While I agree with the sentiment, I think you misplace the blame.

I understand the desire to have more readers. My problem with style guides is not this motivation. Instead, most style guides for medium focus on attracting casual readers and gaming the metrics in ways that actually produces inferior content. In other words, they assume the motivation in writing for medium is to get attention for its own sake & make those numbers go up, rather than clear communication.

For very short content, medium can’t easily distinguish between a ‘read’ and a ‘view’ anyway, so the metric hack of writing short articles is basically meaningless anyway. Likewise, misleading titles lead readers to be tricked & (often, unless the article is of very high quality) to feel tricked.

All of these techniques make sense in an ad-driven system where authors are being paid per-impression or per-read, but while Medium provides these statistics, it does not pay users (and paying publications on Medium typically pay a flat rate). Clickbaity dark-UX tactics are bad enough when they’re paying the bills; there’s no reason to apply them when there’s no money involved & all that’s happening is that readers are having their trust & good will abused.

As an author on Medium, I’d rather write a meaningful essay that takes 2 hours to read and see it get four readers and ten views than write a tweet-length piece of content buffetted by images and affiliate links and get ten thousand reads. As a reader, I’d rather read something substantial than something anemic: Medium’s user interface isn’t optimized for short articles the way Twitter’s is, and every one-paragraph article is a waste of my time and effort, particularly when it doesn’t contain any new information.

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

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store