Why Renren is better than Facebook

| April 5th, 2010

In this age of mechanical reproduction, China is often very much guilty of making less-than-impressive versions of things that the West did first. However, I have found some exceptions and one of them is Renren (人人网, translation: Everyone’s Network), China’s version of Facebook (and no it’s not blocked).

Last year I started using Renren.com because I was about to study for a year at Peking University and wanted to understand college students in China before I actually got there. And while I give Facebook a lot of credit for being “first,” I decided I really like Renren.com for the following four reasons:

1. It’s encouragement to produce more, not just consume

Facebook is pretty good for sharing links and photos, but not really to write out your thoughts, except through short status updates. Instead of “Notes,” Renren calls their writing application rizhi (日志), which is equivalent to something like “log” or “journal.” I’m sure there are some cultural differences in how people like to express themselves, but remember the days of Livejournal when people actually wrote longer entries to express themselves in a personal way? That was back in high school for me, and I feel like with Facebook I’ve actually regressed by becoming more incompetent and unwilling to express myself. In Renren’s entries, I’ve read insightful opinions on Obama, beautiful descriptions of a rainfall, and even analysis on the sexual differences between men and women. Some of this happens on Facebook, but it’s less popular, and mostly in the form of lists of favorite movies, music, etc. More of this on Facebook would be nice.

2. The recent effort to help the drought victims in Southern China

Facebook recently had the Community Giving campaign, but I barely noticed that it happened. On Renren.com, they put a small rainy cloud icon next to anyone who has made an effort to help the drought victims. For every person who visits the charity page, Renren donates a cent to the effort. Additionally, you can buy digital “gifts” to donate to the Red Cross. To get the rain cloud, you could be donating money or just leaving a message to show your support and sympathy.  There is also an informational video explaining the crisis and the impact it is having on local communities. Even though it does not look significant, the rain cloud is effective and has the effect of: 1) peer pressure: other people see the cute icon, wonder what it’s for, and want one next to their name too; 2) publicity: it’s obvious yet subtle about the effort.

3. The Forum

With the forum, you can see the hottest links being shared, the most commented on journal entries, a daily poll, and just what people are talking about in general. A good way to envision this is to think of a page where Facebook groups, fan pages, organizations are sort of “summarized” in a way so you have an overall idea of general trends and popular things, sort of like knowing what the trending topics are on Twitter. This also provides a better space for discussion and expression rather than the pretty linear “Wall” of Facebook. I guess Facebook things do have discussion pages, but these are under used and not linked into a “big picture” so you have to go to individual pages to see what people are talking about.

4. The ability to see who visits you

At first I did not like this function, it made me feel really exposed and I thought that I liked the privacy of Facebook. However, with a News Feed and such, I’ve found that I don’t really visit individual’s pages unless I am engaging in stalker-like behavior or pro-active enough to write or post something on their page. This function on Renren helped me only visit people I felt I had a genuine connection with, decreased the amount of mindless browsing I did, and acted as a way of saying “hi” without too much effort. I guess there’s a moderating effect with this function that leads to more restrained Renren usage, but with an increase in quality of the time I do spend on it.

Of course Renren is not perfect and these might just be my personal preferences, but I hope that they are things that Facebook and Facebook users consider.

Renren does have a Wikipedia page if you want to read more.

68 Comments | Leave a comment | Comment feed

  1. Jaajaaf says:

    I ALSO SIGNED UP REN REN ayear ago, in my college almost every student has ren ren and its truely easy way to communicate the local students. i visit everyday and learned alot. Facebook is also great site nothing that i can compare with any other social networking sites, i can connect to almost everyone in my life circle from High school friends to work collegues.

  2. Potomacker says:

    I don’t see anything about the original source of this posting. Is this part of an advertising campaign? Because I feel like lashing out against the inanity of comparing something that is available with something that can be arbitrarily denied by government censors, but I don’t want to waste my efforts if this is just a publicity stunt. I would however like to suggest a simpler and more direct promotional wording: Renrenwang, because it is approved and monitored by censors, which must suck for facebook users, right?

    • CC says:

      Since there is no link suggesting that this post is from another website, it’s reasonable to assume that the author of the post is the person in the byline – me.

      This is not an advertisement. It is my own honest assessment of features of Renren that I like more than their Facebook counterparts. I agree, I think that censorship is a problem but it doesn’t necessarily mean any of the above points are invalid. Also, Facebook does intervene and censor too.

      • KonW says:

        hi ,also give qqzone a try
        it’s in some way different and more to my taste

      • Potomacker says:

        I think you are using the term censor a bit loosely. Facebook does enforce its user regulations and has the right to delete postings that are deemed objectionable. This is the right and prerogative of any webmaster. Comparing that to a government’s power to delete arbitrarily any postings it deems counterrevolutionary, unharmonizing, or to block a whole website is disingenuous.
        I think it’s fine to talk up the merits of Renrenwang, but I find it pointless to draw a comparison in China with Facebook which is simply no longer available. How can you rightly compare two websites when one is no longer accessible for such a comparison?

        • CC says:

          Censorship aside, I still think it’s valuable to compare two social platforms in terms of functionality. There is a reason that ethnic food is pretty widely available in the US now, even at grocery stores. If something is better but inaccessible, you find ways to access it. Facebook is not officially available in China but I know of a number of Chinese people who still use it. Also, with the majority of students using Renren and sites like Kaixin001, some might not even feel the need to use Facebook. It’s not always a matter of censorship, it also depends on who you can access in a certain community, if the platform is tailored to your needs, etc.

  3. Eason says:

    renren is okay for what it is- it’s a good way to keep in touch with my friends, students, and people comment on your status update within 10 seconds!

  4. lei2yan says:

    recently, i like http://www.xiami.com very much.

  5. aljensen says:

    The nice thing about Facebook is that there is an international community that uses it.

  6. Charlie says:

    After having been on Renren for about a year I’m surprised that a foreigner would make this argument. To me, renren wang is nothing more than a blatant rip-off of Facebook that only exists because Facebook is blocked. If Facebook weren’t blocked, it would have no reason to exist. Aside from the international community of hundreds of millions on Facebook (the greatest asset of any social network), the site is engineered to near perfection through all of its revisions and iterations. Especially compared to its forebears Friendster and Myspace. Renren wang strikes me as a Chinese-language only carbon copy of Facebook, which the real global network for everyone (except Chinese).

    • CC says:

      Charlie – I must say that I had the exact same impression as you when I first started using Renren. However, due to the reality that Facebook IS blocked, I started noticing things about Renren that I would not have if I didn’t really understand the community or how Chinese people actually use it and only with more use did I notice the reasons I stated above. I must say that I do not like the secluded nature of Renren, but there are also many characteristics about the USE of Facebook I do not like – which is why I’ve sort of turned to using Twitter in combination with Facebook (for better, quirkier and more informed links to information that I never see on Facebook, sort of the lifecast versus mindcast distinction).

      I think Facebook is well designed and I appreciate the international community, but I still stand by my above reasons for why I like Renren better in some respects. I don’t see my reasons as a holistic evaluation, but as encouragement for Facebook to notice what other social platforms originally made in its image are doing, and perhaps doing better.

      • CC says:

        And of course, these reasons are pretty subjective, as I think most any better/worse comparisons are.

        • Charlie says:

          All best/worst comparisons have a subject element, but if it’s too subjective then the comparison isn’t of value to anyone else. In that case, the headline should be: “Why I Don’t Like Facebook” although I’m sure we agree that that makes a much less alluring headline.

          I think the argument that Facebook is better than Renren is strong enough that it need not even be penned, though. Use both for five minutes and the differences are glaringly obvious. Renren is like a homogenous Facebook at the very beginning of its development.

          Just my opinion as a Renren and Facebook user.

          • CC says:

            I would agree with you that Facebook is more developed, more streamlined and a little less clunky, but I really like the “spirit” of Renren (which most of my above reasons are about anyways).

          • Carl says:

            And facebook is merely an extension of what had already been going on within the internet community. it’s more of a collection of ideas instead of a innovative one altogether. in other words, don’t make it more that what it really is: a project that went surprisingly lucky, instead of a hard thought idea.

            renren/xiaonei simply went with that, sure it copied just about everything, but that’s the ideal behind the web, share and improve. Wikipedia is a great example, there are thousands of wikis out there helping people, i don’t see Wikipedia complaining.

            Ok, I get it, copyrights and community do go well together, but which one would you choose.

            • Charlie says:

              I think you are vastly underestimating Facebook’s creative vision and production prowess. They’ve made many brilliant decisions which have resulted in them fostering hundreds of millions of users distributed among the entire planet. They destroyed serious competitors with near-endless funding and came from humble roots. None of this happened by chance or luck. Go to San Francisco, London, or Hong Kong and you’ll find nearly everyone under 35 is on Facebook.

              What they’ve created is really incredible. To compare that to Renren wang (which always and forever will be known as a pale imitator) is a bit of a stretch in my opinion. But hey, it’s a controversial position to take that’s sure to garner a lot of comments. 🙂

              • GWB says:

                Ah HA! competitors, that means they were not the only one with the idea. neither renren nor facebook was a product of original thoughts. so ha!

                • Inst says:

                  Let’s not lie to ourselves:

                  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2010/feb/25/in-the-world-of-facebook/

                  Facebook is successful because of its class basis; no one wants to be friends with 22-year-old dropout internet addicts.

                  I don’t really know if RenRen is a better service than Facebook, since I’m not a connoisseur of social networking services, but regarding creative vision and production prowess; they’ve screwed up many times regarding feature management and it’s been their established userbase that’s carried them this far.

              • Tugi says:

                Hmmm… Add to it the blatant disregard of their users needs; spying on their most personal communication, turning users into profitable eyeballs, tagging them and selling to other corporations and US government shady institutions. Yes, I agree, none of this happened by chance or luck. Naive people sold their privacy for the convenience…

                And now, after the destruction of network anonymity, there is the second stage – the control of content; we are all “good guys” after all… Arn’t we? The machine will exclude you – ostracise you from your friends, befriend you if you are not a “good guy”… Your network and content does not belong to you if you read the fine text of the Facebook use conditions.

                So the electronic embodiment of democracy becomes the perfect tool to control dissent. And this is the reason why any alternative to Facebook in our time becomes an alternative to be seriously considered. This is the reason I came across this forum. This is the reason why more and more Western users will be keen to use network services as far from Facebook as possible.

                After all, we can hardly imagine Facebook purchasing Renren…

          • Mike Mai says:

            “Renren is like a homogenous Facebook at the very beginning of its development.”

            yeah, that was when facebook was actually good. now it’s all gone to shit

            • CC says:

              Totally unrelated – I just looked at your website and I really like Eurostile too 🙂 But for some reason my new Mac does not have it anymore! I’ve been using Optima for my drafts (until the dreaded switch to Times New Roman) but I still miss Eurostile. A lot.

    • thats me says:

      on renren (if you are a foreigner) is easy to hook up pretty chinese girls. you can’t do that on facebook…good for lazy asses like me

    • newbedave says:

      THIS IS HOW MARK ZUCKERBERG STOLE FACEBOOK

      It all started when DAVID was logged in to the Harvard website, where I was listening in to the conversations of the Harvard students. One of these students was Mark Zuckerberg who was talking about Face Smash and he had just broken up with his girlfriend at the time, so I struck up a conversation with this Mark Zuckerberg. He was talking about creating a dating site. I thought this was a bit odd – a pie in the sky idea since he had just broken up with his girlfriend and he was slagging her off – calling her a bitch and a whore.
      dave talked to Mark about the idea, and suggested he call it Face Mash. He was intrigued with my suggestion and thought it was a good idea. Mark wanted to call it Face Smash, because he wanted to smash his ex in the face. I convinced him that Face Mash was a good idea and he agreed, but one week later he changed his mind and wanted to call it Face Smash. When I queried him about this he replied ‘f…. off you c…- I’m calling it Face Smash’. Two weeks after this conversation he came up with the name Mashable and when I asked him why he chose the word Mashable instead of Face Mash he said ‘f,…off you bastard, Face mash is not your idea’. So I re-posted the conversations we had two weeks earlier and he had to apologize and said he was going with Mashable. I took this as a sign that he wanted to throw me off the scent and take the site for himself. dave found the character of Mark Zuckerberg to be deceptive and dishonest and ended conversing with Mark Zuckerberg because of his dishonesty and lack of integrity

      DAVID DUSTIN + CHRIS THE ORIGIN OF FACEBOOK

      After this dave started conversing with Dustin and Chris about an idea of mine called Facebook for an online service where students can post pictures and information on themselves and use it as a directory. They were very intrigued by my idea and wanted to know more.
      dave told them that in the beginning, it would be an online service just for Harvard students, and then spreading through the other campuses in America, joining them up together. The idea was to make it easy for people to connect with other university students so they could get an idea of what other campuses were like, and even eventually spreading through the general public, giving them an idea of what was on offer at the different campuses.
      Dustin and Chris were very intrigued with my idea and said they wanted to be on board. but zuck was there roommate and wonted to be on board zuckerberg was apologetic about face-mash but it was bull shit
      dave talked extensively about my ideas of Facebook and went into great detail of how to get it set up and started. They queried about the finance of setting it up and I told them I was in contact with Tony Robbins, who was interested by the idea and we were having discussions regarding his financial backing of the project

      THE PLATFORM

      So we needed a platform dave made contact with paul ceglia and was in discussion about a platform for my idea the facebook
      but zuckerberg made contact to paul ceglia to steal the idea facebook ‘paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg but zuckerberg new what he was doing when he sign the contract
      (paul ceglia had no legal right to sell the the platform to mark zuckerberg } the contract was to David not zuckerberg

      EDUARDO

      dave then found another contact at Harvard, called Eduardo Saverin and invited him to join me in developing my idea, and also to find out what was going on between Dustin, Chris and Mark . eduardo offered finance to get facebook up and running but zuckerberg spent the money on him self selfish prick zuck spent eduardo saverin money and spat in his face your best friend .this is the reason how eduardo got a invitation into facebook

      THEN david got e-mails from zuckerberg saying he was not interested in the idea facebook david then contacted dustin chris to find out about this email i got from zuckerberg; they went into denial about this. but later on got a email from chris saying they were not interested in the idea facebook

      CAMERON AND TAYLOR WINKLEVOSS

      So dave found a site at Harvard called Harvard Connect (later, in 2004 changed to Harvard Connect To You) run by Cameron and Taylor Winklevoss, and dave explained everything about Facebook and the dealings with Zuckerberg, Dustin and Chris and how dave believed that Zuckerberg was in the process of stealing david idea, and dave asked if the Winklevosses were interested in running Facebook on the Harvard site

      They expressed enthusiasm in the offer and liked the idea of running the site as they liked the concept of Facebook.They told me that they were going to change their site name and redesign it at that time (to Harvard Connect To You The person they called in to help them
      redesign their site was Mark Zuckerberg who then stole their platform : I told them that zuckerberg was a crook the winklevoss where to dumb and dupe by zuckerberg And what do the winklevoss remind me off; its two building and the two buildings were the TWIN TOWERS you guys talk about the truth like you own the truth but you do not and never will

      the winklevoss contacted summers at UV about zuckerberg but summers new the full story of how zuckerberg stole facebook and it was david idea
      david then log a complaint to the FBI about this stolen fake connect 2u account with fake information and about mark zuckerberg

      THE WINKLEVOSS BS

      it did not take long for david to realize that the winklevoss were not up to do the job when cameron found out that david log a complaint to the fbi on zuckerberg cameron sed that is not the way we do things but tyler wonted to file a lawsuit on zuckerberg but cameron was the dominant personality and the hole idea facebook was on the verge of collapse david then got emails from the winklevoss saying they were now longer interested in the idea facebook( NOT A SURPRISE
      DAVID found out later on that the winklevoss contacted WAYNE CHANG and sold 50% of the idea facebook my god how f..ing dumb can you get .all the winklevoss had to do was go hire a team of programmers or learn to program on their own .and the idea facebook was a sound and solid idea and the right skillful execution of the idea was all that was needed this was david skill.

      CREATE A FAKE

      zuckerberg then went on to create a FAKE CONNECT 2U account filled with FAKE information from the stolen platform he stole from the winklevoss Dave got a email from this FAKE CONNECT 2U account . but dave new it was FAKE it was zuckerberg .
      zuckerber wonted more info and idea to steal so dave gave one idea and it was to put a silver layer around the F word on facebook to see if zuckerberg was going to steal this idea and yes he did

      SO WHAT DID MARK ZUCKERBERG STEAL BY STEALTH

      the idea facebook the name facebook the concept and the execution of facebook
      david understands that zuckerberg has a mental personality disorder but this is no excuse for being a asshole and a thief zuckerberg
      you see zuck dustin and chris new that facebook was a billion dollar idea but you stole the idea facebook . chris you may have step up about being gay but you need to step up and tell the truth about how zuckerberg stole facebook

      MARK ZUCKERBERG GIRLFRIEND

      yes zuckerberg got a girlfriend and no he did not get her from GRAIGS-LIST . but he did break up with his girlfriend and look for love on graigs-list or as zuckerberg put it looking for a new bitch .zuck did not realize that you had to pay for the girls on graigs-list .zuck sad what do you mean you have to pay you pay and if you are unlucky you have to pay twice when you have go to the clinic ; zuckerberg saw every thing as a possession some thing to take when he stole the idea facebook and his girlfriend ; zuckerberg social skills are that poor zuck can not pick up sand if he was standing in the middle of a desert and had to go back to his old girlfriend that is all he had ; facemash and facebook was zuckerberg quest to understand woman FAIL

      zuckerberg do not use your girlfriend to polish your bull-shit it will not work and never will

      THE SOCIAL NETWORK

      friend-star it failed end of story : my-space was a good idea but failed to mash the idea with the changing social landscape
      sean parker seam to think the only reason we won was because of the gross incompetence of myspace systematically over a period of many years
      my god sean parker f..ing grow up you do not have your finger on the pulse of social change that just your but-hole

      CHRIS HUGHES

      chris you may have step up about being gay but you need to step up and be a man tell the truth about how zuckerberg stole facebook; and sorry for
      telling zuck & dustin that you were gay back in the year 2003 .zuckerberg ask david if he was safe around chris when zuck found out that chris was gay chris do-not call your self a HERO tell the truth about facebook then you can call your self a HERO !! david contacted freedom to marry in order to contact chris ; the person david contacted at freedom to marry was Sean Eldridge. sean was given all the info on how zuckerberg stole facebook and agreed to contact chris hughes ;but Sean Eldridge lost his objective trip up and stuck his dick up chris hughes bum-hole and the relationship was borne : Chris Hughes just wanted to do something good with his billions. partner Sean Eldridge just wanted to spend his good billions so who is sewing who in this relationship; Chris will you name the person who motivated you to work for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign but you can-not ‘you stole from this person

      Read more: http://www.towleroad.com/chris-hughes/#ixzz1DVmRRVB7

      AARON GREENSPAN the word-smith

      david then went to Aaron Greenspan who was running house systems at Harvard and asked him (under an email non disclosure agreement) to run Facebook on his site which he agreed to do. aaron greenspan used the (info) to extort financal money out of facebook and zuckerberg paid the extortion money and dave call it extortion U see zuckerberg new aaron greenspan new zuck had stolen the idea facebook .I sent all the emails copy to aaron greenspan:{ aaron sold him self off like a hooker standing on a street corner } and what was that quotation aaron that quotation you set me about honour and truth you now the same bullshit the winklevoss are bullshiting on about
      Aaron J. Greenspan says that while he was a student at Harvard, he came up with the idea for Facebook, the social-networking Web site
      An e-mail message, circulated widely by Mr. Greenspan to Harvard students on Sept. 19, 2003, describes the newest feature of houseSYSTEM, as “the Face Book,” an online system for quickly locating other students. The date was four months before Mr. Zuckerberg started his own site, originally “thefacebook.com.” Greenspan retained his college e-mail messages and provided The New York Times with copies of his communications with)zuckerberg , mark zuckerberg did not dispute the chronology of events or the authenticity of Mr. Greenspan’s e-mail messages. NOT A SURPRISE

      http://www.aarongreenspan.com/authoritas.html

      DAVID KIRKPATICK

      david kirkpatrick was given all the emails and was made fully aware of how zuckerberg stole facebook from david in the beginning david gave kirkpatrick 80% of the emails kirkpatrick then ask if there was more ‘ yes there is more but ask kirkpatrick that he must reveal the truth the other 20% was email from paul ceglia to me dave made contact with paul ceglia and was in discussion about a platform for my idea the facebook
      as for kirkpatrick you are a prick kirkpatrick falls victim to the bane of many business historians infatuation with the subject and the money just a porn-star. Kirkpatrick, if you could stop swinging from Zuck’s nut-sack for a just a minute maybe you’d realize what a suck-up you really are

      BEN MEZRICK AND KIRKPATICK + EDUARDO

      ben mezrick was given copes of the emails in and around 2004 dave posted a copy of the emails to ben mezrick and to david kirkpatrick as for kirkpatrick your book is a joke and so are you :
      you are just a fence jumper david kirkpatrick and its chris that is the gay one you dick ‘you sold yourself out you were given the full story of how zuckerberg stole facebook; and sold out
      in a email to eduardo i told him to get a lawyer zuckerberg was going to screw him over and told him to contact ben mezrick
      eduardo told me he had a lawyer he can trust but zuckerberg and the lawyer screwed him over; david made contact to ben and ben mezrick got
      80% of the emails about how zuck stole facebook and about the winklevoss and that facebook was davids idea

      PAUL CEGLIA

      And what are you going to do zuckerberg when paul ceglia wins you can call the contract a fake a counterfeit ; you cant can you zuckerberg Yes you did sign a contract zuckerberg In a email zuckerberg called paul ceglia a dum sucker in 2003 i david posted a copy on to the internet and the
      roomer spread years a go that zuckerberg had sign the contract and yes the abc news room have a copy of the email

      ZUCKERBERG OPTIONS

      So zuckerberg what are your options zuck i suppose you can tell the truth you see paul cegia had no legal right to sell you the platform
      david was in contact to paul cealia about a platform suitable for facebook but you wonted to steal facebook by stealth and you will have to tell
      your mother and farther and sisters how you stole the idea facebook

      ZUCKERBERG TROJAN HORSE

      You can’t gift your way out of controversy zucerberg Generosity is not always well-received and what is your true nature bill gates now your true
      nature a trojan horse, africa will rise with out your money and the money you gifted zuck is from a stolen idea ;BILL GATES do not bet against
      DAVID ON THIS the last time you bet against david you lost REMEMBER and you now the truth about mark zuckerberg

      LISA SIMPSON

      lisa simpson was made a were of the fact that ZUCKERBERG had sign a contract to PAUL CEGLIA years a go ‘and was a were that on a video disk ZUCKERBERG openly admitted ;saying that facebook was not his idea but david idea; lisa got a court order to get the two disks and distorted the sound track on the disk in a deliberate act to hid the fact zuckerberg stole the idea facebook ; lisa simpson was made a were of the fact that ZUCKERBERG had sign a contract to PAUL CEGLIA by TONY MERCHANT of the law firm merchant law merchant law

      ORRICK

      “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.” Sadly, most of the people don’t wish to bite the hands that feeds them

      The Securities and Exchange Commission says it has set aside about $450 million for payments to outside whistleblowers whose information results in successful ?? ….. SOME THING YOU WONT TO LOOK AT LISA SIMPSON ,, and the best way to rob a bank is to own a bank

      FINAL COMMENT

      ][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][] THANK AMERICA THAT THANK FOR NOTHING AMERICA [][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][][

      MARK ZUCKERBERG [] PAUL CEGLIA []CAMERON AND TAYOR WINKLEVOSS [] AARON GREENSPAN [] CHRIS HUGHES [] DUSTIN MOSKOVITZ
      DIVYA NARENDRA

      ALL SAY THEY CAME UP WITH THE IDEA FACEBOOK YEA -RIGHT

  7. Laoshi says:

    4 stupid reasons.

  8. Wang Er says:

    I use Renren, Chinaren and Facebook. What matters to me is the number of friends in the database.

    Chinaren has my high school and primary school’s class pages so I used Chinaren most for alumni networks.

    Since Renren has functionality and some games (for example 开心农场) people like, a lot friends signed up accounts there so I have an account in Renren too.

    Facebook is good but it used to require a US .edu email to register (can’t remember when it changed the policy, must be long time ago) and it’s blocked in China so it’s not popular among Chinese friends. I think even facebook was not blocked in China it wouldn’t be as popular as Renren and Chinaren since Chinese users have different needs from users in the US have and there’s no doubt a Chinese company knows Chinese users better.

    Haven’t used Tencent’s xiaoyou so I have no comment on that. QQ is prevailing in China and almost everyone has an account. A lot customer services in China are done by live chat in QQ, which is different from US where toll free numbers are used.

    • bert says:

      “it’s blocked in China so it’s not popular among Chinese friends.”

      Oh my gosh! Duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!

      ” I think even facebook was not blocked in China it wouldn’t be as popular as Renren and Chinaren since Chinese users have different needs from users in the US have and there’s no doubt a Chinese company knows Chinese users better. ”

      Chinese exceptionalism? Only Chinese know China? Where are the hugely successful Chinese Car makers? They must know Chinese needs better! How about the electronics industry? They must know the Chinese market? The fact is the gov’t has a tight grip on info in China. That is all this is about.

      • Wang Er says:

        WTF! If you don’t read my comment or don’t understand what I said, don’t reply with your nonsense.

        • Laoshi says:

          It is you who are spewing the nonsense, sonny.

        • Dutchine says:

          Wang Er – I support your statement: “What matters to me is the number of friends in the database.” AS for Bert: Houdt op met gezeik! (=shut up!) don’t drag in politics when the main argument is “social network” it’s working and benefits.

          It is a fact that cultural differences exist and that an individual person may share the same make-up doesn’t mean they are alike, because of our diversity it makes life just the more colourful! Apart from Facebook there are many other social networking sites, the same happens in China.

          We choose what we like and enjoy a group and/or community of same spirited persons, friends, colleagues around us. And by doing so there are NO Borders, free opinion is fine but trouble comes when politics are disguised as advice under the flag of democracy.

          Gosh, I like reading comments but sometimes it is just to much.

      • Sudo it says:

        I agree with Wang Er. My former chinese students would use QQ as their personal IM client rather than MSN or Yahoo. Renren is a social community software for the Chinese market so naturally they would go with what everyone is using.

        Lastly, its in Chinese. Data is processed differently. A chinese version of an English site is still structured and processed in English.

        I’m all for locally developed software but since I only understand English I would most likely use English based applications.

      • buy some sauce says:

        The hugely successful Chinese Car makers are Chinese company. Cars are made by Chinese. What’s more, the most successful cars disturbuters are Chinese as well.

        Tthe most successful company in chinese electronics industry is chinese. They made APPLE. Disturbuters are chinese as well.

        I think you were talking about foreigner BRANDS.

        How they successed in CHINA ? Localization.

        For instance, without blocking, eEay still lost the chinese online-shopping market share and Taobao took it.

        In the good old days ( when google still avaliable in China), google’s competitor Baidu still gained a huge market share. I like Google better but the fact…

  9. Crystal says:

    The last point is interesting. Maybe, indeed, even if Facebook wasn’t blocked – still people would prefer other local media. Just like Google did not succeed to conquer more than 15% of Chinese market before leaving.
    It however does not say anything about objective quality of product. Facebook proved its power in competition with other once more popular social medias.

  10. bert says:

    I think the Grand Canyon is much better and more beautiful in the USA. There is no Grand Canyon in China so that makes ours better. Sure they have a few holes but our Grand Canyon is better because we have one.

    • b-real says:

      Ren ren can eat a 10″ diameter cock.

      Las Vegas kicks Macao’s ass all day because you get half naked girls with your gambling problem. I prefer London over Hong Kong because I never been to london. Uh what else? I like Japanese Guitars over American made well for obvious reasons they sound better. Like Brazilian ass over black ass because they are more evenly brown. American chinese food taste allot better than Northern style Chinese food because it not even chinese. Korean television is way better than cctv because its just way more better.

  11. Gary says:

    I clicked the link to have a look and I was stunned: renren is the first chinese website I’ve seen that isn’t 10 screen pages long with hundreds of animated flash ads and blinking text.

  12. jon says:

    Wow, do you people not remember the early days of Xiaonei? (Renren’s original name). It was Facebook. There was no question of similarities, it was a carbon copy, where I wouldn’t doubt they directly copied the html code in many cases, and just replaced the word “Facebook” with Xiaonei. I used it sometimes because I had Chinese friends on it who weren’t on Facebook.

    Point 2 regarding gift giving and donations has been a component of Facebook for as long as I can remember. Maybe you just didn’t notice because you can’t access facebook. I guess you don’t get a cloud next to your name on Facebook though. Other than the difference in the name, I don’t see how Notes are different from 日志. Notes were already in Facebook by the time Xiaonei copied it, but maybe they weren’t there at the very beginning, which is why they’re used less. I do indeed like that they get more use on Renren.

    Seeing who’s stalking me is fun too, and both reduces stalking tendencies and encourages me to leave a comment when I visit someone’s page, so that my visit seems less creepy.

    Still, if I were to directly copy someone else’s product and make a few tweaks, I hardly think it should be commended as “better”.

  13. Good analysis and opinion, CC. For me the larger issue–more important than which website currently has the best gimmicks or flow, or whether Chinese would prefer a homegrown site to a foreign-designed one–is the simple fact that the Chinese are missing out on a website that has been a unifying force for people from all over the globe.

    Example: I used to love AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) back in college, but noted the problem that Chinese were on QQ, most non-Americans were using MSN, and most Americans were using AIM. I’m sure there were probably other national or language based products that I wasn’t aware of. Self-segregated audiences, in other words, just depending on which product built enough momentum in each location.

    Before being blocked, Facebook was popular with certain segments of the Chinese population that wanted to reach out to the world, wanted an easy way to practice their English usage, and/or wanted to make the Chinese perspective more visible in greater cyberspace. That will be sorely missed (well, perhaps not the fenqing). The point being that the other nations/regions/ethnic groups are taking advantage of an opportunity that is denied to Chinese. I feel that this is ultimately everyone’s loss.

    On a somewhat unrelated point: I don’t really see sites like RenRen as competition to Facebook, any more than I see Baidu as a true competitor to Google. In each case, one is a website/product driving an internationalist trend and the other is confined (and in a way confining users) to a national market. In a truly open field of competition, likewise, I don’t think that Google or Facebook’s gain would necessarily come at Baidu’s or Renren’s loss. As mentioned above, Chinese users who primarily want to connect with their school mates will make a natural choice there. Chinese users who also want to connect to the outside world will probably use both, depending on mood and need. In utility, it seems like comparing apples and oranges, or as the case may be, websites like Linkedin and Facebook–even if they both originated from the same basic template, or one stole from the other.

  14. The great come out that you should take is that this situation is a very sure one; its owns are secure enough and every dealings will be done in the right manner. The transactions that are handled by this site are encrypted in place to make you feel safe when using its holds. The web site will also provide you with trusted and fast download; all the download helps are cheap enough in order not to ruin you but you experience to pay attention to the fact that every download process is getting to depend on various things.

    • Potomacker says:

      The above is an example of the shortcomings of some software programs. Please, good people, when comparing Chinese based websites with international websites, you do know that the Chinese websites are faster because the Chinese internet is regulated and structured to make it so. It’s certainly not because the founders have better applications. Also if you think that Chinese websites have reliable encryption to ensure anonymity, you are sorely misinformed.

      • Dutchine says:

        My god your such a whiner! It is so obvious you are prejudiced and unwilling to “listen” to any argument which is a positive account based on actual facts.

        I’m just wondering why the hell are you are living/working in China if you dislike Chinese culture so much???

  15. ConfuSius says:

    Sharing your sincere thoughts is what makes Social Networking great but probably not so wise to do in China.
    You’ve got your profile page, so they know your stats, friends, pictures…you really can’t get away with anything that the government frowns upon.

    Sadly Facebook has become the same thing. Zuckerberg sold everyone out and now FB is just a wet dream for every marketer.

    I wonder what what impact this will have on Social Networking in general.
    Worst Case: Being sincere will cost you a future job opportunity or just a bunch of artificial BS like photoshopped to death profile pictures, short comments to get popularity instead of expressing your opinion as CC mentioned, coz no one is able to read long texts anymore. It’s really a pity because of what Social Networking could have been but there is always a greedy bastards who would ruin it for the rest!

  16. A17 says:

    This is so not true. Renren is a sub-par copy cat version of facebook and will forever be that way.

    Renren is a very good a representation of what China is: throw every possible feature in a basket and call it the best thing that ever existed. The reason that facebook is so popular and good is because it’s specialized. It succeeds in its main goal of connecting people. That is all. Renren wants to be everything: a forum, a charity, a political outlet, a marketing tool. It’s the perfect grotesque hybrid of social networking.

    Charities should be charities and forums should be forums. You can’t be great at anything if you are decent at everything. Renren will definitely expand its features for revenue generation and as a corporate strategy of becoming the dominant player in the chinese social networking industry, but it will still be less effective and enjoyable than facebook to use. More customization and features ≠ better product. Look at myspace and facebook, which one’s gaining marketshare?

    And also, the very very annoying and gay “last visited” feature. This basically deters people from knowing distant friends better. Everyone will just stick to their own small social circles as going to the page of someone that you don’t know so well is akward.

    Renren is not a proactive tool in getting people connected. It’s decent and people use it because it is unique. Other than that: facebook-ripoff.

  17. tigamanter says:

    Isn’t Facebook to some extent a Myspace ripoff, which was originally to some extent a Friendster ripoff? Internet applications often mirror each other, and along they way they add cool or lame new features. Who cares? S

    When Facebook is allowed to legally operate in China, we’ll settle the question of which social networking site is more appealing. That may not tell us which site has better features, but then again consumers don’t always make the best consumption decisions. One thing you certainly won’t see, however, is Tibetans, Xinjiangren or rights activists socially networking through either site about things that are subjectively important to them. Child-molesters, serial killers and Al-Qaeda can’t openly socially network in the U.S., but who would argue that these things are morally equivalent to pro-independence or rights movements?

    • faddfa says:

      tigamanter, comparing ethnic freedom fighters with child molesters, you are one brain washed A*S*S*H*O*L*E!!!!!

  18. DH says:

    Everything renren does facebook does better (with applications). Renren simply is a Chinese production and Facebook is international, so Facebook is blocked because it cannot be controlled and renren is controlled locally and pays “taxes” no doubt to keep it that way.

    The fact is, people should be able to choose which one they like instead of buying a VPN like hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens now do to circumvent various blocks.

    (Like Taiwan’s world of warcraft)

  19. ssss says:

    hahahaha, renren = chinese copy cat version of friendster, with the blog and endless visitors tracking, and where is friendster? dead.

    People only use renren because they can’t access anything better, just like people watch CCTV because they can’t access BBC. Wake up and smell the good world chinese people!

    • vance says:

      you don’t need to smell anything. facebook sucks. people are slowly wising up and leaving finally.

      “endless visitors tracking”

      ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Facebook is KING of slow to load endless tracking and privacy violations. Wake Up Moron!

  20. faddfa says:

    tigamanter, comparing ethnic freedom fighters with child molesters, you are one brain washed A*S*S*H*O*L*E!!!!!

  21. Matt says:

    I’ve signed up for renren yesterday, and I’m still getting to know it.
    I find it very interesting but (must be my cultural inclination) I don’t like the fact that if I’ll write something I can’t it won’t get published. And I’m a great fan of Zhao Ziyang!

  22. bidus273 says:

    Renren sucks in that it follows Facebook too closely. Renren follows as a best disciple each time Facebook does a change without much merit

  23. Dude says:

    We all know sites like renren, mtime and youtube rip-offs only make it big in China because the international (read: American) counterpart is blocked for ridiculous reasons. I find more porn on taobao than on ebay – no joke! Is taobao ever, EVER blocked for a single frickin’ second? NO OF COURSE NOT! renren would have 2 dozen users if facebook wouldn’t be blocked to the public. I don’t really like facebook myself, but having a government backing you for financial success because there is international competition just isn’t what I call fair practice. Maybe the rest of the world should block (read: boycott) China in general and they’ll look pretty dumb. Unfortunately we live in a real world and not everyone will follow this idea. We are after all, a charitable community outside the PRC which the PRC loves to abuse.

  24. george says:

    thanks for sharing

  25. styles says:

    What’s another website like Facebook or Scoople.co.nz but better?

  26. Daisy says:

    What I like most on Renren.com is that a lot of insightful articles are shared on it constantly and I can read and share them too! From them I’ll get an ider about what happened around my friends and around the world.I can read and share many news and thoughts towards our school life, social phenomena,problems,policies and so on.That’s what I look forward to seeing on Facebook too,not only trifles,games or photoes.

  27. vance says:

    “And while I give Facebook a lot of credit for being ‘first,’ ”

    FACEBOOK WASN’T FIRST!!!

    It wasn’t the first to have the idea and It wasn’t the first to implement the idea. Neither was myspace. What a bunch of dolts!

    And it wasn’t because facebook was the best, it’s only because facebook wasn’t as annoying as myspace that people joined. That’s it. People, as usual, left to their own devices, chose the wrong product. So much for the invisible hand of the markets! LOL!

  28. These aren’t really ‘reasons Renren is better’, they’re more like, ‘ways Renren is different.’
    Here’s one way FB is different: 750 million users.

  29. shellie says:

    how to i deactivate my renren account?

  30. aguy says:

    this page is shit. China completely copied facebook, and now their saying that it’s better.Other than beijing and 1 or 2 others, China is shit

  31. Marty says:

    I know this is an old thread, but thought I’d try… I have a friend who married a Chinese woman (who is a new friend of mine now) & they just moved to China. I had read that Renren is popular here in the USA w/ college kids. I thought perhaps I would try to join Renren as a way to communicate, like Facebook, with my friends there & perhaps learn more about China. But, I do not speak Chinese & don’t have a Chinese keyboard on my computer. So, I am stumped about how to set up a Renren account. Or even if I should. Do users speak English there? (On their Renren “Timeline” or pages.) I thought it might be a good place to share photos, too.

  32. Richie says:

    If Renren is as good as you say and also if the company information web page is as good, why isn’t both the website login and create an account section have a conversion to English?? Its all in Chinese utterly useless!!! The only way in is to use the websites with a cheat code to get into it. Wouldn’t you think a organization which publishes its company website in 10 different languages would use the same software on their no.1 Chinese social media site?

  33. roy says:

    yes we produce the best milk product .
    since 1952.
    we have it in our cacao-
    we call it
    NANAS EXOTIC CACAO
    at this moment you buy it in Holland.
    try it ….

  34. Pat says:

    Well, I believe china did gun powder first, which the west copied and did alot of other things with.

    so maybe renren will do the same : )

  35. You’re right, but in those days China was the height of Civilization. In modern China (i live here, I should know), it’s not uncommon to see people defecating on the street. China is now a developing country (Thanks, Mao), hence all the copying. It’s time to stop attributing the genius of something that happened 200 years ago to THIS generation of nose pickers.

  36. vic2u says:

    You are a real China man in a closed China, in the west nobody takes a shit or pees in the street and nobody in the west picks their always clean nose.

    Some China people still thinks that the west is like what they see in the movies, all high class and everyone is so tidy and even the bums on the streets are classy.

    Come and see for yourself, the west is just as good or bad as China, may be worst in some ways or it can be as bad as where you are.

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