Medium used to have likes (they called them recommends). See their reasoning here from back when they replaced them with claps.

From the article:

Our system will evaluate your claps on an individual basis, assessing your evaluation of a story relative to the number of claps you typically send.

So if I understand it correctly, the idea was that claps help the algorithm learn what you specifically, as a particular reader, like the most. Think of it like a star rating system, but where instead of assigning 0 to 5 stars you can assign 0 to 50 stars to teach Medium what you like.

That was the original idea as far as I can tell. Now whether that worked out or whether it still makes sense with all the recent changes, is another question.

Science fan, cartoonist, PhD, eukaryote. Doesn't eat cats, dogs, nor other animals.

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