Summary: As someone who is not fluent in Chinese, I cannot rely on Tencent 腾讯/QQ for microblogging (or indeed anything). So I'm not using Tencent and now I'm trying LinkedIn instead.
Update 2013-11-15: Once again, Tencent Weibo is denying me access to my account without explanation and without a way to resolve the problem in English.
I used to use a Tencent Weibo microblog to give my Chinese students useful or interesting links related to English, China, business etc. But back in June, I had a major problem with it: I could no longer access it at all. I wrote about that in my blog post here.
Any attempt by me to fix the problem would lead to lots of untranslated pages in Chinese. So I e-mailed their international support. The only response I had from Tencent was a link to instructions about what to do when you lose your password.
There were several problems with this:
I continued to try to resolve this problem communicating in English with Tencent / QQ International, via e-mail and via their blog (which is what you get taken to when you click on "Help").
No luck for me with Tencent
I never had another reply from Tencent International's e-mail, despite me writing twice more.
I was never able to communicate via their blog. My posts / comments were always "awaiting moderation" (i.e. the blogger has to check and approve comments before they appear on the blog). They were never approved and they never appeared on the blog.
In fact the blog seems to be dead. There have been no posts since April 2013 (an article about how QQ now translates to Elvish!!!), and the last comments approved date to July 2013 and are mostly unanswered comments from people like me, foreigners who can no longer access their account and are asking for help.
Hiknow synchronization & help
I kept struggling for a solution. I noticed that a post had been made on my weibo after I lost access to it; a post that originated from Hiknow, the Chinese company I work with, teaching English online.
I remembered that when I had set up my Tencent Weibo, I had synchronized it with my Hiknow microblog. That way I could post on my Hiknow page, and it would also automatically appear on my Tencent page. (Unfortunately after a while that stopped working properly, no idea why.)
I wondered if the Hiknow syncing* might be the cause of the problem. Hiknow's microblog page is also all in Chinese, and I couldn't work out a way to unsync** it myself. So I contacted Hiknow and asked if they could unsync it, explaining my problem with Tencent.
Bruce from Hiknow contacted Tencent's Chinese support about my access, who dealt with the problem immediately. I could access my Tencent Weibo account again! (My thanks again to Bruce for his kind help.)
But Bruce had not been able to find out from Tencent why I hadn't been able to access it in the first place.
Tencent access restored, but...
So now I had access to my Tencent account again... but I had no reason to trust Tencent any more.
So I did not resume activity on Tencent Weibo, because:
Also there have been other problems with Tencent Weibo, which, in addition to the above, have made me reluctant to resume posting there.
Perhaps if my Chinese was good enough, I might be able to resolve these problems. But it's not, meaning I have to rely on either on a bilingual third party, who might not always available to help, or Tencent's English support. And clearly their English support is not up to the job.
Update: Tencent access denied again
On the 14th of November, 2013, I thought I'd give Tencent Weibo another try, seeing that they had given me back access after Bruce from Hiknow had contacted them for me. But:
I haven't even used it since Bruce had it fixed after the previous problem, so I can't have done anything to cause this.
I'm going to try e-mailing a couple of alternative e-mail addresses for Tencent/QQ that I found, to see if that produces a different result.
I've been in a dilemma about what to do next. Clearly, as a foreigner with insufficient Chinese language skills, I cannot rely on Tencent.
I have no reason to believe any of the other Chinese microblogs (like Sina Weibo) would be better. Tencent is supposed to be the one with the most advanced English translation and support.
I considered non-Chinese microblog services, like Twitter and Plurk. The advantage would be that I would have much more information and communication in English in the event of any problems. But the disadvantage is that these microblogs are blocked by the Chinese Communist Party's Great Firewall. As my online students are in China, only those with VPN access to the internet outside the GFW would be able to see those microblogs.
Many other non-China-based social networks and publishing platforms are blocked by the GFW (which is why I moved from Blogspot & PBWorks to Weebly.)
Finally I remembered that LinkedIn, the business-focused social network, is not blocked in China (not yet, at least).
So I'm going to give LinkedIn a try. To those of you who have been following me (and communicating with me) on Tencent Weibo, please feel free to contact me on LinkedIn.
I'll probably experiment with ways of synchronizing / cross-posting on other platforms (like Tencent Weibo) as well as on LinkedIn, as long as it's easy and automatic (maybe using something like Socialba!).
But I won't spend time & effort interacting on Tencent Weibo, because I have no reason to believe that Tencent won't make it all a big waste of my time & effort.
So to those of you have followed and chatted with me on Tencent Weibo, let me offer you three things:
G.A.L.E.S.L. / joe3
Some tips and links on learning English.