Hi again Daniel! I think you make some good points here as to why it is often a very good idea for authors to also be subscribers. Being a subscriber can help authors to interact and it can help to support the platform. These are perfectly valid points.
On the other hand, I think you’ve fallen some way short of providing a logical, convincing case that an author would be doing a “disservice to yourself, other authors, and Medium, if you don’t subscribe.”
You write: “If another author writes something that’s of high quality, responds to an article that you wrote, with their own article, tagged you into the article and referenced your work, then you should be supporting that. And you can’t do that without paying for the subscription.”
But that last bit is simply, factually, not true. You can support them in ways other than through buying a subscription. For example, you can support them by reading and providing feedback on their work — just as I am doing right now. Not only can you do that, but Medium has gone to the trouble of providing a special mechanism — the ‘friend link’ — to enable you to do such things.
A lot of writers get paid very little - often working for a lot less than minimum wage — and Medium, to its credit, recognises this. It makes it very clear that you do not have to be a subscriber in order to contribute articles and it provides facilities for authors to discuss their work with other authors without requiring a subscription.
You write: “If we’re reading and getting our information from other platforms, then it suggests that Medium just doesn’t have what it takes to be a good source of information.”
That, however, is a logical fallacy. Medium can be an excellent source of information for some people, but it may not suit the needs of others. For example, I’m a skilled economist and I’ve often written about Economics on Medium. So, if a non-specialist wants to understand some more about Economics, Medium may prove to be a very good source of information for them. But you’d hardly expect Medium to be a primary source of Economics information for someone like me, who’s already a specialist in that field. Medium just isn’t set up for that purpose!
You write: “Why should our readers pay for the privilege of reading our work, if we won’t even pay the $5 to read other peoples’ work?”
But there’s an obvious answer: Readers pay $5 per month because they can afford it and they think the content on Medium is worth $5 to them. Whether it’s worth it to a writer to spend $5 a month to read stuff on Medium is a different matter. Hopefully what matters to my readers is the quality of my work — not what I personally happen to spend my money on.
And I doubt you would refuse to buy anything from a local shop unless the shop owner subscribes to Medium and claps your articles. The fact that she has products you would find useful does not logically imply that you must therefore have content that she would find useful, or that she is somehow morally obligated to subscribe anyway, in order to ‘support’ her customers. She already supports her customers by providing them with things they want to buy.
Finally, I think there may be an element of presumption and even poverty-shaming here. You are suggesting that authors aren’t properly supporting the platform if they don’t subscribe — as if being up all night providing quality content for less than $2 an hour isn’t enough for you!
And maybe some authors are struggling to have enough to live on, let alone spend $60 a year to access a single website. And maybe they have other spending priorities. Maybe they have sick children to care for. Maybe they give their spare money to charities or use it for other good causes. You don’t know what good cause you could be denying $60 to if you insist an author must use it for a Medium subscription instead.
So perhaps you shouldn’t be so presumptuous about telling authors what they should be spending their limited money on, when you know so little about their circumstances. Perhaps if you thought more carefully about it, you might be a little more reticent about accusing hard-working writers on low pay of doing a ‘disservice’ to the platform they actually work phenomenally hard to support by providing great content.
There we go. There’s my little rant — with some free lessons in logic thrown in just to be helpful. I hope you enjoyed reading it and found it supportive — and that you’re not one of those silly people who take well-meant criticism far too personally! Have a good one! :)
Oh — and you might find some of these articles helpful: