Why I left Medium and moved back to my own domain

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

When I’ve started writing my stories on Medium it felt really​ good. Medium was the perfect “medium” to share your thoughts with all your followers. However in couple of years it changed a lot and I didn’t liked those changes. What were these?

  1. Setting up a domain was difficult. You had to sent them an email and wait for it for couple of days. Even with that, you couldn’t create domains for your own profile, you had to create a “Publication“, which is a profile that can be used by multiple authors. The whole thing was just confusing and I think it was deliberately done to prevent personal users using their own domains. To make it even worse they started to charge a one time fee of $75 (which I think is totally ok, but read more why it doesn’t make sense when combined with other issues).
  2. Content on Medium is great to read. The content just flows. I really feel how they poured hours of thinking into their designs. But Medium also has the power to change it suddenly. It slowly started to adding more and more social media buttons on their website. The design that once clean and simple, started to feel heavy. And because they “have to” grow they started to experiment  changing their famous design to increase the engagement (and therefore user growth). One of the end products of this way is that they  started using the infamous “dickbars”. I won’t go into details here much as John Gruber already ranted pretty well about it, but I just want to add that I truly hate it.
  3. Lack of readership communication. Writing comments to Medium posts feels awkward because each comment is treated as a blog post. Even if you just write couple of words, that particular comment will now be seen in your profile page forever. Medium discourages the readers to comment on any of the blog posts. The whole system is created in way that discouraged active sharing of knowledge. Say you decided to write anyway. In this case the frustrating behavior is that nobody can see the response of your comment if I  didn’t follow you back. You have to make an additional click just to see them. I don’t like this at all.
  4. Private sharing and reviewing never worked well. I’ve had several peer reviews of my posts and every single time the highlighted text would just disappear. I thought it was a great idea to get feedback before publishing it but It never worked well. Still they have great little touches (for example it shows a message that thanks to the reviewers of your post).
  5. Lack of a front page for your own profile. If you tried to jump to your own profile page, you’ll find out that you have to follow multiple URL’s get to your profile page. Just clicking on your avatar doesn’t work. The bad part though is that you don’t have the ability to change your profile page in a meaningful way. Medium decides how to show your own content. And as I said before it’ll show your comments made on other blog posts as they were posted as a story itself (which is not!). Again the whole system is designed to make individuals powerless and just to promote constant reading.

I know that Ev tries to establish and create a vision around Medium. However, It seems like I’m not a part of his vision. I know that many others like it and are totally ok with.

I was ok to pay a monthly fee to get a better features that promotes individuals and fixes some of the problems above. But that never happened. And seems like it’ll never happen in foreseeable future.

A new home

So here I am. I’ve moved all my Medium posts to WordPress.com (and selected the plan to use my own domain). There are several reasons why I’ve opted for this (which might be coming odd for some of you), but the number one reason was that I didn’t wanted to manage anything about my blog. I know things like hugo, jekyll, etc.. is super easy to setup, work great and are highly customizable, but they have their own tradeoffs as well (asset management, commenting, etc…). WordPress just works. It’s simple and and they have years of experience running a profitable blogging business. Plus I like the company (hint: Automattic) behind WordPress 🙂

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Current design

This is how my new home page looks like. I usually add the screenshots of my blogs to see how it evolves in the years of usage. This time I’ve opted for something more clean and minimalist (more on this later here!). I’ve started to travel more minimal and over the past year made many choices to be better at this. The design reflects some of it as well.

17 thoughts on “Why I left Medium and moved back to my own domain

  1. I wonder how, in your view, WordPress’ composer stacks up against Medium’s foolproof wysiwyg editor. Traditional blogging platforms always strike me as too powerful for their own good, while Medium is liberating because it forces you to focus on the content.

    1. I was wondering the same thing, and also why you chose WordPress as your platform instead of something leaner like Ghost. Anyway, I like your post and your mindset. Quick suggestion: you could go the POSSE way (Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere), so you’d have your content living here as well as on Medium for others to enjoy. 🙂

      1. Hey Thanks for the POSSE trick, will definitely do! 🙂 I’ve used Jekyll for my previous blog for almost 5/6 years. I don’t have anything against static page generators, but I really just want to focus on my content rather than maintaining my blogging platform

    2. So far it’s all good. It has all basic amenities even with far more options. You’re right that Medium’s own editor is unmatchable. I feel the same, but I have the ability to use any kind of tool to write my content (via web editor, desktop apps, etc..) so I think it’s not a big problem.

    1. This post was featured on Hackernews, so for just today I’ve received over 10K views. But I’ve just started the blog so I don’t have more detailed information.

  2. After using Ghost and markdown for editing with live previews I can’t fathom going back to WordPress and the excessive bloat (my opinion). I just finished a move to Hugo and I must say, separating the editor and the CMS feels pretty good. While I do keep my newsletters’ archives on Medium I was grandfathered in with a free domain. The moment that stops I’ll move it to a different platform. Putting your content in someone else’s hands is always going to be risky. With Medium the reward just isn’t there. Plus, it’s further consolidating content which is the antithesis of the web.

  3. I’m also a fan of separating the editing step from the rest.
    I would recommend looking into the Typora Win/Lin/Mac markdown editor: https://typora.io
    Currently I’m syncing my markdown notes with the new Google Drive app (now called Backup and Sync by Google) which doesn’t have a Linux client unfortunately, but then you can use Dropbox or even the Swiss https://tresorit.com/ if you care about data privacy.

    Then the hosting, publishing, commenting, analytics concerns are all configurable and independently changeable.

    I’m not blogging these days, but I should mention a similar thing I’m doing in the past half year.
    I’m recording my readings with the Evernote Web Clipper and share the notebook those clips go into using the standard Evernote interface:
    https://www.evernote.com/pub/onetom/links

    The benefit of this approach is that this collection acts as an extended mind.
    It automatically syncs to all my devices and I can read and search them even offline.
    Their search is not yielding very relevant results though, so I will move on eventually but don’t know yet to where.

  4. #3 with each comment treated as a blog post: Glad I am not the only one who finds this confusing. I stopped commenting on medium posts for that reason.

  5. It doesn’t have to be either/or. People don’t seem to realize that Medium allows publishers to republish content from other sources and use a canonical tag that points back to the origin. I wrote up a tutorial on how to set that up here:

    https://illuminea.com/ultimate-guide-to-wordpress-medium/

    And of course it’s reposted with a canonical tag on Medium 🙂
    View story at Medium.com

    BTW I totally agree that comments being treated as blog posts on Medium is so annoying!

  6. Great point. I like Medium UI and UX, but the thought of not having control over my content is really an obstacle to “settle down” on it.
    Ghost still has the premium experience for me, both for the writer and the reader. WordPress can be the best and worst experience, at the same site on the same time ;). A static site is great at speed and no need to maintaining, but lacks dynamics tricks.

  7. I experienced something that really bugged me on Medium and almost wrote an article but was worried about lash back so I left it alone.

    Someone wrote an article about going to a party and taking a lot of drugs and booze and voluntarily going upstairs into a bedroom with a complete stranger, making out with said stranger and then having sex but they really didn’t want to and was felt pressured into it and was now coming out about how this affected every relationship onward in their life.

    There was one person in particular that commented about it in a very dick way saying that they asked for it based on the bad decisions they had made. Everyone else started flaming in angrily of course, rape is rape, no means no of course. Then they started in on another person who had “hearted” that negative comment not realizing the person had hearted every single comment on the article in an effort to “promote” the article. The person stated they hadn’t even read the negative comment but boy oh boy you should have heard the livid and threatening remarks that person received for “supporting” that comment when they really were only trying to support the author getting them more publicity and attracting readers to the article.

    The point is, Medium is designed in a way that the comments promote the article more than the article itself, regardless of whether they are good or bad comments and can lead to some very bad situations. People build their perceptions around a simple action such as “hearting” a comment, without knowing anything about said person, then they label that person based on all the preconceived notion of what “supporting” that comment means to them. This just felt like a very dangerous and reckless system to me. Another social meets digital conundrum.

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