In my experience:
- Not really — relatively few articles are locked down, and they’re not (on average) better than the free ones. If you would like to read everything from all the premium paper magazines on here (like The Economist), then maybe it’s worthwhile: they all lock their articles down (even Aeon, which doesn’t have a paywall on its own site), so it’s probably cheaper to pay for Medium than to pay for six or seven paywalls. Also, I got the impression that writing locked-down content was limited to members.
- I haven’t noticed any differences in feed customization after paying.
- If you don’t hold down your mouse button, claps behave identically to recommendations. I do this, because I have yet to see anything that deserves more than one recommendation. From what I understand, the distribution of claps among locked-down stories controls the distribution of profits to them, and it seems lie the number of claps on non-locked-down stories doesn’t affect anything except ranking (which I expect makes ranking strictly worse — since I may agree that some article should be recommended or that it shouldn’t, but three hundred claps from one person is going to bias the ranking in a way that’s much harder to ignore)
- A lot of the locked-down articles are in series but I’ve never seen it in the free articles and I have no idea why. I don’t really see what benefit it provides either, over just having prev/next links at the end of your article.