Signal v Noise exits Medium

Three years ago we embraced an exciting new publishing platform called Medium. It felt like a new start for a writing community, and we benefitted immensely from the boost in reach and readership those early days brought. But alas it was not to last.

When we moved over, Medium was all about attracting big blogs and other publishers. This was going to be a new space for a new time where publishers could find a home. And it was. For a while.

These days Medium is focused on their membership offering, though. Trying to aggregate writing from many sources and sell a broad subscription on top of that. And it’s a neat model, and it’s wonderful to see Medium try something different. But it’s not for us, and it’s not for Signal v Noise.

Writing for us is not a business, in any direct sense of the word. We write because we have something to say, not to make money off page views, advertisements, or subscriptions. If some readers end up signing up for Basecamp, that’s great. But if they just like to read and not buy, that’s also great.

Beyond that, though, we’ve grown ever more aware of the problems with centralizing the internet. Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.

That doesn’t mean we regret our time at Medium. Being on Medium helped propel some of our best writing to a whole new audience. But these days there’s less of a “what Medium is doing for us”, and a whole lot more of “what we’re doing for Medium”. It was a good time while it lasted, but good times are gone.

So now we’re back on the indie trail. The new blog is powered by our friends at WordPress, and the new amazing design is courtesy of our in-house designer Adam Stoddard.

Thanks to the fact that we kept our own domain when we moved to Medium, all the articles and links still work. The pieces have simply swapped the Medium styling for our own look. (Although, sad to say, Medium didn’t let us export the comments, so those are gone 😢).

With the new take, we’re also trying to bring more of a classic SvN style back to the site. Not just big, marque pieces, but lots of smaller observations, quotes, links, and other posts as well. In fact, the intention is to lessen our dependency on Twitter too, and simply turn Signal v Noise into the independent home for all our thoughts and ideas – big or small.

To that effect, we’ve setup a new mailing list for Signal v Noise that you might like. All the posts of the week bundled up in a single digest delivered on Mondays. And of course there’s an RSS feed as well. It’s not like we’re going off Twitter, but Twitter won’t be necessary for you to follow our thinking any more.

So there it is. In this, our twentieth year of Signal v Noise, we’re returning to our roots. Looking snazzy. As eager as ever to share our strong opinions and thoughts on design, business, and tech.

Thanks for reading!

59 thoughts on “Signal v Noise exits Medium

  1. Medium may have offered a great writing experience, but it’s a pretty terrible reading experience. Modal popups, intrusive footers, buried (or lost!) comments and crap URLs. Odd really, when you consider that the web is heavily biased towards content consumption over creation.

    1. The writing experience wasn’t that great either if your thing is writing programming-heavy posts with code snippets.

    2. The new writing experience in WordPress –Gutenburg – looks pretty similar to Medium in many ways. Is that what you’re using, David?

      This is great news btw. I was sad when you joined Medium. Your move back to an independent presence is terrific news for the decentralised, open web because you have such influential, powerful voices here. Bravo! 👏👏👏

  2. “Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.”

    Really think you’re right about this… And I’m personally excited about it.

  3. Why WordPress and not Ghost? Just curious if you evaluated it as well as I see many big publications migrating to it.
    Either way, <3 SvN

    1. I think both Medium and Signal v Noise are great, and yet it is only natural that the centralisation that has happened in social media over the past decade will devolve. The Basecamp Team has so many strong voices it’s great to see you leading the way in this decentralised direction. As usual, your rationale is coherent, clear and concise. It feels fresh and fun being in a new place.

  4. Why WordPress and not a static website? WordPress IMO is way too cluttered & slow for a simple blog.

    I’m thinking Gastby + Headless CMS (contentful, prismic, ghost…) + Netlify

  5. One of the main reasons for me to be on Twitter it so follow Signal vs Noise and Jason and David in particular. It’s wonderful to hear, that now there is a platform-independent way to do that.

  6. Is the “m” is subdomain is here to stay? Are you considering migrating to “w”? Maybe “www”? 😅

  7. Glad to see this and totally agree. I was always skeptical of Medium’s value for us. It did not make sense for smaller sites and businesses whose main marketing channels included a thoughtful blog. All of that traffic goes to Medium! I could not see much of it coming back to us.

    Basecamp is big enough to have an independent blog and that’s great. We’re not. We need those search engine readers coming straight to us and seeing our top nav, seeing that we offer more than just our thoughts. This is vital to our business.

  8. It is an honor have y’all on WordPress — 37signals has been a huge influence on how Automattic and WordPress have been built and run. We’ve both come a long way from the days when our accounts would be logged into Comox @ Textdrive!

    I can’t wait to see what this new chapter of your blog brings, and as I said before if you ever have any feedback, requests, or need help with WordPress please don’t hesitate to reach out.

    1. Thanks for your work with WordPress Matt! I really really appreciate what Automattic has done!

  9. It’s great to have a mail digest. I use to be a heavy user of RSS but now that it is not that common anymore, email has became my favourite aggregator. The good old blog + newsletter + forum combo is where we need to go back to to get rid of the control social networks (especially Facebook) have over what we read and discuss.

    1. If you’d like a daily digest of a few feeds, I’d recommend https://focusd.co (full disclosure: I built it, because I wanted that). There are also free alternatives using IFTTT and Zapier automations.

    2. I still use an RSS reader as my main aggregator. Most blogging platforms still support RSS feeds, and have them turned on by default. The RSS button may not always be shown anymore but using domain/feed or domain/rss usually still gets me an rss feed. In cases where this doesn’t work it can also work to just input the regular url into an rss reader and have it figure out the feed on its own. It tends to only be homebrew blogs that don’t work with rss anymore, but luckily there aren’t many of those.

  10. I got fed up with the number of times I tried to read an article referred by someone and got the “exceeded your limit” message. So I cancelled all the crap Medium was sending me to my inbox, and I cannot say I miss it.

    I have, of course, subscribed to your feed!

  11. My first time here. And you’re in my RSS family now. Medium may have helped you attract an audience, but my guess is that leaving Medium will as well. Delighted for you (and on behalf of everyone who is ready for the open web to swing back into style).

  12. It keeps redirecting to the mobile site, which does not look good on desktop screens – I had to either shrink the text or stand 10 feet back to read it. I know mobile is a big deal, but I’d prefer not to have to pull out my phone to read your site while sitting at my desk.

  13. <>

    Hearing you say that makes me very happy; I’m not web-sophisticated enough to say I *think* that, but I certainly *hope* that.

    But one of the things I did like about Medium was that, for a time, I could follow most of my favorite blogs in one place, and be suggested new ones. There is a value to the curation, suggestion, and discoverability of new blogs, as well as being able to follow all in one place. RSS offers a constant stream of stuff, but it’s more like a chronological firehose than the type of feed I’ve grown to like.

    I’m definitely *for* the blogosphere becoming a thing again, but I think RSS readers need to adapt and modernize too.

    1. Sorry, this was supposed to reference this quote, but I messed up:

      “Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style…”

    2. Feedly is pretty good and offers recommendations based off the feeds you’re following. You could also sign up to WordPress.com and follow people from their WordPress Reader tool.

  14. The website is looking great, guys 🙂 I was wondering when you were going to move from Medium. You guys are special, you deserve something custom. Congrats!

  15. This is perfect. Well done for taking back control of your incredible asset. Better to own the racecourse than to be the racehorse on someone else’s platform.

  16. Great to see big font size with the new design. This is much better than the medium reading experience.

  17. Good to see you moving your owned space. Josh of Baremetrics too had simialr reasons when they moved out of Medium, around 2 years back.

    Medium is good for *personal branding* and to move out of Medium is smart for *brand personalization*!

  18. Quick note:
    How do I share this post on social?
    And curious again – did you think of using Disqus?

  19. In my view, Medium could transform their reader-and-commenter experience simply by adding (or copying) Disqus. It is, in my view, the best comment system for blogs, and the one I’m personally most likely to use to interact.

    PS, why aren’t you using Disqus? (not paid by them; a serious question)

    1. I absolutely hate Disqus! I’m constantly having login problems on mobile devices, it’s slow to load, and I think the way comments are structured disincentivizes civilized discourse. Medium comments aren’t perfect, but I have never seen a platform that has as constructive a comments section as Medium (comparatively, anyway).

  20. Welcome home. It pains me where Medium is now vs. what it could have been: a distraction-free, predictable, sensible place for writers and companies who write.

  21. I’m glad to see SvN be part of this new trend of moving away from a centralized publishing platform to an independent one. Much better in my opinion.

  22. Been a long time SVN reader (way before the Medium days) and I had a feeling this day would eventuakly come. Glad to see a independent company return to having a 100% independent voice.

  23. What’s old is new again. It’s shocking that people are “discovering” RSS again, and don’t even realize that at the very least they’ve been using it for podcasts.

  24. I think Medium is a great place for quality writing, and the reading experience is in a class of its own in my opinion. I *really* like reading on that platform and I don’t get the hate at all. But centralization is definitely problematic, so I absolutely understand trying to keep the Internet diverse!

  25. This is great. I had stopped reading you guys once you’d moved to medium. To be honest posts which show up in the mail are also read hurried-like

  26. Usability request: I don’t like losing my place. Consider having the “keep reading” link just expand out the rest of the post inline. Or have the post page jump to where I was reading in the abbreviated post. Love the blog!

  27. What a great news and I hope is the start of a new trend for those who love to write and share… I quit Facebook, Tumblr, Medium and Instagram in the last six months… returned to my root: numericcitizen.me and focusing my energy on this! Bravo!

  28. Awesome write-up. I’m a regular visitor of your site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the nice site. I will be a frequent visitor for a really long time.

  29. I am really looking forward to the weekly updates. I find that blogging is powerful and impactful!
    Thanks for sharing.

  30. This is a particularly nice implementation of a WordPress blog that doesn’t look like a WordPress blog. I’d love to hear some of the details about how your team configured and customized WordPress (options, plugins, etc.).

  31. David, I’m reading a great interview with you from owllabs.com about the new book, and there’s a thing that you say in the interview that I’m dying to know more about.

    You say: “In my experience, company culture is easier to design when you’re all working remotely because you have to write things up and document processes and policies. You have to commit, in writing, to what your values and techniques are so everyone at the company can understand them.”

    I’m writing from a tiny little nonprofit IT office, and documentation has always been one of our biggest hurdles. So I’m wondering – have you written about your approach to documentation anywhere (SvN, one of the previous books, something else?) that I could read?

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