Clapping Once and 4 Other Dumb Things People Do on Writing Sites

I hate writing about Medium unless I can help. Hope this does.

Linda Caroll
Feb 10 · 7 min read
Photo by Rowen Smith on Unsplash

love writing about writing. I hate writing about Medium, so I do it rarely and only if I think I can be helpful. I hope this is.

I stumbled across a great post this morning.

It was a great post.
It had one clap.
One.

I swear, I get more cranky when that happens to other writers than when it happens to me. That’s how writers be. When it’s me, I just wonder if it sucked. When it’s another writer, especially a feminist writer, I’m like Wtf.

One clap?

Which then made me think of all the dumb things people do on writing sites because Medium isn’t my first rodeo. If you’re doing these things, for the love of all that’s kind and decent in the world — stop.

1) Clapping once…

If you’re just a reader, you’re almost excused. Almost. If you’re a writer who writes and knows what it’s like to hope for exposure and then you clap once for other people, what the…?

Once upon a time, writers here got paid based on claps. Not anymore. Now writes get paid based on reads. When that changed, people suddenly stopped clapping. Which is dumb, because even though claps don’t pay anymore, claps are part of the algorithm that determines distribution.

A post with 2K claps is going to get distributed more than a post with 2 claps.

If you don’t write, and you’re just here to read, maybe you don’t realize how long it takes to write a 5 minute post that people will read to the end.

I promise you, a 5 good minute read isn’t a 15 minute vomit onto the page.
Those don’t get read.

If you made it to the bottom, for cripes sakes, throw some claps at it. It’s a small and free way to say hey, this was good, give it some love.

A lot of really good writers have left this platform because the work wasn’t worth the return. It’s a lot of work. If you don’t want this place to become a mecca of white people success tips, hot takes on celebrity news and personal diary posts on the internet — clap. It’s free. It encourages the writer.

Maybe most important… you know what one clap is, right? It’s like saying, yeah, I was here, but this ain’t worth distribution. Maybe you don’t mean it that way, but that’s how the system is built to work.

2) Rude Comments

Lemme tell you something about the internet. It’s like a big ole’ all you can eat buffet. Only an idiot eats something he doesn’t like and then complains about it.

I say he based on personal experience. For me, they’re usually angry men responding rudely to feminist posts. Make no mistake — telling random women on the internet what part of your anatomy to suck is rude, and you know it.

Your mileage may vary. I see dead awful rude on political posts, too.

Look, cranky pants. Let me clue you in. Most of the people who write here prolifically are looking at it like a job. Those who write prolifically have some hope of breaking that elusive 10% barrier and making more than $100 bucks a month for the hours (and hours) of labor.

Sometimes, that $100 bucks or $500 pays some chunk of the bills, or helps grow a rainy day fund that wouldn’t exist without this place.

You wanna hate read, have at it. But if you can’t reply politely, then don’t reply at all. No one needs your crap.

Do you go into stores and harass the employees?
Do you go to restaurants and tear a strip off the waitress?
Bah. Never mind. You probably do.

Here’s the point. The whole world doesn’t have to agree with you, and the opposite is also true. You don’t have to agree with everyone. Disagreeing isn’t a license to be a jerk.

Do you talk that way to your boss? No. Bet you don’t. Muster up the manners. How would you reply if your boss posted that thing you’re so mad about? Differently, I bet.

I mean, at least we can hide your comment.
But should we have to? Cripes. Grow up.

3) Name Calling

How old are you? Does your mother know what you’re doing on the internet? Seriously.

If I had a nickel for every time I’ve been called some childish name by some immature person with their undies in a knot, I wouldn’t need to work.

Let me tell you what name calling is. Because you think it’s a power play, like you’re really giving them what for. But it’s not. It’s like taking a megaphone and yelling “hey, I’m immature” to the whole internet.

And then we all laugh at you. Except the fragile people.
You actually hurt them. As in, real harm.
I wonder if you get off on that.

There’s a little schoolyard chant that says sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me. It’s not true.

Name-calling harms people. Psychological type harm. Sometimes, they won’t write anymore, or for a long time, because you pushed their buttons. Grow up. Walk away and count to 100.

Or imagine that’s your boss. Or that someone will screen-cap it and send it to your boss. It happens.

4) Calling people trolls for disagreeing…

Trolls and spam, man. People think they get to invent the definition of them.

Did you know a lot of people think spam is any email they don’t want? No. Sorry. Spam is bulk, unsolicited mail. If you signed up, it’s not spam. If you hate it, unsubscribe, don’t click the spam button. Geebus.

Same with trolls. You know what a troll is, right? A troll is someone who incites people habitually — as a hobby. Can you even imagine? Like, how boring is their life, ffs?

If you’ve never run across a real troll, try writing about feminism or politics for a while. I promise you, they’ll show up in droves.

Go read Extreme Mean by Paula Todd — it will make you sick.

Lemme tell you a short story. One day some dude posted a “fact” about a famous person. Except it wasn’t true. I messaged him a link to the snopes page. Privately, even. He called me a troll. lol. Whatever. People are weird.

Here’s the thing. Trolling is a real problem on the internet. Personally, I see it as an indicator of the possibility of dark triad personality issues, not unlike kicking animals and manipulating people. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

There’s something deeply wrong with people who hurt others as a hobby.

We are not collectively doing very well at handling trolls. Bullies of the internet, and we haven’t made much headway with bullying anywhere. It doesn’t help when people don’t know what the word means and think it’s anyone who disagrees with them.

Want to know if someone’s a troll. It’s easy. Click their profile. Look at the comments. Trolls are easy to spot. If they aren’t trolling, they aren’t a troll.

5) Blocking people for stupid reasons

I love that we can block people, so let’s start there. Call me names, post something I wouldn’t tolerate anyone saying to my face and wham — you’re done. Invisible as the day is long. You won’t see a thing I say.

That’s what blocking is for. Because no one should have to tolerate abuse as the price of writing on the internet, and it happens way too often.

Tim Denning wrote about what he learned by getting blocked.
That post struck a chord with me.

There’s a writer I used to follow. I loved her work. Sent people to her site, to follow her work. Sent people to buy her book.

And then she blocked me. I have no idea why. No message. No, hey Linda, I don’t like this thing like the way normal healthy adults communicate.

Doesn’t matter, really. Her prerogative. But I can’t help but flash back to grade school. Is Jamie speaking to me today? No? Jamie was a mean girl.

Remember 7th grade and mean girls? Yeah, it’s like that. Except you’re not 13 now, you’re 30-something or 40-something and handling things the same way you did when you’re in grade school.

I’m not your friend anymore.

Well that’s mature. Go read Tim’s post. He said it better than I did.

If you’re blocking someone who has treated you like crap, that’s fine. That’s what blocking is for.

Hell, if you’re blocking someone because you don’t want to see their graphic sex posts in your feed, or you’re sick to death of that same thing they write about 17 times a day — whatever. Also your choice. That’s what it’s for.

But do realize people know when you block them.
Especially if they were a fan.

Because if they try to read your posts, they get a 403 page. It’s not like Facebook where you can make people disappear and they’ll never know.
Here, they know.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
— The 14th Dalai Lama


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Linda Caroll

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