Medium 2.0 Is Coming…
Have you noticed that Medium has been acting a little strangely over the past few days?
For me, the glitches have been manifesting themselves as notifications that appear 16+ hours late and occasional incorrect viewership data.
At first, I didn’t give the glitches a second thought. But as the glitches continue into their fifth day, conspiracy theories are continuing to develop.
The first reaction for some was to assume that the platform is crashing for good.
Over the past nine months I’ve been on the platform, I’ve experienced no fewer than five “crashy” occasions that were interpreted by many as the end of days.
The second reaction was to assume that someone had messed up the code and we were all living with the consequences. While we discussed this theory, Medium stated on Twitter and in emails;
“We are currently experiencing a backup in our data pipeline that process certain stats and counts. This is showing itself in various places of the product, including the stats page, post page response and claps, and notifications.”
The statement went on to say that they’re working on a fix.
While some people believed the statement, very few people in the Facebook world were convinced.
What’s Really Happening
Today our scepticism was rewarded with tiny details into what’s really going on.
Some folks on social media have revealed that Medium is indeed working on a new user experience that some selected readers have been asked to test before launch.
Presumably, they’re running the existing Medium interface and the new exclusive interface side by side.
We already know that Medium has added one new experience to the regular platform and that it was possibly the act of adding this experience that contributed to the problem.
If the new beta version of Medium is indeed running alongside the regular version with selected users until launch, we may not experience a return to normal until the new version becomes available to all of us.
But what will the new Medium look like? What will the new version change? And how will these changes influence our royalties?
Royalties Are About to be Muted
I mention royalties because I’m confident that the first change added to the platform is going to negatively affect royalties for all of us.
The first change to Medium (of possibly many) is the new mute feature.
Through this feature, it’s now possible to mute any of the writers or publications that annoy you.
My first reaction when seeing this feature was relief, because I’m frequently annoyed by writers who insist on writing annoying articles.
Articles with titles like this would be considered as annoying to me:
“I made $5 a month, now I make $500 a month, here’s how you can too.”
An article like that is bound to be riddled with nonsense tricks and strategies that landed the writer at an amount of money that isn’t bad but isn’t exactly inspirational either. Here’s another example;
“How to become an A list actor in 30 days.”
This is annoying because unless the writer is Tom Hanks (or an equivalent talent) how can they know how this level of success is achieved?!
This is my least favourite type of article;
“I got rich and skinny using this little trick.”
Titles that are worded in such a way that you’ll only know what it’s talking about if you click into it.
“If it weren’t for this fact I’d be barren today.”
Articles like this are absolutely maddening, and now that I have the power, I’ll wield my mute wand with fury.
I’ll probably find myself muting dozens of writers a day, and this reality is really bad because a writer isn’t defined by the one time they wrote an annoying article.
The Writers Life
We’ve all had hard days, those times when our royalties were so low we would have tried anything to turn things around. Unfortunately, ideas born from desperation far too often make the situation worse.
If a writer tries a clickbait title one time in a desperate move to garner attention, should that writer really be punished with the everlasting mute?
Is this really a deserving punishment?
I can think of at least three writers who annoyed me at first, but inspired me months later with amazing and thoughtful work.
Medium has shown us (in their blog post) that there’s a settings menu where we can check who we muted and can reverse our action we feel like; but there’s no way we’ll ever even remember that option, much less take advantage of it.
Anyone that makes a mistake once is going to be punished with a thousand mutes, then disappear into the void, never to be heard from again.
Are you thinking about writing a fiction piece? Don’t you try it, because anyone that hates seeing fiction on Medium will mute you and you’ll be gone forever.
Even your followers can mute you, and you’ll never know that they’re gone.
The Most Vulnerable
The ones I feel most sorry for are the new writers who haven’t found their voice yet.
I strongly believe that almost everything a writer contributes during their first six months represents their worst content, because it often takes that long to find your voice on a new platform.
Even people who’ve blogged for years will take a while to find their place on the platform and start producing content that suits their talents.
Followers who liked one article may mute a new writer if that writer produces something inconsistent, because that writer hasn’t found their groove yet.
Now that they’ve been muted, the reader will never discover any of the gold that may come only a few months down the line.
The reader side of me loves the power of the mute, and that side of me will wield it mercilessly.
The writer side of me is terrified by it, because I’m not a writer who writes about only one thing.
My readers may experience a video game article one day, then an article about corporate consolidation the next.
I can only hope to attract more readers than I piss off, so it’s a race against the mute.
We can’t know what’s coming next in the big Medium 2.0 expansion, but I hope the changes are a lot more optimistic than the mute feature, although I doubt it.
Whatever they are, I’m confident they’ll enhance the reading experience, but possibly at the expense of the writer.
But the reader is who we’re all here for after all, so if we want to keep generating income, we’re all going to have to suck it up.
We’re also going to have to figure out how to write much better titles, or we’re all being muted.