A recent local public servants' selection test highlighted Chinese officials' poor knowledge of Weibo.
According to media reports, a writing test in a Weibo format was included in an official promotion examination in Tiantai county, Taizhou city of East China's Zhejiang Province. Over 310 young officials were asked to write a Weibo post to promote a local festival, but the results were rather frustrating. Nearly 60 percent didn't realize there was a 140-word limit for a Weibo post. Three participants even submitted blank answers.
Testing the writing skills for a Weibo post is laudable. We have entered a Weibo era. According to latest statistics from Sina Weibo, users of this service have exceeded 300 million in China this year.
Weibo has become a prime platform of open expression and reflection of public opinion. Virtually every Weibo user is an information generator and opinion shaper.
The trend was clearly shown in the aftermath of the bullet train crash last year and the downpour that hit Beijing on Saturday. In both cases, Weibo played a decisive role in displaying public opinion.
Some Chinese local governments and governmental agencies have become aware of the importance of Weibo. According to Sina, government Weibo accounts totaled over 25,000 by the end of June.
But compared with the number of Weibo posts and the diversity of opinion they have bred, the response from official agencies is far from being prompt or adequate.
Last October, the Hengyang Municipal Bureau of Justice opened a Weibo account after a scandal involving a fight between the director and deputy director during a meeting was exposed. It only posted an official statement on the incident and two more posts to further clarify its stance, but no further updates were made.
These are not official Weibo accounts that are needed by the public. By comparison, some China-based foreign agencies' Weibo accounts are more popular with the Chinese public. They regularly update information that is of public concern and initiate debate on current issues.
The situation of Chinese officials and governmental agencies not being able to keep up with the public's demands needs to be changed. It's worrying that they don't know how to properly use this platform. Learning Weibo and other Internet applications should be a required course for civil servants and governments in the future.
More importantly, a "real life" interaction model between the government and the public also needs to be established. The government should learn to listen to the people rather than merely issue administrative documents. It needs a thorough reform. Perhaps a Weibo post of 140 words is a starting point.
Warning:Products to be careful of