Phrases to appease nanny

If you’re on the Chinese mainland and have recently been wishing to visit websites in lands beyond, you’ve no doubt noticed that internet maintenance has slowed many sites to a crawl. No surprise here, we netizens have long grown accustomed to internet maintenance efforts that coincide with important political events, as well as unimportant non-events.

So at present, with 十八大 (the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China) in full swing, it shouldn’t be the least bit surprising that the government has also redoubled efforts on other business, including internet maintenance.

Still, like the Beijing cab driver complaining about traffic, I found myself muttering unharmonious thoughts to a friend when a site didn’t open in timely fashion.

“Have you tried doing a search for 十八大?”


“Yeah. Just do a search for 十八大 first, then try your website. As long as it’s not fully blocked, it should speed up your connection.”

“Ah, like a little peace offering to the great Nanny in the ether?”


Well, it might’ve been coincidence, but my next attempt to subversively access my gmail account went right through.  Holy net nanny, Batman!

As it turns out, grizzled veterans of the internet here have long been aware of the “peace offering” approach. Our own Sima says his standard keyword is 新华, for example.

Sinoglot statisticians are still debating whether the peace offering approach has a measurable effect, but I’ll be eagerly monitoring the comments for the perfect phrase. I’m sure our valiant readers will have it: a phrase that works like a parchment stamped with the emperor’s seal; a phrase more effective than incense or paper money; a phrase that proves beyond a doubt that the searcher is a Friend of China, worthy of being allowed past any maintenance blockages that might otherwise have slowed their passage.

4 responses to “Phrases to appease nanny”

  1. Carl says:

    I’m not in China, so I don’t know, but you could always try a search for “harmonious society,” they love that, right! :-)

    More seriously, I think the party would prefer if people know that the Congress is happening but not worry their pretty little heads about all the details of how it goes. Any nominally “positive” term can instantly turn “negative” if the people get a little *too* interested in it.

    • Steve (Syz) says:

      Carl — good point, too much attention and they can almost detect the sarcasm. But just now I had a brainstorm: I couldn’t get an attachment to work on gmail, so I started streaming 中国共产党第十八次全国代表大会开幕全程 from the official site and then it uploaded just fine. Coincidence? Well, if it works…

  2. pyw says:

    Can you try to quantifiably measure if there actually is a speed-up? This sounds almost too good to be true, and a small skeptic popped up above my shoulder complaining that the effect could be an illusion created by measurement bias.

    • Steve (Syz) says:

      i’d bet money it’s not true. But I’ll try anything, so at some point during the heaviest maintenance, I tried streaming the 十八大 opening ceremony while trying to send out emails from gmail. Like searching for gov’t-friendly words, the friendly video-streaming seemed to make no difference whatsoever :(

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