42 Comments
Mar 3·edited Mar 3Liked by Linda Caroll

Curation is necessary on any platform with a low barrier to entry if the goal is for high-quality writing to rise to the top. Over-relying on an algorithm for content discovery and distribution inevitably trains writers to game the system for views which, in turn, leads to the regurgitation of the same "how to" and "tips for" articles ad infinitum. Maybe an algorithm with a sophisticated enough AI could manage it, but they haven't cracked that code yet.

I agree that curation wasn't a success the first time around. It's hard to know exactly why without having a clear picture of what went on behind the scenes, but one thing I know for certain is that Medium did a poor job of communicating why an article might be passed up for curation. They had some guidelines squirreled away somewhere, but I remember it didn't answer all of my questions. Some Medium writers had some good theories, but much of what they were sharing was conjecture. This lack of clear communication leads me to believe that Medium either didn't have clear criteria for curation or they didn't apply it evenly, which would serve to erode the effectiveness of curation over time. I also suspect they weren't discerning enough with curation.

I like the idea of incentivizing editors to find content that would get a successful boost, especially with guidelines in place disqualifying content that's clickbait, inflammatory, etc. As to your question about editors that "bomb Medium with everything that comes through their publication," I would hope that, if they are instituting anti-spam, anti-clickbait measures, they would penalize editors that engage in some of that same behavior. I also think that editors will naturally refrain from spamming since it behooves them to achieve a high submission-to-boost ratio. I guess time will tell. Thanks for putting these updates together.

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Medium and Tony don't know what they want to be when they grow up, if ever. I have never seen or determined a clear mission for the platform. The actions I've observed over the past three years do not align to "to deepen readers' understanding of the world and to empower writers to share their best work and biggest ideas." Instead, I see ever changing responses to abuse of the system/algorithm.

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I was curious, so I applied. Apparently, I applied for ‘becoming a verified author’. I thought that was the one for people who have written a book

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In a span of 6-8 weeks, this went from "we're going to pay editors" to "we're going to pay editors to do our work for us, and on a contingency basis."

I think most people here can probably name the initial 15 publications involved. I'm still happy to be proven wrong, but this feels like the platform is going back to serious gatekeeping.

FWIW, I did apply to become a curator. There are a few authors that consistently put out quality work that more people should see. I'd love to help make that happen. None are writing about "morning manifesting," & "first principles thinking."

I haven't heard a word yet.

(big sigh)

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Yep, from the writer revenue pool, of course - where else?

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I am excited for the changes although I am not sure what the heck they mean. I had 5 articles boosted. It didn't make it rain Benjamins but it was a small increase in earnings that I appreciated. I do think there is potential for Medium to grow more with history readers. History readers are avid readers and they tend to be more loyal.

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Mar 3·edited Mar 3Liked by Linda Caroll

Honestly, I was very wary when I heard that certain editors are now gate-keepers. What if an editor just doesn't like you. It really seems like there has to be a more objective way to do things. This sounds like traditional publishing where a few editors control your ability to climb the ladder. And yeah, it seems like a conflict of interest, these editors obviously wanting to submit stories from their own publications. It sounds better just to pay objective, faceless curators.

Also, I saw one of your stories in a "staff pick." Can you say if that story has been "boosted"? Supposedly you can see it in your stats, the way we used to see "distributed." Just wondering...

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Mar 3·edited Mar 3Liked by Linda Caroll

I doubt this is Stubblebine's idea. I think it is to reward editors who do tons of work on their publications. Like the editors on Illumination, who do heroic work. Being asked to write for them by the founder gave me the confidence boost I need. I'm willing to see what happens.

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I think every stupid Idea Tony Stumblebum comes up with should come out of his salary. Look on Glassdoor. Even the folks with real jobs at headquarters are tired of getting jerked around. Dude has not got a clue.

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I’m getting dizzy!

While I appreciate that Tony no longer thinks writers have to bring an audience, he was really adamant about them doing just that a few weeks ago. Dude - we can’t trust you if you take opposite stands within weeks, at least, not unless you admit that you are experimenting and are open to see what works, or doesn’t work.

I think I may have been a beneficiary of the soft launch Boost. My story was published on January 18 and overnight had over 1K reads. I am usually lucky to get 20 reads within the first couple of days, and honestly, the majority of my stories never reach 100 reads. Over time, I’ve had a couple hit over 1K. This story is now at 1.6K reads in about 6 weeks. That amazing for me - except - the total earnings are only $2.69.

I’m excited to get to share that with a pool of editors. Right.

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And just when I was thinking of giving Medium a teeny tiny try again! The rules keep changing and I don't have the foggiest idea on how to navigate through them. I feel as if I'm so far behind now everything is written in a different language.

Linda, thank you for trying to explain what's going on over there. I'm in awe of your reporting and your reasoning, but I have to admit I don't understand any of it. Not one bit.

Does this mean I should resurrect my old publication, Indelible Ink? Is that the only way I'll get my own blog posts noticed, since blogs appear to have to be in pubs now? I don't want to edit and curate a publication. I just want to get my writing seen and maybe make enough to pay my dues each month.

Or maybe not. Maybe I should just forget the whole thing and stick to Substack, where I'm sometimes seen and where I'm really the most comfortable. I'll be watching for more of your pieces on Medium, Linda, and maybe someday I'll begin to understand. LOL.

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I applied for this a week ago since I'm an editor of a pub on Medium. I can see alot of issues with this. Medium will be bombarded again. But who knows, maybe it's worth trying. At least for now, Medium's the only viable place for unknown writers like me so.

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"Authors shouldn’t be required to build their own audience or mailing list to share their ideas and knowledge. Often, the best writing comes from people who don’t want to be audience builders.” — Tony Stubblebine (source).

This is 180 from what Tony said a month or so ago. How does the CEO cope with these mood swings? First, we're chopped liver if we don't bring our own audience in and then, tut-tut, we'll do the heavy lifting for you with our boost program.

Reminds me of Detroit and the Big Three automakers constantly changing designs searching for the holy grail. What they did instead was constantly move away from what worked or in their case, what sold - because change got confused with innovation.

If you keep looking, up close and personal, at an elephant's butt, you'll never know what a cool pair of sunglasses would look like for them. Medium needs to step back and look at what worked in the past. My guess, is that they know what worked - for the writers, for the readers - just not for their bottom line - which is why they won't go there again. But I think that can be fixed. This platform can work for everyone - just needs a fresh pair of eyes.

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I’ve long supported editing as a way to improve writing on Medium. I value all the people who have taken it upon themselves to create publications and was sorry when Medium undercut them. This might have problems, most changes do, but that’s what’s nice about Medium, it is the circle of making money. Medium changes, someone figures it out, makes some bucks, writes about it and creates a course to sell others on the approach, people sign up, copy and start making money, then the field gets saturated and Medium changes…. Rinse repeat.

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‘No erotica…’

On the old Medium, I didn’t go looking for erotica but it came looking for me and I was soon offered lots of it. Some of it wasn’t bad!

‘No writing about Medium…’

There is Substack for that. Mr Stubblestubble wouldn’t want to read feedback and advice on Medium.

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