Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Big Showdown: Xiaxue VS SMRT Ltd (Feedback)

Once upon a time ago, in the land of the Merlions, a queen reigned supreme. Xiaxue was her name, and a pink hair she had adorned. Rising up to the throne through drama more exciting than what you can see the on Channel 8, she was the undisputed ruler of the online world. Her words carry enormous influence, and with a stroke of the keyboard she has the ability to change what the internet was talking about. Such was her power.

For a long time no one was able to stand up to her. Those who did were often ridiculed and made laughing stock on the internet, or at best, ended up with their reputation bruised. The uncles who commented on Temasek Review, Dawn Yang, and Peter Coffin were among the unlucky ones who endured quite a beating when they attempted to go against her. And more recently, the company Gushcloud and its influencers were put on the defensive when Xiaxue wrote a scathing post about them.

However, this may all soon come to a change. The ever changing scene of the internet has seen the emergence of unlikely 'influencers' as compared to the traditional blogger, and particularly in Singapore, one personality/group/organization/page/influencer/troll/vigilante (I have no idea how to call them, or him, or her, or it) have dominated the scene since its inception. Called the SMRT Ltd (Feedback), they have not only trolled the Singapore internet scene, but have also managed to bring down their own brand of justice unto individuals like Heather Chua, Anton Casey and the latest Jover Chew. So is it any wonder that these two giants will go head to head eventually?




One can only wonder about the reasons why SMRT Ltd (Feedback) decided to join in the fight, but what I can say is that a lot of people have been waiting for something like this to happen. After all, it is the King of Trolls versus the Queen of Blogging this round. Because most of Xiaxue's fights and SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s fights have been miserably one sided, with the both of them winning almost all of the time, it will be interesting to see who will emerge from this victorious. And what would the damages be. It's not often you get two biggest internet celebrities going against each other. 

So be sure to grab your popcorn, sit back and enjoy what is probably going to be the internet showdown of 2014. Given how big this thing is going to be, I think it is only fair that someone tries to chronicle everything down, just so perhaps maybe future generations could look back to this as the greatest thing that has ever happened. Okay I kid. I'm just doing this for the fun of it.

SMRT Ltd (Feedback) dubbed their latest operation as #FaithInLupCheong, and just today the page has drawn first blood through a short expose. In the words of the Japanese dude from Godzilla, "Let them fight."


Round 1: 30th December, 6.30pm




Xiaxue was quick to respond with several tweets.




I don't know about you, but it seems like SMRT Ltd (Feedback) has ruffled some feathers looking at Xiaxue's response. Saying that they cosplay as Sailormoon and talking about murdering people, those tweets sounded quite defensive to me. Six angry sounding tweets were tweeted in response, though no mention of SMRT Ltd (Feedback) was included anywhere in her tweets though. Winner of Round 1? I would say SMRT Ltd (Feedback), in baiting such a response from Xiaxue.


Round 2: 30th December, 10.30pm

Xiaxue started off this round with a few tweets suggesting that there was going to be a hack attempt, which did not go as planned, as per her tweets suggest. She even ended with a taunt to SMRT Ltd (Feedback).


SMRT Ltd (Feedback) did not address her tweet allegations, but did came up with her supposed blog stats, which showed a huge number of her fans originating from Cambodia and unknown contries, as well as blog visit stats that showed number well below 1000 visits per day.


Photo source: https://www.facebook.com/smrtsg

The pie chart detailing the countries in which where her fans came from did not show how the stats were derived (anyone can make a pie chart), so one has to take that with a pinch of salt. However the Site Meter link seemed pretty legit, with a detailed stats pertaining to Xiaxue's blog. You can check the details of people visiting the blog from the links at the left hand side as well.

source: http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s20xiaxue&r=33

Though I must say that when I clicked on the 'By Entry Page' link, meaning the page that people land on in the site, I noticed something really interesting among the links.

source: http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=s20xiaxue&r=14&v=1

The thing is, Xiaxue's blog URL is http://xiaxue.blogspot.sg/ while the links tracked in that Site Meter link points to http://xiaxues.blogspot.sg/. One might miss it by a first glance, but there is a subtle difference between those two links. One has an 'S' behind it, while the other does not (heh). When I clicked the two links and compared them, Xiaxue.blogspot.sg looked quite different from XiaxueS.blogspot.sg

first page on xiaxue.blogspot.sg, with the gushcloud expose page on it

first page on xiaxues.blogspot.sg, with the first post going all the way back to 2006

I don't know if SMRT Ltd (Feedback) knows this, or what are the reasons behind this glaring mistake, but this really does not look good. It casts a huge doubt into the entire operation as well. Hmm. Seems like it was not only me who noticed it as well, with this tweet almost immediately from Xiaxue.


Round 2 winner? Unless there's an explanation from SMRT Ltd (Feedback), the queen might have just won.

Update: Woke up to SMRT Ltd (Feedback) taking down their post, which I guess is a huge blow to them as of the moment.


But still.


So sit back and enjoy, because Round 3 will be starting really soon.


Round 3: 31st December, 3.30pm

Round 3 started pretty much with a boomz from SMRT Ltd (Feedback). Not only did they explain that the earlier 1K visits was a troll bait to provoke a response from Xiaxue, they also came out with an incredibly long post at http://thebadassandco.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-xiaxue-nuffnang-expose-part-i/

True to the online catfight spirit, it was the first time that I actually see SMRT Ltd (Feedback) writing such a long article in their ops.


Read it at thebadassandco.wordpress.com

In case of TLDR, these are the few claims that I understood from SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s expose:

1. The queen creates saga to jack up her views for advertorial purposes. Meaning that every time before she gets a big advertorial, in the recent case a car from a tyre company, she would create a saga (the Gushcloud expose) so that she would have more leverage to demand from the client. In SMRT Ltd (Feedback) words, "we can deduce that in order for Xiaxue to prove to her clients that she can get as much viewership as possible, she will commence a ‘saga’ regardless if its relevant to her advertorial. In this way, she generates buzz and views and redirect them to her ads."

What does this mean? It would mean that the queen creates drama for her own benefit, instead of "standing up to bullies" or demanding justice as she wrote in her blog.


2. Gushcloud isn't in much of a dire state as Xiaxue claimed in her expose. In fact, the company that Xiaxue belongs to, Nuffnang, is much worse off according to SMRT Ltd (Feedback). All the numbers and accounting lessons aside, SMRT Ltd (Feedback) claimed that the decline in Gushcloud's numbers that Xiaxue showed was absolutely normal in the business world, because the company could have made a huge investment (thanks to money poured in by John Wu, a big shot who is affiliated with a bigger shot called the Alibaba Group).

SMRT Ltd (Feedback) showed that Nuffnang itself has been losing money in 2012 and 2013 (shown in the nice picture below), questioned Xiaxue's motive of not including Nuffnang's number in her post. This revelation that Gushcloud isn't doing as badly as portrayed, and Nuffnang having problems of their own, certainly raise a few questions about Xiaxue's motivation in this saga, and how the bigger corporate warfare factor into everything.

source: http://thebadassandco.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-xiaxue-nuffnang-expose-part-i/

3. The expose by SMRT Ltd (Feedback) also accused Xiaxue of buying likes herself, a practice that she vehemently opposed in her blog post. Their proof comes from a pixel dot in her blog, in which an Instagram bots broker happened to be in. Of course, I personally don't think this means much, because the post inferred that the jump in her Intagram likes and as well the appearance of the Instagram broker in the pixel ad space meant that she bought likes. Which isn't a strong case to go on. I personally tried to find the pixel on there blog, but apparently the image is no longer there :(
Source: http://thebadassandco.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-xiaxue-nuffnang-expose-part-i/

In essence, I think SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s strongest claim comes in Point 1 and 2, in which they cast enough doubt over Xiaxue's personal motivation in creating dramas online, as well as rubbishing the claims that Gushcloud is much worse off than Nuffnang, in which Xiaxue is under.

And to think that I was a little disappointed over SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s performance yesterday, only to find how that they had this card hidden under their sleeve. It's not over yet though, because they mentioned that there is Part 2 coming up. This is definitely going to get more exciting. It has been one hour since SMRT Ltd (Feedback) got the post up, and so far there is not yet any response from Xiaxue herself.

Round 3's winner has gotta be SMRT Ltd (Feedback), for dealing such a blow to the queen.


Round 4: 1st January 2015, 11.30pm

Okay, this is a little late, but the start of 2015 saw Singapore's internet scene go off with a pseudo firework display, as a continuation of the Xiaxue VS SMRT Ltd (Feedback) expose war. While most people were still recovering from their new year's eve party (or still at their new year's eve party), Xiaxue wrote a rebuttal to SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s Part 1 expose, a very long one in fact, to counter the claims that they have raised.

In response, SMRT Ltd (Feedback) shot back with an earlier than planned Part 1.5 expose, in which the word 'bodoh' was used a lot. The post was not short as well, with a host of different points raised.

In case of TLDR, Xiaxue basically called SMRT Ltd (Feedback) pussies and went ahead to say that her Gushcloud expose was never about Gushcloud versus Nuffnang, but to uphold industry practices. In response to SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s accusations, Xiaxue posted a financial post from Nuffnang's Boss Ming that seemed to rubbish SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s claims that Nuffnang is doing badly.

It's TLDR with lots of numbers, so I did not really bother to analyze it (am I the only one who thinks that throwing lots of numbers into your argument can only get more confusing sometimes?) Still, in SMRT Ltd (Feedback)'s expose 1.5, they said that the financial part will only come out in Part 2, so we have to wait for that. It won't be easy though, breaking down the entire structure of Nuffnang and its parent company financial statuses.

basically how i'm feeling right now

As for other claims, it's more of her words versus theirs right now. To be honest, there are so many claims being made against each other right now that I have already lost track of them. Like the fake likes claim for example, it is really hard to prove who's right because both sides are using different arguments to validate a point without even adressing the point raised by the other.

For example, SMRT Ltd (Feedback) accuses Xiaxue for buying likes because Xiaxue has the Instagram likes broker in her pixel ad. She responds that would not be true because her baby photo gets more likes than the ad photos, so it must be real people who liked her pictures. No mention about the pixel ad by Xiaxue.

Another is where SMRT Ltd (Feedback) used social baker to show how many fans from Cambodia she has, and Xiaxue responds that other celebrities have the same equal percentage in which SMRT Ltd (Feedback) then replies by saying it's exactly because of that it's an issue, because she's selling advertorials to Singapore audience. No explanation about the Cambodia fans as well.

The thing is, the fight is getting kinda repetitive already with not much solid evidence surfacing and looking at the comment made by fans from both the sides, their opinions are pretty much set in stone already no matter what evidence is presented from the other side. The part where SMRT Ltd (Feedback) highlighted Xiaxue's hypocrisy was pretty interesting though, in which she complains about people attacking her son while she does the exact same thing to others. Nevertheless, I would say Round 4 is pretty much a tie, and I guess the Part 2 expose by SMRT Ltd (Feedback) is the next move to look out for.

P/s: I think the cat fight has pretty much died out by now.


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