The Great Leap Backwards

Medium launched cost-cutting measures under the guise of the hunt for better quality

B Kean
8 min readSep 4


Courtesy of The Atlantic

The personality cult at Medium of the current CEO, Tony Stubblebine — known as “Coach Tony” — is alive and well. Long live Coach Tony and his “great leap forward.” He used this term to respond to one of my whining rants about lost earnings thanks to Medium’s reforms.

I won’t cut and paste his response; it is linked to one of my many articles written in the aftermath of Medium’s self-inflicted wound. I have to say that I was pretty impressed that the CEO took the time to explain to me what was clearly obvious but had not been articulated anywhere.

Under the guise of “we are changing things for the better,” Stubblebine, Buster Benson, and others informed us that this new and improved approach to “writing” was for our own good. Every time I have ever heard those words, it has meant that what is about to come sucks but bend over, grin, and take it like a man — and in this moment of symbolism, I am referring to the annual finger-exam performed by my proctologist.

Medium, feeling no obligation to treat its writers like adults, came out with a new-fangled reward system so convoluted that it would probably be easier to locate and repopulate the lost city of Atlantis than to understand what the f*** is going on with the complete mess they have created.

In the past, it was pretty simple. If members invest a significant amount of time reading your stuff, then you earn. The amount of claps was irrelevant. The amounts of highlights in your post and comments were irrelevant. What mattered was that readers were ingesting your musings — oh, and they had to scroll to the bottom.

Scrolling was a little trick invented to lower the payouts to well-read writers. It was an invention during the Stubblebine era and is now known bitterly among “Mediumites” as a “Stubblebine.” This term can also be used as a verb, an adjective, and, on rare occasions, an adverb. “Don’t you Stubblebine me!”

The mess that indicates our financial worth as writers tells us that some combination of claps, reads, member reads, non-member reads, 30 seconds, highlights, and comments will result in some form of payment. There is no…



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B Kean

The past holds the answers to today’s problems. “Be curious, not judgmental,” at least until you have all the facts. Think and stop watching cable news.