A dense piece here Elliot. I’ll try to run down my thoughts here in order.
I agree that the current model tends to reward vapid content — sensational titles with no original components, and ill-researched stuff. But to bring in another point you bring up — crowd wisdom — I see that as part of that problem.
The crowd has driven the rise of this vapid content and sensationalized unoriginal fluff. To think that the crowd will turn wise here on Medium and solve the problem of separating the wheat from the chaff — I’m just not sure about that.
I think I would pay for Medium, but only because I’m not just using it for reading and self-expression. I am using it to gain a readership so that I can (a) publish an ad-supported newsletter, and (b) get paid copywriting gigs. On objective a, I’m not at the subscriber level I want yet, but Medium has been indispensable in the progress I’ve made. On objective b, I’ve gotten a client that way, and it’s worked out well. I have also found some good writing and writers here. All of this is to say: I’m not sure I’d pay for Medium just as a consumer and recreational writer. But I’m just one guy.
Your final paragraph is — I shit you not — a project on my “someday/maybe” list of ideas that I thought of, but have neither the time nor resources to implement. I think that a model where you have money in, and the can give some and get some based on your recommends is a cool idea.
No hate on The Mission, but I wonder how many recommends their “30 ways to crush it, backed by science” pieces would really get if it meant people would have to sacrifice 10 cents or something. I guess when you think about it, Medium could benefit from an idea like this. We’ve talked before about what a recommend really means. Attaching a monetary value to each one would make it mean a lot more, I think.