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Why This New $50,000 Medium Writers Challenge Is Problematic

Even though it features Natalie Portman

Yesterday evening (in Germany) I read a post by Medium. 3 minutes about a new Medium writers challenge in August that gives participants the chance to win $50,000.

Wow.

Shortly afterward, I enjoyed reading Kristina God’s thoughts about it in her post “You Can Win $50,000 On Medium”.

Great news was my first reaction to all of this. And it is.

But I thought about it some more and found a few problematic aspects about this new challenge.


What is it?

This challenge — which is judged by Natalie Portman and other inspiring writers like Roxane GaySaeed JonesSusan Orlean — boasts a whopping grand prize of $50,000 for the overall winner and $10,000 each for the winners of the 4 writing prompts: Reentry, Death, Work, and Space.

That’s $90,000.

Additionally, the best 100 entries that don’t win get $100 each for their work. To find out more about the prompts and the challenge, read the official Medium post here, as this is not the main topic of my story.


To the problems

Don’t get me wrong. I applaud Medium for taking on challenges. I just suggested this very thing in a recent story on features that Medium should “steal” from Vocal Media.

Overall, this writing challenge is an enormous opportunity for many Medium writers. It will attract more Medium members. I’m sure this is one of the reasons behind this challenge. That’s totally fine.

I have my concerns though.

#1

As great as this opportunity is, it’s really “only” great for 4 writers. The 4 winners of the challenge. They will receive all of the $90,000.

Of course, anyone who enters has the chance to win, but rewarding only 4 people with that kind of money is, in my opinion, less desirable than rewarding the best 1000 writers with $500 every month.

#2

I shouldn’t forget about the 100 people who will get $100 each for their participation. That’s great. Then again, 500 writers were getting $100 each the last few months, and 500 more were getting $50 each. These bonus payments were very well-received by the writing community.

#3

A while back, Medium stated that they want to support indie writers on this platform in the future. With the bonus payments over the last few months, they did. Because 2000 writers earned that bonus on the back of their latest achievements on the platform.

This writing challenge doesn’t benefit long-time indie writers on this platform. It’s not based on the latest achievements. It’s “only” based on one successful entry that could be the first one ever written on Medium, and, for that matter, the last one that person will ever write here.


Why this is still good

Now, I’m sorry if my points here sound unappreciative. I very much appreciate Medium taking on new ideas and opportunities. It’s a chance to see how well this challenge pans out for them, how well it’s received by Medium writers, and how it translates to new Medium members.

This is all good. Experimentation is good. The grand prize money is an outstanding opportunity for thousand of fantastic writers on this platform and it will result in some of the greatest and most unique stories ever on Medium. I can’t wait for this!

All I’m asking is to keep in mind that this writing challenge won’t or shouldn’t become a regular occurrence on this platform. Because, in the end, I think the vast majority of writers would be happier with a monthly bonus program based on their success and ongoing work. Wouldn’t you?


Now, in the words of Kristina Godlet’s get relational. How do you feel about this writing challenge?


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