I really don’t like the idea of an official guide to how much you’re supposed to clap, depending on how much you liked a story. As I understand it, the point of the present arrangement is that you can clap as much as you like (up to 50 claps). I typically clap 8 times for something I really like. Anything above that means I’m wildly enthusiastic. I know other people will clap much more than that and some will clap significantly less. Everybody’s different, and the clap system allows them to be.
I don’t believe that any number of claps, however low, indicates a lukewarm response. If people feel “meh” about something, they’re not going to clap at all, so every clap is a sign of approval. There’s no such thing as “faint praise” here, at least not in my opinion.
The second thing I wanted to say is I think it’s a bad idea to rely too much on your feed. I recently recommended bookmarking the tags that you’re interested in. And, since you can’t just follow someone and expect to be notified every time they post, I’d suggest making a list of those writers you really don’t want to miss and visiting their profiles regularly. The “Latest” tab will show their most recent stories (without, as far as I can see, their comments mixed in). If you use an RSS reader, you can easily add the feeds from your favourite writers’ profiles to keep up to date that way. In short, you don’t have to be at the mercy of the algorithm.