Unpaywalling posts

How to turn off the ‘distribution setting’ on Medium

Photo by Messala Ciulla on Unsplash

This guide explains Medium’s ‘distribution setting’ aka ‘metered paywall’ aka ‘allow curators to recommend my story…’, why we choose to disable it, and takes you through steps to ensure it is disabled for new and existing posts.

What is the distribution setting?

When publishing posts on Medium, you are asked whether to ‘Allow curators to recommend my story to interested readers’, aka the ‘distribution setting’. While this sounds useful, it moves the story to Medium’s metered paywall.

In exchange for the possibility of promoting the story to more readers, Medium will move it to their ‘3 free articles a month’ category, after which readers have to pay for a subscription to access more of such stories.

What is our stance?

The paywall is a legitimate way of funding the platform, and many writers may find it useful — giving their writing the potential to reach more readers, in exchange for using it to help fund the platform.

However, as openness is a core part of The University of Manchester Library’s approach, we would like to ensure that all of our content is freely available. This is more important than promoting our content on the Medium platform.

How to check an existing post’s distribution setting

If you are logged in as the author of a post — or an editor of the publication in which the post appears — then you will see a popup when viewing the post (you don’t need to be editing it):

Screenshot of a Medium post. Above the post title is a box which reads: “Only you can see this message. This story’s distribution setting is off.”

The popup will always appear when viewing your own (or your publication’s) posts — and will say either ‘This story’s distribution setting is off’ or ‘… on’. If the distribution setting is off, the post is freely available; no action is required.

How to disable the setting for existing posts

If you notice that the distribution setting is on for one of our posts, you should turn it off if you can:

  1. Log in to Medium as the author of the post.
  2. Edit the post (click the cog ⚙️, and Edit story)
  3. Click the settings menu (…) then Manage distribution setting
  4. Untick the box and click Save

How to ensure the setting is off for a new post

When publishing a post for the first time, you will be presented with the option to add tags, and to enable the distribution setting. All you need to do here is ensure that the box is unticked. It should be unticked by default.

Screenshot: the story preview/pre-publish box. Text reads: “Add or change tags (up to 5) so readers know what your story is about”, above a text box. Below this is a tickbox and the label, “Allow curators to recommend my story to interested readers. Recommended stories are part of Medium’s metered paywall.”

Summary

Medium offers promotional opportunities to writers in exchange for using the stories to fund the platform via a metered paywall. We think Medium is a great platform and would like our content to be freely available and so have chosen not to enable the ‘distribution setting’ for our stories. The setting can be checked and disabled as outlined in this post.

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