Hi, Rui. Good points about this really being about readers - who make up the vast majority of users. As writers, or rather writer-readers, we do tend to lock ourselves in an echo chamber, and see things purely from the perspective of our status as such: people who write, and engage with other writers through their stories and our (and others') comments.
And it is in that capacity that I have one slight concern as to the possible 'pay-to-play', or more specifically 'pay-to-win' implications of FOM.
I suspect that some, perhaps many, nominating publication editors will favour FOM badge-holders over others. Simply because it is in their interests to attract a coterie of FOMs to write for (and hence, through the typical communal solidarity among pub contributors, read) their pub's stories.
This generates financial rewards for themselves and their friends - non-FOM writers' engagement with a pub is now quantifiably worth 75% less.
So whether consciously or unconsciously, FOM status will be seen as making writers more eligible and worthy for a boost.
And the boost remains hugely important, above all in terms of extending reach.
I suspect that the FOMx4 factor and claimed nerfing of the Boost earnings bonus will level out the monetary differences somewhat, and that is what I think I am seeing in my post-FOM earnings.
But the priceless chance to garner another 500+ views, and maybe 10 followers and 1-2 subscribers, with a boosted piece, means that we can't afford to run the risk of being second-class citizens, and maybe losing out on a toss-up judgement call between two stories if a nommer has one pick left that day, week or month.
I've spoken to other writers who feel the same way. And while Ariel can, of course, definitively state 'FOM status does not affect boosting or distribution', she can only speak for the internal mechanic at Medium - not the thought processes of individual nommers.
But in the end, that is simply one uncomfortable aspect of a system which should ultimately benefit all or most of those producing quality writing.
Apologies for the mammoth comment - but I feel that all these changes are better discussed at length at the outset, to lay the foundations for future tweaks and improvements.