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Really insightfull message! I recently got started on Medium and face this dilemma myself: writing stories and wanting people to read and enjoy them, but I try not to write only for the stats, like you say. My stories get only a fraction of the views yours do, which is why I immensly appreciate comments. Like you say, a reccomend can mean anything — a comment tells me so much more about what people think and it gets me excited as well. Thank you for this piece, I really enjoyed it!