I would like it if Medium displayed not only the number of “claps” given to an article but also — right next to it — the number of unique “clappers” (read: hearts). Use whatever symbol/name you want for it, but both are important gauges of a post’s popularity: breadth and depth.
As it is right now, when I see something with 100 claps, there is no way to tell if 100 people (!) like the post or if the author merely asked his two friends to help give it a head start. Whatever your goals with the clapping system, I think that’s a glaring deficiency.
Including a “clappers”/#-of-people statistic next to the number of claps would also mitigate the change fatigue for many, even if that feature doesn’t stick around in the end. And since people have hearts, I think a heart is a fine symbol for “clapper.”
Side note for Medium Staff: The quote block of Alex’s post above currently shows the number of people clapping (152 as of this writing) next to the clapping icon, when I think you mean it to show the number of claps (2.2K as of this writing). Since you’re going to be fixing that anyway, why not just add in my little suggestion while you’re at it? :)
P.S. Medium is amazing.