A Gentle Introduction to Writing Gentle Introductions

Your motivation certainly isn’t that you want people to know that you know about this thing — of course not.

Your motivation most definitely isn’t to flex those soft skills, those communication skills you have had your LinkedIn network endorse.


You want the world to have an easy-access resource to learn about the Central Limit Theorem, or sparse matrices, or neural networks, or neural networks, or neural networks, or even neural networks!SourceIt is imperative that you stress how this concept is approachable, never mind that the full derivation of the concept is the subject of someones’ five-year-long effort to write a PhD dissertation.

No, you, as a venerated Medium communicator, can distill this idea down to an amount of text estimated to be a “6 minute read”.

Worry not, dear writer, if your subject matter is truly too complex for a six minute Medium article.

This is where the glorious writing devices of scoping and background assumptions come into play.

If you are trying to explain backpropagation through gradient descent, for example, it is a completely fair assumption that the machine learning hobbyist reading your post has a good enough multivariable calculus background to understand what you are doing by applying the chain rule to the gradient of the weights, biases, and activations of your network as they relate to your generic example loss function.

If they do not have this background, it is simply “out of the scope” of your article — no need to give it another thought!Oh helpful, knowledgeable writer, do not worry that at this point your math-dense, metaphor-riddled article is no longer a “gentle introduction”.

It is in no one’s interest to change your title, so your Gentle Introduction to Slack Variables in Support Vector Machines will survive the editing rigor that is Medium Publication Editors.

Think about it: your title has broad appeal to a technical and non-technical audience, your material fits with the publication’s mission, and the increased traffic similarly follows the publications mission.

“Increased traffic!” you muse to yourself, aghast at the accusation of potential clickbait to promote your writing, “How will this charlatan evidence that this is truly clickbait?” Dear helpful writer, using this investigation of Medium articles about machine learning and data science below, we can see clear evidence that both the median and mean number of claps skyrockets once the phrase “Gentle Introduction” resides in your title.

Some Examination of Clap Totals in “Gentle Introductions” vs All Other Medium Data Science Posts DATAWith all of this in mind, don’t consider changing your title, certainly don’t deviate from the successful Medium article formula, and whatever you do, DO NOT try to distinguish yourself from the plethora of knowledgeable writers on Towards Data Science aiming to help all of the “aspiring data scientists” out there.

Your work is too important and definitely hasn’t been written about before.


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