Medium (website)

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Medium
Medium logo Wordmark Black.svg
Screenshot
Medium screenshot.png
Screenshot as of August 2017.
Type of businessPrivate
Available inEnglish (specific publications can be in Spanish, French, and other languages)
Area servedWorldwide
OwnerA Medium Corporation
Founder(s)Evan Williams
CEOEvan Williams
IndustryInternet
Products
Services
Employees85 (May 2017)[1]
Websitemedium.com
Alexa rankIncrease 199 (As of 12 February 2019)[2]
RegistrationRequired to publish and write articles, but free access is provided to articles written by registered accounts
LaunchedAugust 15, 2012; 6 years ago (2012-08-15)
Current statusActive
Native client(s) oniOS and Android

Medium is an online publishing platform developed by Evan Williams, and launched in August 2012. It is owned by A Medium Corporation.[3] 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,[4] and is regularly regarded as a blog host.

Williams developed Medium as a way to publish writings and documents longer than Twitter's 140-character (now 280-character) maximum.

Background[edit]

Evan Williams, Twitter co-founder and former CEO, created Medium to encourage users to create posts longer than the then 140-character limit of Twitter. When it launched in 2012, Williams stated, "There's been less progress toward raising the quality of what's produced."[5] By April 2013, Williams reported there were 30 full-time staff working on the platform,[6] including a vacancy for a "Storyteller" role,[7] and that it was taking "98 percent" of his time.[6] By August, Williams reported that the site was still small, although he was still optimistic about it, saying "We are trying to make it as easy as possible for people who have thoughtful things to say".[8]

Medium has been focusing on optimizing the time visitors spend reading the site (1.5 million hours in March 2015), as opposed to maximizing the size of its audience.[9][10] In 2015, Williams criticized the standard web traffic metric of unique visitors as "a highly volatile and meaningless number for what we’re trying to do".[10] According to the company, as of May 2017, Medium.com had 60 million unique monthly readers.[1]

Medium maintained an editorial department staffed by professional editors and writers, had several others signed on as contractors and served as a publisher for several publications. Matter operated from Medium Headquarters in San Francisco and was nominated for a 2015 National Magazine Award.[11] In May 2015, Medium made deep cuts to its editorial budget forcing layoffs at dozens of publications hosted on the platform.[12] Several publications left the platform.

In 2016, Medium introduced paywalled content accessible only to subscribers.[13] In 2017, 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.[14] The formula for compensation was soon adapted to also include the amount of time readers spent reading, in addition to the use of the like button.[15]

Medium has brought in revenue through native advertising and sponsorship of some article series.[16] Medium gained several new publishers to host their content on the platform.[17] There was an aborted attempt to introduce advertising to the site, leading to Medium was cutting its staff by 50 employees in January 2017, and closing its offices in New York and Washington, D.C.[18][17] He explained that "we had started scaling up the teams to sell and support products that were, at best, incremental improvements on the ad-driven publishing model", but that, instead, Medium was aiming for a "new [business] model for writers and creators to be rewarded, based on the value they’re creating for people".[18] At that time, the company had raised $134 million in investment from venture capital firms and Williams himself.[17]

In March 2017, Medium announced a membership program for $5 per month, offering access to "well-researched explainers, insightful perspectives, and useful knowledge with a longer shelf life", with authors being paid a flat amount per article.[19] Subsequently, The Ringer and the technology blog Backchannel, both Condé Nast publications, left Medium. Backchannel, which left Medium for Wired in June, said Medium was "no longer as focused on helping publications like ours profit."[20] In October 2017, Williams reaffirmed that Medium was not planning to pursue banner advertising as part of their revenue model and were instead exploring micropayments, gratuities and patronage.[15]

Corporate governance[edit]

Medium initially utilized holacracy as its structure of corporate governance.[21][22] In 2016, they moved away from holacracy because they reported difficulty coordinating large-scale projects, dissatisfaction with the required record-keeping, and poor public perception of holacracy.[23][a]

User information and features[edit]

Platform[edit]

The platform software provides a full WYSIWYG user interface when editing online, with various options for formatting provided as the user edits over rich text format.

Once an entry is posted, it can be recommended and shared by other people, in a similar manner to Twitter.[7] Posts can be upvoted in a similar manner to Reddit, and content can be assigned a specific theme, in the same way as Tumblr.

In August 2017, Medium replaced their Recommend button with a "clap" feature, which readers can click multiple times to signify how much they enjoyed the article. Medium announced that payment to authors will be weighted based on how many "claps" they receive.[24]

Users can create a new account using Facebook, or Google account. The users may also sign up using an e-mail address, when they are signing up using the mobile app of Medium.com. [25]

Memberships[edit]

Medium offers users subscriptions to become a member for a monthly or yearly fee of $5 or $50, respectively. With a Medium membership, access to "exclusive content, audio narrations of popular stories, and an improved bookmark section" is enabled.[26]

Tag system[edit]

A specific difference from Williams' earlier service, Blogger, is that posts are sorted by topic rather than writer.[27] The platform uses the system of "claps" (formerly "recommendations"), similar to "likes" on Facebook, to up vote the best articles and stories, called the Tag system, and divides the stories into different categories to let the audiences choose.

Publications[edit]

"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.

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,[28] including Robert Christgau, who contributed his Expert Witness capsule review column.[29] Medium also published a technology publication called Backchannel, edited by Steven Levy.[30]

On February 23, 2016, it was announced that Medium had reached a deal to host the new Bill Simmons website, The Ringer.[31] In August 2017 it left Medium for Vox Media.[32]

Reception[edit]

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.[33] 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.[7]

Lawrence Lessig welcomed the platform's affordance of Creative Commons licensing for user content,[34] 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.[35][36]

However, in 2013 the service suffered criticism from writers, with some confused about exactly what it is expected to provide.[37]

Censorship[edit]

Malaysia[edit]

In January 2016, Medium received a take down notice from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission for one of the articles published by the Sarawak Report. The Sarawak Report had been hosting its articles on Medium since July 2015, when its own website was blocked by the Malaysian government.[38]

Medium's legal team responded to the commission with a request for a copy of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission's official statement that the post was untrue, for information on which parts of the article were found false, and for information on whether the dispute has been raised in court. The site declined to take the content down until directed to do so by an order from a court of competent jurisdiction.[39] In response, on January 27, 2016, all content on Medium has been unavailable for Malaysian internet users.

The ban has been lifted as of 18 May, 2018, with MCMC stating the ban lift was because "there was no reason (to block the website)" as the 1MDB report has been made public by the government.

Egypt[edit]

As of June 2017, Medium has been blocked in Egypt along with more than 60 media websites in a crackdown by the Egyptian government.[40] The list of blocked sites also includes Al Jazeera, The Huffington Post's Arabic website and Mada Masr.

China[edit]

In April 2016, Medium was blocked in mainland China[41] after information from the leaked Panama Papers was published on the site.

Engineering[edit]

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.[42] 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.[43]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ For difficulties in coordination between departments in the corporate structure, see Bort (2017).

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Streitfeld, David (2017-05-20). "'The Internet Is Broken': @ev Is Trying to Salvage It". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  2. ^ "medium.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2019-02-12.
  3. ^ Panzarino, Matthew. "Twitter Co-Founder Evan Williams' Blogging Platform Medium Opens Signups To All". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2015-09-10.
  4. ^ Sussman, Ed. "The New Rules of Social Journalism". Pando Daily. Retrieved 2014-03-29.
  5. ^ Letzing, John (15 August 2012). "Twitter Founders Unveil New Publishing 'Medium'". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  6. ^ a b Taylor, Colleen (5 April 2013). "Williams, Biz Stone, And Jason Goldman Shift Focus To Individual Startups". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  7. ^ a b c Olanoff, Drew (15 November 2012). "Ev Williams Takes To Medium To Discuss The True Purpose Of His New Publishing Tool". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  8. ^ Stone, Brad (22 August 2013). "Twitter Co-Creator Ev Williams Stretches the Medium". Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  9. ^ "Medium's metric that matters: Total Time Reading". Data Lab. 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  10. ^ a b Hempel, Jessi (2015-04-14). "Ev Williams' Rules for Quality Content in the Clickbait Age". WIRED. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  11. ^ "National Magazine Awards 2015 Winners Announced | ASME". magazine.org. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  12. ^ Weissman, Cale Guthrie. "Medium budget cuts and restructuring". Business Insider. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  13. ^ LeFebvre, Rob (10 October 2017). "Medium expands its reading subscription to any author or publisher". Engadget. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  14. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (22 August 2017). "Medium will now pay writers based on how many claps they get". The Verge. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  15. ^ a b Ha, Anthony (10 October 2017). "Medium now lets anyone publish behind its paywall". TechCrunch. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  16. ^ Meyer, Robinson (16 June 2016). "The Forrest Gump of the Internet". The Atlantic. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  17. ^ a b c Bort, Julie (2017). "Inside Medium's meltdown: How an idealistic Silicon Valley founder raised $134 million to change journalism, then crashed into reality". Business Insider. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  18. ^ a b Williams, Evan (2017-01-04). "Renewing Medium's focus". Medium. Archived from the original on 2017-01-04. Retrieved 2017-03-10.
  19. ^ Owen, Laura Hazard (2017-03-22). "'Media is broken,' so Medium's launching a $5/month member program that offers small upgrades". Nieman Lab. Retrieved 2017-03-25.
  20. ^ Grinapol, Corinne (12 June 2017). "Like The Ringer Before It, Backchannel Is Leaving Medium". AdWeek. Retrieved 2017-06-25.
  21. ^ Stirman, Jason. "How Medium Is Building a New Kind of Company with No Managers". First Round Review.
  22. ^ Boyd, Stowe (7 August 2013). "Medium has no "people managers" and operates as a "holacracy"". GigaOm. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  23. ^ Doyle, Andy (4 March 2016). "Management and Organization at Medium". Medium Blog. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
  24. ^ Kastrenakes, Jacob (August 22, 2017). "Medium will now pay writers based on how many claps they get". The Verge. Retrieved 2017-08-30.
  25. ^ "Medium Login FAQ". medium.com. Retrieved 2014-10-25.
  26. ^ "Medium memberships". Medium Support. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
  27. ^ Shontell, Alyson (15 August 2012). "The Cofounders Of Twitter Launch A New Blog Platform, Medium". Business Insider. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  28. ^ "music producer JONATHAN SHECTER and musician/producer DAN FREEMAN: Entrepreneurship in the Digital Music Industry". The Office for the Arts at Harvard. Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  29. ^ Christgau, Robert (August 14, 2015). "Welcome to Expert Witness, a New Weekly Column by the Dean of American Rock Critics". Vice. Retrieved 2015-08-14.
  30. ^ Steven Levy (October 7, 2014). "Why I Started Backchannel". Medium. Retrieved 2015-07-03.
  31. ^ Lichty, Edward (2016-02-23). "Medium: Home of The Ringer". Medium. Retrieved 2016-02-23.
  32. ^ Spangler, Todd (2017-05-30). "Bill Simmons' The Ringer Inks Advertising, Tech Pact With Vox Media". Variety. Retrieved 2017-07-28.
  33. ^ Halliday, Josh (15 August 2012). "Twitter founders launch two new websites, Medium and Branch". The Guardian. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
  34. ^ Lessig, Lawrence (May 6, 2015). "Why I'm Excited for Medium's Partnership with Creative Commons". Medium. Archived from the original on 2015-09-11. Retrieved 2015-09-15.
  35. ^ Park, Jane (July 28, 2015). "Happy 150th, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!". Creative Commons. Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-09-16.
  36. ^ Editor. "About 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'". Medium.com. Retrieved 2015-09-16.
  37. ^ Dalenberg, Alex (23 August 2013). "Mysterious Medium has writers moderately freaked out". Upstart Business Journal. Archived from the original on 30 August 2013. Retrieved 2017-12-11.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  38. ^ Yi, Beh Lih (2015-07-20). "Sarawak Report whistle blowing website blocked by Malaysia after PM allegations". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  39. ^ Legal, Medium (2016-01-26). "The Post Stays Up". Medium. Retrieved 2016-01-27.
  40. ^ "Egypt bans Medium as media crackdown widens". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2017-06-17.
  41. ^ Millward, Steven (2016-04-15). "Medium is now blocked in China". Tech In Asia. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  42. ^ "The Stack That Helped Medium Scale To 2.6 Millennia Of Reading Time - Medium | StackShare". StackShare. Retrieved 2017-05-31.
  43. ^ "Medium.com tech stack". StackShare. Retrieved 2017-05-31.

External links[edit]