No trending topics, no problem

Another side-effect of the comment system shutdown (and as documented by my colleague David at CMP), was the shutdown of the trending topics.

[Edit (12:30PM): There was no shutdown of trending topics (thanks Charlie of Chinageeks), but I noticed that their weekly trending topics never seem (from visual inspection) to include posts made in the 3 past days. I was also confused by the daily topics, because I wrote the entry before 9AM and only saw the topics of 2 days ago as “yesterday’s” trending topics, skipping one entire day. It’s possible that the trending topics are only released once or a handful of times per day.]

The image embedded here below is a screenshot of the most commented on weibos of the last week on Sina. They are based on the number of comments made on the given post that week, but are all on rather innocuous topics this time.

熱門轉發 新浪微博-隨時隨地分享身邊的新鮮事兒

The following is a screenshot of the page for the most reposted weibos during the last week (original page). Sina counts them based on a week time from today, and a calendar lets you navigate through the archive.

Most reposted last week

It’s not always inoffensive stuff, as sometimes the posts would touch on social injustice and events of political importance, like here. But don’t look for the Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun stuff, because you won’t find any of this. That said, not everything has to be political to be important, and celebrities posts often occupy the microblogosphere of the majority.

So it is a good thing that we are keeping our own trending topics.

We have been making our own index of trending topics for a long while already (more than a year now) and while it chiefly depends on our capacity to collect posts, it has always given us a good indication of what’s *really* trending, among people of slightly greater influence (we have a list of 270,000 people now, with more than 1,000 followers).

We solely look at popular posts based on the number of reposts (among a sample), because it’s not practical to do trending topics based on comments, when you don’t have the capacity to discover popular posts that way.

WeiboScope - published by the JMSC at HKU

Our trending topics come in handy when the comments are completely gone, as it was the case this week on both Sina and QQ weibo, and reportedly most of the other microblogging platforms. WeiboScope is a visual representation of those trending posts, according to us. For instance, there is a strong representation of pictures of buddhist monks, either of what seems to be one of their leaders, and another of what looks like two monks deviating from their monastic life (see archived screenshot).

Also a bit of Yao Ming, cats growing old together and some ridiculous freak incident where a lady fell in a hole in the pavement where hot water pipes had ruptured.

The image is only indicative, as I didn’t check the actual sampling. But because of its consistency over time (in terms of matching Sina’s own trending topics or what I end up seeing in the news), I can believe that this would be what is interesting among a certain group of slightly more influential people. That’s what the chatter’s on right now on Sina Weibo.

2 responses to “No trending topics, no problem”

  1. C. Custer says:

    What do you mean by the “shutdown of trending topics”? I wasn’t monitoring it the whole time, but Sina’s trending topics were definitely available as usual during the comments blackout. Here’s an example of one of them, from April 1:

  2. Cedric Sam says:

    Oh yeah, I see what you mean. When I wrote my entry, it was early morning (before 9AM) and the topics for the day didn’t come in yet. Thus it seemed like the daily trending topics stopped at April 1st (two days ago).

    This was the page I saw for the “last day’s” trending topics:

    For the weekly trending topics, I was confused because they don’t include (by manual inspection) posts made in the last 3 days up to the day. Seems consistent with past weekly trending topics pages.

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