I started this website as a place for me to write random thoughts about software development. I started enjoying writing so much that I found myself telling everyone I could that they should start doing their own writing. I’ve become numb to the mindless clickbait that is churned out of Medium. I thought certain publications like Level Up Coding or Better Programming would help narrow things down to a few quality articles, but it instead appears that the game there is quantity, not quality.
One of my early Medium posts about building a CLI for Rust caught the eye of a publication and they asked if they could include my article in their publication. I had no idea what this meant, but I was excited nonetheless. I expected to receive some suggested edits to improve the article (considering I probably spent only 30 minutes total on it) and looked forward to them promoting my article on their social accounts.
Neither of these ever happened. My article was accepted to their publication with little fanfare. I can’t confirm for sure, but most of the views it did manage to receive were from its own merits rather than from the publication it was a part of.
Unhappy with this experience and more confident in my writing ability, I swapped over to Level Up Coding. I vaguely remembered seeing this publication name on some of the articles that had helped me in the past, so I submitted my next article - a more formal Rust tutorial to them. This time respecting the request to not post until it had been accepted in to the publication, because that supposedly maximizes your success with the Medium algorithm. My experience was no different here. No feedback on what I had written. No promotion of any sort that I was able to find. Just the vague benefit of showing up in someone’s feed that happens to follow that publication.
I kept trying thinking that it was probably because the articles weren’t good enough. Then one random day in December 2021 I wrote 3 Lines of Code Shouldn’t Take All Day. Weary of my Medium experience, I chose to post first on my own website and copy it over to Medium. I shared on /r/programming and Hacker News and then promptly fell asleep. When I woke up, I found myself on the top page of Hacker News and the top post on /r/programming so far that day.
This was concrete proof that the article was decent. I had friends that I hadn’t spoken to in a while tell me that they randomly saw my article without me even sharing it with them. Now that I had an article with a proven track record of generating views and engagement, I was curious to see how posting to a Medium publication would go. I again submitted to Level Up Coding and the story was published without any comment and to my knowledge with no promotion of any kind. It still managed to gather 6,800 views, but that seems to be mostly related to Medium drip-feeding it to users, compared to the over 50,000 it received on my own site.
As a writer, I appreciate that Medium encourages pretty much anyone and everyone to write. I think this is incredibly valuable. I do however, think that there’s some improvement to be made on the publishing side of things. I expected to have to work hard to get myself published. I thought I would have multiple things turned down before I landed on something great. I thought I would receive support and editting once I had a first draft of something half decent. But instead, the process felt cold and distant as the Internet usually does.
As a reader (and probably not for much longer a Medium subscriber), I don’t want to spend large chunks of my day sifting through clickbait articles, content that is identical to something I’ve already read, or just generally poorly written articles that somehow managed to scam the algorithm into a top spot despite looking like it was written by GPT-3. I hoped publications might have helped this a bit, but when views and clicks = money, everything else seems to go out the window.
I’ll continue to cross post most of my writing to Medium. I recognize that it has a large audience to tap into. But I will be focusing my energy on how not to fall prey to the same issues I see present there.