Since Medium began releasing its latest raft of changes glitches have popped up everywhere. Some have been obvious and have given rise to collective expressions of frustration. However, there’s one that has gone largely unnoticed but is worth paying attention to, particularly if you have claimed your own subdomain as many of us did when the opportunity was presented to us.
Now, each of us has our own preferred way of using the Medium platform…
As a writer, nothing beats getting on our lap or desktops and writing from the comfort of a proper keyboard. Our computers offer the full editorial capacity available to us such as submitting our work to publications or properly embedding links — which the mobile device apps do not.
As a reader, many of us prefer to hunker down on the sofa with a coffee and our tablets or phones, and read via the Medium mobile app. As we read we highlight and clap our favourite pieces. These functions work smoothly in the app… at least they do in my Android devices. Better in fact than when on our computers, where clapping is an annoyingly slow process.
As a self-promoter, sharer, marketer of our work however a glitch has revealed itself and it may make you rethink how you share your work.
Medium links appear in three variations on social media. You’ll see this above the title of a piece as shown below. The formats are medium.com, link.medium.com, and yoursubdomain.medium.com.
Why is this so? I’ve no idea. Who am I to question the Medium gods? So then, why does it matter? Well, in that regard I can share a little insight before suggesting how to manage it.
The first thing you need to know is that each of these links opens on a mobile device in a different way.
When a reader is using a mobile device, whether Android or iOS, and taps on Medium links in social media, this is what happens:
The article opens in the app, but the reader will not be automatically be logged in. Readers get three free articles a month. So even if your reader is a paying member, whose read time contributes to the earning on your piece, they may not notice that they are using a free read. If they have already read three pieces, they will find they cannot read it… (yes, this is how the glitch came to my attention… apologies to those people whose pieces I read for free). At this point, they go to the three dots in the corner to drop down a menu, and these are the options:
The article will now open in the app and the reader can happily read, highlight, and clap quickly and easily by just leaving their finger on the clap icon for as long as they like to show their appreciation for the piece.
As a reader, this is my favourite. When I tap on one of these links the piece opens straight in the app where I am always logged on; no confusion, no extra tapping through to get where I want to go. Here a reader can read, highlight, and clap; quickly, smoothly, and to their heart's content… or discontent as the case may be.
As a writer, this is also my favourite link format because I know that when I share this one to social media, the reading experience is super easy for my readers and if they do feel inclined to clap, they can do it so easily and quickly that it increases the potential for the full enchilada ego stroke of a standing ovation, aka 50 claps.
This link format came about when the latest changes to Medium gave writers the option to grab their own subdomain (the word that goes in front of ‘medium.com’). I grabbed mine quick. After all, I have a seriously common name and so if there was going to be a Sarah J. Baker on Medium I wanted it to be me.
As a reader, however, this personal bit of internet real-estate also procures the glitchy link that interrupts my reading flow. So, unless the title really grabs me, I tend to scroll past. Here’s why…
Tapping on a subdomain link opens the article in the app. But, like with the straight forward medium.com link, it opens without the user being logged in. Again, if your reader hasn’t yet read their three freebies they may not notice that they are not logged in and continue to read unperturbed. Not good. But if they notice that they are not logged in, they go to the three dots as before, but this time the options are different. This time there is no option to ‘open in Medium’, but instead the only option is to ‘open in browser’. Also, not good.
Opening in a browser instead of in the app means the reader is unable to stroke our egos through highlighting our precious darlings. But even more potentially crushing to our egos, the reader is now unable to clap to their heart's content… unless they’ve got an hour or so to spare.
If you thought clapping while sitting in front of your computer screen was an arduous affair, try doing it in the browser on a mobile device. for me it goes something like this:
Puts finger on clap icon… little #1 shoots up into the air… finger is still on clap icon… #2 and #3 appear in almost as many seconds… finger’s still on clap icon… nothing is happening… waiting… waiting… waiting… oh, we’ve got clap #4… and now #5. Yay, we’re getting somewhere!…finger is STILL on the icon, but wait, it’s completely stopped… no, no, I think we’ve got a… wait for it, wait for it… taps a few times in quick succession to try and get things moving…yes, #6… Damn, but it’s stuck again. Waiting, waiting… ah stuff it, 6 claps will have to do, though I would have given that amazing piece at least 49, maybe even 50!
So what does this all mean?
Well, if income is your sole focus, the claps mean nothing. Though I would be concerned about how much effort people are going to put into opening your piece if it doesn’t just go bam and open up right in the app. Let's be honest. We’re a spoilt lot we 21st-century humans. Instant satisfaction has become our expectation, and having to click/tap more than once to get to that which we desire is never ideal. Try following a conversation in Mediums responses section for a perfect example of tl;dr. Amirite?
So for me as a reader, I look for articles that use the ‘link.medium.com’ format. And, knowing this about my own habits as a reader means that as a writer I ensure that I only ever share ‘link.medium.com’ URLs. And this leads me to the question I think you might be asking right now…
How do I share the best link to make reading on devices seamless?
To my knowledge, there’s only one way. Always share from your mobile device. This ensures the link will automatically appear wherever you’re sharing it with ‘link.medium.com’ above your article’s title.
If you share from your browser — i.e. by copy-pasting the address in the address bar — a piece that is housed inside a publication (providing that publication hasn’t grabbed a subdomain of its own) will appear with ‘medium.com’ above its title. And a self-published piece will appear with ‘yoursubdomain.medium.com’ above your title.
Well, maybe not. It certainly took a while for me to figure it all out. But, whether you ever use a mobile device or not. Whether you care about your income or not. Knowing what happens to your links after you send them out there into the ether has to be a good thing. And, if you’re wondering why some people are all standing to applaud you with the full 50 while others were heartlessly throwing in a random three… or nine, or the dreaded one, without a single care for your angst as a writer suffering for their art, this little glitch might at least comfort you. And, it might make you rethink how you share your articles from Medium… if you want more claps.
Here’s another piece I wrote on the mysteries of Medium;
The Day Medium Re-Branded Itself as WordPress Lite
An open letter from a mere mortal to the enigmatic Medium gods
© Sarah J. Baker 2020. All Rights Reserved.