Funny story: not long ago our CFO at Copyblogger went rogue on us. He published a post on our private company Google+ community telling us how much he loved Medium.
Within minutes we were roasting him.
His crime? Digital sharecropping. Sean is an oddball among oddballs, but this was out of character. Did he get a hold of some bath salts? Why in the world would he suggest that we create content on rented land?
Sean, true to nature, held his ground, and even published a post on Medium. Then his love for the platform quieted down.
Close the book, move on. Not so fast.
The half-baked plan
You’ll probably even see one of his posts in the top 100.
As part sociologist, part cultural anthropologist, part sucker for a challenge I wanted to test the waters. See if there is anything to this Medium.
I planned to spend a month there. Publish some posts. But one ground rule:
- Do not share what I’m publishing on Medium on any of my other social sites. Any traction I get should come from inside Medium.
I hardly got off the ground before I called it quits.
True, writing on Medium is a sublime experience. The page you edit is the same page you see.
And the image capabilities are sublime, too.
However, formatting is limited.
The bullet points are ugly. The bullet points were ugly until Marcin Wichary fixed them. After that, I think it goes down hill.
You can’t follow anyone. You just follow Collections, which are a list of Medium posts curated by an editor.
Once you publish a post you can submit it to a Collection. The larger the collection, the better.
More than likely you’ll get accepted by the smaller collections. The large ones, not so much.
Yet, try to find Collections to follow or submit to. That’s not easy. Neither is search (because it doesn’t exist).
It took me a few minutes to find this page:
Those are the collections I follow.
Common content on Medium
There is a large community of writers, and one of the larger collections is for writers, but after that, it favors science, technology, business, design, and code.
You’ve got your anomalies like “Don’t date a girl who travels” or “When your mother says she’s fat.”
Both are in the top 100.
And unfortunately the same posts that were on the Top 100 list two months ago are still on it today. Just in a different order.
This is from the Top 100 on January, 22, 2014.
What I published on Medium
Granted, the four posts I published were not original to Medium. I lifted them from my blog. This is not an uncommon practice. Many posts you see on Medium provide links back to the original blog post.
Medium the company is happy to do this. They don’t care so much about original content. The community, however, might have a different idea.
As you can see, my Read ratio is pretty high.
But my Views are low. Which is important.
Those posts with high views also resulted in Recommendations. But not very many. Maybe I’m not as great a writer as I thought. Maybe the readers want original.
Poor social proof signals
Look at the actual post and you have no clue how many recommendations a post has.
That Further Reading feature at the top indicates related articles other people recommend. The more of those, the better.
But how many people recommended this post? Don’t know.
Don’t get me started on the comments feature
This method is supposed to be superior to traditional blog comments (which is not hard to do), but, alas, fails.
An innovation, where you can comment on a specific paragraph in the post via Twitter, is a pain for anyone who wants to read the comments.
This from the current number one Top 100 post “Don’t date a girl who travels“:
Aren’t you curious what people wrote?
Keep in mind, anything over four comments is a lot of comments. And this is a short post. But you’ll need to open each comment to read them.
Why I quit after four posts
None of my posts made it into a large collection. That might have changed my destiny, and my view on Medium. Perhaps I’d been willing to deal with the shortcomings then.
We’ll never know.
My hope is the editors were so busy and deluged by posts that they never saw mine. More than likely they simply didn’t like what they read.
Even though we live in a world where the gates have been stormed, you still need to write to your audience. Rejection is still real.
The future of Medium
Medium is just another social platform. The content being published there (outside of what Matter — who Medium bought — is doing) is unoriginal and uninspiring, complete with a vibrant echo chamber. (Posts about Medium do really well on Medium.)
About the only encouraging thing I can say about Medium is that when it comes to editing, Medium is an improvement over Tumblr (Ghost even missed this). After that, it’s simply in its shadow.
Share your thoughts. I’d love someone to skewer my half-baked experiment.
Image source: Failure, Inc.