I built a chrome extension to remove members only stories from Medium

Thanks to @hermez777 for making this photo available freely on Unsplash

When I first heard about the membership program Medium was introducing, I didn’t think much of it. Pay for a better reading experience - no thanks, that’s not what I’m here for. I remember at the time there was a plethora of articles on Medium’s financial evaluation, and how the membership program would inevitably fail, as so many others had that tried to charge for content. I quietly agreed, still believing that the best model for creators was through a crowdsourcing platform like Patreon or Kickstarter.

I continued using the site as it was. I’d get a few emails here and there asking me to become a founding member, a couple of inapp notifications along the same lines, and I happily ignored them. Then I start seeing these three words on my home feed.

Medium members only

I didn’t have a problem with this. It seemed innocent enough, show what non-member users were missing. Medium is a business, they’re trying to make money. Besides, it was just one story on my entire home feed. But one turned into two, and two turned into most of my feed, and I had quite enough of that. So I wrote this chrome extension to remove medium members only stories. (source code)

Original (left). Remove Members Only Posts (right)

The image on the right is the exact same home page, minus the members only stories. In my opinion, that’s going too far.

Now Medium caters to a variety of audiences, and I think this is the problem. I am a member of the programming audience. I come here to read articles about new languages, frameworks, plugins, and the occasional contrast and compare piece, and there aren’t too many members only articles that cover those topics. Most if not all of the most prolific medium writers in programming have yet to release a single members only post (Quincy Larson, Eric Elliott, Samer Buna, DHH, Preethi Kasireddy, Cory House, and Mike Bostock to name a few…)

The reason is the programming world is very giving. So much of programming today revolves around open source software and community involvement. Employers are very interested in prospective employee’s community presence, which includes contributing to other open source projects, releasing your own open source software, speaking at conferences, and being active on important community websites like Stack Overflow and Medium. I don’t mean to say that programming authors are better than everything else, but there’s a lot of incentive in the programming world to releasing free content. The paid medium membership is an affront to this world.

I actually believe I stand corrected though. The medium membership will work. The members only headlines seem interesting enough, and if I had more time in my life, I might just be a member myself. I just don’t think it works for the programming audience.