Baidu, China’s premier search engine, has an interesting feature called 知道 (zhidao), meaning “to know” — and we’d call this a kind of message group or BBS. In that sense, it’s not altogether different from something analogous on Yahoo or Sina or Google, but it’s set up somewhat differently. You ask something (so far it seems only in Chinese, though technically any language would be okay) and post your question, and then wait for an answer. Or you can do what Shanghaiist does and put in some random key words, and see what the searches turn up. The results are divided into several categories, one being “unanswered questions”, another being “answered questions” and the third being “vote on this topic”, meaning that you can vote on say, the water quality in Shanghai, by pressing of several reply buttons. The problem with this function is that the answers are subjective — which on the other hand, is also its strength. Of course, you might get answers that are totally vague and unhelpful. Take this exchange, for example:
Question: Adult male circumsision for cosmetic reasons in Shanghai, is it posible?
Totally unhelpful! — it is a bit hit or miss with certain topics. However, if you’re hungry for some authentic Sichuanese food after that circumcision, a search just might turn up something interesting. If indeed you feel compelled to waste your time in this manner, please click here.