Thanks for this! It is scary close to my own short experience on the platform, and your evaluation of Substack is exactly why I checked it out but swiftly abandoned it.
It has turned out to be a place where I see writers I used to really appreciate (Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald) try to cater to the alt-right audience under the guise of being indepenent.
Then I post random essays on Medium that aren't hunting for partisan attention, get a few curated and have one go semi-viral, and suddenly I'm getting bonuses. A very validating experience.
Completely agree the recommendation engine needs help. All social media desperately needs some kind of quality metric independent of engagement that boosts well done posts.