The interesting thing is, this is a huge phenomenon in the Chinese netsphere. Chinese celebrities have their own armies of netizens, paid and unpaid, to shower them with compliments and flood negative coverage with scathing criticism. One of these, I found out yesterday, is Supergirl Li Yuchun.
An article about a recent listing of Beijing heroes by Time Out Magazine has been flooded with dozens of comments that basically heap her with praise. What makes it interesting is that Danwei is a hangout for people who constantly scrutinize Chinese media, whether it's for a hobby, professionally or as academic research. It's like a mycologist getting a fungal infection.
Anyway, it's worth taking a look. In the meantime, I am currently hiring conscripts for a 50 cent army of my own. Apply within...
Update: the 50 cent army seems to be taking it easy with Danwei. I estimate they've only made about 70 posts since the story started last week. That's understandable as the article wasn't negative, and it was, after all, in English. While I was playing around in the postings, I came across a woman named Lili who is researching this specific phenomena. She shared a very interesting anecdote:
Actually, I have seen these kinds of wrecks many times. The worst time was Li's haters attached her fans' Baidu Post (BBS or public forum), using program generated curse comments. The auto-comments could reach 60-100 pieces per minute. Her supporters learned to use the same strategy to defend. Eventually, they drove Baidu servers, the biggest internet engine in China, to collapse for a few days.
That's just awesome.