Gamification of responses by Medium [Edited]

Justin Cox 🍩 , you write, very sensibly,

“My offhanded response (as of the time of this writing) has 683 claps from 71 “fans.” In the recommends terminology, it would have 71 recommendations. That is an average of 9.6 claps per fan.

The deeper discussion with Ev (i.e. the six-paragraph response) earned 848 claps from 112 fans. Seems like a better engagement, but that’s an average of 7.5 claps per fan — a full 2.1 claps fewer per person”

You know that an average human being has one testicle, right?

This is what averages do for you.

By the way, why did you count averages? Why not median or mode? Also, an average is meaningless in the sense you have used it here as you do not know the spread.

It was reassuring to read you write emphatically, not just facetiously, that you wouldn’t write on the basis of average claps per fan. That’s what we all need to keep in mind. It’s fantastic that Medium has opened up the room for claps but we, the writers, will need to exercise restraints and be careful about not playing to the gallery.

Having said that, I’d say that something about this terminology is not right. Don’t know who coined them or why they are being used. You do not “clap” for deeply thought, sensible writing; you clap for instantaneous reaction (do you play/watch tennis or boxing, Justin?)

Maybe, Medium does not want us to write sensible stuff on this platfom anymore¹, but play to the gallery of “fans”. If you recommend an article, you do not necessarily become a “fan”, do you? You can share to inform others, draw attention to a point of argument, even rebuttal. But this nuance is lost in the use of words as they are.

What’s next?

Do we need this gamification in Medium?

  1. I must revise this. When I wrote this, I did not know why Medium introduced this peculiar name and strategy for “applauses”, but I later learned that anyone living in the US (or businesses outside of the US) can benefit from member claps. This knowledge has changed my attitude towards this naming. While this does still disturb me that we are heading towards an uncontrolled closing of articles to people (the openness may be compromised), it also gives me hope that fiction writers, and others with a following can benefit from this strategy; if in the process, member subscriptions lead to financial benefit of Medium, it’s all for the better.

Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Environmental Health at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Also in:

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