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The story of Qi Shi Ma: Online discussion and community engagement in urban China
Unformatted Document Text:  - 12 - Criticism was the dominant theme on the forum. As Table 1 shows, 157 threads discussed this theme. Major topics were: questioning police reports; blaming the driver, the driver’s friends and family upbringing; questioning the driver’s identity in court; and disappointment about the city government and local media. The discussions were from both social and individual perspectives. Some expressed emotional anger towards the driver and his family. Some were against “Rich 2 nd Generation,” higher social classes, local media and local government. The Demands theme, which also appeared only online, included calls for punishing the driver, administrative transparency, social equality and public participation. One thread representative of this theme was forwarded 16 times on the forum, implying the users’ support of its content. The thread was a public letter to the mayor, written by an anonymous student of Zhejiang University from which the victim graduated. The writer mourned for the victim and his family as an alumnus and indicated worries about citizens’ safety in the city. The writer questioned the police investigation and called for the mayor and related governors to fully investigate this case. The author also suggested the driver should be legally punished and argued residents need fair treatment in the city. However, the local newspaper avoided these complaints in their coverage. Compared with 16 newspaper stories in three months, forum threads continued to mention this case one year after the accident. In one thread, this case was cited when the user discussed another car accident. The driver was mentioned in another thread that summarized well-known figures of “Rich 2 nd Generation.” Forum users also forwarded large numbers of news reports and editorial opinions that summarized public criticism of this case from other regional, national, and Online discussion and community engagement in urban China

Authors: Liu, Zhengjia.
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- 12 -
Criticism was the dominant theme on the forum. As Table 1 shows, 157 threads 
discussed this theme. Major topics were: questioning police reports; blaming the driver, 
the driver’s friends and family upbringing; questioning the driver’s identity in court; and 
disappointment about the city government and local media. The discussions were from 
both social and individual perspectives. Some expressed emotional anger towards the 
driver and his family. Some were against “Rich 2
nd
 Generation,” higher social classes, 
local media and local government. 
The Demands theme, which also appeared only online, included calls for 
punishing the driver, administrative transparency, social equality and public participation. 
One thread representative of this theme was forwarded 16 times on the forum, implying 
the users’ support of its content. The thread was a public letter to the mayor, written by 
an anonymous student of Zhejiang University from which the victim graduated.  The 
writer mourned for the victim and his family as an alumnus and indicated worries about 
citizens’ safety in the city. The writer questioned the police investigation and called for 
the mayor and related governors to fully investigate this case. The author also suggested 
the driver should be legally punished and argued residents need fair treatment in the city. 
However, the local newspaper avoided these complaints in their coverage.
Compared with 16 newspaper stories in three months, forum threads continued to 
mention this case one year after the accident. In one thread, this case was cited when the 
user discussed another car accident.  The driver was mentioned in another thread that 
summarized well-known figures of “Rich 2
nd
 Generation.” 
Forum users also forwarded large numbers of news reports and editorial opinions 
that summarized public criticism of this case from other regional, national, and 
Online discussion and community engagement in urban China


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