Medium’s member-only content is killing me softly

For the love of all that is good, show me less like this

Craig Phillips
Mar 14, 2018 · 3 min read
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78% behind a paywall, surfaced for our viewing pleasure.

Killing me softly: the feeling you have when you are forced to endure something really unpleasant, but avoiding that thing would be worse.

I click a lot of members-only articles. A LOT.

I wondered why it is that I end up hitting so many dead ends while on Medium, simply because I’m not a paying member.

I get it, you want to promote membership. It will help you pay the bills, grow, and do more neat stuff.

But I decided to do a simple, 3 day test of what Medium surfaces to me when I land on it. Y’know, just to see if it’s me, or if it’s you.

It was definitely you, Medium.

Here are three screen shots of the past four days, with all member-only stories blacked out.


3 out of 8 readable articles

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3 out of 8 readable articles

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1 out of 8 readable articles

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Drum roll please…. 0 out of 8 readable articles

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Medium is definitely trolling me.

For those keeping track at home, 25 out of 32 stories that Medium featured for me were stories I can’t read because I’m not a member.

That’s over 78% unreadable. 0–37.5% of articles Medium features for me on any given day are readable.

How and what any content platform surfaces to it’s readers says a lot (everything?) about the strategy, priority, and direction of the company.

So what does this say about Medium? Or better yet, what does Medium think about this?

As an avid Medium reader, it frustrates me. As a writer, it turns me away from writing members-only content. As a UX Designer, it’s offends me to the core.


Thanks for reading.


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Craig Phillips

Written by

ux/product designer, cohost of Opacity podcast, writer, creating a course to help outsiders break into UX at www.breakintoux.design

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +670K people. Follow to join our community.

Craig Phillips

Written by

ux/product designer, cohost of Opacity podcast, writer, creating a course to help outsiders break into UX at www.breakintoux.design

The Startup

Medium's largest active publication, followed by +670K people. Follow to join our community.

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