Publishing platform Medium is rolling out new ways to manage conversations and protect authors from trolling. Starting today, all Notes are now private, meaning that if you want to publicly respond to an article, you’ll have to use the recently launched Responses offering. Additionally, to keep discussions and the exchange of ideas “moving forward,” there are new controls in place to keep certain responses from appearing front and center.

Earlier this month, Medium launched its Responses feature, which has essentially become its version of commenting. But it’s not entirely like the standard format you’d encounter on Disqus or Facebook. Rather, it’s a part of the context, which means that not only will your responses appear at the bottom, but authors will know specifically what you’re referring to. What’s more, those responses spawn new articles to share new perspectives on a particular topic.

That’s all public.

There is a Notes feature, too, that’s no longer public. In fact, according to Greg Gueldner who works on user satisfaction at Medium, a “very low percentage of Notes were ever made public, and were restricted by the participation of the original author.” A problem with Notes is that characters are limited — a restriction that Responses don’t share.

How to leave a private note on Medium.

Above: How to leave a private note on Medium.

So now when Notes are used, they’re treated more like direct messages. Authors will receive a notification when a Note is sent to them and can reply, as in any private conversation.

For Medium to pursue its dream of being a space that fosters ideas and dialogue, it needed to limit the impact of “trolls.” That’s why there are new controls to restrict negative or inflammatory messages from surfacing to the top of a collection of responses. There are new rules that dictate the visibility of both quote responses and regular responses:

  • If someone you follow writes or recommends a response, you will see it at the bottom of the post.
  • If the original author writes or recommends a response, you will see it at the bottom of the post.
  • All other responses are behind the “Show more” button.
  • If the original author blocks the author of a response, it will not be shown at the bottom of the post or behind the “Show more” button, regardless of whether you follow the blocked author or not.

So based on the above rules, it appears that Medium is granting some pretty granular editorial control to authors, who can determine whether someone is instigating trouble or is participating in a fruitful discussion.

Gueldner reiterated that if users find a response or a post that violates any of the rules on Medium, they can quickly flag it for review by the team.