How would Medium’s paying system work for non-English writers?

The article, written by Mateja Klaric, is a good summary about Ev Williams’s initiative on the balance between paying Medium-hosted writers and paying readers.

A senior editor and writer myself, I paid the first $5 to see how things would go on and as a gesture of reserved support to Mr. Williams. I run my own place, so I know it’s not easy to run a place like this.

But anyway, you’re invited to read the above article and you might have a different thought.

To me, a non-native English writer, there’s another issue: how would Medium’s system assess and pay for the stories in languages their editors may not understand?

If the editors could not understand, say, Chinese, writers who use this language would not be paid fairly under this system; not to mention there could be tens of non-English languages are used on Medium.

So I wrote a letter to the editors:

I am a Medium member and writer, and I run my own media as well. I appreciate your effort, like ours, to promote good stories based on their quality instead of click-throughs.

A question here: while I also write in English, I mainly write in Chinese. So could you, or would you, assess my stories with quality criteria such as research depth?

I don’t really care about how much I can make, just curious about how you make the good deeds universal.


…and received the answer:

At this time we are just focused on pitches for stories written in English.

We are looking for writing from experts and authors knowledgeable in their field, and that usually comes through regardless of your native language.

So we encourage you to submit your English written stories. And please bear with us as we hope to expand this program beyond English.

So for now most “foreign” stories are not read, evaluated and paid by the Medium team. I wouldn’t say non-English writers are exploited, or not treated fairly at least, since I know it’s not possible for them to understand all languages; however if they hold the money we paid and have the right to decide who gets what, it would become an issue, as pointed out by Mateja Klaric:

I want to have the ability to personally reward what I deem worthy.

So maybe Medium can keep the $5 system for who are willing to support Medium and writers at large, but add a direct donation mechanism for others that are not covered by the editors.

Even considering only English stories, I couldn’t imagine how Medium editors can find, read, assess and award all valuable stories without missing most good ones.

That’s what Ev Williams should tell us for more future supports — without reservation.