The story I wrote this morning on Medium (see details of my experiment) has blown up. I've been looking at referrals and stats and tried to determine where the traffic is coming from.
The initial response I got was probably due to my own Twitter account and Designer News. But that accounts for fewer than a thousand of the ~9,000 views the post now has. Twitter has now referred far more than that, but it wasn't the source, it's the result of the number of readers.
I can't confirm, but I think that the majority of the views are coming from Medium's own recommendation engine.
I get emails every day from Medium that tell me what folks I follow on Twitter are recommending on Medium. I probably read that email more than the average promo-email I get, if not as much as my staple newsletters I rely on every day.
In addition to the emails, other people on Medium itself get “Read Next” notices that relate to them, and the Medium home page is catered based on who you follow on your connected social networks.
Finally, the “Top Stories on Medium” further drives traffic to stories that are already performing well.
A recommendation network for WordPress.org
How could this look for WordPress.org? That's what I have started thinking about. Obviously WordPress.com can do something similar (and does) with their “Likes” functionality.
But I would be really interested in something similar for WordPress.org. In all likelihood, this would require someone like Automattic (aka in Jetpack) to drive it, as it would require significant server resources.
I think the WordPress dashboard could be a really interesting place for this kind of functionality.
Essentially, the dashboard could be a news feed similar Medium's home page. It could be catered per user based on who they follow in various social accounts.
This is more than a Reader, where it would only show my friends' posts. It offers broader reach, because it shows me what my friends are posting plus what my friends are recommending (and reading).
So, now I can have a pretty highly catered reading experience right there in the dashboard of my own websites.
In a world where RSS is falling off, social networks are often too noisy to keep up with constantly, and we're hungry for content curated for us, this could serve us quite well.
Additionally, it's a no-brainer for publishers to opt-in to a system like this. It helps you get the word out about your posts. Think how much faster a new blog (self-hosted) could gain an audience if it could have a network effect as big as Medium, Tumblr, or WordPress.com.
And the front-end cost is minimal. All I need is a recommend button on my posts.
I'm just spit-balling, but I haven't seen a really great example of something like this for self-hosted websites. I'm curious what we could dream up,