I somehow think you have the exact opposite idea of what Ev Williams or the Medium investors want. And also how a commons works.
The commons I learned about in economics was a tragedy. I suppose it’s ironic that I linked to wikipedia, as it does appear to be a reasonably self-regulating source.
I think Medium is trying to make it possible for people who write for a living to survive in a world where they have gotten increasingly marginalized by people who don’t. Reporters and writers have never been richly paid professions, but they are professions. In particular, investigative reporting is time-consuming, hard, and expensive. Having that quality writing unfettered by ads I ignore, or worse, ads that confuse or distort the author’s intent seems a noble and worthwhile thing to do.
Maybe you’re right that Ev Williams and Medium made a deal with the VC devil. But that’s not what I see going on.