I’m a little late to replying but it would seem that perhaps the platform’s biggest issue is still unaddressed — the homepage.
There has to be some way of curating the stream so it makes more sense to the layperson. As it is now, I’m seeing 100 one-sentence replies by Jeff Jarvis to something he posted, which I probably only have a nominal interest in, if any at all.
Of course there is a chance that I’m interested in it, but in the odd chance that I’m not, how do I get it off the page completely, so that the next time I go on Medium.com, I get a different set of results? You know, like, things I’m actually interested in.
I suppose that with the custom domains, the hope is that people might just go ahead and begin bypassing Medium.com altogether, but I still believe that actually having a great homepage has value, even if it’s just for appearances sake.
And that doesn’t mean a homepage in the traditional MSN-sense of the word, but in theory, even when you go on Facebook and just look at your feed, that is somewhat of a homepage. It’s just very customized. Twitter, less so, but then again, that speaks to that platform’s growing list of issues.
Here, the homepage situation, in the app and on desktop, has been a mess for months — easily half a year — and it has become a growing concern, as frankly, I’ve found fewer and fewer things that are of real interest making its way into that hallowed discovery space. It used to be effortless to check out Medium. Now, a struggle.
Maybe the solution is changing the design of the homepage completely, turning it into a bracketed thing itemized by tags or topics and curated by actual human editors. I get that humans and human curation have very little value in web 9.0 (or wherever we are in the lifecycle of the web) but it would seem that the trend is moving away from algorithmic curation now, back to something real. I hear humans will be all the rage for 2016.
I’ve also been made aware that the onboarding process when signing up for Medium has changed dramatically in recent months, to the point where people are ostensibly shuffled into following publications, as opposed to individual writers, which I think maybe you guys should have informed some of the more prolific writers here about, so that we weren’t all just wasting our time for the past few months, watching our view counts and read numbers drop down to nothing, wondering what was going on.
Now that I have your attention, the recommend system here — what is actually happening with that and does it actually work? Sometimes I have a story that has 10 recommends and thousands of views, others with 300 recommends and 500 views. If it doesn’t work, maybe consider getting rid of it.
My observation is that the only recommends that really matter here are Ev Williams and Medium Staff, which I’m thankful for — you guys recommend my things fairly regularly — but that’s also got to give you some kind of pause, too. Like, if the boss and the boss’ company are the only ones whose recommendations matter, something is off in the recipe. That’s got to change. If that is the human curation element, you don’t need me to tell you it is a little skewed. I’m sure you would love to have someone else here command that kind of influence, but I just don’t see it.
Or, it could be that I’m wrong, too, and things are working swell for other folks. Again, I don’t really know. I can only speak for myself and the loose network of writers I talk to off the platform, and it seems almost everyone’s complaints are the same. Mostly, the homepage and discovery.
One more thing — followers. Do they have any purpose? Do they matter? Are they even real people? How is it that I have almost 8 thousand followers and if I publish a story, sometimes as few as 50 people, unless I go on a self-promotional binge, actually know I published anything?
I keep hearing about emails and stuff. Notifications. Stuff like that. I’m just not sure — like, does it work? Do people know? Aren’t peoples inboxes flooded with newsletters already? Are they checking these?
I get emails from publications asking me to add my stories to their publications. I, personally, have more followers, than their entire publication. I am prolific. I have an audience. I have a voice. I am a publication. So why bother with that process? This, I think, is something worth thinking about. Maybe the custom domain thing is the solution. Probably is.
As for the other changes, well, you already know the site looks beautiful. Maybe it’s too beautiful? There is a thing about stuff appearing too precious, and honestly I’m not sure if the average person knows what beauty is or isn’t. In some ways I think the sparseness of the pages here turns people off. They don’t even know what they’re looking at. It’s kinda weird and stupid, but mostly weird. I can’t figure people out.
And ultimately, maybe my other big concern is just the quality of content. Things have certainly dipped here in recent months, for obvious reasons. Hopefully things can turn back around and if so — needless to say — I’d love to be involved again. Maybe in a more authoritative capacity than before, but whatever, that’s another discussion.
Regardless, keep plugging away and I’m sure the kinks will continue to get ironed out. These are just my concerns at the moment.