Show authors more ❤️ with 👏’s

Introducing Claps, a new way to react on Medium

katie zhu
The Medium Blog


Remember that time you saw a really amazing live show? You couldn’t help but jump out of your seat and clap so hard your hands felt raw afterwards. Or when you heard a great lecture or stirring speech, and felt connected to the people around you by joining in with their applause? Now, remember when you last read a story that turned your thinking upside down, offering a new look at a topic that you’d never considered before. Was tapping a heart icon one time enough? Was it satisfying?

Today we’re hoping to change that. Rolling out to Medium users over the coming week will be a new, more satisfying way for readers to give feedback to writers. We call it “Claps.” It’s no longer simply whether you like, or don’t like, something. Now you can give variable levels of applause to a story. Maybe clap once, or maybe 10 or 20 times. You’re in control and can clap to your heart’s desire.

So why are we making this change?

Since day one, Medium has had a goal of measuring value. The problem, as we saw it, with much of the media/web ecosystem is that the things that are measured and optimized for were not necessarily the things that reflected true value to people. For example, a pageview is a pageview, whether it’s a 3-second bounce (clickbait) or a 5-minute, informative story you read to the end. As a result, we got a lot more of the former.

On Medium, we’ve tried to provide more meaningful metrics. We display to our authors not only views, but reads (i.e., how many people got to the bottom of a post). We calculate time spent on posts and display that for publication owners. And we use all of this in our systems that determine which posts to distribute to more people. The goal is always to be able to suss out the great from the merely popular.

So what’s wrong with Recommends?

The Recommend — our version of a Like or upvote or fav — has been our explicit feedback signal since almost day one. Explicit feedback is the most valuable signal, both for authors and the Medium system. But a simple, binary vote has its limitations. It shows you how many people thought something was good, not how good was it?

Earlier this year, we released Series and decided to do something different with the feedback mechanism. Instead of a binary input, we had an applause button, which you could press as many times as you want, and the count just kept going up. At first, we thought this was just fun. But then we realized it could be meaningful.

Just like in real life, we found ourselves applauding more the more we appreciated a Series.

Hm, we thought: What if we could capture this level of sentiment for posts? Authors would get much more meaningful data about what readers really valued. And as a reader, it would be more satisfying than simply ❤️-ing a nicely filtered photo of avocado toast.

We know this will take some getting used to, and we don’t take this change lightly for those who’ve been on Medium for a long time and given — or received — thousands of little green hearts. (We’re right there with you.) But we hope, once you get clapping, you’ll see how natural and more expressive it is.

To summarize: Just click the 👏 instead of the ❤️. If you feel strongly, click it more (or just hold down). The more you clap, the more positive feedback you’re providing to the author, and the more you’re letting us know the story is worth reading. (Only the author can see how many claps you gave them.) Our system will evaluate your claps on an individual basis, assessing your evaluation of a story relative to the number of claps you typically send. All this will help the stories that matter most rise to the top.

Again, this system will be rolling out in the next few days across Medium surfaces. If you don’t see it yet, you will soon. We’ll tweak and adjust based on what we learn, so please give us your feedback.