I used to sometimes give one clap, sometimes two, sometimes three or more, but never fifty.
Now, if I give any claps, I give fifty.
Claps don’t cost anything, and I can give as many claps as I want without limit, and therefore, if I am going to try to please someone, I might as well do it properly. Why scrimp on the claps. Who says to a stranger “nice outfit but…” or “I’d give you nine out of ten for your outfit”?
To give forty claps is to give forty out of fifty claps.
For politeness is like a counter — an avowedly false coin, with which it is foolish to be stingy.” ― Arthur Schopenhauer
An interesting and little known property of Medium is that the recipient of the claps can see how many claps you gave, but others can only see that you clapped, and the total number of claps of the clappers (that Medium calls “fans”). This means that only the author of the article can see what you are doing.
Who is the author most likely to follow or clap for in return? The person who gave fifty claps. Who is the author most likely to remember? Ditto. Whose comment is most likely to get favorable attention from the author?
All it costs is about five seconds of fast clicking if you are using a mouse. Not much when compared with five minutes of reading. You can also do it simply by holding down the mouse button, and that takes perhaps ten seconds, without wearing out your mouse (and maybe your index finger).
Full disclosure: my claps don’t represent money — I’ve got a free account. If your claps cost you money, I think you should still clap fifty times, when you clap, if you can afford it.