Who Are These Medium Readers Who Don’t Clap?

Were they born in a barn?

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Toot Your Horn Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

As we obsess — then try not to obsess, then go back to obsessing — over our stats pages, one of the biggest questions we keep coming back to is, Who are these people who read our work but don’t clap?

Way more views than reads? I get it.

You thought it would be about something different. Or I just didn’t hold your attention. Maybe it was longer than you expected and you’re going to bookmark it for later. I totally understand.

But you just read to the end of my 11-minute piece. I kept you engaged for that long. You read the whole thing, and then you didn’t clap? Hmmm.

Here’s the stats page for my most recent 6 articles.

Notice the most fans are for my piece Medium Writers, I Love You, right here in 1-One-Infinity. More than half of people who read it clapped. (Even more whoa, almost half of people who viewed it clapped.)

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Personal screenshot of my stats page for the pieces I’ve written this week

The read ratio’s super-high

in Medium Writers, I Love You, because it wasn’t curated. When a piece isn’t curated, most of your readers already know you or the publication you’re in. They’re choosing that piece for a reason, rather than the dice roll of reading something new because the curators suggested it. My uncurated pieces almost always have higher read ratios.

It’s the same with I Discovered My First Gray Hair the Day She Was Born, in Mariposa Magazine. Tiny amount of views (so far), because it wasn’t curated, and it’s not a huge publication, but almost everyone who viewed it read it, and just over half of the reads resulted in claps.

Alright, but now look at my crown jewel — my first Medium FeatureIf We Care For Robots, Who Will Care For Us? published in Towards Data Science (after I self-published it and multiple publications PMed me to ask if they could feature it too). I had the highest of hopes for this one. Okay, I still do. But it makes me ask the titular question: “Who Are These Medium Readers Who Don’t Clap?”

My robot piece currently has 2.1K views, 487 reads, and 37 fans. Only 7.6% of readers — who all read for 11 minutes — saw fit to give me even one clap. Medium Writers, I Love You, with only 81 reads, has more fans than this piece with 487 reads. What’s going on here?(I’ll give my theories at the bottom.)

For now, here’s the stats page for the robot piece, showing that 84% of views came straight from Medium, so this isn’t a simple case of off-Medium readers not knowing about clapping:

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Personal screenshot of current stats page for If We Care For Robots, Who Will Care For Us? my first Medium Feature.

I like the clapping philosophy…

of Michael K. Spencer (Why Every Writer Deserves a Standing Ovation) and Susan Brearley (Why I always Clap 50 Times). I don’t always clap 50 times, but I’m into rounds of applause. If I like it, I’ll give you a whole bunch (never just 1). If I love it, you can have all the claps I can give.

I understand that claps from people who rarely clap are worth more. I understand as much about clapping as Medium will tell us. But I know how good these claps feel. And I know how it feels to know so many people read to the end and then didn’t clap.

So here are my theories!

about these people who read to the end and then don’t clap:

  • My robot piece was really popular with people’s moms. I don’t mean people who just happen to be moms (like me!) I mean moms (and dads and grandparents and cousins and spouses) who only clap for their only little Sweetie Pies, because they think that’s the best way to support them. At the same time, they’ve realized there’s so much great writing on Medium, so they keep reading; they just don’t clap anyone but their one special someone.
  • The clap function is broken. But, like, just for this piece, somehow. Oh, and every single other piece I’ve written with low clap ratios. Like my most-read piece and my 21-minute-long birth story. (To be clear, it’s a 21-minute read, not a 21-minute labor. I wish!) For the pieces where you, dear readers, have experienced this — the clap function was similarly broken.
  • The moment they finished reading, they had to go change the laundry, like they promised their partner they would do this morning, and it’s already 3 pm, but they totally spaced it, and they realized halfway through reading my article, but it was so good that they couldn’t tear themselves away, so they put in their 11 minutes and then rushed to the dryer before clapping, so their partner wouldn’t divorce them. And I don’t want my writing to cause divorces (unless you both would really be happier that way), so I understand. Maybe you’ll come back and clap later, and share it with your partner too.
  • They were born in a barn! Okay, that doesn’t really explain it. At all. But the phrase, “Were you born in a barn?!” keeps coming to mind.

I appreciate all of you on this Medium writing journey with me.

Has this every happened to you? So many views/reads with so few claps? Do you have any theories (the weirder, the better)? ❤

Also, did I use titular right?

Written by

Empathy for the win! Published in Gen, Human Parts, Heated, Tenderly —Feminism, Sexuality, Veganism, Anti-Racism, Parenting. She/They darcyreeder.substack.com

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