*ping* Ev Williams

This morning I logged into Medium to read some stuff and was greeted by a bright green indicator in the top right, shouting “80.”

Now I love the dopamine rush as much as the next person, but after clicking on that I was completely overwhelmed. Each individual line-item was basically saying the same thing. Either I was followed by someone, my most recent post was recommended, or it had some highlights.

Of course this is a good problem to have as I’m very happy that my most recent post was enjoyable by some. As I know this isn’t the case with every post, I do understand the value of showing each individual interaction…up to a point.

Maybe we could call that “point” 5, or roughly the number of times you’d see it while on a mobile browser before seeing the same thing over and over again and scrolling through them became really annoying. A brilliant scientific method, I know.

At the magical point of “5” the notification should be batched:

  • John and 6 others recommended Your very recommended story
  • Emily and 12 others started following you
  • Jane highlighted some phrase that no one else highlighted which is why it’s valuable to see it as one line item
  • Ben recommended A story that you wrote a long time ago

There’s a lot of valuable data here — sometimes actionable. And it’s certainly just nice to see. But when I’m overwhelmed with notifications saying all basically the same thing, they become essentially useless.


Hi, I'm Matt. I’m a dad, a Midwesterner living on the East Coast, designer, craft beer & coffee lover, remote work evangelist, and GIF enthusiast.