blog, Pat Aitcheson writes

Can you feel the love?

baby-clapping_dhanelle
dhanelle via pixabay

I’m never sure how many claps to give on Medium.

It seems easy enough. We have up to fifty claps. Express how you felt, whether you were moved, signal which stories stand out. But it’s really not so simple.

I decided to engage more with stories and writers on Medium this month, as part of the Ninja Writers daily challenge for May. Writers thrive on attention, like we all do. It’s wonderful to know that somebody read your words, and was moved to respond in some way. The woman in an online group who posted “please read this but I never have time to look at anyone’s posts, sorry” horrified me. How can you expect to get what you don’t give? Especially when you’re in a group that has reciprocity as a stated principle? No, I will not read your stuff.

So I’ve been thinking much more about claps. As is the way of these things, thinking leads to paralysis.

A centipede was happy — quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, “Pray, which leg comes after which?”
Which threw her mind in such a pitch,
She laid bewildered in the ditch
Considering how to run.

Katherine Craster

It’s much easier with a binary choice, because more options leads to fear of picking the wrong one. So on Twitter I either like it or not. Simple. Why overthink it?

I don’t want to be mean, and I want to be fair. I know writing takes effort, whether the result is good, bad or boring. But does that translate to five, ten, or fifty claps? What if I gave a piece one clap, is that an insult like under-tipping, or am I rewarding effort while saying, this wasn’t for me?

Fifty is too big. I should divide into multiples of five, but I know other people don’t do the same. Are they clapping in small numbers because it’s bad, or are they just not big clappers? I’ve never given fifty claps, and would be shocked to receive the full number. It’s better we don’t know how many claps individuals give, but as with salary secrecy it’s hard to shake the fear of being undervalued.

I’m being more generous this month, but still the etiquette of clapping eludes me. Perhaps I should just pick random numbers and forget about it. And look forward to the day I am moved to give a piece the full fifty.

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