The Secret Truth of Reply Fridays

The Secret Truth of Reply Fridays

This week, I started a regular feature over on Medum called Reply Fridays.

Every Friday, I'll highlight some replies I got on Medium, and then I'll reply to them.

I'm doing this because I don't really like to reply to people on Medium that only ask me for headphone purchasing advice, for reasons I'll explain below.

But first, please don't let that stop you from commenting here or shooting me a message over on Twitter. I like using those platforms. I have full control over the comment system on this web site, and it's designed for quick, to-the-point discourse. Same goes for Twitter.

Medium is...a different beast.

Every reply on Medium is a new article. With no bounds, limits, or other defining parameters. Replies can include images, videos, and full text formatting. It's a cool idea. And it was designed to encourage large back-and-forth discussions using the full strength of the robust Medium platform.

But in practice, that rarely happens.

Instead, I get comments that are longer than they would be on other platforms that have limits in place. Then, because I have the full capability of the platform at my disposal...I end up writing really long replies that take too long to create.

People are usually impressed at the speed with which I get back to them on Medium with purchase advice, and I'm trying to change that so I become less reliable and, as a result, get fewer replies overall.

"Alex, this doesn't make any sense. Why would you want to lessen user engagement?"

I don't want to lower overall engagement. I want to encourage the sort of engagement that I personally enjoy more. I want more of the kind of engagement that doesn't require an immediate reply so that those people can make a purchasing decision.

Giving purchasing advice online is hard, because people are very skeptical of what I tell them even though they've asked me for advice. There's a reason that the headphone section on reddit doesn't allow purchase advice threads, and there's a reason that most professional reviewers ignore questions about "which one is better???????"

It can get super frustrating, especially in a place like Medium where the conversation can just go on forever for as many words as possible.

Not all purchase advice discussions are bad...but 90 percent of them end with the commenter totally ignoring my advice or going with the first thing they already wanted anyway. I spend a lot of time writing my thoughts on the internet, and it's not my job to make sure people buy the right thing.

That doesn't mean I don't care. That doesn't mean I don't want people to ask me for help. But I wish that more folks would learn to trust their own instincts, and interpret the reviews in front of them before asking already-answered questions in a comment.

This is the third article in the last week I've written where I feel like I'm insulting some part of my audience. I've had many great discussions with many audio, gaming, and tech fans...and I'm looking forward to continuing to have those. But asking me whether one headphone is better than another one is, with a handful of exceptions, not really a discussion. So I'm not going to engage in those as frequently as I used to. I'm sorry!

I've been replaying Mass Effect 1, and I'm quite enjoying it. It comes from an era in gaming's advancement that I'm quite fond of. I think the game does a number of things I expected other developers to steal...and then no one ever really did.

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