Our disappointing experience using mirror.xyz – the lights are on but no one’s home

a woman in a red shirt sitting at her laptop with her head in her hands in frustration

3 min, 26 sec reading time

What is mirror.xyz?

Mirror could be a potential onramp for Web2 writers to enter the Web3Lit space. However, at the moment, some of the bugs and issues with Mirror can complicate, frustrate, and discourage new users from using the tool.

If you follow the crypto space at all, you know that mirror.xyz is THE publishing platform for Web3 creators. 

Billing itself as the “essential Web3 toolkit for sharing and funding anything,” it’s been valued at over $100m USD. 

It became extremely popular in 2021 because of the success of its “$Write Race” competition that had authors competing for “articles of the week.”

Since then, the reason it is viewed as the best publishing platform for Web3 is because it allows authors to easily generate value for their work. 

How does Mirror Differ from Medium?

Compared to most publishing platforms (i.e. Medium, etc.), Mirror allows creators to monetize their content with Web3 plugins for crowdfunding, minting their articles as NFTs, and even setting up a crypto-based “tip jar”. 

It also promises easy “splitting” of any funds across multiple authors, so if for instance, you were part of an amazingly-attractive-and-intelligent-husband-and-wife-team writing together, you could easily split any funds received from your work.

Because of this monetization strategy (and cache among the Web3 community), Mirror has become the site where authors publish technical documentation, deep dives on topics that they care about (like Meagan Lloysts “Metaverse 101”), and even crowdfund their novels (like Emily Segal in April 2021). 

Testing Out Mirror Ourselves

So, before we can help more authors figure out how mirror.xyz works in Web3, we had to try it out ourselves and report back. 

In our case, Lisa is an expert in Web2 publishing tools and has extensive experience collaborating using cloud-based platforms with authors worldwide. 

Jonny is not an expert by any means, but has played around with a number of Web3 platforms and has minted a few NFTs in the past.

Together, we make the perfect semi-experienced novices who would seek out publishing on Mirror as the first step into Web3Lit.

With all that said, we have been really disappointed in our Mirror experience and won’t be recommending it to others until some things are fixed.  

Our Experience Publishing on mirror.xyz

Initial Setup

When first going to Mirror, you find a polished background about the site and some promoted articles/projects. Only once you connect your Metamask/crypto wallet do you get to a completely different toolbox site that allows you to start creating.  

screen shot of mirror.xyzs homepage says create and connect your world on web3
jonny stockholm's mirror dashboard with two articles

Off the bat, things were easy. 

We were able to quickly create an entry and the content blocks to embed images, tweets, and URLs were all simple and easy to use. 

So far so good.  

But then we started running into three major issues:

1. Outdated/Confusing Guides

Again, we are not experts in the Web3 space, but we also aren’t brand new.  And we really struggled to get our first publication posted correctly.  

While they have a guide available, a lot of the directions are incorrect.  

For example, the $writerace that mirror.xyz became famous for was discontinued months ago, but that first day we were trying to figure things out and found a page saying that we “need $WRITE tokens in your wallet to compose, publish, or create an account on Mirror.”

This is simply untrue – and we know this because we follow the space closely – but a new entrant in the Web3 space would be really confused. 

The Editor Guide’s instructions were not the most helpful either. 

Definitions and terminology in the Editor guide differed to what was on the site, and so without a helpful Editor Guide to assist us, we headed to Mirror’s Discord server for more help. 

However, once there, we could not view any previously asked questions or get an answer to any question we posted. 

The Discord server sat empty and erased our posted question clean after a few minutes like we were never there. It was an experience that was not only unhelpful but also quite frustrating.

2. Inability to Collaborate

This was a huge disappointment – mirror.xyz does not enable authors to co-create on the platform itself. We had to draft our article in Google Docs, edit using Grammarly, and copy/paste the final version into Mirror. 

To co-create our initial draft, we needed multiple tools in Web2 before dropping in the final version into mirror.xyz that needed to be reformatted.

We wish mirror.xyz enabled authors to share the same drafts and co-write articles prior to publication.

3. Features Not Working Properly

Embeds not working

We used the URL feature to visualize people’s Tweets in our main article. While that feature worked during drafting and preview, they reverted to ugly links upon publication. 

The same happened with the image link display on social media. 

When we shared the published article on Facebook, the assigned main image displayed properly, but it showed up as a blank square on Twitter.

How are Twitter folks going to recognize our genius with a blank square next to our headline?

It looked unprofessional and incomplete. 

Issues Splitting Royalties

One of the huge benefits of publishing in Web3 is the promise of easier royalty management among co-authors.

Despite two wonderful people minting our article, neither of us has any ETH in our wallets from the SPLIT. We’ve tried to “claim” the split, and spent ~$10 worth of ETH in transaction fees, but didn’t actually get any of the value. 

Will we ever be able to access it? We don’t know!

split screen image of a man smiling saying

Actual Site not Loading

After we published our second article, we received a comment from a reader who had tried to access the article using multiple browsers and devices and could never get it to load.

If people can’t even read our content, then Mirror is not doing its most basic job. 

Lisa attempted to create a new entry in Mirror and was met with text that simply said, “Patience” in the center of a blank screen. 

What is going on? Is the site down? Should we come back later? Never?

Patience
Unfortunately, not a joke, this is what Lisa’s screen looked like when she tried to create a new entry in mirror.xyz

Suggestions for Mirror

At the moment, if you decide to publish on Mirror, know that you’re going to experience some challenges. 

Even though Lisa has coded in SAS, R, and designed WordPress websites for years, we were left scratching our heads numerous times during this process. 

We suggest the following:

  • Update the directions on the site and have them user-tested.
  • Conduct a user-experience test with non-Web3 people to find holes in directions.
  • Allow for all articles to appear in all Dashboards that have linked wallets. 
  • Update the Editor Guide
  • Update the website to remove aspects that are no longer relevant ($WRITE token)
  • Explain to users why there is a super ugly URL slug to those who are used to customizing Web2 slugs. I learned recently that the URL is linked to the location in the blockchain, but I had no idea that was what was happening and the URL is usually optimized for SEO.
  • Link to your Mirror blog that explains helpful tips rather than direct people to a vacant Discord server. I found some articles here helpful but again, I had to search for them: https://dev.mirror.xyz/
  • More user support is needed, even if it’s from the community. Mirror could provide Frequently Asked Questions or allow fellow users to help one another on the Discord server. No community Discord server should be radio silent.

When all of these issues are fixed, I think mirror.xyz will be great, but until then, proceed with caution…and patience.

We do not recommend using Mirror for crowdfunding until you are experienced in extracting funds from your crypto wallet.

From now on, we will not be publishing our articles on mirror.xyz, but instead, will house them here and incorporate Web3 tool plugins to our WordPress backend.

What about you? 

Have you published on mirror.xyz?

How was your experience? 

Let’s chat in the comments below.

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