be entertaining. My mother watches those TV shows.

But I hoped that Medium could go beyond that.

Or, at least, consider poetry a form of art.

The gem

But when you think that Medium just forgot this page and it’s all random, you see the gem.

San Francisco.

San Francisco is a topic, in the Society category. The same category that sports Gun control (legit category) but does not sport Security (legit category too, and maybe a broader one). Or the same category which sports Philosophy (philosophy in the society category, seriously?) but does not sport Family among the 18 topics in the category.

Cities can be topics, of course (and the topic Cities is also there, maybe as mending).

But while San Francisco has a population of under one million of inhabitants, dozens of (popular and modern) cities on the planet are in the millions. And in many of those cities, many Internet connections are fully operative, and many of Medium paying users live.

I get that San Francisco is quite a popular topic on the Web and in Silicon Valley, but many other cities are of interest for so many of us.

If popularity in Silicon Valley is a criterion for choosing topics, I’d expect to find MacBook and iPhone among topics too.

If Web popularity is the criterion, instead, I’d expect Porn to be there.

Putting the dots together

Apparently, an infant picked random topics out of a box.

Or a wicked apprentice editor played with them for a couple of hours.

The first thing you can say could be: “Hey, Medium, why don’t you look at the topics? It seems there’s a bit of mess, there.”

Then, you play a bit with Medium, and maybe you say a second thing: “I get that Medium is turning into a magazine and they are surfing hot topics. But too trendy and biased for my tastes”.

Then, you stay on Medium for 15 months, you see the army of editors at work featuring while the much-needed Medium features are kept stuck — topics mess included — and you get the truth.

Simply put, Medium doesn’t give a shit about the visibility of your stories outside featured content and it’s not interested in investing hours in it. Nor does give a shit about your interests as a reader outside featured content. Topics organization is just laid there as you guessed: trendy and biased. Because Medium doesn’t care much and, if anything, topics can just contribute to the editorial line.

And maybe — too late — you say the third thing: “________!@!“ Fill the blank space at will.

You can tell it loudly. They don’t listen.


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Vico Biscotti

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Engineer, rebooting from crash. Software development | personal and business management | human condition. Jack of all mistakes.

inside Blogging

Unofficial insights on blogging.