Tag Archives: weibo

Long Weibo Posts Coming Soon…

The Chinese Weibo and, indeed, social media world, has been taken by storm by the invention of the Long Weibo (長微博, chang wei bo). In essence, you can think of this as a super-long tweet as a graphic attached to a post on Weibo.

Try as you might — in particular super-long Long Weibos (pardon the pun) won’t work on Twitter. I tried one where we had this super-long pic of the Shanghai Metro connections out of Hongqiao station being posted on Twitter. In essence the thing was too long, waaayy too slim (width-wise), and of too poor a resolution once uploaded — not even investing in a massive microscope would’ve done the deal.

Long Weibos are a big thing in China. First, especially if you create them on your own (without going through an “official Long Weibo maker”, you can post just about anything you want, including stuff that might have Zhongnanhai s@—#ting bricks (excuse me please). A text post is always checked by an “e-censor”; if it’s problematic with the CCP, you simply can’t post unless you mod the text — by, for example, inserting dashes, just-li-k-e-th-i-s — so you dodge the censors. With a graphic Long Weibo (I didn’t mean it that way), you can indeed post anything — including graphic content (ahem).

Second, you can make the thing as long as you want. You can spend minutes, even hours, going through a Long Weibo, if you’re so inclined. Even the Chinese Communist Party’s official news system makes extensive use of Long Weibos, where text and pics co-exist “in a perfectly harmonious e-society” (so to speak).

Probably because of these two reasons, Long Weibos have taken on a life of its own. Weibo’s deep-seated integration of pictures (and because the Weibo repost mechanism preserves Long Weibos in the original post, if there is one) makes these things popular — actually, popular here might be too weak a word. They also work great on WeChat (although WeChat supports super-long text-based entries as well), so you can easily take a Long Weibo from Weibo (see where I’m getting at?) to WeChat. It worked great for me; I get Likes and Comments all the same, be it a Long Weibo-included post on Weibo or WeChat.

As a result, because Long Weibos are content-rich, they qualify for a blog article in their own right (including those that contain nothing but cutesy kitty pics, which has long been a favourite of Shanghai Rail’s official Weibo account). Beginning in a few days’ time, you’ll soon see the text of what used to be (solely) Long Weibos appear here on my site — and you can spot them easily, as they’ll be in the Long Weibo category. I’ll try to translate stuff that started out life originally in Chinese as well.

This Long Weibo thing can get quite addicting. To the world outside of China, Long Weibos probably aren’t documented that well. If there was an e-samzidat, of kinds, in e-China, Long Weibos might have provided the first such platform for these…

A Weibo Act of Railway Kindness

As a decilingual, there are two things that can get you free smiles on the rails, and they all begin with “grati-”. One is, of course, a free ticket — a ticket for free and gratis. I got two of these, when Xi’an Rail took me over to climb the challenging Mt Qinling — transport to and from the mountains was included, so we didn’t fork out an extra cent. (Last year, though, I paid for over 34,000 km of rail rides!)

But the other “grati-“ is a little different: It’s called gratitude. The amazing Ürumqi Railways in northwestern China’s Xinjiang “knows” me on Weibo. They have included me twice (in the form of a @mention) on Weibo (Twitter for China, censors included — et-hmm…). And these guys aren’t people talking to the depths of the desert: over 270,000 follow these guys, and that’s about a fifth of the population of even one of the smallest provincial capitals in China.

Lately, these guys tweeted me on the Jiayang Railway in Sichuan, which still runs steam engines. (Link here in Baidupedia — Chinese text only.) They included only two people as @mentions: me, and the official China Railways account. (The official name of that account — the “Political Propaganda Department” of the Rail Ministry — scares a lot of people already, when you come to think of it. Not very approachable in name, to many an outsider.)

I decided that it was high time to keep giving back even more to the rails.

This was a true act of Weibo kindness. A veritable Weibo act of railway kindness. It got me excited about Xinjiang. Friends on Facebook knew about this. I’m now certain that I’m really looking forward to the chuanr.

I’m a weird animal in the rails: I’m a university professor (the way a lot of Americans, but probably not many a Briton or a German, might see me), and I’m not affiliated in any way with the rails. Mom, dad, and the wife have never worked for the rails either. But I’m one of the most faithful advocate of rail travel amongst “civilians” (outside the rail system), and I’m here to dump Chinglish at China’s rail stations.

Somehow this whole thing started back in April 2012, when the head of the Wuxi East Railway Station invited me to take a good look at the station. Wuxi East’s English was in good shape, but there were still a few cases of Chinglish. These went away when I optimised their English out of a move of pure kindness — they retweeted me when my wife and I was doing a live radio show, and friends like that really stand out.

What starts out well will continue well. I know that I’ll keep on helping the rails get their English up to speed. And if that merits another nice @mention from them, that’ll be neater still.