Medium’s Curation Guidelines: everything writers need to know

Updated: April 2020

What is curation?

Thousands of stories are published every day on Medium. Our goal is to share the best of these stories with Medium readers. We do this with the help of our curation team, who reviews recently published stories and selects those that meet a high editorial standard for curation. 

What does it mean to be curated? When a story is curated, it becomes eligible to be distributed to readers across Medium surfaces — on the homepage, on topic pages, in our app, in our Daily Digest newsletter, and in other emails — and shared via Medium’s recommendation system.

The curation process

Our curation process relies on both human judgment and technology. We use algorithms to help us find high-potential stories. Our algorithms are designed by humans who spend a lot of time looking at stories on Medium to understand quality and design an algorithmic model that takes important story elements into account. We then use human judgment and these standards to confirm the quality of these stories, selecting those that meet a high bar for quality for curation.  

Because of the volume of stories that are published every day on Medium, curators are not able to review every story. Nor are we able to provide feedback on why a story was not selected for curation. If your story is not selected for curation and distribution, that doesn’t mean it won’t be read. It will continue to live on Medium. It will be displayed on your profile page and will be discoverable via search engines and by Medium’s on-site search. It can be shared via direct link, and your followers can find it in “New from your network.” You can also submit your story to appropriate publications to boost distribution. Additionally, if you join the Medium Partner Program, you can earn money from your stories behind the paywall based on engagement from Medium members, regardless of distribution status. Most stories are reviewed within two weeks.

What curators look for in a story

We value quality content — fresh ideas, unique perspectives, varied voices, smart thinking — and believe readers do, too. Here are the elements our curation team considers in evaluating story quality:

  • Does the story meet a high editorial standard? – Is it well-written, easy to follow, free of errors, appropriately sourced, narratively strong, and compelling? 
  • Does it add value for the reader? – Does it share new insights or perspectives? Offer an original take on a familiar issue? Does it stir emotions and/or thinking? Provide meaningful advice? Enrich a reader’s understanding of the topic? Does it feel like time well spent?
  • Is it written for the reader? – Is the story written with the reader in mind? Does the story make a connection with the reader or to a larger issue?
  • Is it complete? – Is it a finished, polished piece of work? Considered? Concise? Will a reader walk away satisfied?
  • Is it rigorous? – Are claims supported? Sources cited alongside stated facts? Does the story hold up to scrutiny?
  • Is it honest? – Is the story written in good faith? Is it truthful? 
  • Does it offer a good reading experience? – Is it properly formatted for the web/mobile? Does it have a clear and relevant headline that lets the reader know what the story is about? An easily readable story body — paragraphs/spacing/styling/section breaks/quotes? 
  • Is it clean? Is it free of typos and errors? 
  • Is the imagery appropriate? Is the imagery relevant and appropriate to the story?

Story disqualifications

Stories must comply with Medium’s Rules and the curation standards to be eligible for curation. It is important to note, however, that compliance with the standards below does not guarantee curation. In reviewing stories, curators are not looking for an absence of disqualifications; they are looking for the presence of quality. 

  • Violations of Ad-Free Medium
    • This includes unacceptable embeds, images, and promotions
  • Content that violates Medium’s Rules, including:
    • Stories that promote intolerance or prejudice against individuals or groups, including the use of scientific or pseudoscientific claims to pathologize, dehumanize, or disempower others.
    • Stories that glorify, celebrate, downplay, or trivialize violence, suffering, abuse, or deaths.
    • Stories that exist mainly to target, shame, intimidate, or harass identified, identifiable, or anonymous people.
    • Plagiarism/“borrowing” content without citation
    • Duplicate content
    • Undisclosed affiliate links
    • Nudity that is not content-supportive; it must be appropriate and tasteful to the story and is not allowed in the feature image
    • Violent, graphic, or offensive images or videos
    • Promotion of self-harm, suicide, or eating disorders
    • Pseudoscience or questionable health/medical/diet claims, including anti-vaxx
    • Conspiracy theories
    • Unsubstantiated accusations of illegal or unethical behavior
    • Including personal or private information without permission (includes personal communications)
  • Disqualifying headlines
    • No headline
    • All-caps headline
    • Typos in headline
    • Links in headline
    • No profanity (exceptions for demonstrable necessity) 
    • No clickbait
      • Clickbait is content that’s designed to entice a reader to click. It often shows up in the form of deceptive or manipulative story packaging (the headline, subheadline, and feature image) — a hyperbolic claim, a too-wide curiosity gap, a titillating image, etc. These stories do not follow through on their promise and often leave the reader unsatisfied.

Standard headline styling is title case for the headline and sentence case for the subtitle. This isn’t required but is ideal.

  • Disqualifying story types
    • No meta – no stories written about Medium
    • Sponsored content, content marketing, or stories whose sole purpose is to gather signups/traffic
    • Press releases
    • Non-English stories (we can only review English stories at this time)
    • Erotica
    • Inflammatory business reviews
    • Response posts
    • Letters
  • Disqualifying story elements
    • Non-compliant CTAs or first-party promotion
      • Medium writers are welcome to promote themselves and their products/services in their writer bio. The story page is for the story. Any calls to action (CTAs) in the story should be simple, clear, and brief (under 40 words or so), including for publications. Embeds that collect user information must do it off-site only (collecting user info on Medium is a rules violation). Your CTA may include a limited number of hyperlinks to other content. Intrusive or deceptive CTAs or promotions may cause your story to be rejected.
    • Patreon links or donation requests (legitimate charities are allowed)
    • Clap requests
    • Requests to read slowly or read through to the end
    • Request to become a Medium member
    • Including a Friend Link in the story
    • Clipped stories — stories that are only partially on Medium and continue on another site
    • Copyrighted images – Writers/pubs should use images they have the rights for and cite their sources. Resources like Nappy, Pexels, Pixabay, Unsplash, and the Gender Spectrum Collection are great for sourcing Creative Commons-licensed images (please be sure to research and adhere to the license of the images you use). Original imagery is also great.
    • Ad-hominem attacks or rebuttals

To find helpful tips for writers on everything from setting up your profile to writing great headlines, check out the Medium Writers Team, and be sure to follow Medium’s official blog, 3 Min Read.

The statements, views, and opinions contained in curated stories are those of the authors and are not endorsed by, nor do they necessarily reflect the opinions of, Medium or its employees.

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