This is interesting but hasn’t been my experience. None of my work has ever been recommended by Medium Staff, and yet I am averaging over 27,000 reads a month. I tried an experiment and wrote a few listicles wondering if what people were saying would be true for me, too. My most popular listicle reached 250 recommends, while my most recommended genuine story reached 190. So there is something about listicles, but not to the extent I expected.
I want to add something kind of interesting. As I said, no staff member of Medium (San Francisco) has recommended my work, but just in the past two days on Twitter, two of my stories were tweeted by Medium Japan and Medium France.