A Few Best Practices On Medium

Let’s talk about etiquette on the platform.

Shannon Ashley
Jul 9 · 6 min read

First of all, let's just admit that we are all free to disagree. Each of us operates with a different moral code on this platform. The following are my opinions and takeaways, but please feel free to comment with your own ideas.

Tagging other writers.

On Medium, it's fairly common to see writers tag fellow writers. There are plenty of good reasons to do so, but there are also poor ways to tag other writers that make it look as if you're only reaching for a claps grab.

The worst way to tag other writers is to list them in a block at the end of your story with no explanation at all. It tends to leave a bad taste in many people's mouth.

A better way to mention fellow writers is when you include some context. Maybe you want them to write a story off of a certain prompt. Perhaps you want to mention how much certain writers have impacted you.

That's all good, but context is key.

Linking your stories.

I think it's typically in poor form to add a link to your story in the comments section of someone else's work.

That doesn't mean you should never, ever do it. I have definitely seen some folks do this tactfully. I have even been grateful to a few folks who have done this to me.

But maybe you should ask yourself why you want to include a link to your story in the comments of someone else's work.

If it's to get more eyes on your story, then it's probably not the best idea.

Crediting other writers.

Sometimes, another writer's story inspires me to write my own version. In that case, I'll tag or mention the writer somehow. This is a good practice for every writer and it helps build up our community.

In most cases, I think fellow writers are pleased to know that their story inspired somebody else to write. And as always, Medium is not a competition. We all have a reason and right to be here.

It never hurts to give credit where credit is due. Never. Besides, we are all inspired by somebody. It's beautiful to admit it!

Asking favors of other writers.

Here's a common source of stress for relationships on Medium. One writer asks for a favor from another writer, and gets frustrated when they are told no, not yet, or I'm sorry but...

It's very easy for people to look at certain writers on the platform and feel as if they understand their life. Personally? I'm convinced that most folks really don't know how many hours I put into Medium on any given day.

I have learned to be very selective when it comes to doing favors. Not because I don't care, but because I have a 5-year-old to support on my own. It's a sad reality that I don't have time to say yes to everyone or everything.

Knowing this, I am careful not to place expectations upon other writers here. And I try to give back as much as I can whenever I can.

Criticizing other writers.

So, there is a difference between speaking up when some injustice occurs and simply trashing other writers.

I have been on Medium for nearly 15 months and I have seen an unfortunate number of brilliant writers here get caught up in the negative habits of tearing other writers down.

The truth is that we all have our opinions about what makes good writing and what topics are most worthwhile. The problem is when we set out to determine what other writers should or shouldn't do.

That's not our decision to make.

The best etiquette for Medium is to live and let live, and save your battles for actual instances of injustice.

Speaking up for fellow writers.

Shit happens and Medium is not immune to petty or even cruel behavior. It really happens and some perpetrators aren't who you'd expect.

I have learned the hard way that it means everything to have folks in your corner who will speak up for you when you are attacked.

Likewise, I have learned the value of standing up for others. Here's the thing: no, this is not a school playground, but some folks are intent on turning it into one by bullying others. When that happens, we have a responsibility to not let good people go injured without aid.

The danger of never getting involved is that some liars and manipulations thrive in the secrecy. That doesn't mean you need to get involved with every spat, either. Some disagreements are private and nobody else needs to weigh in.

But at other times, some writers will go for the jugular out of jealousy, spite, or whatnot. Speaking up when you see somebody being cruel can save real writers.

Taking other writers' work personally.

One of my worst experiences on Medium happened when a writer whom I considered a friend and mentor insisted that I clapped back at him. It didn't matter that I had no desire, interest, or intention to cut him down.

He was convinced that I had slighted him, and then he began writing about writers with massive egos. He even bragged to our mutual friends and colleagues that he had booted me from his publication over my faults.

It was such an ugly time in my Medium experience, but it taught me a pretty valuable lesson about how self-destructive negativity really can be.

I still don't regret standing up for myself, though I didn't go as far as I could have. Plenty of folks wound up hating me out of respect for him. Some began to bully me and spread rumors about my character.

As shitty as it all was, I recovered and healed. It helped me better deal with new issues that would arise and recognize other dangerous cases of sour grapes.

Most of all, it taught me not to take another writer's story so seriously even if I am convinced they're trying to throw shade my way. Getting bent out of shape over a difference of opinion is rarely worthwhile.

Medium membership.

Medium allows you to write and earn money without becoming a paying member. While I think this is great and generous, I am also disappointed to see so many folks use Medium for months without becoming a paid member at all.

It's good karma to give something back to the platform that's paying you and connecting you to readers. And honestly? If you don't become a paying member but you expect to earn a living around here, it sends a message that you are only looking out for yourself.

If you're serious about this Medium thing, you can become a member for a flat fee of $50 a year. Or, you can do what I do and just add the $4.99 to your monthly cell phone bill.

Empathy for other writers.

At the end of the day, it pays to have plenty of empathy. You may not like so-and-so's stories. Maybe you get sick of me for writing so much.

There are countless reasons to feel perturbed with each other. Writing is an emotional job. Few of us really know what another writer's life is really like. Or perhaps why they write.

A little empathy goes a very long way. And it doesn't just help others. It benefits us too when we take a deep breath, step back, and relax.

Empathy is a little bit like magic since it helps us calm down when we feel like freaking out.

At the end of the day, I think it pays to save your snark for the folks on Medium who are actually harming others. Nobody needs you to rain all over them because you've had a bad day. And you don't need them to do that to you either.

What best practices do you really believe in here on Medium? Sound off, please!


Join my email list to keep in touch, or check me out on Write Already!

Med Matters

Stories about all things Medium from an all-in Top Writer.

Shannon Ashley

Written by

Single mama, fulltime writer, exvangelical. It's not about being flawless, it's about being honest. Top Writer. http://www.patreon.com/shannonashley

Med Matters

Stories about all things Medium from an all-in Top Writer.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade