What Are Claps On Medium? Do They Affect Your Earnings?

Medium roundup article with arrow pointing to a circle around the number of claps.

Claps on Medium have long been a source of mystery for both readers and writers. The clap system on the platform is fairly unique, and it hasn’t always been clear how they work. 

Claps on Medium act as a way for readers to show appreciation for stories they enjoy, similar to ‘like’ buttons on social media. The key things to note are that you can clap up to 50 times per post and you can clap for as many posts as you like. Claps do not directly impact Medium earnings.

It sounds like a fairly simple system, as it just takes the click or tap of a button. However, the Medium claps system has seen some big changes over the years. From directly influencing a writer’s earnings, to indirectly influencing their story’s ranking, there’s more to Medium claps than you might think. Let’s take a closer look at how claps work on Medium.

What Are Claps On Medium?

Claps on Medium are used as a way to allow readers to show appreciation for the stories they enjoy. They work in a similar way to like buttons that you find on social media. You can clap up to 50 times per post.

Medium story with claps highlighted in a pink circle.
This is where you can see the claps of any Medium story

There are usually some misconceptions about how claps work on medium. Claps are not a good indicator of views (because not all viewers clap). They’re also not the only metric that affects earnings. Claps don’t even affect earnings directly, but they did until 2019.

How Much Is A Clap Worth On Medium?

Claps are not worth anything in terms of monetary value, and this has been the case since 2019. Claps used to correspond to a share of the subscription fee of the person who clapped. Therefore, the more 18claps you got the more money you made. This is no longer the case.

In 2019, Medium announced some big changes to their Partner Program. Now, writers are paid monthly based on how much time Medium members (i.e., paying members) spend reading their work, instead of earning per clap. More member reading time means increased earnings.

Do Claps Help On Medium?

Claps still play a role in the writers’ income but not as directly as they did before. Medium’s ranking algorithm takes into account the number of claps a story receives. This ranking system is based on the number of claps users give on an individual basis. They do this (along with other methods) by comparing the number of claps a reader gives to a specific post with the number of claps the user usually gives in total. Note that this is a very simplified (and somewhat speculative) explanation. The real algorithm is far more complex and mysterious!

More claps mean more chance your story will be recommended to other readers. More recommendations mean more exposure. More exposure means more reading time. More reading time means more money!

Claps ⇒ Recommendations ⇒ Exposure ⇒ Member Reading Time ⇒ Money for the Writer

How To Use Claps As A Reader

As I mentioned before, Medium grants you with 50 claps per post. You can and should use these to show your appreciation for the writer’s work. Your applause should be in accordance with how much (or how little) you enjoy a particular post. However, remember that your claps are not directly related to how much money the author receives, as they are now compensated based on reading time.

When announcing the new earnings model, Medium’s Emma Smith explained: “Instead of paying based on claps as the main signal, we will now reward stories primarily based on reading time, which we’ve seen to be a closer measure of quality and resonance with readers”.

If you’re wondering how Medium measures reading time, Smith also noted: “As a user reads, we measure their scrolls and take care to differentiate between short pauses and longer breaks. Reading time incorporates signal from your readers without hurdles. You don’t need to ask your readers to remember to clap, or click, or do anything other than read.”

Despite all of these changes, claps are still a very important feature on Medium. Claps will always be a useful measure of support for the stories that Medium readers love.

Claps Can Help Your Favorite Medium Writers

You use claps to tell Medium how much you liked a story and that you think they should recommend it to others. While they don’t translate directly into money for the writer, they do have some influence over the amount of money writers will receive, so use them appropriately!

Whether you always clap 50 times or just once per post, remember that this feature allows you to help writers whose content you actually enjoy, even if indirectly. Medium’s clap system is just one of the unique ways it rewards its writers.

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