Does Medium’s algorithm punish spiritual content?

Or humor? Or poetry? Or tech writing? Short answer: no. But let’s 🌮 ‘bout it.

Ariel Meadow Stallings

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Photo by the author taken at Church of the 8 Wheels

I recently got an email from a publisher of a spiritual publication on Medium. They explained that their publication’s writers were quite certain that Medium’s distribution algorithm, the Boost Nomination Pilot, and our curation team were intentionally set against spiritual content.

They went on to say that some of their writers were thinking of leaving the platform because they were feeling so frustrated. They asked if there were folks in the Boost Nomination Pilot specifically focused on finding quality spiritual content on Medium, and if I had any encouragement I could offer to their publication’s writers.

I see questions like this floating around Medium often — does the distribution algorithm not reward [fill in the blank topic] stories? Do Boost nominators or curators hate [fill in the blank topic] stories? Are writers covering [fill in the blank topic] being punished by the Medium Partner Program changes?

I thought I’d share the specific answer I gave to this publisher, but it’s relevant to almost any [fill in the blank topic] — other than the topics specifically mentioned here.

Hey there, publisher!

While there are indeed several Boost Nomination Participants nominating spiritual content including The Taoist Online and Mystic Minds, it’s helpful to remember that Boost Nomination Program participants frequently nominate stories outside of their publications. Also, our internal curation team is organically Boosting content from across Medium all day every day, as well.

Perhaps it would be helpful to see a few recently Boosted stories in the spirituality / religion / philosophy categories. Here’s a small selection from the past few days:

I also want to share this data with you: stories on the topic religion have been boosted more frequently in the past 10 days than stories on topics such as javascript, books, social media, money, and justice.

I can tell you quite confidently that there’s no algorithmic or curational bias against stories about topics like javascript, books, or social media — nor is there a bias against religious or spiritual content.

The focus of the Boost Nomination Pilot program is on stories that meet our Medium’s Quality Guidelines. The topic of the story is not a factor unless it’s against our current rules for distribution such as erotica, meta, etc.

This story from our curation manager may be helpful. In it, she links the training manual that our internal curation team is trained with. Feel free to share this with your writers! It’s public knowledge.

I hope this is helpful. Ultimately, I respect every writer’s sovereignty to make their own decisions about where to do their writing. While I can say that there’s no algorithmic or curational bias against spiritual content, ultimately it’s still up to each individual writer to decide which platform feels like the best fit for their work.

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Ariel Meadow Stallings

I'm a Medium product manager, but also a whole-ass person: author, publisher, devotional dancer, Seattleite, mom, and just a human humanning.