I agree! For some reason it feels like we discussed this a long time ago. Unfortunately, Medium really doesn’t make it easy for me to find old discussions.
“Each month we’d pay a $1/dollar but we could choose which stories we spend our pennies on. Then we’d all see and know everybody’s valuations.”
Back then you didn’t seem very confident that spending money was an effective way to accurately reveal valuations. It seems like your perspective has changed somewhat? No man, or woman, steps in the same river twice?
Michael David recently recommended my response to Alexander Williams. When I clicked on David’s profile I read and recommended his response promoting the idea of subscribers having the option to spend their $5 dollars on their favorite stories.
What I’m super wondering about is whether subscribing is truly necessary to generate adequate support for the best writers.
For the past few months, the 4th graders in my friend’s class have been blogging… Classtopia. On this recently created page you can see their best entries sorted by their value. Their value is determined by crowdfunding. The crowd is currently pretty small. It consists of the students, their teacher and myself. But in theory the crowd could be as large as everybody in the world.
Classtopia doesn’t have any subscribers. Each participant can spend as much or as little money as they like on the entries. The amount of money that is spent on the entries determines their order… which in turn helps visitors decide how they divide their limited time.
With this in mind, let’s consider three Mediums…
Medium A: Subscribers pay $5 dollars a month but do not have the opportunity to spend their fees on their favorite stories.
Medium B: Subscribers pay $5 dollars a month and do have the opportunity to spend their fees on their favorite stories.
Medium C: We’d all have the opportunity to spend as much or as little money as we wanted on our favorite stories.
Which Medium would generate the most revenue… A, B or C?
I don’t think it would be Medium A. Williams put it pretty well…
I absolutely do not trust the Medium Editors. I have literally years of experience looking at the front page and seeing what they promote. We clearly have different ideas of what should be put on the front page in front of me. Which is fine — except for the fact that they now seem to want $5 a month to promote writers and subjects that I don’t really have any interest in.
Consider this passage from Deirdre McCloskey’s book… “The Applied Theory Of Price”
Geoffrey Hellman wrote for the New Yorker magazine for a long time and had incessant quarrels with its editor, Harold Ross, about how little Ross paid a man of Hellman’s seniority. Ross insisted that he paid what each piece of writing was worth:
“You say that you have been here eighteen years and are not treated better than a good writer a couple of years out of college would be, so far as pay for individual articles is concerned… My firm viewpoint is that we ought to pay what a piece is worth, regardless of age, race, color, creed, financial status or any other consideration. I don’t know how, in an enterprise of this sort, one in my position can take into consideration anything beyond the actual value of the things.”
The actual value of things? An editor can know how much he values an article but… unless he’s a mind-reader he really can’t “divine” how much I value an article.
If subscribers can’t spend their fees to signal their valuation of things then they won’t be nearly as well accommodated as they could be.
Both Medium B and C would give members the opportunity to use their money to signal the value of stories. The stories on the homepage would be sorted by their value and we’d have the option to filter them by date and tag. I’d want to see the most valuable economics stories that had been published in the past week. Williams might want to see the most valuable gaming stories that had been published in the past day. What about you and David?
This difference between Medium B and C is that B has subscribers. I’d definitely be happy to pay $5 dollars/month if I could spend my fees on my favorite stories. But it does seem a little steep… at least compared to Netflix’s fee of $10 dollars/month. It’s hard to imagine that Medium provides half the value of Netflix.
With both Medium B and C a large part of the motivation for spending money is to help promote our favorite stories. If we truly value a story then we’ll want more, rather than less, people to read it. And I think this is pretty good motivation on its own for people to spend at least some money on stories. If there are lots of people spending some money on stories then it could really add up. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Medium C generated more revenue than Medium B.
What do you think?