Supporting this facility is the medium staff’s design decision, sure, but it’s also clearly the wrong decision, if their goal is to built a community for intellectually honest communication.
Medium made certain design decisions early on that made it seem like they wanted to encourage good content and discourage clickbait: a lack of a facility for reblogs, extremely high maximum content sizes, reading time estimates, a relatively spare & simple design with very limited theming support and no ability to embed ads. Allowing people to reccomend an article without at least scrolling to the end of it is not in line with these other decisions.
I understand allowing people to recommend articles without registering a ‘read’ — Medium’s reading time estimates are often wildly inaccurate, and when I take five minutes to read something Medium expects to take twenty, I don’t want to wait another fifteen to click that heart. But, even if low-quality recommendations are allowed, we don’t need to cater to them.
Medium’s general quality seems to have dipped over time, with short, low-effort articles becoming more common or more often recommended. Titles have, in my experience, become more click-baity. Any mechanism that allows people to focus on an engagement metric less stringent than reading is likely to encourage this kind of decay (because, if you give somebody a number, they will do whatever it takes to maximize or minimize it).