It’s possible to keep Medium readable

Copywriters got it wrong. Titles with numbers don’t work.

Photo by <a href=”https://unsplash.com/@jujudreaminx?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Justin Dream</a> on <a href=”https://unsplash.com/s/photos/read?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=creditCopyText">Unsplash</a>
Photo by Justin Dream on Unsplash

Actually, they do work, but only if applied in the right context. If you want to sell something, like an unrealistic course on making 6 figures passive income within a month. Maybe that is exaggerated, but it’s how I feel about it.

Let me be more clear on that. I took a copywriting course a few years ago. Just to find out how it works, and if it could be useful. I never really applied all the techniques, but what I wrote above was one of the lessons. Use numbers in your headlines, or words that relate to what is hot in the media.

It works, these headlines do draw attention. Just look at how you get attracted to them, and click to read what an article or a blog post is about. However, it gets really annoying if people decide to use it on a site like Medium.

I see, or rather, saw shiploads of posts with titles like this the past 6 months:

  • 10 tools each developer …
  • 5 apps you need on your Mac
  • 10 reasons to use Linux/MacOS/Windows….
  • What a war with Russia would be like
  • Johnny Depp …

It almost drove me away, but I like the site too much to just go, and I am following some people that really write interesting things.

So, I started doing the following and after about 4 weeks, I found that it works and that I see less of these crappy posts.

  • On the app (or in the browser) I skim over the ‘For you’ list once a day. If I see a title that looks like click bait (see above examples), I mute either the author or the publication that Medium recommended it from
  • If in doubt, I read the first paragraph before deciding on muting, sometimes people DO use the technique in the right way without realising that they get lost in the forest of missusers
  • After that check for articles that do genuinly look interesting, and follow the authors if I suspect I want to read more from them
  • Then I switch to the ‘Follow’ list and start reading the latest from my favourit Medium writers

Long story short: click bait doesn’t belong on Medium, and I seem to have found a way to make it clear to Medium’s suggestion algorithm that I don’t appreciate it.

I’m a software craftsman, trainer and CEO of Delphino Consultancy and Shinchoku. Software is my passion, making the way we treat our planet more sustainable is my mission.

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Angelo Hulshout 🇳🇱🇮🇹

Angelo Hulshout 🇳🇱🇮🇹

CEO at Schinchoku and software architect at Delphino Consultancy B.V. — writing about software, and about the Shinchoku startup.