Medium’s Downhill Slalom

I, for one, am not enjoying the ride

Ev Williams, Medium, Medium Staff, Your Friends @ Medium,

I thought it was just me. I cut back considerably on the time I spent here on Medium to focus on finishing a manuscript. I didn’t commit to a total Medium detox, but I cut back the amount of time I spent here dramatically. I popped in just long enough to see what a couple of people were up to, and then I went back other projects.

But the time I spent here was long enough to notice the changes taking place. In my mind, this all starting with the logo change, but then I’m a design purist so … go figure.

Frankly, I’m frustrated. And I’m a rather easy-going guy. Bear with me, I have to get this off my chest.

  1. The homepage design — it was fine. Perfectly fine. What needed to be adjusted were the algorithms, the content I was being spoon-fed, not the page design.
  2. Then there were the layoffs. I don’t know what cutting a third of your workforce was all about, but the results have been, shall we say, less than stellar. Doing more work with a smaller workforce? I’m no start-up-bro, but it sounds like a colossal screw-up waiting to happen. And it did.
  3. Next came the cliquish “come closer, get away” invitation to write for Medium for pay. Sounded nice, but inviting people to submit ideas only to turn them out of hand was a shitty thing to do. I doubt you guys endeared your platform, your brand, or your selves to those who truly enjoyed the environment.
  4. You’ve obviously had some very bright people on staff otherwise you wouldn’t have lasted this long,There’s a proper way to treat your customers, and that was glaring example of what not to do.
  5. The Membership thing? I’m not going to even get started on that, but I took that bait and you’re getting my $5. For now.
  6. So now we’re up to Medium v5.0 or whatever, the layout has changed and changed again. The writers and authors I want to read are nowhere to be seen; instead my “From your network” content is brimming with more listicle vipers than I can blow a pungi at.
  7. I see that you guys have added audio. Great. I see how podcasts that aren’t podcasts a good thing for commuters or multi-taskers, but you have to vet your vocal talent better. If you don’t you’re not going to garner the audience you could otherwise. And with decades experience in entertainment, I know what I’m talking about here.
    Exhibit A: Benjamin Sledge’s Memorial Day story. This guy can write. He writes hard-hitting and compelling stories. You know this, otherwise you wouldn’t tapped him for this assignment. And his Memorial Day article is epic. But it deserves voice talent appropriate to the subject matter, talent with more gravitas. The talent used is capable, there’s no doubt about that. It’s just not the right voice. Maybe it’s my entertainment background, but in my humble opinion, you’re doing this author, his work, and your audience a disservice with your choice of voice talent.

Whoever’s calling the shots, you’re botching things. Consistently. Which saddens me because you guys started out with something really special. And that’s a tough thing to do. The original big brains brought truly creative people together and created a genuine sense of community. You’ve introduced me to some really awesome authors, essayists, and writers. But now, I can’t find them. And I refuse to subject myself to a bad experience, let alone pay for subjecting myself to a bad experience.

I hope you guys take all (okay, most) of this to heart, as well as to your heads. You’ve done a lot of good work. A lot. But it seems that in an effort to make things better you’re taking exponential steps backwards. I’d get those original big brains you had from the beginning back on the case.

This letter isn’t meant to peel the ivory off the Medium tower. I’m writing—probably like the majority of the other people who helped make this online destination a success by spending a fair amount of time here and have taken the time to write you—because I care.

Go back to the basics. You can make this right.

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