A check mark worth paying attention to
Thanks for all the feedback everyone! We're in these threads listening, and it helps to hear what you think -- the good and the bad! -- as we keep working hard on the product.
I love everything Substack is doing for writers. Truly, I appreciate it. But I think the top selling badge might go a little bit too far into turning this into something else. I mean, there’s no doubt that we’re all here too hopefully make some money, but I’d like the “writing first” aspect of it. This goes a bit too far toward “making money” first.￼
I really dislike this. Hope you will reconsider. It seems with each update, substack is becoming more and more like a social media company, competitive and having us rank against each other.
What about writers that don’t charge money for their writing or don’t paywall anything? Are free subscribers not worth noting?
Hmm, this sparks an instant sense of defeat.
I don't know about this. It seems like a way to get writers to chase the badges, which is good for Substack, the company, but I'm not sure what the incentive is for the writers themselves. "Look how many paid subscribers I have" is not something I would really want to say aloud, which is what the badge would effectively do, and it feels somewhat counter to building community with other writers by establishing visible tiers. I could be wrong!
To elaborate on my point, this platform is excellent BECAUSE it’s not a competition. Implementing checks would turn into Medium, and I dislike Medium for that reason. The scales of balance will be thrown off. Writers already have imposter syndrome, and we don’t need more of it.
Rich get richer problem. Good for Substack, but will encourage readers to overlook emerging writers in favor of established names. That's already an uphill battle that'll be made worse with this gimmick.
Why not let people's writing speak for itself? Why must every corner of the internet be turned into this professional-class status symbol pissing contest? Just because Twitter turned their checkmark into a free-for-all circus doesn't mean Substack should create a new digital caste system of their own.
Team is on a tear (serious kudos), but this one is off.
This feels like a dark pattern into nudging paid subs. You’re rewarding a very static metric: money.
Couldn’t agree more on letting readers dictate recognition, but money is myopic and self-serving, paradoxical to all else this incredible platform does.
There are other (and arguably more important) metrics of success and influence here (opens, reads per piece, engagement, pace of growth, other Substack publication recommendations, etc.)
As a free publication this doesn’t make me want to turn on paid yet, and it makes me question my own significant achievements. This shouldn’t be a feature’s unintentional outcome.
I’d be wary of turning it into a competition.
This is a terrible idea.
I joined Substack to give me the impetus to write for an audience, and I'm delighted that I have subscribers who enjoy what I write. I love that you don't show how many subscribers a newsletter has. I'm not thinking of going paid - that's not why I'm here. I am also not writing to compete: I am writing because I want to write, and to do this without any pressure. I love Substack because it's always felt like a level playing field. This idea makes it feel rather different.
A couple of articles ago, Substack groused a little bit about the “rich get richer” mentality that social media promotes. Existing popularity is prioritized in various ways, resulting in a cascading effect for those already established while pretty much ignoring newcomers.
Substack already employs this way of thinking in articles and interviews that only promote established figures and on the discover page that prioritizes established publications. The badge thing is another step in that same direction that all social media does.
What if you turned it around, at least once in a while? What if you promoted lesser known figures? If a paid subscription comes from a small publication or a large one, Substack still gets their part. Wouldn’t that be something different as an example to the industry?
Honestly, I’m getting a little bit put off by the current rapid fire addition of new features to substack. All of it seems to be knee jerk attempts at capitalising on all the stuff that is happening at the bird place ( you can have your own chats here too! you can have a tick here too!). Please don’t let this be another good thing on the internet that got ruined by think-tanky strategies that aim to make this place the new something else.
Not a fan of this, tbh. The thing I like about Substack is that the number of subscribers a writer has is not freely available information (something I really dislike about social media). This changes things, and it makes it feel like the playing field isn’t entirely level anymore, which is a bummer!