Trouble at Mill

The Spanish InquisitionI wanted to write something erudite and pithy about the current state of affairs at Medium; about the arguments and how one event has been blown up out of all proportion into a huge, festering mess.

I wanted to but couldn't find the words to demonstrate how exasperated the whole thing made me feel.

The accusations, the insults, the recriminations, the personal agendas; and that's all after the event in an ongoing diatribe which has, sadly, diluted the original argument. It seems like one of those occasions where people end up fighting on principle but forget why they started fighting in the first place.

A discussion about plagiarism and "fair use" quickly devolved into a challenge of journalistic integrity before diving headlong into accusations of sexism initiated by those who feel they are helping but only serve to inflame an already incendiary situation whilst adding extra layers to this rather pungent onion that were never there to begin with.

People are upset, perhaps rightly so. They feel wronged but would rather continue mud-flinging than accept an official policy decision as final. They feel entitled so, when that decision doesn't meet their expectations, they feel slighted, aggrieved.

Lines have been drawn and sides taken but this is no longer an us and them fight, it's now them and them and them as more factions wade into battle incensed by some fraction of an argument taken entirely out of context.

To quote the sketch which gives this post its title, Medium has recently been feeling like a mill where "one of the cross beams has gone out askew on the treddle."

Streams drowning in self-help posts allegedly surfaced by unfair algorithms have caused friction but arguments such as those currently blighting the service only exacerbate any perceived problems. Arguments that end up dividing and alienating the community which they claim to support. Arguments which are ultimately self-defeating. Arguments which drive others away from the that very community.

Any intelligent debate has long since descended into Pythonesque farce.

Medium, to its credit, has been willing to offer explanation and transparency, recognises the frustrations of its participants and seeks ongoing feedback.

I just bet they didn't expect the Spanish Inquisition.

Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog