CHINA VOICES | Douban’s journey from book reviews to gossip site

6 min read

 

The Douban webpage open in a browser. (Image credit: TechNode/Shi Jiayi)

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. 
If there are celebrities on Weibo and classmates and colleagues on WeChat, then on Douban there is a group of strangers connected through the same interests and viewpoints

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