Why I Left Medium

Posted on Jul 31, 2013 in Development
Why I Left Medium

A few months ago, I decided to move all of my content over to Medium.

If you aren’t aware, Medium is a new content platform designed for readers and writers. Its main draw is an elegant writing interface combined with the ability to comment on specific pieces of text, instead of on an article as a whole.

I was finding myself a bit frustrated with my online presence — torn between voices of code, travel, photography, and music. I was originally going to dive head-first into a content-negotiated BlackBox-driven experience where all of my content was indexed, searchable, and archived automatically on Archive.org.

I found myself heavily over-engineering — I need those decisions to be taken away from me. I needed a change.

Medium seemed like the antithesis to over-engineering. It has great typography, encourages collaboration, forces photos for every post, and is responsive. What’s not to love?

Honeymoon Phase

So, I spent an afternoon moving all of my content over to Medium, adding beautiful heading photos to every post. Once complete, I shut my old site down permanently, a site that I had been maintaining (in some form or another) since 2007. To lazily prevent link-rot, I setup a simple blanket 301 redirect from the old domain to my profile on Medium. Things felt right.

This was a big deal for me. Myself from three years ago would be having a panic attack from the idea of just shoving all my content on a different domain without rhyme or reason. In 2009, I obsessed over PageRank and content semantics. Myself from today doesn’t care that much.

Once I flipped the switch, I excitedly started a few dozen draft posts, serializing all the half-baked ideas I had been collecting in my notebook. As months went by, I found myself happily writing as my traffic slowly declined.

This isn’t the end of the world, but here’s the kicker — I couldn’t do anything about it.

  • I couldn’t embed any content in a post. Not even that tweet.
  • I couldn’t track referrers to know where my readers are coming from.
  • I couldn’t search Twitter for my posts because of the massively shared domain.
  • I couldn’t even use gaug.es.
  • I couldn’t pick my own URLs.
  • I couldn’t do anything but keep writing.

I felt dead inside.

Back to WordPress

I was tempted to go back to my old statically generated website, powered by Pelican (a Jekyll for Python). I really didn’t want to have to deal with version control and deployment when I was writing, though. Two different parts of the brain conflicting. When I’m writing, I don’t want to be in code mode.

So, I created an account on PagodaBox (which I highly recommend), and setup WordPress for the first time in over three years. I searched around for a theme that resonated with me, and with a little bit of typographic collaboration from Idan Gazit, my website is now better than ever.

I even found an old backup of my old WordPress website and merged in all of my old content. Even the embarrassing stuff.

I’m writing again. I’m in control again. It feels good. I’m here to stay.

tl;dr

Medium really is a great platform if you just want to write. Unfortunately, for me, that just wasn’t my problem.

Pub Trivia: The dude in the photo at the top is Max Fenton, lost in his work as Readability’s Community Manager a few years ago. He’s awesome.