Medium is an online publishing platform for writers and readers. Its nice interface, intuitive user experience, easy access on metrics for blog posts, the mix of collaborative software and reading experience, or the potential for high traffic, make Medium preferable for first-time bloggers and brands which are looking to expand their reach to a built-in audience. As a dedicated reader [and less as a writer], for a few years, I've been really enjoying the free content offered in Medium. A lot of writers and publishers have appreciated Medium, too. But apparently, it's not happening anymore.
Now, Medium is paying higher attention to their membership feature. Every day, Medium is becoming more commercialized and centered around blog stars and influencers. There's no place for indie publishers and communities in Medium. The platform is going to be divided into two main categories: the well-branded writers and readers who have to pay for what they read.
The content about design seems to be the most affected by this alteration. The overwhelming part of all design content is written on Medium, and they have slowly pushed everybody behind their paywall. Therefore, you cannot find free qualitative design content online, anymore.
The big losers
Since the content of writings is purely commercialized via paid membership policies, writing on Medium does not have the same worth, as it used to be. I am one of million users who has enjoyed the experience on Medium, but I don't like to be forced to pay for articles I read, I don't pretend to earn money for what I write, and I don't think that paying and claps make an article great. It's OK to earn from your writings, but you can find a lot of free and open source thingies online, which are great too.
A business model like Medium creates a perception on writers that if they are good enough, they have to be monetarily rewarded. Unfortunately, this benevolent premise works only on paper. Once the readers are forced to pay for what they read, they will consider leaving Medium. The decrease of readers' number on Medium will directly affect the blog post's metrics, which in long term will shrink the success of the authors. Also, you have to keep in mind, that a successful writer is not always the one who earns from what they writes, but the one who is read and popular by everyone, even by them who are excluded by membership policies of Medium.
The sad truth, is that Medium is just another San Francisco tech darling that’s taken millions of dollars in funding and is now accountable to their shareholders rather than its community and what do shareholders want? Growth. And growth is a tricky thing to manage. This fact is further compounded because growth itself and building community are often at odds with each other, sometimes even incompatible. In other words, Medium is growing so much that it’s starting to eat its own tail.
— Conor, one of my favorite [independent] writers on Medium
Apart from being a good tool for promotion, currently, the problem with Medium is a problem with proprietary platforms in general: in early stages of funding from venture capital, those platforms tend to create the community of users, and while they achieved optimal growth, they recall the community that it is not needed anymore. This mantra of open source culture is recently noticed even by Hacker Noon and Signal v Noise — two of lots well-known publishers which are leaving Medium.
New alternatives: self-hosted and open source platforms
Ghost is a wonderful open source suite of publishing tools with a fully managed PaaS and stewarded by a non-profit organisation. It is used by some prominent costumers like DigitalOcean, Mozilla and DuckDuckGo (ough, migrated from Medium). We are more than happy with Ghost for the opportunities we have to publish and focus for creating content, and we suggest it to every business or organisation which is looking for a blogging platform to launch their statements, thoughts or ideas. The variety of the nice themes and the simple CMS, make Ghost accessible by everyone.
Write.as is an other open source, minimalist writing platform, oriented on privacy. The shortage of notifications, streams, likes, and commentary makes readers to focus on words. All you need is just a clear mind and a beautifully simple space to write your thoughts on Write.as. Differently from Ghost which fits perfectly for brands, Write.as is heavily focused on personal blogging. It is a great tool for journalists, writers, bloggers and content creators who need a truly independent place for their articles.
Through our collaboration platform, we can help SMEs and organisations to be independent of the big tech monopolies using Ghost or Write.as, as their main blog platform. Indeed, this service is not free, but we at Collective68 have discounts for people from Medium who are looking for a new independent home, and free and open source initiatives. Together we can properly create a sleek online environment and a World Wide Web as it supposed to be — free and not centralised. Ghost and Write.as have given us a good example, now it's our turn to help you and your organisation to get self-hosted and open source blog platform.
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