Mind the Gap Saturday: Forums East and West

Enter the Big Big Pig

Porn on forums is rare, but there's a third unwelcome P at this - personal attacks. If you're calling a fellow forum member, a pighead or a tortoise egg (which is one of the most intense insults in the Chinese language), expect to be crushed by criticism and outright attacks aimed back at you. With the folks at the top going on about the "harmonious society" we're supposed to live in, personal attacks have just gotten that bit less "harmonious".

With every attack, of course, you get those who support you, but you also get those that have their two pence against you. Use your common sense - look left, look right, then cross - and always be alert. If you sense that what you said or are about to say could be inflammatory, retract it, reduce it, or just simply remove it.

Shun it when they shan it

Shan! Shan! Shan! That word - shan (删) in Chinese - means "delete". They actually had pictures (PhotoShopped, of course) of former Chinese leaders with a speech bubble going "we should shan these types of posts" (yours truly was witness to one of them in mid-2003), so you know that the shaning is alive and well in the PRC.

Shaning a post is often the ultimate death penalty for a hapless/intruding post, since it condemns the offending message into digital nonexistence. Less severe is life imprisonment for the message, or the feared fengsuo (封锁, literally "lock-down"), where replies (and at times, editing existing posts) are not allowed.

If you note that the shaning has gotten out of hand, it may be time to go out in that big, wide real world - forum wars tend to be on the confrontational, brutal and the most "unharmonious" sides. Either that, or some folks from the top are coming into town - "refreshing the rhetoric" in the wake.

It's time to refresh yourself and prepare for that Sunday to come. Next week on Mind the Gap Saturday, we continue our two-part series on the weird and wonderful wide web of forums in China. See you then.

Copyright © 2007, Blognation.com.

This article first appeared on Blognation.

Sponsored: Driving business with continuous operational intelligence