I remember when the local supermarket introduced trolleys that required a coin to use. You pushed a dollar coin into the slot, the chain that secured it to the rack, (or daisy-chained along via each trolley) dropped free, and you used it as normal.
Take the groceries to the car, the only way to get your dollar back was to return the trolley to the rack, insert the chain, your dollar popped free.
Hmmm, I thought. How can this be subverted?
There were a million ways — in theory — to get around the simple-minded system. Find another trolley, pop its chain into yours, and bingo, your coin came back. Or find just the right piece of metal to be the key for the lock, shove it in, out comes your coin.
But, you know, the only payoff was getting back my own coin.
Maybe I can buy a bunch of eyeballs for my writing here. But unless they are partners, I’ll get no money. Nobody’s going to run an eyeball farm that loses money — and I don’t think Medium pays out more than the monthly subscription per partner, no matter how many stories that partner reads — so I’d just be paying Medium and a middleman to get my own money back.
Less whatever their profit is.