Request for feedback: our updated Distribution Standards

Medium Staff
The Medium Blog
Published in
4 min readFeb 21

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We want to involve the Medium community in as many aspects of our curation process as possible. Sometimes that can be something small, like the phrase “Found something great? Drop a line in the responses” at the end of our What We’re Reading posts.

For bigger changes, like today’s change to our distribution standards, we will post here to our blog.

Our Distribution Standards have long been public. The changes today are mostly organizational to make way for our Boost announcement. However, this is the first time we are making them available for comment and I’m looking forward to hearing from you so that we can clarify, explain, and improve them.

Below are a draft of our new standards. The official and permanent version will live here.

Medium’s quality standards: how we review stories for distribution

Medium is an open platform where new writers, seasoned writers, passionate professionals, and people with a vital story to tell can share what matters to them. From programmers to poets, every day writers of all stripes hit publish on stories that bring new insights and impact to readers’ lives.

We value these thoughtful, nuanced, knowledgeable perspectives — and know readers do too. That’s why elevating quality is one of our most important jobs, and why we’re continuously working to build the best reading experience on Medium.

Our curation team reviews stories daily with two quality-oriented goals in mind. The first is to identify great stories to boost across Medium’s homepage, emails, apps, and more. The second is to keep damaging content from making its way to readers.

Read on for more about our curation and distribution standards and approach. (More about Medium’s distribution system.)

Distribution Boost

In selecting stories that will receive a boost in distribution, we look for stories that move readers forward. Stories that help them deepen their understanding of themselves, others, their endeavors, or the world.

Here are some of the elements we consider in evaluating stories for boosting:

Story Contents:

  • Is it Constructive?
    The reader feels that they’ve leveled up in some way by reading the story. They’ve taken something away from the story that will help them do their job better, adopt a new skill, navigate their relationships with greater ease, help them better understand issues of the day, reconsider past perspectives, or elicit a real laugh or emotion.
  • Is it Original?
    The story is original in that it explores something previously unknown or not frequently examined, or it re-examines something we think we know a lot about to shed new light, voice, or perspective on the topic. (The story does not need to be originally published on Medium.)

Author’s Credentials:

  • Does the author speak from Relevant Experience?
    The author clearly has credible, first-hand experience of this subject, and they care deeply about communicating it effectively. That may be because they’re a subject matter expert or because of their lived experience. It may be because the writer has done thorough research. Either way, there’s a clear and compelling reason why they’re writing about this particular topic and their insights reflect relevant experience.

Craftsmanship:

  • Is the story Well-crafted?
    The quality of the writing is high. The story is well-written, free of errors, appropriately sourced, and narratively strong. The packaging, content, editorial choices, and central point of the post are clear and compelling. Ideally, the writer has worked to craft an interesting, non-gimmicky title; chosen an image that adds value to the story; and properly formatted their title and subtitle.
  • Does it feel Memorable?
    The best stories are the ones you’re still thinking about days later. Are you compelled to share this with your network? Did this story get you thinking? Move you? Make you feel good about the value of your Medium subscription?

Distribution Eligible

Stories published on Medium are eligible for distribution across the network (website, apps, email, topic pages), so long as they do not violate our distribution standards or site rules (see more below). They do not need to be reviewed by our curation team to be eligible for distribution and the vast majority are candidates for distribution to those interested in relevant topics right at the time of publishing. All stories published on Medium are also available for distribution to a writer’s (or publication’s) followers and available to anyone with the link.

Distribution Disqualification

Stories that contain any of the disqualifications below will not be eligible for distribution to Medium’s network. Distribution will be restricted to a writer’s or publication’s followers.

  • Clickbait, including visual clickbait.
  • Meta posts — no stories written about Medium
  • Sponsored content, content marketing, or stories whose sole purpose is to gather signups/traffic.
  • AI-generated content without a disclosure — We welcome the responsible use of AI-assistive technology on Medium. To promote transparency, and help set reader expectations, we require that any story created with AI assistance be clearly labeled as such.
  • Non-English stories (we can only review English stories at this time)
  • Crypto airdrops
  • Erotica
  • Clipped stories — stories that are only partially on Medium and continue on another site
  • Inflammatory business reviews
  • Copyrighted images — Writers/pubs should use images they have the rights for and cite their sources. Original imagery is also great.
  • Link farms
  • Ad-hominem attacks or rebuttals (call-out posts)
  • Politicians asking for donations/contributions
  • Unverifiable claims — Claims that could be dangerous, illegal, or cause harm, including health, public health or mental health claims; claims that lack sufficient evidence or manipulate otherwise widely accepted information; racist, racially-charged or transphobic stories

Stories that violate Medium’s rules are also not eligible for distribution to Medium’s network and may be suspended. Please make sure you are familiar and in compliance with these rules when writing on Medium.

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Medium Staff
The Medium Blog

News and updates from the staff at Medium.