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What The New Golden “Star Icon” On The Preview Really Means

  • 5 min read

It’s a smart feature.

From the feedback I’ve received during the last past few weeks, I know that most new writers have no idea about Medium’s latest changes or get confused about them.

So, I’ve decided to share with you Medium’s latest update today.

Since Tony Stubblebine is Medium’s new CEO, Medium is constantly changing its look and feel — for the better.

For instance, we have a brand-new tip feature that allows us to tip others and get tipped. I was one of the first to inform you and have already received more than 10 tips so far.

So here’s another newsflash:

A few days ago, I discovered Medium has a new “star icon” to make the Medium experience easier.

Here’s what you need to know Medium’s Star Icon:

I discovered that all of my articles are marked with a star icon on the preview.

Moreover, when I read around the homepage, I discovered that almost every recommended article has this icon on its preview:

gold star icon
How dare I

I’ve found out it has to do with the “Medium Partner Program” (MPP) and it means it’s a “Member-only” story.

But what does this mean?

I’m a paying member. The benefits:

  • I have access to all the content on Medium.
  • Additionally, I can lock generated content behind the paywall and make it eligible to earn money.

Did you know that…

… a non-paying member has only access to up to 3 locked articles per month?

Let’s say he or she clicked on a story of yours and read it, now the non-paying member wants to continue and read the next one… that’s the notification that will pop up then:

Here comes the star icon into play.

The yellow star icon highlights the Membership

You as the writer of a story can only earn from those who pay their membership dues.

As soon as you have reached the threshold of 100 followers, you can start earning money on Medium.

When you decide to make an article eligible to earn money then, it’s marked with a star icon to let everyone know blatantly that it’s behind the metered paywall.

memeber only

This way, non-paying members can pick and choose which story they want to read:

  • a free story without the star icon that’s not behind the paywall or
  • a story with the star icon that is metered.

Thanks to this new transparency, non-paying members can’t complain anymore and leave angry private notes for having “wasted” one of their free reads.

Plus, some might reach out to you and ask you to send them a “friend link” (= which gives anyone free access to your story) to read one of your stories free.

The icon isn’t new but nobody knew about it

In the past, the icon was grey instead of gold.

So, when I shared in my Medium Kickstarter Boot Camp what the star icon meant, no one knew about it.

Why did Medium update the star icon?

In my opinion, the new star icon in gold is more noticeable than the grey one.

As Breana Jones, one of Medium’s Product Managers stated, it should bring more attention to the value of becoming a Medium member:

(…) the green lines or “halo” were the old way that Medium represented “membership” on the site. it wasn’t always clear what they meant to readers or creators.

(…) if you are a member, you'll see it on your avatar and if a piece of content is member-only you'll see it next to that label in feeds and on the post page. (…)

we’ll continue rolling out the star across the site because we always want to be as clear as possible about the value of becoming a Medium member. Breana Jones

Final Takeaways


Now you’ve looked at the golden star icon a bit deeper!

You’ve learned that the star icon is not only pretty and has a nice cosmetic touch BUT that it actually means something — that a story is a member-only story.

I think it’s a smart move to pimp up the icon from grey to gold.

This makes it more noticeable for all members on this platform and rises awareness of the value of Medium’s Membership Program.

When they hit Medium’s paywall, I guess a lot of non-paying readers will think…

Oh crap, this was such a good read but I have no stories left for this month!

By the way, are you already a Medium member? Why not join our club and read ALL stories on this beautiful platform free plus earn money with your writing? Join today by clicking here.

What do you think about this new update?

© Kristina God

Kristina God is a 25x Top Writer on Medium and helps new writers master the game of online writing and earn money.
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