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I recently clicked on a post (https://lobste.rs/s/ehq0bj/magic_python_context_managers) which I enjoyed. However, only after the page loaded did I see that it counted against my limited Medium quota. I dislike the Medium monetization strategy and will not become a subscriber, but occasionally I find a good post there, so I’d prefer not to use up my quota so early in the month (and I’d prefer to avoid work arounds to bypass their paywall).

Does it make sense to add a tag for “Medium”?

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    We could also remove medium-hosted sites entirely. I hadn’t realized they have a quota paywall when I made that last comment, I thought it was only tacky position: absolute footers and such. I sent Medium a note around then saying we were considering it to ask them to respond, but I never heard back.

    We’ve previously removed links that don’t have anything to read like an ad for a book or a lead gen form that offers a report in exchange for an email address, and a paywall that appears after a few clicks seems like it may fit in the same bucket. The partner program carrying poor incentives is a bit more reason to ban. Any more reasons to? Any reasons not to?

    (Related: We strip Medium’s undocumented “friend links” because the parameter looks like ad attribution and we have no idea what its effects or limitations are. Absent a compelling answer from Medium I’m reluctant to permit it.)

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      We strip Medium’s undocumented “friend links” because the parameter looks like ad attribution and we have no idea what its effects or limitations are. Absent a compelling answer from Medium I’m reluctant to permit it

      LWN Subscriber Links are allowed, so there’s precedent. The only difference is that Medium’s friend links use a query instead of being part of the path.

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        I think that @pushcx’s view is that the difference between LWN and Medium is that LWN has documented its Subscriber Links (https://lwn.net/SubscriberLink/MakeLink) whereas Medium apparently has not.

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        Stripping Medium’s friend links functionally adds a paywall where one previously (with an unmodified URL) would not exist. So, in my opinion, the problems people have with medium links on lobste.rs comes not from medium but from the automatic stripping of friend links. Were the situation inverted – i.e., if a parameter, when present, produced a paywall on some site – it would be obvious that it would not be acceptable for lobste.rs to add this parameter automatically to all submitted links.

        We could quite reasonably ban medium links that do not have a friend link parameter attached – i.e., links that go to paywalled sites but do not allow readers to bypass that paywall. This gets around the primary problem people have with medium – that some articles are subject to the metered paywall. (It does not solve the other problems people have, which seem to revolve around the use of javascript, but we don’t ban other javascript-heavy sites either.)

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          I think you’re right. Medium links without a Friend Link parameter are the problem. I think @pushcx is taking the stand that, without documentation, Friend Links are indistinguishable from ad attributions, and ad attributions should be stripped. Maybe the desire to strip something that looks like an undocumented “Friend Link parameter” should be relaxed?

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            From what little we know, only the original author can create them. So allowing them certainly wouldn’t flip all Medium links to work because only a minority are submitted by the author, who may not even think to generate one.

            Banning Medium links without the parameter might work but feels like it would exacerbate the poor incentives of the partner program. I dunno, it’s hard to feel confident here when we can’t know much. I lean away from coding a feature to help a single site that pays for distribution to attribute our traffic when I’ve been putting work into making Lobsters less attractive to marketers. How is the error message for a non-author going to explain the situation, and what next steps would it suggest? How would we justify blocking other attribution methods if we privilege Medium’s?

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              I mean, lobste.rs doesn’t block sites that host ads, nor does it block other sites where authors get paid based on number of views.

              Our goal is just to prevent spam, right? In other words, the problem here is a visible paywall that keeps users from viewing perfectly good content – and if the content isn’t good, then it should be blocked for that reason and not because of the host.

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                Are the criteria/goals documented somewhere? I don’t think the goal is just to prevent spam. There is also a goal of making lobste.rs less attractive to marketers /marketeers (serving some larger goal of preventing spam?). Maybe having a well defined set of goals (if there isn’t one already) would help clarify how to approach these issues?

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                  I’m not sure.

                  How is reducing spam not the same thing as being unattractive to marketers, in this case? (Unless one makes the relatively-weak claim that some advertisements are ‘desirable’ and therefore ‘not spam’ – but this would have the opposite affect and result in a culture more like HN’s.) If you squash advertising, then advertising (including all spam) is squashed.

                  I’m trying to figure out why lobste.rs would want a policy that makes people pay for things over a policy that makes people not pay for things.

                  The claim that a friends link would aid in tracking is dubious: there’s only one friends link code per story, created by the author; while medium’s stat page shows the number of views through a friends link, it does not allow you to cross-reference that information with referer, date, read versus view, or anything else. As far as I can tell, this feature exists solely to allow people who get the link from the author (rather than a google search or an internal medium recommendation) to bypass the paywall as though they were paying members of the site – the rough equivalent of the token parameter added to private google docs to allow people with a particular link to view the document. (Surely if somebody discovered that was being stripped, we’d add an exception, right?)

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        Here we go again

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          I don’t really have any strong stance about the specifics of whether or not we have a medium or a paywall tag, but I very much like to see a way to remove all content published on a Medium website from my feed.

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            See https://lobste.rs/s/bykzkm/hide_medium_com_as_personal_filter_on for some techniques to filter domains.

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            I wasn’t actually suggesting filtering Medium posts out. Just being able to recognize them before clicking on them.

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              Every post here (except for meta and ask posts) is already labeled with the domain name that it points to. It’s displayed in italics, after the tags. It’s a link to all stories submitted with that domain.

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                To be scrupulously fair, Medium does allow custom domains, but they still count towards Medium’s stupid “paywall”.

                I’d rather have a tag that denotes that the site is behind a paywall/regwall - but such a tag would imply those submissions are on-topic, which they seldom are.

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                  I like that idea: a Paywall tag. In this case the post was on topic I thought.

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                    I don’t think a paywall tag would necessarily attract paywalled content. You could argue that having to wear such a badge of shame might disincentivise posting such things. As far as paywalledness being correlated with off-topic-ness, I think those two concerns can be disentangled.

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                      If I knew that I could do so without burdening my fellow community members with a poor, or even rude, UX — e.g. the paywall being a surprise — that’d make more inclined to post paywalled content.

                      I don’t understand why paywalled stuff has to be a badge of shame. I think the standards should be higher for paywalled content, just as they should be for content that takes up more of your time, but money is just one potential cost, not even as valuable as your time, yet we wouldn’t say that long form content is a badge of shame.

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                    In this case, medium.com was not in the domain. See the OP.

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                      d’oh! Thanks, I see now. OP is asking for a warning label, to work around Medium’s somewhat deceptive quota scheme and custom domains.

                      It’s a real enough concern for somebody who can’t or doesn’t want to just circumvent this particular flimsy paywall. But I think it may be unwise for Lobsters to get into a little arms race with one particular site’s shady business practices.

                      I would cautiously support a paywall flag, the same color as the video and pdf flags. That seems like a more general solution.

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                  FYI: Recent lobste.rs post with paywall problems reported: https://lobste.rs/s/p8r4ao/jenkins_is_getting_old#c_xzalc1