I’m Mad as An Old Wet Hen

And I don’t give a damn if Medium doesn’t like it.

Photo by Andriyko Podilnyk on Unsplash

I swear, it seems as if Medium lives to give its writers a good screwing every few months. I know, I know. The powers that be are going to be mad at me and probably throw my butt off the platform for saying that. The truth won’t please them.

Oh, me. I may lose my $2, but they will lose $5

I’m sure that will trouble them.

I’ll never be featured or curated again — even if they should, by some chance, leave me on the platform — never to be favored again. But actually, I’m sick and tired of it anyway and don’t much give a hairy damn. I can just go write my book, or read some books, or file my toenails. I’ll survive.

Mid-level writers here work their asses off. I hear August Birch and other Medium gurus telling us we have to write more, be in more publications, create a publication, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I know he is right. As are the others who write about all we must do to make, oh, maybe $50 a month on Medium. Only the rich get richer here because only the rich and those already in the winners’ circle get promoted.

Recently, it would be nice just to make the price of my damned subscription. I don’t expect to ever be a Tim Denning or Shannon Ashley but I don’t expect to spend $5 a month forever for the privilege of watching myself completely fail, either. Oh yeah, I’d write for nothing for my own satisfaction, but why the hell should I do it for Medium?

I want to write articles for my followers and, hopefully a few more people. I think that’s what most Medium writers want. Not many of us are under any delusions we can make any real money at it. But can’t we expect just a bit of a reward, if only to encourage us? I mean, lately, my articles just seem to go in some deep, dark hole somewhere, never to be seen again.

Writers like to be acknowledged from time to time. From looking at the home page, it appears one must be in a pretty big publication to even be seen at all.

And this bit about poetry and fiction. Do we not value those genres? Some of the best literature to ever be shown to the world were poems or fictional stories. Why does Medium not feature it anyway — not necessarily for money or for the platform’s well-being — but because it’s the right damn thing to do if you want to be seen as promoting the best writing?

Promoting the best writing, as Medium claims to do, should include all types of writing — especially the art forms of poetry and fiction. It makes me sick they get short shrift here. There’s immense talent being frustrated by the unfair practices of Medium.

And another thing, why does Medium encourage people to start publications and then compete with them by having their own Medium-owned and operated publications? That’s not fair. If Medium wants to own all the publications, that’s Medium’s prerogative, but why encourage others to start publications if Medium continues promoting mostly their own publications? To disappoint more writers and would-be publication owners?

Sometimes a platform needs to remember its original mission, it seems to me. And if the platform wants to or has evolved into something different, then say so. Don’t claim to be a showcase for all good writing and then only reward a tiny percentage of it.

We can no longer write independently and have a good shot at being seen. Those of us with independent streaks who don’t want to provide our work to build someone’s publication are toast. Under the changes, if you can’t make it into a big publication, you’re not going to get any exposure.

I understand Medium can have fewer editors if it forces everyone into publications where the publication’s editors will do the work. But have they forgotten that anyone can start a publication and be the editor? If the purpose was to elevate the best writing, I don’t get it.

Before, we seemed to have a fighting chance at curation and visibility even if we weren’t published in a publication.

What the hell was wrong with that? Why do they keep fixing what does not need to be fixed?

Hell, I’m so dated. I thought it was good when claps counted for something. But it was too easy for people to make money that way, I guess, or something.

It’s impossible for us “little people” to win when the rules keep changing, and the tricks we learn to get our stuff read no longer work because, whoops, Medium has changed the game again. It’s just like society. The earnest hard-working blue-collar guy is never going to get a break from this capitalistic society. Not even here.

Apparently, it’s obligatory if we write anything even remotely critical of Medium to hasten to say we’ll keep writing and then thank Medium for creating a platform for us. Bullshit. There are other ways of making money, and if Medium doesn’t have good writers and a variety of writers other than the mega-earners, they won’t stay relevant or popular.

I’m not bowing and scraping the floor to beg someone to use what I write. It devalues the whole profession.

Someone, I think it was August Birch, said since they’re now letting everyone design themselves a page, this will soon become the new My Space. Hah! Yeah, something like that. Same quality deal.

That’s another part of my huge head of steam. I’m not a page designer. I don’t know how to do much of anything on the computer but write. I’m a writer, not a programmer. I’d thank them for keeping this as a space where writers and their work will be the focus and not who builds the nicest homepage. Phooey on that. Writers on a platform like this shouldn’t need to compete on design to remain relevant.

I’m amazed at the quality work on the platform — if I can find it anymore. We must all be masochistic to write for the peanuts we write for and give Medium so much for free because there are thousands of unsung gifted writers on here.

I wonder if Medium ever heard there’s sort of a rule in writing. If you can’t pay for writers’ work, you give them exposure. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m seeing the same stories, same writers, and same publications featured every damn day. The trending stories really get me. The same story may appear there for days. It’s trending? Good, I’m glad for the author, and if it’s trending they’re making money. But what else do you have? Surely some other stories are making a decent showing, too.

Hopefully no one gives up on writing in general because Medium devalues one’s work or makes one feel there’s no use in trying. Just because you aren’t among the favored and featured on Medium does not mean you aren’t a good writer. It’s just easier for them to keep on using the same old tried and true writers and publications than to get busy discovering new and exciting talent.

How about trying to make writers feel like Medium wants to showcase and display talented new writers? Why can’t we have a new writers category if we can have a trending category?

As for the new design, all I’m seeing is the same big publications, mostly owned by Medium, with their popular top writers. And that new logo is a poop nugget. What was wrong with M for Medium?

Oh, and that’s another thing. Writers work their asses off to get a top writer designation, and suddenly, Medium doesn’t want to list top writers anymore? Is that supposed to help the rest of us, or just let us know Medium doesn’t consider any of us “top writers?” What does Medium think that feels like for people who worked their behinds off to become “top writers.” Devalued, that’s what.

I noticed on my mobile app, writers’ names still aren’t appearing on their work. Who writes without a byline? Not me in 40 years or so. Showcasing a story without the writer’s name almost feels like theft of artistic property. How dare they run stories pushing their platform without the writers’ name? That’s like using a photo without crediting the photographer. Yes, I know the writer’s name appears on the mobile app when one opens the story, but what if I’m looking for stories written by certain writers I want to read?

If they wanted to make changes to be helpful to writers they could devise a system where our published stories are not listed with our responses. As someone who responds a lot, my story list is so cluttered it’s hard to find the stories. But, if we’re going to list stories with responses forever, no matter what the writers say, why don’t we get paid for reads on responses? Mine are pretty well read. But, we can’t make that change, eh?

Basically, the changes pretty much suck. And if Medium doesn’t like me saying so, I know they can toss me off. I hate to think there’s no freedom of speech here, either, when it comes to the platform. I write whatever I want to write. It’s my own outlet. If we can’t criticize the platform or anything else here without being thrown off, who wants to be here, anyway?

Former print journalist, former mayor, retired law enforcement officer. Writing about politics and government along with random personal essays.

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