CPod sock puppets, you may celebrate!

August 11, 2009, 05:01 PM posted in General Discussion

Today I learned that there has been yet another change to the Comments Policy here at Chinesepod. You'll never guess what it is this time!

Chinesepod employees are no longer allowed to join in frivolous chatter on the boards (in threads like this one.) From now on they may only take part in serious threads relating to Chinese language or culture.

I'd just like to say well done and thanks to all those great folks who've been rocking the boat so diligently recently, (you know you who you are), and who have doubtless helped to bring about this change.

Some will doubtless feel this is a desirable outcome, that no one should be entitled to have 胡说 here, and if they do then they certainly shouldn't be wasting the time of CPod staff when there's a 他 that should be a 她 in lesson x, y, or z, or some question about the correct tone for 不 has gone unanswered in lesson a, b, or c.

But I personally will miss the chance to swap jokes and light-hearted banter with pete and err... others, and feel CPod will be a little poorer for this.

Anyway well done all you mischief makers, you should be well satisfied.

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August 11, 2009, 07:17 PM


CPod 是不是无可奉告?

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August 12, 2009, 06:30 AM

No problem, mate ;)


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August 11, 2009, 10:44 PM

Not sure where exactly I stand on this issue.

On the one hand, I am not a fan of any form of censorship, and I do think there should be a venue for frivolous and and off-topic discussion (hence the formation of this discussion group)

On the other hand, I have gotten SO sick and tired of discussion on other sites apart from CP, such as Facebook, Yahoo Groups etc. In these sites the frivolous and off-topic activity dominates ALL discussions, even those for serious topics are hijacked by people who just want to screw around and divert discussion to puerile jokes etc.

When I discovered the CP community discussions I found it very refreshing to see so many comments from people who are looking for serious and intellectual discussion on a language, or on any serious subject.

It's a pity CP staff will not be able to take off their professional hats and engage with us on an equal footing in any discussion such as this.

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August 11, 2009, 11:30 PM

What a shame.  Seems to me that the bigger Cpod (or Praxis?) gets, the less freedom staff are permitted to be themselves.  Is that coming from the higher-ups or investors?  I can't see Pete, Matt, Jenny (or any of the staff who regularly join in on the boards) wanting it this way.

Again, it's a shame they can't be themselves.  Pete has a great and dry sense of humour (not to mention a very intelligent one) that not only adds to discussions, but also diffuses them when it's needed.  The rest of the commenting staff also add their own individual value and knowledge to discussions.  That's why they are called teachers.

Gone are the days of Clay and his playfulness.  Gone are the days of Amber answering questions, but at the same time having a sense of humour and adding a personal touch to the site.  Gone are the days of poddies' playful banter with one another.

I'm not trying to reminisce here, I'm not saying cpod was better before.  But when you take away the staff's individuality, you take away your teachers' "human touch" and you make this place sterile.  Because this is a web-based classroom, the relationship between teacher-student is already lacking.  Now you want to reduce that relationship even more?  Lately, it seems that's where cpod is heading.  Maybe that's what the suits at Praxis want.  I just can't understand why.  It's turning off customers who have been nothing but loyal in the past.

Lately, this place feels like a kindergarten, not like a school for adults who want to learn Chinese.  I have to admit, much of that has come from poddies (myself included), but it feels like lately that Cpod's policy is to treat us like less than adults.

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August 12, 2009, 12:26 AM

Why are we blaming the sock puppets?

The fact that the sock puppets used deception to accomplish their purpose does cast them in a negative light. But, I don't remember any sock puppets objecting to any-topic discussions in non-lesson threads, nor in cpod staff's participation in those threads.

If anything I would assume that this change came about was from the fear of offended clients or the fear of negative perceptions of staff (ie. The Dear Amber Final Show thread et al).

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August 12, 2009, 02:15 AM

Of course I don't know all the facts re. why this decision was made lechuan, but I do believe all the recent nonsense and discord generated by people pretending to be more than one person (and subsequent issues arising from that) must have played a central role. It's only since then that wholesale deleting has been going on in comment threads, it's only since then that I sense a significant change in attitude from CPod regarding how they manage the boards. Before I think their style was much more 'laid-back', then they were prepared to just trust poddies to behave like adults.

sebire, I did actually train as a journalist some years back but didn't like the work, (sitting in courts for hours, attending council meetings, etc). So I turned to teaching, much more fun! I guess now and then the old 'journospeak' comes through. Err... I would say 听起来!

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August 12, 2009, 02:26 AM

Kill the sock puppets!!!  Off with their..... 哦哦哦哦哦哦哦...threads.

I hope this is an unfounded rumour.  Clay and Amber were fun.  But I really (read paying client "really") enjoyed his contribution on threads involving politics and history... topics where CPod staff previously went MIA.  I haven't seen much of that lately... could this be the reason?

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August 12, 2009, 02:58 AM

As adults, perhaps we in the cpod community need to be mindful of where cpod is podcasting from... If we value learning Chinese from people living in China, we need to accept the inherent descretion required of those in positions of responsibility. I too enjoy the contributions of staff in the more frivolous conversations. But I don't think I have access to the information required to judge the merit of their policy decisions, nor does being a "paying customer" give me the authority to do so.

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August 11, 2009, 08:47 PM

tal, you sound like a journalist: "Today I learned". Are you channelling the BBC?! [BTW, is "sound like" in this context 听起来, or is that just for actual sounds? Sorry if this question is not 胡说 enough for this board though!!]

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August 12, 2009, 03:20 AM

Hi suxiaoya,

as you know, I love CPod, and definitely plan to continue learning and supporting all of you in your efforts to keep CPod great. If I've messed up here, I apologise. I only made this post because I was told yesterday in a private message by a senior CPod member of staff that this was the case.

Oh and I was most definitely not accusing anyone working at CPod of rocking the boat or being out to spoil the fun. I have and have always had full confidence in and respect for all of you. That comment was directed at certain users, only 2 or 3 really, (who I shall not name) who recently have seen fit to make mischief and cause ill-feeling.

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August 12, 2009, 03:22 AM

@suxiaoya, mucho gracias.

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August 12, 2009, 04:08 AM

I think as some people mentioned before, some sort of filtering system would solve many of the problems here.  That way if an ernest learner wants to bypass all the jibber-jabber, he or she can do so with a click.  It won't cure hurt feelings resulting from heated discussions, but it will allow the rest of us to focus on the lessons, and Cpod's staff won't have to rein in the discussions as much.

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August 12, 2009, 05:40 AM

The ideal filtering system is one employed by the user before he or she clicks that "Add Comment" button. For example I wish you had employed such a system yourself phil before making that last post, not one word of which seems to have much to do with anything else in this thread, and the condescending tone of which I find ever so slightly annoying.

I am myself an earnest learner, but inevitably when you spend time interacting with a group of people (albeit online) there are other aspects of life which come out, and which are expressed perhaps in 'jibber-jabber'. You are quite correct though, any user can simply bypass such stuff if it is of no interest to them, and in fact I was under the impression that we were all now trying to keep the lesson comment threads as learning-focused as possible by having groups and threads like this one separate.

I would like to stress to all btw that I was in no way indulging in 'gossip' when starting this thread. It seems that CPod have created a new policy and then changed their minds again all in the space of 18 hours 差不多.

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August 12, 2009, 06:12 AM


Hey man, I really wasn't directing any cheap (or non-cheap) shots towards anyone, nor trying to be condenscending in any way nor trying to step on a pedestal.  Now that I look at what I said, my 'the rest of us' comment could be misinterpreted as a 'some other people and I are working hard and a bunch of you guys are just whiny jerks', but that wasn't what I meant.  I get quite involved in discussions, and sometimes I regret comments I make, so I wouldn't dare try to pull a holier than thou approach intentionally. 

I was more or less using your post to re-plant an idea back in the head of Cpod's staff. I see you are upset and am sorry that I brought in something slightly tangential (although I argue relevant).  But my point is this: if we can filter out the bad vibes, maybe there will be less bad vibes produced, and then if we are lucky we won't have to have this discussion.


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August 12, 2009, 06:16 AM

*bows*, sorry I snapped at you dude, I must be a bit shook up by all this. How I wish all this nonsense had never got started!

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August 12, 2009, 03:16 AM

Hi  -

I can assure you, Tal, that we have no such policy at ChinesePod.

I'll leave it to Matt  to confirm this again (he's ill today though) but I wanted to respond, as both an employee at ChinesePod and a ChinesePod user.

As you'll be aware, the team are currently looking to focus the lesson board discussions on the lesson in question, rather than foster general chat. However, I can confirm that I am still as free as anyone else in the office, including the teachers and Pete, to be "frivolous" in my postings in the community boards - as I write this, I'm thinking up a wholly frivolous post to write later today ;-)

There are really very lovely people making decisions at Praxis, none of whom are out to "rock the boat" or take away the fun (where would be the sense in that?). The whole team just wants to make sure that everyone coming to the site has a thoroughly good learning experience

Debates and intelligent comment are an important and valuable part of the community on ChinesePod. As such, we will be directing them to the community section, going forward.

I hope you'll continue to support us with this  :-)