Are the Medium Staff Manipulating Their Partners?


Amendment: Ev was kind enough to respond personally to my concerns and set them aside, so I feel confident saying they aren’t being shady or manipulative, but will keep this up to encourage any potential discussion and for others to to see his gracious response to my concerns. Any press is good press, right? Even when it’s from a nerd like me.

Also, I wrote a bit of a follow up piece here on the first month of the Partner Program and how much money it looks to be paying out. Even, better there is a response by Ev about the average amount people are being paid here if you interested.


I recently received the invitation to join the Medium partner program, like many of you who may be reading this.

If you’re unfamiliar with it you can learn more here. It’s basically Spotify for writers and members can allocate a percentage (who knows how much…) of their member fee to their favorite authors to encourage good writing. I think it’s a great model and swell idea and could be awesome, especially with how many authors have been able to garner a loyal readership through Medium. Anyway, back to it.

Like many of you, I also got excited and was like, “Cool, way to go Medium. Let’s give this darn thing a try, huh?”. So I submitted a few of my favorite articles under the “member-only” thingy and added that lock icon to the top of my articles and thought, “Let’s see what kinda funds I see come in.”

I’ll take it.

Really, I expected about 10 cents might appear over the next month, but I was more curious than anything. Well when a mere 3 minutes later I saw that 2 Medium staff members (a designer and an engineer had) had given applause to my recent article addition, I thought it seemed a bit fishy and like they had try to automate this to give encouragement to new partner writers.

Well, I thought it was a bit shady, but I wasn’t too worried about it and didn’t wanna jump to conclusions. However, when I logged in today and saw that the Founder of Medium himself had been reading my articles 9 hours ago and seemed to be enjoying himself quite a bit, I thought I’d call bull and say I may be being manipulated.

Thanks, Ev!

At the end of the day I don’t think I really have a problem with it if it is automated. I get the strategies being employed by Medium to find a new revenue model for content and good writing. I understand they are swimming against the tide, and that’s tough. But my experiences with Medium since they began switching to this new model have not been stellar.

As I’m sure many of you were, I was invited to make a pitch for an article for Medium to publish. I got excited and made the pitch and my idea was accepted, so I tweaked it a bit according to their feedback and began writing (none other than the one that inspired Ev to follow me). After a week of writing I submitted my article and got some good feedback on how to improve it, so I went through those steps and then submitted it again to crickets chirping.

A week later, I checked in again with my contact to see if I could do anything to get it ready for them, and nothing. Another week went by and I checked again. He responded this time and assured me I would be paid and not to worry but that they didn’t want to publish my article anymore because they had better submissions.

True to their word, I got my check in the mail and a decent pay check for my time, so no real worries on my end. And I get that homeboy I had been talking with was likely working on a huge amount of submissions and he also was working for an organization outside of Medium, most likely a consultant for them? I guess.

At the end of the day, I get it. I do. I work in a web firm in UX and marketing, and I understand that you gotta trim the fat from the funnel and tighten things up and find that winning model. But I also think there is a way to do that which treats your users with dignity and there is another way which treats them merely as sessions and percentages. And lately I have just felt like a stat in Medium’s funnel and not much like a valued writer or contributor as I once did.

When everything is all said and done, it’s likely that if you like the tool or the platform you will keep using it even when shady practices happen (as will likely be the case with me). But I can’t help but feel that if I feel sidelined and manipulated, then how must other writers on Medium feel.

So my hope is that this will serve as a conversation starter to the Medium community, because I am interested in your thoughts on the matter and what you experience has been. I hope this article also critiques Medium a bit and reminds the powers that be of this platform we write of this simple fact: we are humans and we notice when you’re manipulating, and people will smell the bullsh*t.


So, to those that may read this and get this far and have thoughts to share, please do.

I’ll do my best to respond to your critiques against me or Medium.

What has your experience been with Medium of late? Do share.

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