Social proof. If everyone else thinks it is good, it must be.
I would be happy if claps went away entirely. Reading is a truer measure than clapping. I do think claps were created with good intent, but they are too easy to abuse. Too easy to clap for friends and FB friends without having to spend the actual minutes to read the writing.
When Medium changed the pay structure to reads instead of claps, one writer posted on FB to say “oh no, there is not enough hours to read all the people I clap for every day” — that was exactly the problem Medium was trying to fix.
Good observations. Now if they’d expand what we can do with the profile, make it more like a publication homepage, they’d really be onto something.