I’m with you here, Gutboom. The reverse-chronological feed is a *necessity* for anybody who spends a lot of time reading on this site (and indeed, on any site). Medium is the last in line to get rid of it (outside of mastodon) in what feels like an attempt to cater to a more casual audience — but this conflicts with their push toward membership (who would pay $5 a month other than the type of person who wants a reverse-chronological feed?) and their historical focus on catering to writers (what with all that jazz about typography). It’s in line with a series of changes that make the site feel like it wants to be more like a conventional social network and less like a communal blogging platform.

As somebody who likes Big Blocks Of Text, the sudden shift in content a few years ago toward short, shallow, image-heavy pieces felt like, if not a betrayal, at least a shocking reveal: I thought Medium was My People and watching them get in bed with low-quality content turned my stomach. But, I figured that was simply related to ad revenue: short pieces make sense when all you need is an impression.

I thought the open paywall model would lead to an increase in the proportion of material that was seriously (or comically, but nevertheless deeply) engaging — that Medium would incentivize good quality content by weighing your claps by the length and read percentage of pieces, and featured stories would be dominated by fantastic articles with estimated four hour read times and 99% average completion rates.

The average paywalled story, unfortunately, is not distinguishable from the average non-paywalled story: the norm is short, shallow, and sleazily self-promotional, dominated by reaction images, clickbait titles, and tired cliches presented as though they are life-changing revelations.

(This is not to say that Medium doesn’t have great stuff. Medium has some of the best articles I’ve ever read. I don’t think any of those are paywalled though.)

Medium managed to attract a community of talented essayists who care about writing. This thread’s comments are full of them! But, we’re the old guard now, and Medium has been spending years catering to and attracting people with very different needs (people who might be spending less than an hour a day reading essays on this site! For shame!). It’s risking losing us. I don’t mean to make a value judgement here, although I clearly prefer the kind of stuff I like to read; what’s objectively clear, though, is that Medium catered to us when nobody else did, and they now risk seriously alienating the one group that they have never had any competition for.

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software. http://www.lord-enki.net

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