New stats for publication editors

Plus, some insight into how we think about product updates

Jacob Bennett
The Medium Blog
5 min readJun 5, 2024

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An illustration of a stats dashboard

Hello 👋 I’m Jacob, one of the software engineers here at Medium. Our team works on everything related to writers (Partner Program, publications, stats, etc.) and a bit more.

We’ve updated the publication stats page! It’s been a long time coming (more on that later). I’ll explain the updates and also describe a bit of the process we go through to build Medium.

What’s new on the publication stats page?

We’ve brought the stats in line with what writers see on their stats pages. Writers will be very familiar with the new publication stats.

Screenshot of the new publication stats dashboard
  • You can now see your publication’s performance going back to January 2023. This longer time window helps editors track long-term trends as well as short-term changes in reader engagement.

A small note: I know that January 2023 is better than the previous limit of 90 days, and still less than the ideal “stats forever” target that we have for this product. We’re working on stats going back earlier than this. Stay tuned…

  • We swapped out read minutes for more meaningful metrics. Read time is a fun number to follow, but it’s not as relevant for either payment or algorithmic distribution as other factors we use. (We discuss the factors that are more relevant in depth here.)
Screenshot of the new stories list stats page
  • The story list is available on the same stats page as the overall monthly stats. This list has the same sorting options as the writer stats, but adapted for publication editors.
  • If your publication has a story that’s been Boosted, you’ll now see a cute little Boost icon next to the story.

We want to help publication editors grow on Medium and we put our engineering effort behind publications. By raw count, editors make up the smallest group of the Medium user base. But publications (and editors) are the heartbeat of Medium — and we’re proving it by building meaningful features for publication owners and editors.

Why the wait?

You might wonder: Why has Medium waited so long to update publication stats?

The short answer is that we’re making many improvements to our stats. This is the second large change in a series of changes to our stats in the coming months.

The longer answer has to do with Medium’s evolution over the past decade. We’ve been deep in “startup land” for a long time and our technical debt load is high. But we’ve figured out how to grow beyond that, and we’re now in the exciting stage of transitioning from startup to growth.

Acknowledging the stage Medium is currently at is relevant to understanding our decisions, especially around product tradeoffs. A good intro to this comes from a post Tony sent on our #general channel this past week:

Are we a startup? Yes. Even though labels like this are a gross simplification, I think it’s worth leaning toward this one in particular.

What I like about startups is the feeling that the entire company is constantly hunting for a better way to do things. That hunt shows up in every aspect of the company. We invented a subscription business model on top of a UGC platform and we are still perfecting that. We invented a new form of expert recommendation signal in the form of Boost nominators and are also still trying to perfect that. The whole world is struggling to figure out how to run remote-first companies and we are leading on how to do that well through our offsites.

This came up last week when we were writing the job description for a new head of design. We ended up feeling like our ideal candidate probably has early stage startup experience and that says something about the ingenuity that we think is required for this role and for most of our roles. We may be headed toward profitable but that’s only possible because we have learned how to operate with constrained resources.

This, for me, is so much more fun than an established company. I think that’s true for most of you.

The one clarification is the difference between a startup before product market fit and a startup after. Before you have traction, there’s a good chance a lot of your code and product decisions will get thrown away. So it’s natural to build with that in mind. Obviously if you’ve been near any of our engineering discussions then you know that’s not us. The things we build are going to stick around and they do have traction. So they have to be built with more care and craft.

Is Medium a startup? Yes, and…

Yes, we’re a startup in the classical sense. Meaning we face the universal challenges that all “startups” face. Medium is fighting for survival.

And… well, we aren’t “fighting” for survival anymore. We’re flirting with profitability. As our CEO Tony emphasized in his keynote a few months ago, a healthy, profitable Medium is good for writers.

This transition between fighting for survival and learning to thrive is clearest in our decisions around features we release. We’re trending toward fewer compromises based on survival constraints. And it will take time to build great features that continue to sustain the great writers and readers of Medium.

What that means for you

Our engineering priorities are completeness and correctness. As we continue building Medium, our commitment to you is that we’re going to get it right, and we’ll do that as fast as we can without compromising on the quality of Medium. Our commitment is to an excellent product, and a healthy Medium that will be around forever.

Welcome to the Growth Stage, folks! New challenges, new adventures, and a lot of quality-of-life improvements for readers and writers.

Editors: What do you think about the new publication stats page?

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Jacob Bennett
The Medium Blog

Staff Software Engineer @ Medium • https://jacob.bio • I write about software engineering, product design and development, and leadership in tech.