Medium started out with the goal of fixing clickbait, and the (correct) understanding that an ad-driven revenue model encourages clickbait / low-quality content.

Somewhere along the way, it decided to support ads anyway, and while early design decisions worked against clickbait, later design decisions didn’t. (As a result, everyone’s feeds got worse.)

I welcome Medium’s return to their original goal, and if the people who were laid of were contributing to the downfall of the platform, I’m glad that they are no longer in a position where they can make things worse (although it would be naive not to put the ultimate blame on top staff, and probably ultimately VCs). However, it’s sort of alarming that Medium isn’t aware of the many reasonable alternatives to ad-based revenue & paywalls, after so many years.

‘Finding’ an alternative to ad-based revenue implies that one isn’t already in front of you. In the industry there’s this idea, probably borne out of cognitive dissonance, that ad-based monetization is a necessary evil; this has never been true, since alternative proposals predate the advent of banner ads by 30 years.

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Resident hypertext crank. Author of Big and Small Computing: Trajectories for the Future of Software.

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