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Xiaoying Zhou

On China's eBay, Almost Everything Is For Sale

Do you want to confess your love but feel too shy to do it? Are you a graduate student and in need of a research assistant for your coming paper?

A new online service is coming into vogue on taobao.com, China’s eBay. As the number of Chinese netizens increases, and as they spend more time online, a nascent but thriving demand-supply relation has appeared. On the demand side, many people have too many daily demands to juggle, and need help. On the supply side, many netizens have a great deal of free time from work or study, and are keen to monetize it. The result: Online hourly workers are getting hot in China.

Most online hourly workers are young Chinese below the age of 30.

Below are samples of hourly workers’ offers from taobao.com.

Much-time-to-spare worker category

Most online hourly workers are basically selling their free time. The work is usually meticulously performed–and where not, the buyers often refuse payment. Hourly pay usually starts at one Renminbi (RMB). It’s not easy money, but promises at least a constant supply of late-night snacks for those willing to devote the time. Some examples:

  • Find and download movies, TV shows, e-books, audio books, lecture videos/recordings and any other online resources: 1 RMB (contact @我爱你活力)
  • Find and download horror films, thrillers, and other special flavored movies: 5 RMB (contact @卓越江湖)
  • Hand-write letters/copy documents for you with good calligraphy: 15 RMB/thousand characters (contact @e时代688)
  • Stay logged onto instant message service QQ IM for you: 2 RMB/hour (contact @menxiye)
  • Make reminder calls to you, make calls on your behalf to apologize, confess your love, etc.: 1 RMB/call (contact @kefu813)

Skilled worker category

Some hourly workers are getting an edge in the market thanks to their specific skills. Shops offering computer programming and computer problem shooting abound, and some specialists claim to have earned up to 10, 000 RMB per month from their online shops. That’s more than twice the average monthly wages for the Chinese. Here are a few other examples:

Happy Farm is a popular online game, and many players are willing to pay online hourly workers to stay online and watch their farms for them at night.
  • All things Excel, creating forms, processing and analyzing data: 10 RMB per task (contact @xuzhuangui)
  • Search and/or production of sheet music (musical notation of all kinds): 30 RMB/page (contact @驼铃人影夕阳)
  • Personal Resume/CV design: 18 RMB (contact @duolegou520)
  • Creating, editing and promoting entries on Baidu Encyclopedia, Sousou Encyclopedia, Wikipedia: 18 RMB per task (contact @duolegou520)
  • Online English coach: chat/talk in English, sharing TOEFL test skills: 28 RMB/30min (contact @叶红兵168)

Bonus: Super-skilled worker category

Tea Leaf Nation refrains from comment on the below.

  • Scold and swear at me (girl) all you want. Help you relieve stress/anger/etc.: 10 RMB/20min (contact @繁华落尽是流年)
  • Nothing is impossible. The impossible is what you have not thought of. What service do you need today, dear? 10 RMB per task (contact @wanmin3394)

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Xiaoying Zhou

Xiaoying Zhou is a student at Yale University.