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Home  /  Inside China  /  Chinese BBS – The Social Activity that Never Grows Old
Chinese BBS – The Social Activity that Never Grows Old print version
Social Networks have become a hit in China like in most other places, though the strength and popularity of BBS (Bulletin Board Systems), which generally speaking are internet forums and discussion boards, evolution-wise a long distance behind the web2 technology, cannot be restrained.
The number of BBS users in China is estimated differently by various surveys and reports, but the percentage of BBS users among the entire internet surfing crowd is astonishing, and the amount of time each user spends in BBS sites is also very high compared to users in other countries worldwide. Along with using BBS for practical reasons such as finding information and solving problems (as well as learning about products and sometimes even making purchases through the BBS sites), many users also enjoy sharing stories about their personal life, publishing posts, participating in polls and enjoying the type of communication such sites provide. BBS sites which serve as shrines for popular celebrities are also a huge attraction for youngsters.

The Discuz! System is the most popular platform for BBS sites. Discuz! is a product of Comsenz Inc., a company founded by Kevin Day in 2004, who actually built the Discuz! system several years before. The company runs several other content management related and social networking platforms. Currently about 70% of Chinese BBS sites use the Discuz! system.

Whether freedom of speech exists on the internet or not, Chinese internet users enjoy expressing themselves and their opinion on BBS, sometimes in a more direct manner compared to the way they do in their personal lives. Anyone who ever entered Chinese internet portals and other BBS sites, has probably noticed the infinite number of categories, article titles, internal pages as well as the extremely quick update pace. The flow of hot news is never ending and its impact in popular discussion boards is quite volcanic.

It is always too early to make predictions, but it seems that BBS and social networks co-exist successfully in China's internet sphere, and the latter haven't reduced the former's popularity until now. Besides the fact that many Chinese social networks use the BBS platform within their applications, allowing both technologies to assist each other, the different orientation most BBS sites have compared to social networks, focusing on topics and not being people-centric as social networks, makes the co-existence of the two even more understandable.

Concerning revenue making, lately many Chinese BBS are using Insenz (also produced by Day's company) a Chinese product which is quite similar to the Google AdWords, and allows BBS managers to post advertisements according to the popular topics which appear in their discussion boards. Daqi.com is another company which takes advantage of the BBS success, by analyzing discussions on products and potential customers and selling their reports to the relevant companies.

Though BBS is quite an old technology, application and programs attempting to make profits from its success will continue to develop, while players in China's internet sphere must continue to take into consideration the BBS phenomenon in the country.


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