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The new generation of 'best paid' jobs

By XU JUNQIAN and WU NI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2013-02-16 03:04

Malicious online critics

China's growing online shopping sites have created a new breed of critic, who can earn big money from posting feedback and comments on participating vendors.

"These people are like parasites, relying on China's fast-developing e-commerce sector," said Dong Yingqun, the chief technology officer for, an Internet technology company focusing on online marketing., China's popular online shopping site, has a rating system to evaluate shops. Negative feedback from buyers can harm shop ratings and deter potential buyers.

These people, been dubbed malicious critics by the online retail industry, collectively make negative comments, allegedly on their online shopping experience and ask for "compensation" from vendors, many of whom simply pay up instead of risking further negative feedback.

According to Dong, these payments are never more than 1,000 yuan — not significant enough for vendors to file a lawsuit.

Last November, Taobao and the police launched a joint crackdown on a gang of malicious critics.

Seven suspects were arrested on extortion charges, according to a report in the Shanghai Morning Post.

Official data from Taobao shows that 65,000 malicious online buyer comments have been identified by the site.

Dong said that most of the malicious critics are part-time and gather on Internet chat rooms such as QQ.

"Individually they don't earn much, maybe a few thousand yuan a month, but the leaders of the groups, who find target vendors and works out the best strategies to attack a shop, can earn tens of thousands of yuan per month."

Posting positive feedback can also earn money, Dong said.

"If someone posts a negative comment on (an online platform for people to comment on service providers, mainly restaurants), you can hire a group of people to post larger numbers of positive comments so that the negative ones cannot be seen."

A positive posting pays 10 yuan but it has no legal risk, he said.

These groups of people, according to Dong, are often familiar with the rules of online shopping, many having been online vendors themselves, and lack the ethics of legitimate retailers.

"They live in the murky corners of society, but you can do nothing to stop them because they do no serious harm to society," Dong said.

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