Clap First And Then Ask Your Questions
I pride myself on being generous with my time. If someone has a sensible (or even semi-sensible) query in response to one of my articles, I almost always try to answer that query, whether they clapped for my article or not.
I sometimes wonder, however, if I should operate an alternative policy: If someone raises a query in response to one of my articles, perhaps I should only be bothered to answer it if they’ve been considerate enough to clap for my article first.
I wonder how many other writers feel just a little bit narked when people expect you to spend time answering their queries, without them even having the courtesy to contribute a small amount for your time, patience, understanding and expertise, by adding a few claps.
The reader in question may not agree with what you’ve written, but if your article has sparked enough interest to entice them to comment on it, perhaps that alone should be a good enough reason to give it a clap.
Most of my articles (or ‘stories’) are written from the perspective of an expert. For example, I write a lot of articles about matters of economics. And I didn’t become a skilled economist without having to work at it. I studied Economics at school. I studied it at university — as an undergraduate and then as a graduate. And I’ve continued to study Economics for more than two decades since then.
In short, I’ve sacrificed a large chunk of my life to build up my expertise. And I already give up my time for a pittance of an income.
So, in the circumstances, I don’t think people should expect me to answer their queries, when they haven’t demonstrated even a little bit of goodwill by giving my article a clap. It’s not like it costs them any extra. Their monthly subscription costs the same to them whether they clap me or not.
The thing is you wouldn’t go into a shop and expect to be given goods for free. You wouldn’t expect a lawyer to provide you with free legal advice. You wouldn’t expect your accountant to compile your accounts out of the goodness of her heart. So why do some people expect one-on-one expert tuition and customised answers to their queries, for free?
Of course, a clap shouldn’t always be required when you’re commenting on an article. If a writer has made a clear mistake and you comment in order to correct it, then you are helping them, rather than the other way around.
But if you are querying an expert, it’s different. Whilst it’s possible you’re right and the expert is wrong, it’s much more likely to be the other way around — so they’ll probably be the one helping you.
What I get quite a few of is people who’ve completely misunderstood something (often as a result of their own prejudices or unjustified assumptions) and they’re inviting me to give them a custom-made explanation for why they’re wrong. And when people do that, I personally think it’s a matter of basic good manners that they should clap first, before asking their questions.
I think it is usually just inconsiderate, rude and mean for someone to expect an expert to contribute their time and efforts to help them, entirely at the expert’s own expense.
In practice, of course, writers usually get claps from people who already agree with them and no claps from people who want to query what they say. But I think the no-clappers are just being mean — and often arrogant.
If you clap first and then ask your question, that’s like saying:
“Excuse me please, but there’s a small matter on which I would really appreciate some further explanation. Thanks ever so much, in advance, for taking the time to answer my query.”
On the other hand, not clapping first is rather like saying:
“Oi! So-called expert! I’ve never properly studied this topic, but isn’t it true that I’m completely right and you’re just an idiot?’”
So, dear reader, which is it to be? Are you going to be the polite and appreciative enquirer? Or are you going to be the rude and arrogant gobshite?
And fellow writers; what do you think? Should we all have an open policy of deleting comments from people who haven’t clapped before they commented? Would that be a good way of encouraging more respectful conversations?
UPDATE: Medium payments are now calculated according to reading time, not claps. Claps, however, are used to help boost the chances of the story being seen by more people — so they’re still important.