My most charitable explanation of the paywall is this: Medium thought they might try to focus on making the platform a place to write rather than a place to catch eyeballs. They said from the outset they were always about writing, but the business plan, I think, was always based on the idea that lots and lots of people would come to read what was written.
The promised land of blogging is a platform where the business plan is built on there being more writing than reading. I know that sounds sick, but if you look at Gawker comments, there are more comments than anyone reads. Nobody cares. They still comment. Blogging shangri-la will allow the good blog posts rise to the top. When you hit publish on a lead balloon and it sinks into the well of oblivion, that’s the price of playing, but there has to be some hope that people will see what you write, and people who often write things that resonate should get the gold.
I even advocated for making people pay for their blogs in this post:
But what I meant was, “I’m willing to pay to write on Medium, and let me keep the company I want to keep.”
Medium lets me that so long as I am on the iron pig. On Android or iOS my feed is horribly truncated and I miss a lot of what the people I follow publish.
I don’t care about the “Members Only” content. There is nothing wrong with it, but most of it isn’t compelling to me because the stories have to be pitched, selected, and edited. That kills a lot of the joy.