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Why Medium Won’t Become The Next Wikipedia

  • 4 min read

Medium has more articles than Wikipedia. Whopping 75M vs. 55M. However, they are completely different kinds of platforms.

A few days ago, Wikipedia launched its new look.

Some say it looks weird and they want the old look back.

Others find it much more welcoming and easier to use.

The treasure trove of Aladdin’s cave that Wikipedia is, has 55M articles!

Medium Has More Articles Than Wikipedia
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Comparatively, on Medium there are 75M stories.

75M articles is a lot of content.

That’s one of the reasons why it’s been speculated that Tony Stubblebine wants to make Medium the next Wikipedia.

Medium => Wikipedia 2.0.?

As Medium’s CEO Tony Stubblebine stated in a thread:

“(…) certainly not all worthy of being categorized. But it is, I think, of a size that allows for simpler and direct forms of organizations. I think a directory of lists of articles could be a very helpful views into the archives.”

Tony was referring to Medium’s lists feature which helps individual writers categorize and organize their posts.

Medium wants to make more use of this (underutilized) feature and share curated lists.

For instance,…

These are all things that Medium could answer for you planetary, but not in just one article.

Medium could provide a directory of lists of posts.

Medium writer and CEO of Sporcle Ali Aydar made the comparison with Wikipedia:

“a unique organization of a subset of human knowledge..like a curated Wikipedia on steroids…“

In Tony Stubblebine’s latest interview with Sinem Günel, Tony says that if Medium were to organize the best of Medium’s 75 million blog posts, “we would have a knowledge base on par with Wikipedia, covering different topics”.

When I heard this…I thought

Medium’s approach is lacking:

  • ❌fact-checking
  • ❌citations
  • ❌to date information
  • ❌real “evergreen content”

❌Medium is more about personal stories and individual truth than collective truth and facts.

❌So in my opinion Medium can’t compare itself to Wikipedia because it’s totally different.

❌I also want to emphasize that the reading experience of a curated list on Medium is really bad.

You’re in strolling hell: having to scroll down, down, down won’t really help you as a reader.

So I had a conversation with Jon Robson and Pax Ahimsa Gethen from Wikipedia.

When long-time Wikipedia editor Jon Robson shared a Medium story about The new Wikipedia appearance that took the whole village I took the chance and asked Jon about the idea of Medium becoming the next Wikipedia.

Medium and Wikipedia are serving different functions — Jon:

“I see the two sites as serving very different functions. I think because of the nature of who is editing it, Medium is a place for speaking individual truth, ideas and opinions and Wikipedia is more about collective truth and facts.

They are completely different kinds of platforms — Pax:

“Tony can clarify for himself, but I don’t think he’s actually trying to make Medium “the next Wikipedia”. Speaking as a long-time Wikipedia editor myself, in addition to a Medium writer, they’re completely different kinds of platforms.”

That’s what Tony Stubblebine clarified

In the comments section of Jon’s article, Tony replied to our discussion and added:

“It’s definitely not accurate to say we want to compete with or replace Wikipedia. But it’s also not very clear to explain what we want to do without comparisons or with that many caveats.”

Here’s what Medium’s CEO shared about the future of Medium:

Tony wants to rethink the tag pages

“I requested and saw designs I liked for a better algorithmically generated tag page that was more focused on being a portal to the topic rather than a feed of recently published posts.”

Tag pages that are human-curated

“Sometimes we are hesitant to design things that rely on the work of humans, which is ironic given that the meat of the site is the work of humans. So I would still like to do more design work to explore tag pages that were human curated and edited portals to Medium’s coverage of a topic.”

The algorithmic approach could become more human

“I would expect that we will probably move forward with the algorithmic approach and then make them more human over time.”

I’m curious. What do you think?


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