Unless they are commissioned by a Medium publication, responsibility and accountability lie with individual writers, Michael K. Spencer, not with the platform. You can’t blame the infrastructure for the behavior of users — it’d be like blaming the internet for, say, the existence of pedophilia.

As far as I can tell, Medium pubs observe strict editorial standards that are in line with journalistic principles (such as the ones outlined in my old union’s Code of Conduct — those are the same the world over, the phrasing varies but the ethics never change). Joining the union meant pledging allegiance to those principles, which is as close as taking an actual oath as you get.

When it comes to users on a platform like Medium, my understanding is that the curation process strives to maintain an editorial quality baseline but no one seems to know how it works, or why content that is at odds with the platform’s writing guidelines sometimes gets curated. (I’m thinking of pieces that read like advertising copy disguised as native storytelling, one of my personal pet peeves).

Medium’s writing guidelines are similar in many ways to a super simplified journalism code of conduct for the layperson, but abiding by them remains optional and a matter of personal ethics, or lack thereof.

I for one welcome copy that makes people think and feel as long as it is executed in a dignified manner that doesn’t exploit human pain for voyeurism, clicks, and bucks.

Lastly, this may be of interest even though it’s America-centric:

Producing copy that respects human dignity, doesn’t manipulate the audience, and ultimately serves to enlighten us all about the multifaceted nature of the human condition isn’t for everyone; some folks just want to get paid and be able to call themselves a writer as if it were some badge of honor.

But this doesn’t mean we can’t raise awareness about malpractice, push for better editorial standards, and embrace them come what may even if our financial returns are fated to remain modest as a result.

There’s so much at stake if we allow clickbait to take over the internet and by association the world…

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