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Quoted on CNN

posted 11 Apr 2014, 19:20 by T. E. Dominic Yeo   [ updated 11 Apr 2014, 19:22 ]
More reposts, more value

For Internet service watchers, Weibo's low active-user rate is not entirely a surprise.

"Research has consistently shown that active, original contributors constitute a tiny proportion, typically 1-2%, of any Internet service. So the figure of 5% cited in that research is comparatively high," according to Dominic Yeo, Research Assistant Professor from the Department of Communication Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Yeo pointed to one of the earliest and most often cited studies on the so-called "free-riding" of Internet users, where the Gnutella network -- a popular peer-to-peer file-sharing service -- was scrutinized to reveal that 70% of users share no files, and nearly 50% of all responses are returned by the top 1% of sharing hosts.

He explained that active and original participation on the Internet by ordinary users has always been low because people do not primarily go on to these platforms to create content. For Weibo, users specifically join the community to share other users' interesting posts with their friends," he added.

It also just takes a lot of effort for people to create original content.

"There is a considerable amount of 'social risk' in creating original content because you can't be sure that what you create will be popular or appreciated by others. Thus the costs far outweigh the benefits, unless you're passionate enough to write or create something original, you'll realize that it's much better to re-post something already out there," said Yeo.

As for whether Fu's new findings will affect Weibo's upcoming IPO, Yeo predicted it would actually confirm Weibo's influence and value even more.

"The value of Weibo comes from having many users re-posting a particular item," he said.

"It is the ability to encourage people to re-post content rather than create their own that really matters. The company ultimately wields some control as to what becomes popularly shared and gains prominence through its data management. A business model based on a tiny proportion of active, original contributors is actually a norm for social media platforms."

From "More than 10 million core users give value to Weibo ahead of lPO" by Zoe Li, CNN. Click here for the full article.
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