I can’t help but agree. As much as I wish I didn’t! I was sold on Medium for exactly the reasons you state – a home for writers of all levels and interests, with Medium pushing genuine quality writing to the front regardless of who it came from… and unfortunately, that does seem to have stopped.
I hit a sweet spot in Feb/March, almost every story I published hit near the 1K clap mark and I ended up getting 3500 followers from it.
Just like you, I assumed growth from this point on was a given as long as I kept the level of my content high . I believe I have done (although I’m posting less) but there has been a huge drop in views and claps since Medium went full locked posts. This is even after I went with it and locked all my new stories.
So I’m with you. Something has changed of late, and it’s not for the better for us writers. It’s harder to get your stuff seen, harder to get our stuff clapped and harder to get the algorithm working in your favour!
In fairness to Medium, it has been a very adaptable and flexible platform, so we will see what there next move is. They NEED members and they NEED this to grow, so they cannot completely turn their backs on us.