Ev, as someone who grew my writing here and contributes towards your member section, I have some questions and critical feedback about this as well, and am more in harmony with Justin’s assessment and worried this will churn unworthy content to the top instead.
I read an article recently where the author talked about how to grow his audience. Whenever he posted an article on medium, his friends and family immediately give his article a “heart” so that it jumps his content and more people read it. When I asked the author whether his friends even liked his content he said he didn’t see anything wrong with them liking his content even if they thought it had no value because they were his friends and they support him. He was using a method by author Jeff Goins and Benjamin Hardy (two of the top writers here on medium) to kind of “hack” your algorithm and system to make sure his content got more views.
Here’s my inherent problem with claps as opposed to hearts. Say you use their tribe writer methodology and have your friends go on and hold down the clap button. Within 5 minutes of posting, you could garner 500 to 1,000 claps by three people. Let’s say you follow an author who has his friends do this. You then log into medium and under your network of people you follow on the homepage you see an article with a 1,000 claps. Of course you’re going to read that article. Your brain will immediately tell you “other people liked this too, so it must have worth.” Then even more people see it, and suddenly that article hits the Medium Top 20 for the day because it has so many views, even though the claps, say, hover at 1,050 because the article is utter shit and provides no real value.
I know you want to combat fake news, but this is how we keep churning unworthy content to the top because there are writers on here looking to exploit it and make money, not worthy content.
I hope this is something you’ve addressed in your algorithms and something your team has considered. So my question is have you? How do you plan to combat that?