How I analyzed a million Medium articles to learn how many claps great stories get

This image is from Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. Because writing on Medium makes you feel like Maximus.

How do my stories compare to those of similar writers on Medium?

Though I am a writer, I am not a particularly creative one. To cope, I have to motivate my writing through competition. Making goals for myself based on either the performance of my past stories, or the performance of stories in my news-feed.

Which of these is a reasonable goal?

Scraping a million Medium stories.

The first step was collecting information. Specifically, I had to get the claps received from A LOT of Medium articles.

Example of data scraped from a story-card.

Analyzing (nearly) a million Medium stories

After removing duplicate-stories and comments from the data, I was left with 720K unique stories from 230K authors and 30K publications. The number of claps received for an article ranged from zero claps to 215K claps.

  1. How many claps does the average story get?
  2. How many claps does an above average story get?

How many claps does the average story get?

On Medium, most writers receive mediocre engagement from their readers. This might be because Medium is a free platform for writers. Or maybe because not every writer’s goal is to receive huge numbers of claps from their audience.

How many claps does an above average story get?

Now that you know how many claps most stories receive, we will look at the other end of the spectrum: the stories that received more claps than average.

How many claps do the top 1% of each tag get?

Here are the 99th percentiles of claps-received by an article for each of the 36 tags in our data.


Most Medium stories get less than ten claps, and the top 1% of Medium’s stories receive more than two thousand claps. You can use these metrics as benchmarks to measure the performance of your articles, or as a goal in writing future articles.

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There were a few things I learned about Medium that aren’t directly relevant to this article. So I wrote a comprehensive analysis of everything I found. If you want to know who were: the most clapped authors, the biggest publications, and much more, look here.



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