Sunday, August 14, 2011

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About Taiwanese bloggers

8/14/2011 Taiwan Explorer
Some Taiwanese bloggers are so popular, that young girls stand in line on a rainy day just to buy their second hand clothes and take a photo with them. Blogging in Taiwan is a big business and some people are able to become celebrities and icons in a very short time. They can move masses and influence young people with their blogs. In this post I will try to explain the reason for this phenomenon and tell you about the implication it has on the society.

BLOGGING: A PLATFORM DOMINATED BY YOUNG PEOPLE

In my last year's post about the young people in Taiwan, I have noted that Taiwan is a young democracy with a tricky political situation and a long lasting identity crisis. In this context I can add, that it's run by old Chinese men, who usually have fix ideas about how a society should function and especially what role young people should play. But like in most societies, the clash of generations is very visible in today's society. Young Taiwanese are very skilled in finding the right balance between "respecting" the elders and having their own unique way of expressing themselves. In Taiwan it's imperative to have at least two faces: Your parents, your teacher or your boss expect a certain behavior from you and that forces many young Taiwanese into wearing a mask most of the time (something I am following of recent, too). But on the other hand, there's the internet, an area, which is ruled by the young generation and where ojisans and obasans have very little to say. The social media and the blogs are platforms, where young Taiwanese can be who they want to be. This phenomenon produced a whole army of incredibly successful bloggers, some anonymous, some very eager to share their whole life with a huge audience, earn a lot of money with advertising and publishing books and even join TV shows. They become real A-class celebrities.

Unofficially, or better to say based on rumors, an A-class celebrity blogger in Taiwan can earn over 1000 USD per a single product review post! If she (it's usually a she) writes 10 of them per month, then you can imagine what kind of money is in play here. But it's not only about the money and influence bloggers in Taiwan have, it's also about entertainment. Life in Taiwan is very generic and standardized, whether you're a pupil, student or worker, you have not much time to do anything: Appearing as doing nothing is almost a crime here (that's why many kids are forced to study during holidays as well in order to "not forget what they learned during school"). But Taiwanese are very good in finding a way to read blogs, be it on the subway, in a cafe during lunch break or even at work or school. Reading blogs is a way to relax and switch off for many young Taiwanese and if someone is funny or interesting, their post will go viral very fast and often find its way into the mainstream media.

WHAT KIND OF TAIWANESE BLOGGERS ARE THERE?

Generally, bloggers in Taiwan could be divided into two big groups: natives of Taiwan, who usually write in standard Chinese and foreigners, most of them Western expats, who write in English (like me). But of course there are also many Japanese, Koreans, South East Asians and others, who study or work here and write in their own native languages. In this post I will only focus on the ones, who are born here and write their blog in Chinese (國語).

These are the most common types of Taiwanese bloggers:

- Girlie bloggers: She writes about herself, her life, would post a lot of photos of herself, her boyfriend, her friends, the food she ate, the clothes she bought. If she happens to have a Western (read White) boyfriend, she may double the sharing ratio. This type of blogger will most likely become famous and write product reviews or travelogues and earn a lot of money.

- Bimbo bloggers: Is more like a subgroup of a girlie blogger. Usually written by a teenage girl, who doesn't really form her thoughts well, but also doesn't care about it. Often she will say silly irrelevant stuff, which only some of her friends will understand. Cute self-portraits and outbursts of anger over some incident at school are very common. This type of bloggers just seek a way to express themselves.

- Food bloggers: Taiwanese love food and almost every blogger is able to write a great restaurant review (some more, some less). But there are some bloggers, who are dedicated to this topic and they can earn a lot of money, because restaurants pay them to write about them. Publishing books is also part of the deal.

- Geek bloggers: Taiwan is a global hub of IT industry, there are a lot of companies who supply the world with PC components and a lot of new trends start here. And that's why we have a lot of geek bloggers, who go deep into all of these things and write about computers, IT trends, coding, social media and trends on the web as well. Their traffic can be very high, but the writers don't usually expose themselves in the media.

- Travel blogger: Many young Taiwanese love to travel, be it inside Taiwan or outside (many also study abroad). I think by now almost every backyard stinky tofu stall has been honored with a blog post by some traveler (travel and food always go very well together in Taiwan). Some travel bloggers are so popular, that agencies pay them to go on trips and blog about them. Their life is one big journey.

- Photography bloggers: A lot of Taiwanese guys love cameras and love photography and most of them will have their own blog. Some are professional and earn money with taking wedding photos, some take it as a hobby and want feedback from other photographers. This group is dominated by men.

There are of course a lot of other kinds of bloggers, for example the ones who write about politics, movie reviews, update on their favorite singer or band etc. However the groups above are the most common, one could say typical for Taiwan.

WHO ARE CURRENTLY THE MOST FAMOUS BLOGGERS IN TAIWAN?

Below is a list of top bloggers in Taiwan. This list is based on my wife's understanding (she's a blogger and a reader for over 10 years) and she knows the whole Taiwanese online community very well. These are according to her top bloggers in Taiwan (popularity measured in hits):

FlowerMonkey/Benshee: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/benshee
Writes about makeup, skincare, fashion, accessories etc. She has some Russian blood. She's considered as the current no 1 blogger in Taiwan by popularity (number of hits). If she promotes a shop, its clothes could be sold out in few days (according to a rumour).


IllyQueen: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/illyqueen
Writes about love, relationship, fashion, travel - about her life. She's an author, published several books, which were very popular.

HoneyQueen: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/honeyqueen
Writes about clothes, fashion, accessories, shoes, makeup, especially skin care product etc. Her style is similar to FlowerMonkey's and they are friends. She was involved in a scandal.

Amarylliss: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/amarylliss
Writes about travel and reviews about products for the house (like furniture, decoration...). She's one of the first bloggers in Taiwan.

Nancy: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/ksnancy
She's become popular in 2011. She's writing about fashion, makeup, skincare, losing weight. She's very pretty.

Maki: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/makiwish
Writes about makeup, skincare, travel, clothes etc. She's friends with HoneyQueen.

Hannah: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/baiterstw
She's a model for online shops. She mostly writes about fashion and skin care.

Orange: http://oranges.idv.tw
She writes a lot about food and restaurant reviews. She's the first blogger, who focused on writing about these topics and started a whole movement of food blogging in Taiwan.

TruffleRose: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/TruffleRose
She writes about food, cooking and travel. Her husband is Dutch. She's in Holland now.

Christabelle: http://www.christabelle.idv.tw
She writes about food. She's one of the first food bloggers in Taiwan.

Play PCesor: http://playpcesor.blogspot.com
Blog about geeky tips, downloading, apps, software reviews. It's a very useful blog and has one of the most subscribers and visitors of all the blogs in Taiwan, but the people behind the blog don't expose themselves in the media.

Briian.com: http://briian.com
Similar to the one above, focusing on tips and tricks connected to software and IT. This guy(s) try almost every app or software and teach you how to use it.

Cwwany: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/cwwany
This one draws cute pictures, that relate to the things that happen in her life. So this is almost like drawing comics, but sometimes she will add small explanations. She's one of the most popular blogs by visitor count.

Avocado Sushi: http://www.cwyuni.tw/blog
She's anonymous and extremely popular. Her writing style is very good and that's how she became popular in the first stage. Later she married a Japanese guy and blogged about their relationship a lot, which has even increased her popularity.

Milktea: http://blog.sina.com.tw/milktea
This is blog by a woman and talks about her cats: What funny or silly her cats have done etc. She even published a book about her cats, which became popular.

Off60: http://www.wretch.cc/blog/off60
This one is similar type as Cwwany: He draws cute and funny drawings relating to his life.

Wisely: http://wiselyview.net/blog/
He was one of the first photo bloggers in Taiwan. He would write reviews about lenses and cameras, but also about food and travel.

The Carol: http://carol.bluecircus.net
She writes about emotions, life, music and became very popular. Later she updated less, but is still one of the most famous bloggers in Taiwan. Her husband is Ken Worker.

Kenworker: http://worker.bluecircus.net/
He's one the most famous travel bloggers in Taiwan. He has an international travel guide licence and he works for one of the biggest travel agencies in Taiwan. He even had his own TV show.

SOME GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ABOUT TAIWANESE BLOGGERS

These are just a fraction of the famous bloggers in Taiwan, but they will give you a good idea about what Taiwanese deem as a good quality blog. The most important is the content, the writing style, the message. Good photos and useful info are equally important, but less so the blog's layout and URL (so different from bloggers in the West). Also many Taiwanese bloggers would use very unusual nicknames for themselves, seldom someone will use their real name. But even, if you have a nickname, you can become very popular - if you write something very good, you will go viral. In Taiwan it's a common belief, that if many people like something, it must be good (group dynamic is important), so things can go viral very fast. Many Taiwanese bloggers are very well skilled to use this phenomenon to their advantage. Of course more popularity also attracts many haters and critics, something also very common in Taiwan.

TAIWAN'S WRITTEN AND UNWRITTEN BLOGGING RULES

Following are things a blogger in Taiwan must follow, because it's either a written law and you can get fined or it's just an unwritten rule and you can get in trouble. First the laws:

- You can't post photos of someone smoking a cigarette. If you want to post such photo, you need to blur or pixelate the cigarette or cigar.

- You need to write a warning message, if you post a photo of alcohol. The message is following: 警語:飲酒過量,有害健康。(Warning: Excessive drinking is harmful). If you don't write that, someone may contact the related official and you may get fined. Not sure, if this is valid for blogs in English, that are located on servers outside Taiwan (like mine).

The unwritten rules:

- Do not criticize too directly. The case of the blogger from Taichung, who trashed a restaurant on her blog was very telling, because it was breaking this unwritten rule. I've never seen so many restaurant reviews like on Taiwanese blogs and having trouble for writing a review is very very uncommon here. Many Taiwanese bloggers would say "The noodles were bad" in a completely different way. For example like this: "The noodles were a bit oily and salty for me, but if you like oily and salty noodles, you can give it a try." You need to be able to read between the lines, something very common in Taiwan.

- Blur out faces. There is no law, that says you can't post photos with people's faces in public places, yet many Taiwanese would rather blur the faces out just to not upset anyone. I personally follow this rule half-half, depends on the topic. I think it's always a decision, which depends from case to case.

There are many other smaller unwritten rules, but they depend on the niche someone is blogging in. Generally confrontation is avoided, however there are some bloggers, who became famous just because they attacked other famous bloggers.

A LIST OF INTERESTING BLOG POSTS WRITTEN BY TAIWANESE BLOGGERS

And to finish up this long post on a less serious note, I would like to share some interesting blog posts with you. My wife loves to share them with me from time to time and tells me what's going on. There's a lot of crazy, funny or just surprising things coming from Taiwanese blogs, that I always have to wonder about how open Taiwanese can be online (as I like to compare it to what I see during my daily commuting). This is a selected best of Taiwanese posts:

Girl puts the fat from her thighs into her breast - by Tiffany at Bon Vivant
Girl introduces a bra and shows a lot of skin - by Tiffany at Bon Vivant
Girl orders a hamburger with 78 slices of beef - by chuckey1022
Girl attempts to kiss 100 strangers and post photos - by angelduck777
Girl writes about her disappointment with a White guy's package - by Joanna0519

I will add more posts in the future.

TAIWANESE BLOGGERS IN CONCLUSION

Much more could be said about Taiwanese bloggers, but I just wanted to focus on the most significant things here, because I constantly see in Google search results, that people are curious about Taiwanese bloggers. If you have comments and observations on the topic, share them with me below and please link to your favorite Taiwanese blog, if you have one. I am curious.

[My UNIQUELY TAIWAN page][Rank][Screencaps of the blogs were taken on 13.8. 2011]