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Picture courtesy of the author, Oct 2019


Highlights, Comments, and Claps - Oh My! How to Use Them Wisely

What you do with them, and any new follower notifications, increases their value

Are you like a zombie? You publish your article, then sit back and wait for claps. You get a few, think that’s great, and go on about your business. You receive notifications about comments and that people have started following you. You may even read some of the comments. Otherwise, you just watch the stats.

On Wednesday, you check the partner program hoping that you got paid a lot. Not much, but maybe things will be better next week.

You just wasted a lot of information

Definitions per Medium Help Pages

(Help page quotes and links for those new to Medium)

  • Highlights: “If you’re reading a story and find a passage that particularly resonates with you, you can highlight it. When your followers read the story, they will see your highlight, and your name will pop up above it.”
  • Comments: “If a story speaks to you, you can leave a response for the author underneath the post.”
  • Claps: “Clapping allows you to show your support for a Medium post and recommend it to your followers.”
  • Followers: “Medium also lets you follow specific authors and publications. Once you follow an author or a publication, stories published by them will show up on your homepage and in your email digests.”

The terms Comment and Response are generally interchangeable - also, Article and Story.

What I do with those I receive

All authors desire readers. Otherwise, why write.

The primary method is to attract followers. Other ways include being curated (like being selected for the front page of the newspaper - unlikely) or writing for a single-topic publication.

Highlights, comments, claps, and new followers are an excellent source of information. I review the profile of every new reader or follower. If they have posted articles, I usually read one to get a feel of their style and view of the world. Unless there is some compelling reason not to, I start following them.

If no articles, I then look for comments and read a few. If they are active, I usually follow them assuming that they may write a full article later. Also, based on the comment or title, I may read the article that the comment is attached to if it looks interesting. In that case, I would probably follow both authors.

If the reader is new, maybe a month or two, I usually follow them just to encourage them to publish something.

If the reader is a long time member and never published anything, I don’t follow them. I assume that they are just casual readers.

I use claps, comments and follower notifications to find authors to follow.

When I issue highlights, comments and claps

I read a majority of the articles from those that I follow based on the subject, title and sub-title. I also read some curated articles in my selected topics of interest.

I read every comment on my articles. Some, especially those on the abortion article, are long enough to be posted as an independent article. A comment functions the same as a published article, except you don’t get paid for claps, I don’t think.

Highlights: I indicate an excellent point to other readers by highlighting text.

Also, you can highlight text and when the popup box appears, then click the speech bubble. It takes you to the comment section and puts the highlighted text into a box at the top. You can then add your comment about the highlighted text without having to copy and paste.

Comments: I usually comment to add something to the story, agree, disagree, or point out something that the author might not have considered.

I try to keep the comments to a reasonable length, usually less than a minute read. If I wrote an article pertinent to the story, I include the link instead of writing a long comment.

Also, I carefully write the first line since it becomes the title in searches. I found some of my comments with a Google search (see my article on comments).

I write about ten times as many comments as published articles.

Claps: I clap for most articles. The number depends on how much the article caused me to think, laugh, or provided useful information, like writing tips. I’ve clapped 50 times for only one article. It highlighted a work problem¹ that tormented me for over 30 years.


The stats tell me how many people see and read my articles. The claps, comments and followers show me what kind of impact the article made.

Although some authors claim to get thousands of claps for an article, I suspect that is rare. The stats in Benny Lim’s article, Curation VS Quality, are probably more common. One week, I was paid two cents for an article.

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Medium stats of author’s stories. Screenshot by the author, Oct 2019.

Fans are the number of people who clapped. My articles get about 5% claps based on views. My wife posted on Facebook and got about 5% thumbs-up. It’s only a sample size of two in two different sites, but I wonder if that is about average.

Your profile: When someone looks at your profile, they immediately see your feature story and your published articles. In addition, they can click to see every comment you made, everything you highlighted, and all stories that you clapped for.

I scan those to find new authors and stories that I might find interesting.


Many sites provide a lot of useful data, if you look at it and use it. I use Medium’s data to find authors to follow, and their stories help me to improve my writing.

(1) Fifty claps: What I’m Telling Business People About Why Relational Databases Are So Bad by Lance Gutteridge. For me, relational databases were a step backward.

William “Bill” Myers, Analyzes all, Programmer, retired. If you learn anything new, find enjoyment, have a new thought, then I’m successful. Photo: 1st article

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