I am also noticing some oddities going on with some of the large publications. I see off topic stories getting picked up, while totally on-topic content is rejected. Nine times out of ten, when I self-post, and then submit, it gets picked up. And if I don't submit, someone asks for it.
I founded two publications here. They are new and small. We're focusing on useful content, with curation as a second goal. Reason being is we think content readers want and need is much more valuable than mere curation. Many Medium readers follow publications, myself included.