Your assessment is correct, Erika. Medium killed community when it made every interaction transactional. These days, it's all about sensationalism, schadenfreude, and the big, bigger, biggest self. They're trying to backtrack but I fear it may be too late.
Here's another thing: The platform's digital assets--aka our content--is tagged as junk by disinformation tools like Newsguard. Go ahead, install it (it's a free browser extension) then read the full nutrition label. Then go have a look at the sources they quote and you'll notice something is amiss.
If you've been away for a long time then you may not be aware that Medium has spawned a formidable parasite industry that built digital empires by feeding off the writerly hopes of the most vulnerable and desperate users. These days, the most enterprising wannapreneurs will charge you $50 to edit a Medium article (an investment anyone would be lucky to recoup), $59 for insider secrets on how to become a 'top writer' if you sign up to their Medium writing course. Not your bag? Then the Medium Writing Academy is for you, provided you still have room on your credit card...
Of course, none of the above are affiliated with the platform but Medium promotes their content regardless.
TL;DR: Editorial integrity is dead here and if your byline is your reputation--as is the case for journalists whose credibility depends on editorial integrity--then Medium is the kiss of death, which may go some way toward explaining why many 'successful' users have never written under their own name. Further, most followers are fake now, too, or as Medium support puts it, there's 'a spam attack, please bear with us'. Only it's been weeks at this point, months even.
For my part, I'm in the process of pulling my content and repurposing my account. I also have no byline anymore as I cannot condone a system that preys on the most disenfranchised. I don't want to be associated with it at all and, tellingly, Medium even refunded my membership (I donated the money to the ACLU, so some good would come out of all this).
This is Kitty BTW (well, the profile picture is my rescue tabby now and her facial expression is pretty much how I feel), we've exchanged a few emails in the past, follow each other on IG, and you once gifted me coffees, too.
The platform we built and loved is gone, Erika, corrupted by the greed and grift that have characterized the last four years. It's all about competition now, plagiarism abounds, and thinkers don't stand a chance.
They never did. Medium isn't a place where you move thinking forward or build community, those were just marketing campaign. No one knows what Medium is or what it does or even what it stands for beside bringing out the worst in people, encouraging money bragging (Medium earning reveal videos are a thing on YouTube now, go figure), and preying on emotional / financial desperation, a booming market if there ever was one.
Good to read you again though, take care. xo