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Why I Only Clap Once for Medium Articles that I Like

This is going to be a quick read. Here’s the thing about claps on Medium, I love them I really do. When I first started reading on the platform, initially I would click the clap button like I click upvote on Reddit or Quora, I had no idea I could hold down the button and clap up to 50 times. Woo hoo, 50 claps!

I wanted to encourage writers I liked so I was careful to clap all 50 times if I liked an article, and some smaller number if I simply read it. It was a bit random and time-consuming.

Then I decided one day to look up what the claps are actually used for, and it turns out that as far as an author is concerned, whether you clap once or twice or 50 times, you get counted as a single fan. But the way you distribute your claps determines what percentage of your monthly membership fee as a paying member goes to each author. Note that this was true as of the change in how authors are measured and compensated on August 1, 2023, but the core concept hasn’t changed under the new system.

If you only read one article a month, it doesn’t matter if you give that article one clap or 50 claps, the author will get the same amount, say $5. If you read two articles, give one one clap and the other 50 claps, then the second author gets $4.90 and the first author gets 10 cents. If that’s what you intended, great. What I wanted to do was compensate some authors more because they wrote something that truly moved me or made me change some behaviour. But not at that ratio.

So I went to clapping a single time if I read the article all the way through, twice if it actually changed my mind or some behaviour, and I reserved three claps for truly extraordinary content. Whew, my life became a lot simpler, and the authors were being compensated the way I wanted.

It all reminds me of when my son was born and we took him to the doctor because he was crying all the time. My wife asked the doctor, “should we try gripe water?” The doctor replied, “by all means, if it makes you feel better, then try gripe water, but it doesn’t do anything for the baby.”

So if it makes you feel better, by all means clap 50 times for an article you like. It might even make the author feel good, but as a new author on Medium, I know it’s followers and fans that count, not claps.

Photo by Tim Bish on Unsplash

Oh, and if your baby cries all the time, try playing a vacuum cleaner sound or other white noise. We accidentally discovered that a few days after visiting the doctor. He’s been quiet ever since.

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