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I can see many things from this chair, gnomes, pixies––everything except how to rate pieces in a meaningful way that makes my feed applicable to actual interests and preferences. Illustration: Damon Arvid and Christopher Llabras.

Medium and the Missing… (2) Rating System

Previous––Author’s Header

My impression of Medium thus far is that it requires way too much interaction with Millenials. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I love hearing new angles on the age-old human experience––but there are those in the tech and device-tied generations who have a deep-in-the-bones conviction that all content should be free and freely accessible at all times.

And this concept is a drag.

It only works if gatekeepers are doing their work, either on a compensated basis, a community/forum basis, or using a hybrid system (best). Unfortunately, a platform like Medium that claims to be about quality longform content has not yet found a way of curating that generates writing that I want to read. It’s stuck in categories that interest me sometimes, not always, and populated with writers I read once and really wasn’t that impressed with.

There are some decent writers on Medium and I have no image of them except that I’ve read them in the past, enjoyed their works significantly more than the run-of-the-mill writers who make up 90 percent of content here, and forget how to get back to them. In this way, Medium is not so different from Facebook or Twitter.

Ok, so you’re not getting great article suggestions on your Home page. How to solve that? This is the digital age of moment-to-moment shifting preferences, get over it.

I racked my brain for a solution that doesn’t involve device-tied facial recognition, and cloud blockchain enabled real time machine-learning techniques of reading one’s innermost thoughts, desires, inclinations, and preferences. There is very little dollars in cents in common sense anymore.

And yet I am one of those probably way more desirable, in terms of attention span, readers who consumes content in a semi-fixed sitting position through a large laptop screen. Typically with minimal distractions, though I do a lot of music appreciation and composition during these Internet navigation times.

So what’s the plan, man?

A rating system, instead of simple hand wave response if an article is appreciated. Assume that readers are intelligent enough to decide for themselves what kinds of writing they want to read again. Keep in mind that most people enjoy a variety of new content that they have not experienced before. Throw out the algorithms, they only apply when not enough choice is let in. We are all of us naturally omnibus readers who will take in many perspectives willingly, as long as we can come back to old favorites.

How about a star ranking system like the one Apple has had on iTunes libraries for generations and no one ever used because, well, content was traditionally stored in playlists that users were pretty knowledgable about. If I want to hear John McLaughlin I will find the appropriate playlist, not search by whether I starred the track.

Yet in a feed-based environment in which content is not vetted and can be published any time, a star ranking system is indispensible. It is a note to our future selves that this is a writer we want to read more of.

So… at the end of any article, have a nice prominent option of giving it a rating of between one star and five stars.* Factor in the frequency of mishits and clicks, especially on small devices, and start featuring articles by those authors who have been four or five star-liked.

Okay, so a lot of good ideas bite the dust because no one can be bothered to use the function. How could you make a star rating system fun? Well, how about letting Medium’s time spent on article, scroll pattern, eye movement AI gremlins predict what rating they think you will give the article?

And have it appear after the user rates the article. This would not only be interesting to the reader, wanting to know how his or her reading habits are quantified, but provide Medium with additional data when discrepancies arise.

The benefit of these ratings would be felt immediately by the reader when the Home feed becomes more relevant and interesting. Not stuck in a particular vertical to the point where the Medium experience feels like wearing blinders.

Bottom line: if I give an article a four or five-star rating that means I want to read more of the author’s work, either soon or at my leisure. It can take six to eight months for me to get to an anticipated, already procured book. How many months to saved articles in my Authors section of the platform? And how likely that algorithms would misinterpret my inactivity as a sign that I didn’t like something or that it was of no interest to me.

Next — PC.IF.P

Ghostwriter by day, Damon Arvid is a musician, composer, traveler, and cloud novel author by night. On the music front, he is currently arranging (and burying) the Fabric albums Summon These Days, Slowly Learning, Station to Station, Sunnyside, Namida, and Chasing Sun — WIP is Great Pacific Garbage Patch film soundtrack. All new tunes ledgered, graded, and verified as too legit to quit.

What follows is a key to the Damon Arvid ecosystem (Medium is designed to pull you out of one writer’s work and onto the next). Each hyperlink under Medium series takes you to a representative example from the series. The series-specific Contents drills down to navigate articles or episodes within a specific series. Think of what follows as a blog site key, organized within Medium through the hyperlinks below.

Medium series:

The Weebly blog endurancewriter has been discontinued for the mome, but is still, still perusable. A new site with exclusive content is in the works.

Medium and the Missing…

(1) Author’s Header

(2) Rating System

(3) PC.IF.P

(4) Driver’s Manual

(5) Is Facebook a Timestamp for Original Content as an Asset?

*I was planning to reference and link some of these articles, but like ether they have dissipated into the far reaches of browser history.

**We are all this reader, at times.

Getting to the end of the article and giving a one star rating is not a complete demerit. All interaction is meaningful.

Copyright © Damon Arvid 2018

Medium is simply a ledgered host for the material, my last month’s earnings were .02 cents — ultimately this material will be exported to a platform that values original content in a curated and rationally compensated way.

Written by

Novel — A Beautiful Case of the Blues — — cloud novels, music on Utoob: fabric — Summon These Days… etc ad finitum

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