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Pay-for-praise is the latest craze sweeping across Chinese social media

Pay-for-praise is the latest craze sweeping across Chinese social media
Compliment-centric, pay-for-praise chat groups are the latest craze to sweep Chinese social media as exhausted students seek reassurance from random strangers online – for a small fee, of course.

Seen as a response to online negativity and trolling, Chinese social media networks like WeChat, Douban and QQ are now hosting “kuakuaqun,” Mandarin for “praising groups,” where users pay somewhere in the region of 15 yuan ($2.23) for three minutes or 25 yuan ($3.72) for five minutes of praise.

The cheesy but positive messages are aimed at turning any random input from a given user into an often outlandish and over-the-top compliment, with a view to making the user feel better through the compliment itself or the ridiculousness of it all.

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For example, at 2pm, one user posted “Just got up, good morning everyone!” to which another user replied, “You must care about your health very much as you sleep for so long, praise you!”

“I cannot handle computer science!” another message reads. “Your heart is too pure to hold any complex algorithms,” a random internet stranger replies.

Several compliment-themed hashtags have trended on Weibo and have been viewed more than 30 million times.

A CNBC reporter was invited into one group, and upon telling the other users that they had just moved to a new place, was alone often, and was learning Chinese, they were immediately bombarded with messages of positive reinforcement.

This is awesome! Now you have more spare time. Take this opportunity to enjoy your ‘me time.’ One can be very happy by himself. And you have us here!

“There is no limit to your learning. You are a really studious person. I believe you will master Chinese well in the future,” another wrote.

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Those who support the groups see them as an antidote to online trolling and anonymized hostility often associated with life on the internet.

The trend apparently began on the Douban social media site in 2014 but has witnessed a renaissance of sorts in the past few weeks, according to the South China Morning Post. The “praise each other group” reportedly gained 10,000 new members just last week.

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