But that’s just it…it’s not really remaining free and open. Case in point being the fact that I am not allowed to view the link you shared. (I laughed out loud when I followed the link and got paywalled out.)
There is still a free version, but with each passing day more and more content is going up behind thepaywall, so it’s not really open. It’s a head fake toward being free and open. It’s not totally closed off yet, but it’s moving in that direction. And paywalls don’t have a long and storied history of success on the internet, especially not for general interest sites.
And to further that, Medium is encouraging people to lock stuff off to non-paying members, using it as a way to motivate people to pay for a membership. It’s a smart business tactic because it isn’t actually Medium who is closing stuff off, so they can deflect that criticism to an extent.
The cost of it is irrelevant to me, I just don’t respond well to negative motivation. Do this or else is a sure-fire way to get me to dig in my heels. As I said in the original post (I think I did, anyway), I’ve paid for memberships in the past when a site went to a freemium or subscription basis, but the memberships were presented as an upgrade to the basic service, whereas Medium has chosen to take away content.
And all the while they’re encouraging people to lock stuff behind the paywall, they’re also losing a lot of the premium content that I liked. I loved The Ringer, that was one of the primary reasons I started coming to Medium. And now it’s gone.
A few of the others I liked, they’re gone, too. So not only am I being asked to pay for what used to be free, I’m being asked to pay for what is effectively much less than the free service included. Which, again, is why the way they rolled the membership out was so strange.
I agree with you that there is a lot of value in the community here, but it’s not that much different than any of the other blogging communities I’ve been a part of in the past. I had a blog years ago and am still friends with a lot of those people (on Facebook and/or in real life).
As far as Evan Williams goes, I’ve been around VC-type people before (on a much smaller scale), and no matter how great a person they are, their goal isn’t a vibrant community, their goal is a huge launch. If it weren’t about that, they wouldn’t have taken on $132M in venture capital. I do believe that he likes that about the community, but that’s just a pleasant coincidence.
His job for the past five years or whatever has been doing whatever it takes to maximize the takeaway from an IPO. Every minute of every day, every interview and press release is geared toward raising venture capital and then once they have that capital, growing the business until the second (and third and so on) rounds of raising more capital. After that, it’s all about the IPO. First for the initial valuation and then to make sure the stock launches HOT. And then, for a lot of them, they cash out and move on. I don’t want that to sound cynical, I think it’s just the reality of the startup world.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Medium over the next year or two, that’s for sure.