The Great Social Experiment

QQ Logo

I have been conducting what some people call my great social experiment. For about six months, I have been maintaining an account on one of the Chinese social networks. I was looking for something to occupy my brain so I decided to open a QQ account. I started with a QQ chat account and then moved on to a Qzone account, which is similar in some respects to MySpace. QQ is one of the most popular Chinese social networks, and I felt it was a good starting point.

My immersion into the Chinese online social network has not been too difficult; however, I have run into a few issues. The most obvious of which is the fact that I do not speak or read any Chinese. I got around this obstacle by using Google Translate. This was necessary to read most of the signup forms and configuration pages. The interesting thing is that I can now recognize some of the phrases, and understand them. Needless to say, not everything translates perfectly.

I’ve also run into a few technical issues. These are mainly due my use of Linux instead of Windows. The do offer a Linux version of QQ; however, I prefer to use Pidgin instead. It is true that the Pidgin implementation of the QQ chat protocol (which is based on an ICQ implementation) is not as full featured as the real QQ client, but it does have a few advantages for my personal use. Pidgin will automatically open a window if there is activity in a chat group or chat.  I don’t always notice the flashing icon in my task bar. Pidgin will not render images that that people upload into the chat either. This keeps the animated images (more on this later) to a minimum. Pidgin will render emoticons if they happen to match up. In addition, the configuration was also in English, which is a small advantage for me.

Using Pidgin has been a hindrance at times too. It does not always connect to the QQ service, and I have to fire up the real QQ client to figure out what is going on. It’s usually because they have detected some “abnormal” activity (more on this later). Lately I have been logging in with an additional captcha.

Maintaining the Qzone site has been a bit of a challenge. There are so many features that figuring them all out is a bit of a challenge. At times the my site was partially broken, with whole sections missing. I thought that I had misconfigured something, until I realized that it rendered just fine in IE. This usually happened after one of their maintenance periods, which occur more frequently than I would like. I’m pretty used to seeing 系统维护中 when I went to my site. The takes a bit of time to fully load, sometimes taking over almost two minutes to load all the sections.

I’m not posting any links to the site just yet since I want to keep this blog and the other one completely separate.

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