Medium is facing the same problem every other system or platform faces where popularity matters. It’s called the Matthew Effect or cumulative advantage. You could also call it the rich-get-richer effect.

Put simply, newbies who have no clue and no time take a shortcut to figure out what’s worth reading — they look at what’s already popular. So if Medium for whatever reason early on drew a lot of tech and self-help bros, they had a huge advantage for being here early. That advantage has compounded and now we have so much of that stuff here.

But it’s an all pervasive problem wherever people or algorithms can see what’s popular. It’s why the Kardashians are getting more and more famous for the simple fact that they’re already famous, it’s why a crappy 5th iteration of a franchise becomes a blockbuster, why famous TV personalities have a huge advantage in politics, why books from an unknown author take off once it’s revealed that it was really written by Stephen King, etc.

I think it’s a hard problem to solve. People follow the herd when they don’t know what to read, buy, watch, vote for, etc. It’s human nature.

As my father used to say: “Eat shit. Billions of flies can’t be wrong.” And so that’s what we’re being fed. Everywhere.

But I agree that it sucks. There really is amazing content on Medium. It’s just so damn hard to find…

But I do believe Medium is aware of it. Their curators must be as frustrated as we are. They see amazing stories, curate them, and they still go nowhere.

One way of reducing the Matthew effect is hiding popularity metrics (followers, claps, likes, trending, etc.) But both readers and writers don’t seem to like that. In fact, when Medium hid follower counts in the new profiles, it was us writers who were complaining the loudest. Sigh

Cartoonist, science fan, PhD, eukaryote. Doesn't eat cats, dogs, nor other animals.

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