What is Going On Over at Medium?
I get that changes are inevitable. I get that marketing departments have to refresh logos and branding every so often to stay "Fresh."
But sometimes, companies change things for the sake of change. Rather than taking a hard look at their business strategies, and finding the true root of why they're not doing well or making enough money, they fling wildly around trying to blame any other thing they can.
I have no insight into what's happening over at Medium. But I do know that, after carefully building up a brand and a concept...they've spent the last few months gradually chipping away at the things I thought were cool.
First came the paid memberships. The notion of writers being paid is, on its own, a sound one. And I was hoping that paid memberships would work like Youtube Red. In the Youtube system, members pay to remove ads, and then creators get paid based on how much time Red members spend watching their videos. Simple.
Medium's system is a little more arcane and mysterious.
Like Youtube Red's premium content, Medium now has some articles behind a paywall. Unlike Youtube Red, on Medium only the creators who have stuff behind the paywall are making money. So since I write stuff that I want everyone to have access to...I make zero money on Medium, even if a paid member reads my content.
This is stupid.
Furthermore, Medium is exercising a high degree of creative control over stuff behind their paywall. You have to submit pitches and go through editorial approval. And hey that's great. Youtube does the same thing with Red exclusives. However, since the paid Medium members are only really supporting the paid Medium content, it's like they're running two different web sites now: The paid premium part, and that random stuff for everyone else.
It creates a weird haves/have nots situation. Paid members are probably more likely to only read paid content, and free members like me will continue to ignore all of this and fight for a piece of the larger internet-reading pie.
Paid members will become a weird small elite society, a snake eating its own tail, rather than supporting the site and the community as a whole.
AND THEN THERE'S CLAPPING
Medium got rid of the liking/recommend feature and replaced it with clapping. Before, Medium readers were like mini-curators, finding content they wanted to share with others and then recommending it personally.
Now they're people that shout "yay!" and clap.
The site doesn't work that much differently after this change, but the User Experience/design difference is clear. It's a dumbing down of the perception of the audience. It's more fun...and more weirdly childish.
I do like holding down the button to deliver multiple claps to an article...but what does this accomplish other than wasting my time?
AND THIS NEW LOGO DEAR GOD
Newspapers are basically done, in their old form...so I'm sooooo happy that Medium wants to look more like a Newspaper.
All the color on the main site is gone, save for the lone "Write a Story" button. Some other bits of green remain hidden in other menus, but personality? No, we can't have that. It now has a super over-the-top intense adult look...a perfect match for the concept of clapping.
I'm going to add a splash of green to my site just for the hell of it now, in honor of the fallen Medium of old.