It’s Time We Discuss Medium

This Week In Writing, we address the platform that has supported my writing for nearly a decade.

It’s Time We Discuss Medium
Photo by Ana Flávia / Unsplash

Writing about Medium on Medium is gauche, so I typically avoid the subject. It's a topic not even allowed in The Writing Cooperative because the publication is for all writers, not just those discussing the platform that hosts us.

Over the last year, I've been hyper-critical of platforms as they collapse and adopt less-than-ideal business models. So, today, despite my reservations about getting meta on Medium, let me break my rule and tell you what I really think.

Medium is a fantastic platform.

Nearly a decade after joining, I still want to spend time on Medium. It's a platform that supports and encourages the writing community and is one I am happy to be part of. Medium is a fantastic pace largely due to the amazing team that keeps everything running.

I've had the pleasure of working with many of Medium's team members over the years. Tony, Scott, Harris, Ariel, and many more keep the site going and make Medium a place worth supporting. They work hard to create an enticing experience for readers and writers, and I appreciate everything they do.

Like any platform, I've had issues with changes and past decisions. I wasn't a fan of the subscription model when it launched. Some of the publication changes over the year have been questionable. Yet, despite my occasional reservations, I know the team is working to make the site a truly great place to write and read.

Medium makes changes, and I adapt because I trust the team making the decisions. It's rare to develop that level of trust with a platform, but Medium's team goes out of their way to work with people like me. That's how trust forms, and I appreciate everything the team does.

I was inspired to write today's post for two reasons. Here in the States, we're celebrating Thanksgiving, and I wanted to show my gratitude to the Medium team. Also, I read Medium just like you do, and I see the absolute nonsense takes that bubble up in the feed.

Trust me, it's completely okay to be critical of the platforms we use -- god knows I am. But being critical for the sake of views or engagement is, well, gauche. Unfortunately, complaining about Medium gets views, and some people have made it their brand. The Medium team doesn't deserve the amount of blather that is often sent their way.

We all have the power of choice, so if we're not happy with a particular platform, we can leave or build our own. I made that choice and left Substack. I choose to stick with Medium because of the team and the community they foster.

So, this Thanksgiving week, I'm grateful for the team behind Medium. They power a platform that has supported my writing, helped me build an audience, and allowed me to connect with amazing people around the world (like you). Thank you, Medium.

What are you grateful for this week?

The Purge is Coming

A few weeks ago, I mentioned I'd soon be pruning my email list to remove folks who haven't opened a single newsletter. Well, friends, the time has come.

Black Friday seems like a fitting day to institute The Purge.

There are likely some of you using email tracking projection. So, if you don't get next week's newsletter, please re-subscribe. Or, if you want to prevent getting caught up in the purge, either reply to this newsletter and let me know or upgrade to a paid subscription. I'll make sure you're safe from address annihilation.

Can ChatGPT function as a copyeditor?

There's been a lot of drama surrounding OpenAI this past week. I leave all the succession coverage for the tech pundits (and the eventual TV series). Instead, I want to quickly focus on treating ChatGPT as a copyeditor.

Casey Newton, who writes Platformer and will no doubt be covering the OpenAI drama, recently talked about trying ChatGPT out as a copywriter for his newsletter. Instead of the usual spelling and grammar check, Casey asked more developmental questions of the AI:

Later, it occurred to me that I could try to simulate the responses of various readers to what I wrote. “Critique my argument from the standpoint of someone who works in tech and believes that the tech press is too closed-minded and cynical” is now a prompt in Copy Editor. So is “Critique my argument from the standpoint of an underrepresented minority whose voice is often left out of tech policy and product discussions.”

This concept of using ChatGPT to evaluate an argument is interesting and, like Casey, not one I originally thought of. To play around, I fed my main column from this week's newsletter into ChatGPT with the following prompt: "Review this text as a developmental editor, providing feedback on the point and whether the argument is clear."

Surprisingly, ChatGPT came back with 10 really valid things to think about. It didn't rewrite anything, but it gave me points to clarify and highlighted places where my argument could be better constructed.

It's worth noting that I did not change the text above as a result and used it merely to test what ChatGPT could do. It's also worth noting that AI is no substitute for a high-quality human editor. But, I can see it being an effective tool, especially when writers are looking to learn from and not blindly accept suggestions.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!