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Is Medium Updating Its Curation System For The Worse?

  • 7 min read

About temporary glitches, the death of curation, and future changes.

Yesterday, I noticed that all my pieces that were curated lost the “chosen for further distribution” tag. I wasn’t alone.

Actually, I was in good company. I received tons of emails, DMs, and questions on Twitter.

It really was a bummer for many writers who were missing the tag which was a sign of success and a quality check.

Distribution is one of the biggest buzzwords in the community of Medium writers.

It showed that Medium’s human curators or AI hand-picked your story to share more widely with readers on Medium.

Most writers thought their stories would have been “de-curated” by Medium.

On Twitter and many Facebook groups, there was a furor.

To sum it up, from looking at the issue closely and all the feedback I’ve received, here’s the good news — for now:

  • It was just a temporary glitch.
  • Almost all writers even rockstars such as Sean Kernan with over 70K followers were experiencing it.
  • The curation tags of curated stories are back for now!

However, it’s definitely a sign you should take seriously because while writing this story I dug a bit deeper and found more insights on the future of Medium’s curation system.

It’s a sign that Medium is upgrading its curation system

As the new CEO of Medium, Tony Stubblebine, said in several interviews, Medium will be raising the quality bar for curated stories.

The missing curation tag is a sign that the process of upgrading the distribution system has just begun.

The other day, I talked with my hubby and full-stack software developer Patrick God about it and this is what he thinks:

  • Apparently, they are working behind the scenes in the “backend”.
  • They have two options: a) shut the site down for a while or b) do it “live” on the website.
  • Medium always seems to choose path b) and so we can see what they are currently working on in the “frontend”.

“Better Medium”

Medium’s CEO Tony Stubblebine is the owner of Better Human, Better Programming, and Better Marketing… he should definitely also own “Better Medium”.

Over and over again, writers are frustrated and concerned because they aren’t informed about the changes and the reasoning behind them BEFORE the actual implementation.

Dr Mehmet Yildiz addressed this issue and Medium’s Vice President of Content Scott Lamb replied:

Wait, there’s more… here’s what Medium just announced

Today, Scott Lamb shared Updates on Medium’s distribution system.

To be honest, I’m a little confused after reading his article.

Although several writers reached out to Medium’s Help Desk and got feedback that what happened yesterday was just a glitch…

…Scott shared a few hours ago:

We’ve decided to stop including the “chosen for further distribution” notification on the story stats page going forward.

He adds:

“Removing this notification does not mean that your stories are not being distributed.”

He also confirmed my overall assumption:

“We’ll continue to level-up Medium’s distribution system to meet the needs of both writers and readers.”

Some writers still experience the glitch or test

Apparently, there are some writers who are still experiencing this glitch which isn’t a glitch… but apparently, was a test for future changes?!

As Julius Evans told me:

“Now, some of the ‘Chosen for Further Distribution’ line is there and on some of the stories that were curated, the line is missing.”

Is curation dead and what’s the takeaway for publications?

Here are my 3 takeaways from Scott’s confusing article on the future of Medium’s curation system:

1No “chosen for further distribution” tag/sign/line anymore

“We’ve decided to stop including the “chosen for further distribution” notification on the story stats page going forward.”

  • I wonder whether Scott wants to remove both:

a) the line below your story

b) and the notification in the graph which shows the exact date your story was distributed

  • If so… we won’t get ANY notification anymore whether our story was curated and hand-picked or not.
  • This would really be pretty disappointing because for most writers it was a “quality check”.

This is an important “quality check” to some of us and as a paying member I really want to know when my work is “chosen for further distribution”. Melissa Coffey

2 — Stories do not need to be curated to be distributed.

“There is no waiting period for curation review and approval; stories are distribution eligible at the time of publishing.”

He adds:

“The vast majority of stories are eligible for algorithmic distribution upon publishing, and most stories now receive some level of distribution via our recommendations algorithm.”

  • Does this mean there won’t be human curators anymore but an algorithm deciding whether I’ll get “distributed” or not?
  • What about “curation”? Will this still be a thing?
  • Does this mean MORE stories have the chance to get distributed as long as they follow Medium’s Distribution Standards?
  • What about CEO Tony saying that too many stories are getting curated and Medium wants to do something about it? Where’s the benefit of this change?

3 — It’s the end of Medium’s curation system as we know it.

Eric Pierce, editor of the publication Fanfare asked:

  • Is curation dead?
  • Should publications continue to curate or is it an empty exercise?

As you can see, there are a few takeaways but also A LOT of questions linked to it.

Final Takeaways

I always try to stay on top of all things related to Medium.

I already informed you that Medium’s new CEO wants to raise the quality bar in regard to curation and that he thinks that too many stories are curated.

So is this the next big news then?

Is this *it*?

To be honest, this time I’m also a bit confused.

Medium needs to clarify things in regard to curation and keep us posted.

Curation was created to distinguish and *further distribute* higher quality work on the platform.

If there is still curation, how will we know as writers when we don’t see it anymore on our Stats page?

One thing is for sure, Tony and Scott should own a publication called “Better Medium” and communicate through this channel to keep us informed and make us smarter. Not more confused.

As far as I know, that’s also Tony’s vision for his own pubs, such as “Better Humans”.

We could become “Better Writers” and focus on our craft instead of scratching our heads over and over again.

I’m curious. What do you think about these changes?

© Kristina God

Kristina God is 25x Top Writer and one of Medium’s Top 1,000 Writers.
She loves to share her Medium 101’s, hacks as well as tips and tricks with new writers.
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