Medium

Medium logo

Medium is an American online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams and launched in Aug 2012. It is owned by A Medium Corporation. The platform is an example of social journalism, having a hybrid collection of amateur and professional people and publications, or exclusive blogs or publishers on Medium, and is regularly regarded as a blog host.

Quick Fact

Summary

  • Ranked #328th worldwide
  • Active users 60 M
  • Type Blogging Networks
  • Launched date August 15, 2012
  • Employees 85
  • Headquarters San Francisco, C.A
  • Parent company Automattic

Founders

person
Evan Williams Nebraska

Networks

  • Brand value In 2020 N/A
  • Revenue in 2020 $42 M
  • Net loss In 2020 N/A

Reception

ReceptionMedium CEO and Twitter co-founder Ev Williams talks with

Recode’s Kara Swisher at the Collision conference in Toronto

on May 21, 2019. (via vox.com)

Reviewing the service at its launch in 2012, The Guardian enjoyed some of the collections that had been created, particularly a collection of nostalgic photographs created by Williams.

TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff suggested the platform might have taken its name from being a "medium"-sized platform in between Twitter and full-scale blogging platforms such as Blogger.

Lawrence Lessig welcomed the platform's affordance of Creative Commons licensing for user content, a feature demonstrated in a Medium project with The Public Domain Review—an interactive online edition of Alice's Adventures In Wonderland, annotated by a dozen Carroll scholars, allowing free remixes of the public domain and Creative Commons licensed text and art resources, with reader-supplied commentaries and artwork.

However, in 2013 the service suffered criticism from writers, with some confusion about exactly what it is expected to provide.

A 2019 Nieman Lab article chronicling Medium's first seven years described the site as having "undergone countless pivots", becoming "an endless thought experiment into what publishing on the internet could look like".

Software Architecture

Medium's initial technology stack relied on a variety of AWS services including EC2, S3, and CloudFront. Originally, it was written in Node.js and the text editor that Medium users wrote blog posts with was based on TinyMCE.

As of 2017, the blogging platform's technology stack included AWS services, including EBS, RDS for Aurora, and Route 53, its image server was written in Go, and the main app servers were still written in Node.

Publications Released

Publications ReleasedEv Williams will be speaking with Ezra Klein at Recode’s 2019 Code Conference.

(via vox.com)

Medium acquired Matter, a science and technology website in 2013.

Cuepoint, Medium's music publication, is edited by Jonathan Shecter, a music industry entrepreneur and co-founder of The Source magazine. It publishes essays on artists, trends, and releases, written by Medium community contributors, major record executives, and music journalists, including Robert Christgau, who contributed his Expert Witness capsule review column. Cuepoint was started in 2014.

Medium also published a technology publication called Backchannel, edited by Steven Levy. In 2016, Backchannel was purchased by Condé Nast.

In 2016, Medium hired the founder of the publication Human Parts, which focused on personal stories.

On Feb 23, 2016, it was announced that Medium had reached a deal to host the new Bill Simmons website, The Ringer. In Aug 2017 it left Medium for Vox Media.

In 2019, Medium acquired the Bay Area website The Bold Italic.

Also in 2019, Medium launched seven new publications: GEN (politics, power, and culture), OneZero (tech and science), Marker (business), Elemental (health and wellness), Focus (productivity), Zora (women of color) and Level (men of color).

In 2020, Medium launched Momentum, whose subjects are anti-racism and civil rights.

Original Idea

original ideaoriginal idea

Evan Williams, the Twitter co-founder and former CEO created Medium

to encourage users to create posts longer than the then 140-character limit of Twitter.

Brief History

2012

Reviewing the service at its launch.

Aug Medium is launched.
2013
Apr Williams reported there was 30 full-time staff working on the platform.
2015
May Medium made deep cuts to its editorial budget forcing layoffs at dozens of publications hosted on the platform.
2016

7.5 million posts were published on the platform, and 60 million readers used medium.com.

Medium hired the founder of the publication Human Parts, which focused on personal stories.

Jan Medium received a take-down notice from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for one of the articles published by the Sarawak Report.
Feb Medium had reached a deal to host the new Bill Simmons website, The Ringer.
Apr Medium was blocked in mainland China.
2017

Medium introduced paywalled content accessible only to subscribers.

The Medium began paying authors based on how much users expressed their appreciation for it through a like button which each user could activate multiple times.

Mar Medium announced a membership program for $5 per month.
May Medium.com had 60 million unique monthly readers.
Jun Medium has been blocked in Egypt along with more than 60 media websites in a crackdown by the Egyptian government.
Aug Medium replaced their Recommend button with a "clap" feature.

Bill Simmons' website, The Ringer, transferred to Vox Media.

2019

Medium is not profitable.

Medium acquired Bay Area website The Bold Italic.

Medium launched seven new publications: GEN (politics, power, and culture), OneZero (tech and science), Marker (business), Elemental (health and wellness), Focus (productivity), Zora (women of color), and Level (men of color).

Aug The company announced it would no longer pay authors according to claps but according to readership time spent on articles instead.
2020

Medium launched Momentum.

Apr The Albanian Audiovisual Media Authority blocked Medium in Albania.
Jun Medium's board members were: Evan Williams, Biz Stone, Josh Elman of Greylock Partners, Ben Horowitz, Colin Kaepernick.
Dec Many reports confirmed that Medium was blocked in Vietnam.
2021
Jan Medium announced that it had acquired the social-based ebook company, Glose.

Network Features

By design, Medium is stripped down, streamlined, and lightweight. This isn’t a result of a lazy product team — quite the contrary.

Medium has worked tirelessly to demolish all barriers that exist between you and your written word, and the resulting super simple editor is a tremendous asset in accomplishing such an ambitious target.

Don’t mistake Medium’s approach as limiting. Within the sandbox that Medium has provided for wordsmiths to play, a creative writer is still left with plenty of options.

Constraints are a beautiful thing, and Medium has reached an elusive balance to encourage you to stay on track while simultaneously empowering you to add some custom touches.

Memberships

Memberships
																	Screenshots. (via thepanthertech.com)

Medium offers users subscriptions to become a member for a $5 monthly or $50 yearly fee. With a Medium membership, access to "exclusive content, audio narrations of popular stories, and an improved bookmark section" is enabled.

Partner Program

The Medium Partner Program is Medium's compensation program for its writers. Partner Program writers are paid based on how deeply Medium members read their work. As members read longer, writers earn more. Medium distributes a portion of each member's subscription fee to the writers they read most each month.

Publications

"Cuepoint" redirects here. For audio engineering terms, see Cue (audio)."Publications" on Medium are distributing hosts that carry articles and blog posts, like a newspaper or magazine. The articles published or saved on it can be assigned editors and can be saved as drafts.

Basic Features

Embedding

Don’t tell your audience. Instead, show them. There are better ways to present another work other than the trusty underlined blue hyperlink. YouTube & Vimeo videos, GitHub lists, Tweets, Vines, Kickstarter campaign summaries, Instagram photos, and SoundCloud & Rd.io recordings are all embeddable.

Linked images

Unless you are writing for altruism or goodwill (which is totally OK), you likely want your audience to take an action — join a mailing list, visit a product page, etc. In the industry, these are referred to as calls to action. Although Medium’s editor does not allow for custom buttons to be inserted, there is a clever workaround.

Tags

Posts on Medium are sorted by topic rather than by writer, unlike most blogging platforms, including Williams' earlier Blogger. The platform uses a system of "claps" (formerly "recommendations"), similar to "likes" on Facebook, to upvote the best articles and stories, called the Tag system, and divides the stories into different categories to let the audiences choose.

For each story you publish, you can select up to 3 tags. Tags will help an interested audience discover your story, and improve search result rankings within Medium.

Highlights

You’ve likely noticed the highlighting feature that was released earlier in the year. It’s a great little function for readers, but writers can also utilize this feature to their advantage.

Sharing drafts

As the adage goes, two heads are better than one. Before you publish your next story, send the draft over to a friend or colleague for a quick glance. Worst case - they will catch a couple of typos. Best case — they will shine a light on some rough spots in your writing that could use a little polishing.

Note URLs

One of the fundamental differences with Medium compared to other publishing platforms is the focus on context. Medium ripped out the traditional below-the-post commenting system in favor of in-line notes.

Social cards

Sharing on social media is deeply integrated into the Medium product, and is likely a root cause for virality. Medium stories are shared on Twitter and Facebook using “cards,” which are brief summaries that include a title, subtitle, teaser, and a thumbnail version of your cover image.

Notes

Leave notes on your own story to clarify a point, provide further resources, or call out an update or amendment to the original text. This keeps readers from having to scroll all the way to the bottom and then back up to where they left off. As the story matures and reader feedback is collected, adding notes can improve the story over time.

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