Skip to content

Why Your Favorite Medium Writers’ Faces Are Gone (with FAQ)

  • 7 min read

and what else will change in your feed in the near future.

The feedback I’ve been getting over the past several weeks has led me to believe that most new writers are unaware of or puzzled by Medium’s most recent changes.

The most recent Medium update is what I’ve chosen to share with you today.

Tony Stubblebine has taken over as the brand new CEO of Medium, and as a result, Medium is continuously improving its look and feel.

For instance, Medium recently included a tip option that lets us both tip and be tipped. I was one of the first to alert you.

Another one was the new golden “star icon” on the preview. I shared with you that the star icon is not only pretty and has a nice cosmetic touch BUT that it actually means something — that a story is a member-only story.

Now for more breaking news:

A few weeks back, in my personal network, Mike Lewis was the first to inform us that he couldn’t see his favorite writers' faces in the feed anymore.

Then, several of my followers told me they wouldn’t see my face anymore and said they missed me.

Several days ago, I couldn’t see my favorite writer’s avatars anymore as well.

I relied on the feature to keep me up to date with the people I love to follow.

I was upset that it was gone.

I’m not the only one.

Here’s what you need to know

Today, Medium’s brand new CEO Tony Stubblebine shared further details:

Did Medium permanently remove the avatars?

This is what the avatars looked like.

Did Medium permanently remove the avatars?
example from February 2022

Yes, Medium removed the just published faces “entity bar” (as they called it internally).

Why did they remove it?

Although Tony Stubblebine used the feature, it wasn’t widely enough used on the platform

95% of the people who could use it, didn’t.

What was the purpose of the just published faces entity bar?

Its purpose was to show you people you follow who just recently published a new story. Then you could click on the face and read the latest story.

What were the benefits?

  1. It showed us who published just recently.
  2. It allowed us to easily find who we felt like reading at the moment.
  3. It was a quick way to go back to recent articles by our favorite writers.

Did they change something else?

Yes!

They’ve changed how Medium’s follow feed looks and works.

Did they change something else?
new follow feed on Medium

They removed the recommendation algorithm filter used.

Now it shows you everything. Not only stories Medium thought you wanted to read.

The follow feed should completely replace your favorite writer’s face.

“so now that feed is a true follow feed in chronological order.” Tony Stubblebine

How to use the follow feed properly?

The follow feed is filled with people you follow and publications you follow.

Tony’s advice is to unfollow people and publications we don’t want to see in our follow feed anymore.

This means, writers and pubs we don’t want to read on a regular basis.

What did Tony say about the future of the follow feed?

Tony shares that no matter how good the new follow feed is, there’s still a problem.

The problem is high volume publications. Meaning, publications that are pumping out tons of stories per day.

“(…)the follow feed (…)gets swamped by high volume publications. I think that’s a sign that that publication is not doing good enough curation to be worth following.”

In the comments, he talks about Illumination.


From experiment to discovery

Medium feels more transparent than ever.

I love that Tony shared the reasoning behind the decision to remove the feature.

However, as you might know, I love to experiment with Medium’s latest features and updates.

So here’s what I’ve discovered.

Does the “true follow feed” work in practice?

Let’s cut the fluff.

In my opinion, it does not.

Here’s an example:

Does the “true follow feed” work in practice?
my follow feed

Tony said the “true follow feed” would show me the latest stories in chronological order.

Well, it does not.

For instance, it shows me a story by Patricia Rosa in which she shares her take on the missing writers’ faces and what to do about it.

I guess this is because I’m writing this story right now. But didn’t Tony say we don’t see what Medium thinks we want to see anymore? There still seems to be a recommendation AI working in the background.

Tony said I have to unfollow publications and writers

The stories in New Writers Welcome and The Shortform that popped up in my feed are triggered because I follow these publications. I don’t follow the writers.

Does this mean I need to unfollow the publications to not see those stories?

Apparently, we have no choice but to unfollow all publications if we want to make sure we consistently see our favorite writers in our follow feed.

This sucks.

Tony said it shows the posts in chronological order

Patricia’s post is from August. I guess this one shouldn’t be here although it’s Patricia’s latest post.

The others are one or two hours ago. I guess that’s fine although they don’t reflect the topics I’m interested in.

But I’ve discovered more:

  • Patricia’s story from August does not go away. Whatever I do. The post is “pinned” to the feed.
  • I still have to hunt through my follower list or search for my favorite writers.
  • I can’t subscribe to all of my favorite writers. My inbox would explode.
  • The follow feed shows me stories I’ve already read and seen.

Here are some more statements from people in my network:

What about the visual and personal branding aspect?

(…) the follow feed simply doesn’t compensate in the way that avid readers need. I also think there’s something visceral about seeing those faces pop up (might be something about visual learners?) Paul Walker

Even if it would work, wouldn’t you love to see the avatars again?

If you can get the follow feed to work correctly, it would be awesome. Even so, I think you should put the Entity Bar back. Susan Wheelock

Why not only include individual writers?

How about configuring the “following” tab to only include individual writers we follow and not publications. Acamea

What about individual writers? They’ll lose the battle for attention.

So each week it's 7 stories from the prolific writer versus 35 stories from the low-volume publication.

So as long as one follows publications, they will ALWAYS dominate the following feed and drown out individual writers. David B. Clear

Could the follow feed be the perfect replacement when amendments are done?

I believe the “following feed” can potentially be the perfect replacement for the “entity bar. “ (…)

(…) to achieve that status requires two main improvements: first, a bit of unclogging; and afterward, it should evolve to become truly “organic,” i.e., It should mirror the actual timeline of published stories with little AI interference behind. In this feed, it should be up to the user to decide which stories he wants to see by following specific authors. Rui Alves

Final Takeaways

Medium feels more transparent than ever.

I love that Tony shared the reasoning behind the decision to remove the feature.

However, in my view, it’s not ready yet.

A lot of amendments need to be done.

The good news is Tony and his team are listening:

Share your feedback and let’s improve the new follow feed together so we can trust the process.

How do you like your new follow feed and did you see my story in your feed?

© Kristina God

👉Join Kristina's 'Online Writing 101' newsletter 📨!
👉New to Medium? Become a Medium member, get unlimited access to all stories and earn money from your writing!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *