Why are We So Stingy with our Claps?

Carole Morris
Jan 20 · 4 min read

I hope it’s not Reason #2

Image by pavstern from Pixabay

Reason #1

Some of us are stingy because we think a clap is akin to a “like.” We like a story, we clap…once. But claps are not the same as likes:

Clapping is a way that readers can show appreciation for a Medium story and recommend it to their followers. The more you like something, the more you can clap. You can clap up to 50 times per post, and you can clap for as many posts as you want.

For those who have graciously clapped many and multiples times, Thank You!

Medium writers will also see the term “Fans” in their stats. Fans are essentially a measure of unique Medium readers who took the time to clap for a story. … Given the structure of Medium’s clap system, each reader can clap anywhere from 1–50 times. (If an article has 500 claps, this could represent as few as 10 unique readers and as many as 500).

Reason #2

Clapping used to play a role in determining how much a writer could earn per story. The old partner program paid in this way:

Each member’s $5 per month subscription is distributed proportionally to the stories that the individual member engaged with that month. In other words, you are paid per clap on Medium. Generally speaking, the more claps you receive, the more money you make.

Medium makes money through memberships at a tag of $5/month. When members read a story and clap for it, a portion of their membership dollars goes to the writer of the story. This ratio of claps to dollars is unknown; the algorithm is kept secret by Medium, so that nobody can “game the system.”

Have some writers assumed that clapping will reduce their own portion of membership dollars?

Medium doesn’t pay based on claps anymore.

Image by Jan Vasek from Pixabay

As of the fall of 2019, Medium announced:

Partner Program writers are paid based on how deeply Medium members read their work. As members read longer, writers earn more. In addition, Medium distributes a portion of each member’s subscription fee to the writers they read most each month.

According to a blog post by Emma Smith of Medium:

We will calculate earnings based on the reading time of Medium members.
We’ve found that the time that people spend reading your story reflects quality more accurately than the number of claps it receives. We want to listen to input from more of your readers, not just the ones who remember to 👏. Claps will remain a great way for readers to support stories they love. When your readers clap, they’ll boost your stories to a wider audience. And as more people read, you’ll earn.

And in an article on a Tech Crunch post:

When CEO Ev Williams explained the partner model to me shortly after it launched in 2017, he described it as an evolving formula that incorporated claps (a simple way that readers can indicate they liked a story) and reading time, but now it sounds like reading time has won out as the metric that matters.

“We believe in reading time because it represents the core value that our readers receive from Medium,” Smith writes. “It may not be a perfect measure of value, but we find that it’s a powerful proxy.”

To be more specific, Smith says Medium is measuring and determining compensation based on active reading time, so if someone keeps the window open when they step away for a few minutes, that shouldn’t count.*********** Anthony Ha/Tech Crunch

I’m one who initially thought that a clap was a “like,” and didn’t even realize I could clap more than once. For those who have received stingy claps from me, I apologize for my ignorance.

I do not subscribe to the notion that we should give claps like parents who feel every child deserves a trophy (although maybe they do, but that’s another subject). Each of us can devise our own scale — determining whether a story is worth 0, 1 or 50 claps based on whatever feedback we want to convey. Positive feedback and engagement are a writer’s ephemeral reward.

Go for it.

Carole Morris

Written by

A coach specializing in transitions — Close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. www.tapthegapcoaching.com

More From Medium

Also tagged Fans

Top on Medium

Top on Medium

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade