Medium – Evan Williams’ blog publishing platform, launched in 2012 – has over the years attracted a lot of users and champions of the idea, but also a lot of critics and detractors.
Williams, previously a co-founder of Blogger – eventually acquired by Google, to languish there – and of Twitter – banked on his vast tech start-up cred to launch a new product that was supposed to right some of the wrongs he discerned in the previous two of his entrepreneurial efforts.
Some years back, the most jarring criticism of Medium had been that it was pretty much a hipster platform – i.e., where hipsters went to share their thoughts and promote their products, instead of doing it on their own websites.
And this was all happening at a time in the web’s history when a strong narrative was being pushed about the end of the product websites and personal blogs. This was supposed to mean that in the future – one at once dystopian and utopian – all anyone would ever need to express or market themselves online would be in the hands of others: Facebook, Twitter, Google, Apple (News+) or indeed, Medium, and the like.
But this “future” has come, and it is now kind of on its way out – as there has been significant push-back against the idea of giving up all one’s content over to somebody else’s centralized platform – immediate convenience be damned.
When it comes to Medium, nowadays its walled-garden approach emerges as the number one reason publishers are rubbed the wrong way with the platform.
Take freeCodeCamp – a non-profit offering interactive web development lessons along with an online community – that had signed on to Medium as a means of promoting its activities back in 2015 – but is now pulling out.
And it’s doing it in favor of its very own open source publishing platform.
Apparently sick of paywalls on Medium standing purposefully in the way between itself and its core audience – freeCodeCamp is taking its publishing destiny back into its own hands.
In a tweet that is still online as of press time – freeCodeCamp spelled things out in no uncertain terms:
“freeCodeCamp is the biggest publication on Medium. Our open source community sends Medium about 5% of their total traffic. But over the past year, Medium has become more aggressive toward us. They have pressured us to put our articles behind paywalls. We refused. So they tried to buy us. (Which makes no sense. We are a public charity.) We refused. Then they started threatening us with a lawyer.”