Medium to Pay Writers Based on Reading Time, Not Likes

The platform has been paying writers based on likes — or “claps” — from readers

Medium, the blogging platform that encourages you to “get smarter about what matters to you,” knows that payment matters to its writers. Tuesday, the site announced a new method for calculating writer earnings that relies not on likes, but on time spent reading.

“Instead of paying based on claps as the main signal, we will now reward stories primarily based on reading time, which we’ve seen to be a closer measure of quality and resonance with readers,” the announcement said. “To increase transparency and provide richer insight to our writers, we will also introduce new stats so it’s more clear how a story’s earnings were calculated.”

(“Claps,” for the uninitiated, are similar to “likes.”)

The announcement noted that since the 2017 launch of the Medium Partner Program, which was designed to fairly compensate writers, the site has paid out “more than $6 million to over 30,000 writers.”

With that model, there was “unlimited potential to earn” and payouts increased year over year.

As well as calculating earnings based on trading time of Medium members, the site will also include trading time from non-members. If a reader finds a writer’s story and subscribed to Medium within 30 days, that writer will earn for the reading time.

This change comes at a time of upheaval in digital media, where numerous other outlets are folding, merging, or restructuring in ways that leave writers out of work.

Writers reacted tepidly to the announcement. The Verge’s Casey Newton observed on Twitter, “Medium’s payment scheme for writers is still opaque and bad, but at least it’s no longer based on how many times readers clicked a ‘clap’ emoji.”

Martin Bryant, founder of Big Revolution media constancy group, was measured, too, but wrote, “This could be good.”

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