Publish anywhere you can export your data and keep your URLs

January 21st, 2016

Dave Winer recently wrote that if you have something you want to publish that you should publish it anywhere but Medium.

His argument is that Medium could shut down or change course at any moment and your content and your URLs would then be in jeopardy of disappearing.

He’s right. That could happen. But that could also happen to the platforms he suggests that you publish on; WordPress.com, Tumblr, Blogger, etc.

WordPress.com is owned by a private company and could, theoretically, stop working tomorrow. Tumblr is owned by Yahoo! and we’re all sitting here watching that train wreck in realtime. Blogger is owned by Google and that should give you pause.

So, while Winer’s point is valid — that you may not want to publish anywhere that could disappear — I believe the solution behind it is a bit more nuanced than a one-liner like “anywhere but Medium”.

The more reasonable rule of thumb would be to publish “anywhere that you can export your data and keep your URLs”.

Currently Medium does not match this criteria. You can use your own domain name so you can keep track of your URLs. And they do have an API. But it is one-way and severely limited API — very similar to Facebook’s API of yore. You can push content to Medium but cannot consume content from Medium. (If I’m wrong on this, please email me.)

WordPress.com, Tumblr, Blogger; these each have a way to get your data out of them. WordPress being the easiest and most friendly since they offer most of the features via an open source download on WordPress.org. You could have your site back up and running (and able to be published to) in less than an hour. The others simply give you the content and you’re on your own to create your own publishing software.

So should people stop publishing to Medium?

I think Jeremy Keith’s approach is best. He says:

Using Medium to publish copies of what you’ve already published on your own site gives you the best of both worlds: ownership and reach.

There are caveats to this approach. The main one being that editing posts after their pushed to Medium is a manual process. But that is the same on any platform you cross-post to including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn.