Art Kavanagh

Criticism, fiction and other writing

I’m again thinking of leaving Medium

Four months ago, I was about to delete my Medium account. I’d moved a lot of my less ephemeral posts from there to this site: my fiction, my book discussion posts and a dozen or so miscellaneous bits and pieces. The main things left to move were my posts on the topics of aphantasia and severely deficient autobiograpical memory (SDAM). And then I had second thoughts: it struck me that it would be easier, as well as better for my search engine visibility, if I left the posts where they were and simply pointed a subdomain of at them. This had become possible when Medium reintroduced custom domain names, a feature that they had discontinued a few years ago.

Custom domains are available to anyone who pays Medium’s subscription fee of $5 a month. I had stopped paying it in June 2019 but was happy to resume my membership so I could use my own domain name and incidentally (I hoped) to get better recommendations on my home page. For most of the previous two years, I’d been reading for the most part posts which weren’t behind the paywall. If I began to read more widely on Medium, I reasoned, the algorithm would get a better sense of what I liked, and show me more of it.

Four months on, I think it may be the moment to call time on that experiment. While $5 a month isn’t a lot of money, I could easily find something more useful to spend it on. Much of what appears in my Medium timeline is of very little interest to me. More to the point, my recommendations don’t seem to have improved as I had hoped. Medium has made some recent changes designed to make it easier to find posts that appeal to me — just a few days ago, they made it possible to follow tags (which may be user-defined) rather than a limited number of predefined topics. But this change may have come too late for me. Too much of what I’ve been seeing on Medium recently has been insubstantial, disposable “content”.

Also, counterintuitively, I have the impression that much of the most valuable writing on the platform isn’t behind the paywall. Its authors post only occasionally, when they have something significant to say, so there’s no reason for them to join the Partner Program, where frequent posting is the way to get noticed. So, it looks as if I’m going to be letting my Medium membership lapse again. With it will go my subdomain. I don’t think it will be any great loss.

I’ve recently been seeing a lot of Medium writers complaining that their page views and reads have dropped off dramatically. They’re mostly talking about their internal views, i.e. those coming from within Medium itself. My views have always tended more to come from outside (primarily from Google) but I too have noticed a precipitous drop. I wondered if this was because was less visible or trustworthy than but this doesn’t seem to be the case. When I Google key terms for some of my recent posts, those posts tend to come about as high in the search results as I’d have expected when I was using the Medium domain.

If I’m going to be losing the custom domain on Medium, it makes sense to revert to the plan I had four months ago, and move everything worth keeping, including the aphantasia/SDAM posts, to this site. I’ll be doing that over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Posting here rather than on Medium will give me more control over the look and feel as well as allowing me to use a wider range of html elements than are available on Medium. Once everything has been moved, I’ll delete my Medium account, as I had been intending to do in May. Apart from anything else, it will be easier to keep track of my posts if they’re all in one place.

Posted by Art on 11–Sep-2021.