Top Medium Stories By Year

Medium is brimming with amazing content. I’ve read stories that taught me something new, changed my mind, made me laugh out loud, and brought tears to my eye.

To celebrate Medium, I decided to make a list of the most recommended stories by year.

The first reason is that I want to revisit phenomenal stories written in the past. The algorithmic feed does a good job of resurfacing older stories, but it’s not 100% foolproof.

The second reason is I wanted to see if Medium changed over time. To do this, I looked at the 50 most recommended stories of every year.

If there’s enough interest in this list, I’ll continue to update it over time.

Without further ado, here’s the Medium Hall of Fame!

2017

Here’s to a great year! It can only get better from here right? right??

1. You Are Not Equal. I’m Sorry.

Sleep.Eat.Write

2. Trial Balloon for a Coup?

Yonatan Zunger

3. The Immigration Ban is a Headfake, and We’re Falling For It

Jake Fuentes

4. To Christy on Facebook, who doesn’t need the Women’s March

susan.speer

5. Renewing Medium’s focus

Ev Williams


2016

The year of Trump, Simone Biles, Pokemon Go, Zika, the Warriors’ bittersweet season, Lemonade, Brexit, scary clowns, and the end of Brangelina </3

1. 13 Things You Should Give Up If You Want To Be Successful

Zdravko Cvijetic

2. History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump

Tobias Stone

3. Fuck You Startup World

shem

4. The Two Minutes It Takes To Read This Will Improve Your Writing Forever

Josh Spector

5. How it feels to learn JavaScript in 2016

Jose Aguinaga

6. How a TV Sitcom Triggered the Downfall of Western Civilization

David Hopkins

7. Let Me Remind You Fuckers Who I Am

Hillary Clinton [parody]

8. How Technology Hijacks People’s Minds — from a Magician and Google’s Design Ethicist

Tristan Harris

9. Dear Democrats, Read This If You Do Not Understand Why Trump Won

Trent Lapinski

10. What are people working on in coffee shops?

Tristan de Montebello


2015

This year was defined by the victory of same-sex marriage, the [2015] Fight of the Century, Justin Trudeau, the Syrian Crisis, and Amy Schumer

1. The 37 Best Websites to Learn Something New

Kristyna Z.

2. 8 Things Every Person Should Do Before 8 A.M.

Benjamin P. Hardy

3. When I’m Gone

Rafael Zoehler

4. HOW TO LOSE WEIGHT IN 4 EASY STEPS

Aaron Bleyaert

5. RECONSIDER

DHH

6. Slack’s $2.8 Billion Dollar Secret Sauce

Andrew Wilkinson

7. 7 Rejections

Brian Chesky

8. I sat down with a millionaire who operates 10 businesses while sailing around the world with his family

Dave Schools

9. There is something extraordinary happening in the world

Gustavo Tanaka

10. +300 Awesome Free Things for Entrepreneurs and Startups

Ali Mese


2014

In 2014, we got Ellen’s Oscar selfie, the Ice Bucket Challenge, Ebola, Pharrell’s hat, a vanished airliner, Kim Kardashian’s behind, and Frozen

1. How quitting my corporate job for my startup dream f*cked my life up

Ali Mese

2. 7 Things You Need to Stop Doing to Be More Productive, Backed by Science

CamMi Pham

3. Stock photos that don’t suck

Dustin Senos ✌️

4. Advice from 30 year old me to 20 year old me

Nic Haralambous

5. 10 Tricks to Appear Smart During Meetings

Sarah Cooper

6. The Crossroads of Should and Must

elle luna

7. 7 Rules for Creating Gorgeous UI (Part 1)

Erik D. Kennedy

8. How to Be Polite

Paul Ford

9. How a Password Changed My Life

Mauricio Estrella

10. Junior Designers vs. Senior Designers

Julie Zhuo


2013

The top topics of 2013 include Pope Francis, Harlem Shake, the Boston Marathon bombings, the royal baby, the Snowden Leaks, and Miley Cyrus

1. McDonald’s Theory

Jon Bell

2. The Evolution of a Software Engineer

Sean Hickey

3. Dear Guy Who Just Made My Burrito:

Darin Ross

4. A Manager’s Manifesto

Julie Zhuo

5. Transitional Interfaces

Pasquale D’Silva

6. Creative People Say No

Kevin Ashton

7. How To Be Happy

Ketan Anjaria

8. (tie) Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Learning How to Code

Cecily Kellogg

8. (tie) ABC: Always Be Coding

David Byttow

8. (tie) Postmortem of a Venture-backed Startup

Brett Martin


2012

When it all started…

1. Welcome to Medium

Ev Williams

2. Formula for Entrepreneurial Success

Ev Williams

3. What I Learned Building Medium (So Far)

Ev Williams

4. The Spark File

Steven Johnson

5. Twitter Bootstrap

fat

6. (tie) Why I love Twitter and barely tolerate Facebook

Matt Haughey

6. (tie) The importance of selling your vision

Kevin Rose

8. The only metric that matters

Josh Elman

9. The abundance of slowness

Matt Steel

10. Being Obvious

Biz Stone

How Medium evolved over time


2013–2016

To look at how Medium changed over the years, I compiled the 50 most recommended stories of every year from 2013 to 2016.

Most popular topics

Stories about tech, entrepreneurship, design, and life lessons/self improvement have consistently dominated. It’s pretty interesting to see the rise of stories about politics in 2016, and the gradual decline of stories about culture and humor.

However, tags aren’t always an accurate way of categorizing stories. This is just a casual look into what some of the most popular are on Medium over the years.

Average length in minutes

The average length of highly recommended stories hovers around 7 minutes. That hasn’t changed over Medium’s lifespan. 2014 was a bit of an anomaly though…maybe everyone just felt like waxing poetic that year.

How many stories are part of a publication?

Most of the top stories are in a publication, and that number has increased year over year. No surprises there — publications expose your stories to massive audiences. Writers piggyback on these audiences to help their stories go viral. Expect the number of top stories added to publications to keep rising.

Top publications

The top publications are pretty diverse, with Other being the largest category every year. It’s pretty interesting to see the rise of The Mission and Free Code Camp in recent years. The Startup has also been a consistent performer, showing up every year except 2015.


This article is updated as of January 2017. My lists for 2012 and 2013 might not be 100% accurate since Medium didn’t have the “Top Stories” page back then. If you find any mistakes, please let me know.

How I found the 50 most recommended stories of every year

On September 10 2014, Medium added the “Top Stories” page. I searched through all the “Top Stories” pages for every date up to the present and compiled all the stories into a list.

Between May 2013 and September 2014, Medium had a “Top 100” stories page for every month. I compiled all the stories in those pages into my list as well.

It was pretty hard to find the most recommended stories before May 2013. I looked through popular collections, frontpage picks, and publication archives to find the earliest top stories.


Shout out to Dave Schools’ article from 2015, which gave me the idea to do this in the first place.

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