Vetoing the Pay Wall. (Or: Why I’m Never Going to Pay for Premium Access, Ever. Like, Ever.)

Dave Mitchell
Jul 25, 2018 · 3 min read

Like many Medium users, I get daily digest emails featuring new or interesting posts I might want to check out. I don’t have a lot of time to troll the site, so I rely (for good or ill) on this curation method. However, I’ve noticed an increase of nuisance punctuation in these emails. Maybe you have, too.

It’s that annoying little star.

You know the one I mean, right? The little star on the listing, informing you that this article’s content is behind the velvet rope and blackout curtain, snuggled away in the VIP “members-only” section of Medium, sipping champagne with Diddy (or whomever the current pop-culture icon is — forgive me, I’m almost 40, so my understanding of “cool” is stuck in the late 90's).

I recently started following two writers on this platform whose (free) articles I really enjoyed. As I began getting notifications of their new posts, it became apparent that most of their articles were behind the pay-wall. And hey, that’s cool. I don’t need to read those.

Point of fact: I just pulled up the homepage. While the breakdown of listed stories runs about 50/50, the first 5 stories on the homepage are all “premium.” Sometimes, the “daily digest” email I receive runs almost 2:1 in favor of these “starred” stories.

Am I mad that there’s a pay wall for premium content or that writers use it? No. Not at all. Medium has a right to generate revenue, as do those writers who produce high-quality content for the site. Shoot, when I finally finish the novel I’m working on, you’d better believe I’ll want people to pay me for the privilege of reading it. So I say, with zero qualm: Medium, you go get your money, baby.

But you won’t get any of it from me. Why? Because I’m perfectly fine ignoring the posts behind the curtain. Medium may include premium stories in the mix on the emails or homepage in order to entice readers to pony up their 5 bones a month for access, but I find it has the opposite effect for me. I simply scan the page for non-starred stories and ignore the rest.

See, I’ve got these two secret access points to the world’s largest vault information and commentary, a virtual mother lode of fascination and enlightenment. And I’m gonna let YOU, dear reader, know how to get there, too.

You ready? C’mere. Closer. Closer…

[whispering] It’s called the internet and the public library. Shhhhh.

That’s it.

Look, as much as I enjoy Medium — and I do, don’t get me wrong — there is SO MUCH IN THE WORLD to read and explore. So much to try to take in. My To-Be-Read shelf and Kindle at home are chock-full of books I’ve already PAID FOR that I haven’t read yet. That doesn’t even begin to address all the wonderful treasures I can find by walking into my local library.

Medium is a great platform. And provided they don’t kick me out after this, I plan on using it more often as a place for my writing (along with my blog — check it out). But if there comes a day when Medium becomes subscription-only, then as a reader, I’ll take my time and attention elsewhere. So long, Medium, and thanks for all the free fish.


Addendum (7/30/18): Just got my daily digest email. 18 premium stories — 3 free stories.

You’re just messing with me now, aren’t you, Medium?

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