Medium doesn’t want me to be its cheerleader.

or, the clapback when you read fast and clap for everybody else

SF Ali
SF Ali
Dec 12, 2016 · 5 min read

It’s no understatement to state the obvious: I’m a power user of Medium.

I was a relative early adopter, joining years ago at the earnest urging of my friend, teacher, and mentor James Altucher, one of Medium’s most followed writers. I began publishing my own writing here only last year, however.

Since I joined, I’ve been an avid reader and recommender of *everything* I came across, across the spectrum of diverse thought, especially stuff I might disagree with, including but not limited to ignorance penned by Deplorables and incoherent screeds left by Islamophobes as responses on my own stories.

I didn’t think anything of it. Okay, maybe part of it is due to my OCD… I really like clicking buttons. That’s not my fault though. [Wild guess here, but I’m going to go ahead and assume 113% of Medium’s audience has read Nir Eyal and Ryan Hoover’s “Hooked”, amirite? This shit is social crack.] Part social network, part publishing platform for the open, free, democratic exchange of ideas… what could be better, right?

That is, until I received the following email this past Friday. I haven’t written about it until right now.

Gerald (Medium Support)

Dec 8, 3:49 PM PST

Hi fzafar1,

First off, thank you for using Medium. We appreciate you writing on it and engaging in it.

However, we are concerned with your volume of recommending. It is beyond anything any other user does, and in our assessment is impossible to be done manually. Additionally, you are recommending spam with no views, which is indicative of automation.

It is at this point disrupting the normal behavior of the site.

Are you running any script or service that is mass-recommending posts? That is against our Terms of Service.

I’d appreciate your attention to this matter.

User Happiness

My response was immediate, apologetic, and defensive.


Hope all is well Gerald.

No, I am not running any script or automation service. All of my recommends have been manual after reading each story and response I have subsequently recommended. I apologize for the volume, due to the enthusiasm with which I use the platform. I’m sincerely sorry that it has disrupted the normal behavior of your site. I will scale back my usage accordingly, and/or abide by whatever suggestions you might have. Please advise at your earliest convenience. Thanks in advance for reaching out.

Cheers, Farooq (SF Ali)

Medium Support/User Happiness responded soon after.

Hi fzafar1,

Thank you for adjusting your usage. It was certainly a very high volume for us, and was causing problems.

If you need anything else, please let me know.

User Happiness

During the course of this exchange, my account was temporarily deactivated and rendered inaccessible for about an hour. Ever since this incident, I am now required to complete a CAPTCHA to access the Medium homepage and log into my account, and I no longer have access to the Medium iOS app.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: I don’t know what I’m trying to say. No good deed goes unpunished? There’s such a thing as too much of a good thing? As a power user, it’s within the universe of probability to surpass a founder or their support team’s traction wet dream?

I’m not gonna lie, it’s kind of traumatizing to experience this as a loyal power user, and this left a sour aftertaste which negatively influences my future use of this platform. As someone who’s spent tens of thousands of hours evangelizing Medium since it was considered Twitter XL (Tweets on steroids! 140 lines instead of 140 characters! What a time to be alive, we all thought.) all the way through its present status as the undisputed premier content publishing platform online and its coveted standing as the personal blog killer, it fucking hurts to know my usage is suspected to be spam, and be told it’s being flagged as something undesired. I’m not saying this to make myself feel better. Gerald did that for me: without doubt, I’m Medium’s TOP power user.

I’m writing this because I feel like I’m letting down the folks who look forward to my recommending their work, my responses to their stories, and my readership of their writing. To all of you: I’m sorry, but my hands are tied.

As a matter of personal policy moving forward, I’ve decided I will only be recommending Top Stories, Editor’s Picks, Reading Roulette selections, and those in the trending topics sections which change on a hourly/daily basis.

I’ll recommend all responses to my own stories, and I will continue my longstanding habit of personally responding to every single response on my stories, even if my schedule allows a belated reply several months afterward.

If that’s a problem, so be it. That’s how I roll. And if you don’t know, now you know. Spread love, it’s the Brooklyn way. (I just moved to Brooklyn.)

new selfie, same SF Ali


1. Recommend this story. It helps others see the story, lets me know my work is worth writing, reading and recommending and makes me feel validated and fuzzy, because honestly, whose cold, dead heart isn’t instantly thawed and revived by the dizzying dopamine of notifications? Like, share, retweet, lather, rinse, repeat. Also, the doctors say if I don’t feel fuzzy, I’ll die, due to a rare deficiency in social currency triggered whenever my Klout score drops below 70. It’s 67 right now. Not a good look. Do you want me to die?! Didn’t think so.

2. Share this story: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, etc.

3. Connect with me: Medium, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Product Hunt, AngelList, Quora and Quibb. (I think that’s all of them!) Write me via email too! Call or text if you want. (917) 982–3849. I’m always happy to make new friends, listen, support, and be helpful in any way I can. That’s why I’m Medium’s resident cheerleader, duh! :)

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +540K people. Follow to join our community.

SF Ali

Written by

SF Ali

Medium's resident cheerleader.

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +540K people. Follow to join our community.

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