A Christ-madan-zaa-nukkah wish list for all writers addressed to the elves or Corgis or algorithms that take the place of Santa at Medium’s Corporate Headquarters.

’Tis the season to be grumpy if you have to waste time on these poorly-designed Medium functions instead of doing your real purpose in life — writing the “content” that helps their site generate revenue.

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Smiley Face Emoji GIF by Mac DeMarco. Source: Gify

Seriously, shouldn’t I at least expect a lump of coal instead of endless “not able to review this story for distribution in topics due to high volume” notices?

If Santa’s main Ev reads this list, isn’t it reasonable to receive a gift rejection message like this:

My dear little (gift claimant #3,948,209,137),

It has come to our attention that you have been very [N̶i̶c̶e Naughty] in the past year. For that reason, your gift request for world peace has been rejected and you shall still receive nothing. We know what you’re trying to do here by wishing something good for other people to rehabilitate your list status. Trust us, we’re a lot smarter that those companies that maintain consumer credit scores. Those things can be gamed. If they weren’t, how could I be dictating this response to a beautiful hula-dancing native on my private tropical isle that shall remain nameless?

You’ve been trying to game the system since my fallen angels of content generation lifted the curtain on this whole enterprise and given you the false impression that you are some kind of Upton Sinclair-like muck raker who has turned his attention on the online writing industry. You’re almost as unfunny as Michael Moore, thinking that telling people the “truth” will make any difference in the way that big business gets run. Anyway, try to be better next year, you piss ant.

Ho, Ho, Ho, MoFo.

Sincerely,

The Naughty/Nice Department

CC: Santa

The truth is, even though we writers enjoy the act of writing on this site, we are consistently disappointed by the results of our actions.

And I’m not talking about compensation, in this rare case.

I’m speaking primarily of the aspects of this site that waste our time or distract us from writing, which, in the aggregate, creates the content that generates revenue for Them.

Here’s an expanded list of things that Medium either used to do and changed for the worse, already does on certain devices but doesn’t on other, or could easily do by writing a few extra lines of code to change a database query.

My friend Jack Preston King brought up a number of other issues in his response, so I’m going to add them to my “official” list, just to quasi-Santa will read it. If you have other issues, please add them in the comments.

WISH #1: Make it as easy to comment on laptops as it is on a phone or tablet… the way it used to work.

At the bottom of each article, after scrolling to the bottom, past the tags, social media sharing icons, claps, author info and the chum box, there’s a button that says “see responses (number indicated here).”

As you scroll through the responses, you can always scroll back up to read the original text referenced by the comment.

As I recall, you used to be able to scroll back up through the original article as you were writing the comment.

Now, every step requires opening up a new window or tab and then jumping back and forth.

Why is this simple process made more difficult on the laptop version of the site?

One of the simplest rules of computing efficiency is that when you have to perform a small task, it’s not a big deal if it’s a one-time situation, but it becomes a royal pain in the ass if it needs to be done a hundred times.

Think about how long it takes to use the mouse to select a command from a pull down menu from the top of an application window and then compare it to the time it takes to do the same task by using a keyboard command.

Please Ev, don’t make us less likely to comment on a fellow writer’s work because the interface is so unnecessarily complicated and time consuming.

WISH #2: Allow writers to customize our user interface the same way we can customize our publications.

If you’ve create a publication, you know there are a number of ways you can customize the look of the articles that appear in your publication.

One of the most obvious features is the ability to choose the color of text highlights.

If we can do this, why can’t we customize the color of our “Publish” button?

More importantly, why can’t we customize the color of our notification button?

When Medium’s logo was green, I understood the decision to make all the main application functions — highlight color, publish button, follow button, notification icon, clapping button — the same color.

It was a case of consistent branding, and a default user interface that would not confuse beginners.

But the introduction of publications has changed all that.

If I look at the home page for one of my publications, the notification icon at the top matches the color palette I chose for the publication’s home page.

If we have those choices for our publications, why can’t experienced users have the power to change the default colors on publication pages?

Maybe I don’t want to be distracted by all the highlights on an article. If that color were grey, it would make it easier to read.

WISH #3: Give laptop users the same advantages enjoyed by tablet users.

When I see a notification that someone highlighted an article on my tablet, I touch that notification and the following screen appears.

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Thanks to Mo and Bebe for their highlights.

On a laptop, you click on the notification and you jump off your current page (unless you hold down a command key to open the page in a new browser window) and then have to scroll around to find what was highlighted.

In the above example, the generous feedback I received is listed so I can see passage easily.

After I look, I can use the back button to get back to my notifications.

This is an awesome feature of the user interface that saves time and allows me to get back to writing. I’m officially praising Medium. This is a positive article, right?

Just do the same thing on the laptop version, please.

WISH #4: Give tablet and phone users the same advantages enjoyed by laptop users.

Creating and updating publications is a wonderful feature of Medium for laptop users. It allows writers to organize their stories so the work can be found easily by fans or for future reference.

I strongly recommend all you beginners out there learn about publications, as they will make your writing life so much easier.

Here’s a guide to learn about how they work:

Or you can find a number of guides here:

https://medium.com/@lonshapiro/meet-the-medium-11-your-ultimate-ultimate-guide-to-writing-guides-c35060cf2f1f?

The point is, mobile and tablet users have no way of creating and updating publications, and that is a severe limitation put on these users.

WISH #5: Allow the Tiny Tims of this world — mobile users — to truly be whole in the land of Medium (thanks to Jack Preston King).

With around 60% of all internet traffic being mobile, please Santa, help these impoverished souls be able to:

  1. Paste URL links into a story to become a nice banner (as seen in the links above).
  2. Submit a story to a publication.
  3. Read or receive notification of private notes.
  4. Single space poetry.
  5. View your Partner Programs earnings.
  6. To be continued…

WISH #6: Allow users the ability to customize our notifications.

That notification icon with the number inside is like a heroin needle to most users, and I understand the reason it was created by Medium.

And that’s all well and good.

If you want to get people hooked on the game aspects of social media, welcome to the crowd.

For you new readers who don’t realize this, maybe you should read this article before you finish this wish list:

Since I know you’re not going to get against the profit motive, my wish is not for you to make notifications less addicting, but to make them more efficient.

We are all stimulated and inspired by our peers through their comments and highlights.

These kind of interactions fire up writers to write new articles.

From an aggregated, macroeconomic perspective, writing new articles means more possibilities of an article going viral, more possibilities of that viral article reaching new external readers outside of Medium, and more possibilities that these new external readers will become paid subscribers.

It’s the basis of your business model, so why not make it easier for us to write more stuff?

Can we be given the right to customize the following notifications?

  1. Someone else has highlighted an article we’ve highlighted. I’ve interacted with another author, and complimented their work. My job is done and it’s time for me to write something instead of reading that someone else is doing their job. I mean, seriously, if you’re going to give us such a useless piece of information, why not notify us each time someone else burps or farts?
  2. Someone applauds your response to another writer’s article. While it’s nice to know, this kind of applause doesn’t earn writers more money, or make them want to go back to reread their comment or the original article. It’s just wasting a small amount of time that keeps us from doing something that may eventually make Medium more money.
  3. Someone claps for your article. I know this is a tough one for Medium to lose control, but some people are going to write regardless of how much the site has been gamified. If writers want to know about claps, that’s fine, but we’ve already got an addictive button to push repeatedly. It’s called “Medium Partner Program.” How about giving us the choice so we can focus on writing and interacting with writers so we write some more?
  4. The time lapse for receiving notifications. It’s one thing to check your notifications every time something new comes up. But it’s a complete waste of time to have older notifications be counted as new notifications after they’ve been viewed, especially when there is a page long list of notifications. If Medium has a time lag where the system updates every half hour, don’t make people believe they have a new set of notifications. Again, this is not just a question of courtesy, but writing efficiency. Let us focus on writing the next article instead of getting aggravated on wasting time to view the same notifications.

Okay, Santa, that’s my list of presents that will help everyone, not just me, AND help you make more money. C’mon, what do you say?

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Here’s to better writing, and Happy Holidays

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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