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Daily Drip

Are Wang Yibo Fans the New “Worst Fans?”

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Wang Yibo is a smoldering heartthrob who shot to international fame as Lan Wangji, starring opposite Xiao Zhan in hit drama The Untamed.

But when a steamy fanfiction featuring their idol appeared on the website AO3, fans of Xiao Zhan launched a coordinated attack which resulted in the site being shut down in China. As Xiao Zhan suffered backlash and lost brand sponsorships, his admirers earned a reputation as “the worst fans” of any idol.

Now, though, Wang Yibo’s fans may be coming for that crown.

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The trouble started on social film review platform Douban, where many of Wang Yibo’s works had dropped to one or two star ratings. Suspecting an attack by anti-fans, Wang Yibo’s fans banded together to mass-rate his work at five stars.

On Douban, though, it’s suspected that ratings submitted by new accounts are automatically ignored for exactly this reason. To counter the measures, the practice of “growing accounts” (养号) is suggested.

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To grow an account, all one needs to do is behave like a regular user. Performing actions like leaving reviews on old movies, joining non-entertainment discussions, and posting selfies are all believed to increase the chances of your rating being counted.

But amidst the stream of oncoming Wang Yibo fans, Douban’s community began to suffer. Established ratings on classic works began to shift, and one author publicly lamented that the presence of Wang Yibo fans had negatively impacted the reception of her newly-released novel.

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Douban released a statement saying that the suspicious activity was against its community guidelines, but eventually the situation became bad enough that Wang Yibo’s management had to step in themselves.

“A good community atmosphere needs everyone to share,” Wang Yibo’s official account wrote on Weibo. “We strongly oppose actions such as ‘growing accounts’ that disturb the order of the community.”

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“Please, let’s respect all works, all artists, and the rules of the community,” the account added, writing that the attention given to a work should be based on the work itself.

Many fans of Wang Yibo responded apologetically, saying they were just trying to counter reviews from anti-fans.

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Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a Shanghai-based writer, producer, and multimedia artist, and the Associate Editor at RADII. His work has been featured in publications such as Maxim and the Chinese-language StreetVoice, and he’s an active member of the hip hop and DIY music scenes in Shanghai, NYC, and Dallas. He learned Mandarin in high school so he could train at the Shaolin Temple, but now just uses it to interview rappers. He blogs about China and Asia on Instagram: @this.is.adan