Claps

Are they the writer’s friend?

Mediumistas are applauding the new Clapping feature. I would like it to work as advertised, but I confess, I have questions about it. Here’s why:

It seems like grade inflation. It used to be, you could give one heart — plus a comment. But one clap does not correspond to one heart. No, it needs to be five claps, or ten, or a hundred. Thus the value of a clap is rapidly devalued. One clap is like a single person clapping in a vast empty auditorium. We all want a standing ovation of an appreciative throng. So if we don’t get a hundred claps, we’ll feel bad.

It reminds me of popular kids in high school. “I’ll clap a lot for you if you clap for me. But don’t clap for Bozo over there.” I say this as one who was never among the In Crowd. But I’m not bitter, no, not me.

This is doubly so because payment $$¢¢ will be based on the number of claps an article receives, if I understand it correctly.

The clap symbol makes me think of the mouse in a cage that keeps pushing the button to get more food pellets. We’re enticed to just keep pushing it. How many of us think ahead of time, “This article deserves 4, no 5, well maybe 6 claps. But no more.”

The problem is, claps are a free good. We can give as many as we want at no cost to ourselves, not even time. It would be better if there was a cost, say, if we had an allocation of 100 claps a month or whatever, and had to think judiciously about how we were going to distribute them.

But truly, the best response is a comment. I’ll take a comment over 100 claps any time.


The Writing Cooperative is a community of people helping each other write better. Become a member to join our Slack team, get fresh eyes on your writing, and participate in the 52-Week Writing Challenge! Only $3 a month.