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Where to find Chinese web/chat/QQ friends?


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I have so many questions, I barely know where to start.

Right, I want to get my chat on. One of my goals this week was to find a few online Chinese friends (preferably female like myself), and maybe get a friendly language exchange thing going. I read about all sorts of people who do this, so I thought it would be easy. I'm not new to IM or anything, but this is the first time I've tried to use IM to hunt down complete strangers.

First stop: I got myself a QQ number via the English sign-up page. I was under the impression this would be the magic ticket. That guy with the small QQ help site (you know the guy I mean) said that if you just set your country to anything other than China, Chinese people will swarm around you and you'll get an add request every couple of minutes.

Er, I have not found this to be the case. I've had my QQ client open for more than 24 hours, and not one person has requested to add me. This brings up several questions:

*Is it possible I accidentally made my profile private or unavailable for search?

*If so, where would I undo that?

*In fact, where is the page where I can edit my profile and settings in general? I can't seem to find anything on the QQ site where I can change my details or see what sort of info I have in my profile.

*How is it that people are searching for other people on QQ? It occurred to me that instead of waiting for people to add me I could do the searching myself (which I prefer anyway because I'm kinda picky about chat friends), but I couldn't find a "browse QQers" link or anything ilke that on the web site. I did find the qzones thing, but (A) it pretty much looks like a dating service (do. not. want), and (B) the links were all broken - i.e. when I clicked on any name I just got an error page.

The QQ site is so huge, and with my limited Chinese, I'm finding it difficult to navigate. If someone could point me to where the profile pages are, and better yet the place where I can check and edit my own profile and make sure that people are seeing the information I want them to see... that would be awesome.

Also, I'm very eager to find a Chinese/English bi-lingual social network that isn't about people trying to find sex partners. The best thing I've found so far is howma.com, which has a social component to it but is more of a learning site. At least there I can look at peoples (albeit limited) profiles and see who looks interesting. But there's no real chat or microblogging facility there, so even if I do find cool people, contact is kind of limited.

I'm interested to hear any thoughts you guys have, and hopefully someone knows how to edit my QQ profile. :-)

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First off, I'd ditch QQ - I don't know why people spend so much time setting up QQ accounts to talk to Chinese people, when it's not as if there's a shortage of them on MSN and Skype. Given the amount of trouble people seem to have with it, I don't think it's worthwhile unless there's someone who you actually want to talk to but can only use QQ for religious reasons. QQs market share tends towards the high school and college market also, which means all your contacts will disappear once they get jobs anyway.*

I would try:

For general people to chat to, Skype China's friend finding site. It's a bit hot babes / hot guys, but you can track down the age / gender you want.

Language / social networking, you might want to try livemocha.com - not sure if it's exactly what you are looking for, but it seemed ok on the social side when I had a look.

Microblogging in China means fanfou.com - if you are familiar with twitter you'll find your way around it in no time.

*might not be entirely true.

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I didn't want to get deluged so never tried it, but a good way would be for you to stick an advert up at a University somewhere with your MSN address on it, saying you'd like to have a language exchange chat. You'll get zillions of odd people sending you messages. It could be fun. For a while.

Chinese don't expect to find foreigners on QQ, they expect to find you on MSN :)

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@Roddy: the fanfou link alone gets you full points. I am the queen of twitter.

Livemocha also looks great, as does the Skype China thing. Thanks for both of those.

I think the QQ fascination is the sheer Chineseness of it, and for foreigners like me there's a coolness factor there. It's not like being on msn or icq where you might run into your non-Chinese friends. When I was digging through the QQ client last night, my boyfriend asked, "hey, what's that?"

"It's QQ."

"What's QQ?"

"Oh, it's Chinese, you wouldn't understand" (never mind the fact that I don't understand either, haha).

That, and there's something fascinating about the giganticness of the web site - if only I could find the "edit profile" page...

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@adrianlondon: well, the only university where I could feasibly do that is about five minutes from here, and the only thing a note there would yield me is lots of horny Turkish boys (and I already have too many of those pestering me on MSN, frankly).

Chinese don't expect to find foreigners on QQ, they expect to find you on MSN

I rarely do the expected thing. :-) But seriously, I do know that non-Chinese people have QQ accounts... I just want to know how to set mine up.

@gougou: Hahaha yes, I did read and laugh at that earlier... I'm a little bit intimidated by them already! :-D

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Ah, I just assumed you were in China. Silly assumption! Ask someone in Beijing to stick your MSN details up in BNU, BLCU or somewhere. I guarantee you some cooky new friends.

I understand the fascination of QQ for its exoticness, but be prepared that you may spend more time working out what's up with QQ than learning Mandarin ;)

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Try http://sharedtalk.com/ - I found a few desperate Chinese people looking for practice there.

The site is completely free, needs registration but it's Java-based, copying/pasting is not always easy.

Just log into text/voice chat area, then someone will contact you. Last week I talked to 3 women at the same time (they contacted me), when they got suspicious that I was too busy, I switched to 2. We have exchanged emails.

Of course your profile must say, which language your are learning and teaching, where you are located.


removed the picture (it exposes account names)

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I agree with atitarev, you'll find plenty of good contacts through sharedtalk - it's a lot more based on language learning and a lots less geared towards social networking than the alternatives (eg italki). i found a couple of trainee chinese teachers through that site that are extremely eager to help and aren't even looking for any exchange in return!

Usually you'll end up swapping contacts and before you know it you'll have a small netowrk of people to draw on using msn or skype etc

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