Read on Medium.
I don’t know if it would be better to wish every blogger this valuable lesson or wish them never to experience it.
It felt like they kept my stories in hostage. For months. Not mentioning my account being erroneously banned for spamming.
But let’s start from the beginning.
In the beginning, it was Medium
Hackernoon is a popular tech publication, focused on software development. They started as a Medium publication and got tremendous attention. The owner, David Smoke, pushed hard and got results.
But, on Medium, you have one big problem, as a publication: the publication is not yours. Medium owns the tech, Medium owns the emails, Medium decides the policies, Medium owns everything except the writers’ content.
Once, you could have a custom domain. But even like that, you couldn’t move the publication somewhere else, to a different platform. It’s not just a tech thing.
And don’t forget that Medium doesn’t allow third-party ads. Or, well, they were allowed when Hackernoon started, then Medium changed policies. Imagine publications that had invested in Medium with the previous policies.
So, as a publication, you simply can’t make money. And the audience you built, paying blood, can disappear in an instant, not to speak of your account or your publication.
At some point, Hackernoon decided that Medium was a blocked road, but moving the publication wasn’t a joke. Just to mention, in the process, Medium offered to buy them. Like money alone could fix the problems of the publications on Medium.
More on The Case of Hacker Noon Moving from Medium
Since I was happy with the brave move, I accepted their terms and allowed my stories (5 or 6 articles, one of them already over 20k lifetime views) to be moved with the publication (March 2019).
What to do with my stories?
Actually, Hackernoon was the type of publication that publishes quite anything. That’s how they grow popular.
I have clues that they never read the stories I submitted. But, to be honest, it was not much different from any other publication on Medium. Only a couple of publications read my work before publishing it. That’s one of the reasons I now write for my own publications only.
Anyway, it was the time when I submitted to publications, and a couple of stories got good results. Actually views, not much more. And the same stories are getting more views nowadays from Google, outside Hackernoon.
I mainly published on Hackernoon when it was still a Medium publication. After the move, I published one or maybe two articles only. No more. I had already lost the habit of submitting to publications.
My articles moved to their new custom platform, which was less than perfect, and I also accepted those flaws. They needed time, of course. They already did the magic of getting funding and moving.
But, after some months, I decided that a couple of my stories needed to be removed. And maybe a couple of others needed some editing.
Surprise, my stories were inaccessible. The stories were there, with my name on them, but I had no access to them. My dashboard was just empty.
The fight begins
I’m not going into the details here. They had procedures for migrating the stories from Medium, and I did what they requested, or I thought I did.
But my stories were inaccessible.
Well, time to write to support, isn’t it?
Yes, but not the time for getting replies.
I finally asked (December 2019) in the community and soon, after one month, David in person suggested me how to correctly reconcile my old medium account with Hackernoon 2.0.
I did it, but stories still inaccessible (curiously, also the one certainly submitted after the migration). Also filled the form for removing one of my stories and nothing. Filled again for another story, and again no feedback.
Time to write to support again. Maybe they’ve decided to give support to contributors, after months.
Trying to get a screenshot of my dashboard… surprise! My account was banned for spamming (May 2020).
Spamming that I never did, nor I could, since I was literally not using the new platform at all, worried by the fact that my stories were inaccessible. Anyway, they could certainly easily verify.
This time, after a few days, they replied, confirming that they don’t blacklist users unless they have a spam account, but they would look into it. The surreal dialogue starts. You can imagine yourself. “Fixed it”, “no, it’s not fixed”, and so on. I spare you the details.
I kept asking either full access to my stories or the removal of all of them.
At some point, they admitted that some bug was there, that I had to create a new account and they would move my stories there. And so things went.
My stories were finally in my dashboard.
Oh, good. Let’s see what to do with them.
Happy to have my new dashboard with all my stories, I decided to delete one of them.
Trashbin on the preview and…
It was impossible to delete the stories.
Again the mantra, to them, “I asked to either give me FULL access (edit AND remove) to my stories or delete them all.”
Immediately after, as usual, (17 days) they replied that they had finally removed all my stories AND… deleted my account (August 2020).
My account was gone for the second time, again without asking.
This last time it was a new guy, so I’ve nothing with him. I wish he can save that disastrous support dept, with time.
But I won’t be there to see it. Not because I’m planning to die, but because I’m done with Hackernoon.
Moral of the story
That was my second lesson of this kind from “platforms.” The other one was the sudden shut down of Narrative, a platform where I invested months. But that’s another story. My stories are on my hard disk and have found other roads on the Web.
But, with Hackernoon, I was risking my stories to remain there, without the possibility of fixing a typo, removing a story which was no more in line with my identities, replying to a comment, or do whatever I wanted with my stories.
When I realized that I have more than two hundred stories on Medium, I shivered.
Medium sounds more reliable but… Imagine my account inaccessible, maybe by mistake. And my stories not removed, cannibalizing at the eyes of the search engines any possible republishing. Getting the usual copy&paste replies from the support. Of course, from Italy, it would be impossible to sue them.
Well, we need platforms. I’m still on Medium, and will continue to use it. They never messed up with my stories, but I know that I should expect that from them too. I’m taking the risk.
But I’m on my road outside already, and my best stories will be originally published outside third-party platforms, on my own websites.
I decided on independence in my professional life. Imagine for my stories.