Douban had a great run. As Jane Li wrote recently in Quartz, political pressures have finally gotten to one of China’s last mainstream outlets for relatively free discourse. In the past few weeks, many popular groups have been deleted, and the newsfeed feature has been blocked, in turn dramatically stifling community interaction. 

Yu Han’s viral article, written a month ago on online content blog Hedgehog Commune, doesn’t directly address new censorship, but it’s a deep dive into the platform’s evolution. Douban as a product has no parallel in the west. It started as a Goodreads before Goodreads existed, and then expanded into allowing users to review and comment on music, movies, plays and events. 

Old users passionate about culture have grown resentful of the “melon-eating masses” who post about gossip, troll critical reviews of their idols’ movies and flood the zone with nationalism. But Douban, as of earlier this month, still occupied a unique role in the Chinese Internet landscape.

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Jordan Schneider

Jordan Schneider is a freelancer based in Beijing and the host of the ChinaEconTalk podcast.