台灣最大BBS站 ——PTT鄉民傳奇

:::

2014 / 8月

文‧劉嫈楓


1994年成立的BBS站PTT,挾著超高人氣與多元活躍的網民能量,已成為擁有兩百多萬名用戶的本土熱門論壇。

這處游移於虛擬與現實的網路空間,不但孕育出獨具台灣特色的「鄉民文化」,更串連起各地的網友投入公共議題,成為國際間少有的現象。


點開台灣最大BBS(電子布告欄,Bulletin Board System)站「PTT」,自稱「鄉民」的學生、上班族,以代號活躍其間,就連五月天主唱阿信、熱血棒球主播徐展元和網路作家九把刀都是「PTT的資深鄉民」。

尤其在凌晨高峰時段,經常有數十萬網民流連在「留學板」、「旅遊板」等各式看板,或在最熱門的「八卦板」發布噓文、推文,激烈交鋒。

2012年,導演林世勇取材自PTT真實事件,拍攝國片《BBS鄉民的正義》,勾勒虛擬社群關係,成為國內外第一部以BBS為背景的電影創作。

台灣BBS站30年,國際罕見

BBS站PTT以陽春簡易的瀏覽介面存活至今,成為超高人氣的網路言論平台。專研網路社群關係的政大社會系副教授黃厚銘說,「這是國際間極為罕見的現象。」

1984年,教育部選定交通大學與中山大學推動學術網路,推助了兩校發展BBS。未獲選的台灣大學,則由校方成立「椰林風情」,與交大「鳳凰城」、中山大學的「美麗之島」並稱3大BBS校站。

1990年代中期後,BBS站曾因發文管理爭議一度與校方關係緊張。1995年,政大因校站「醉夢溪畔」張貼誹謗老師文章,決定關站;2000年,台大椰林風情也因網戀、一夜情氾濫,取消暱稱功能。使用者在校方管理轉趨保守後,大量出逃。

在此同時,BBS架站門檻大幅降低,有學生開始自籌資金,以學術頻寬架設私人BBS站。1996年,台大電機系學生駱子逸首開先例,成立「陽光沙灘」BBS站,並釋出技術。

眾多使用者相繼跟進,成立電玩為主題的「巴哈姆特」、強調女性主義特色的「自己的房間」、討論影視戲劇的「CIA中情局」以及PTT等數十個私站,催生出台灣BBS的黃金盛世。「當時每天凌晨,都有近萬人上線聊天,」黃厚銘說起當時BBS的熱鬧景象。

高人氣的BBS站成為網路創業者的試驗地。1999年,巴哈姆特宣布脫離學術網路,轉型成為現今全台最大的動漫電玩論壇;2000年,由史丹佛校友與台大資工系學生所籌組的商業BBS站KKcity也吸納大量使用者,盛極一時;祭出相片儲存容量衝出高人氣的交大無名小站,在2005年轉為商業公司後,更帶起台灣部落格浪潮。

當其他未商業化的BBS開始面臨管理斷層時,由台大資工系學生杜奕謹在1994年成立的PTT則以團隊的管理分工,成功存活於「後BBS時代」,甚至吸納陽光沙灘、小魚與紫色花園2大BBS站,走向獨大。

專業分工、自由言論,PTT獨大

PTT公關部部長陳奐宇表示,杜奕瑾在創立初期,主動推動團隊分工,有別其它BBS站由創辦者身兼管理者與技術開發,PTT管理群已發展出帳號部、新聞活動部、法務部等多工職能,並納入法律系、政治系等非理工背景的成員,共同管理PTT。

尤其在巴哈姆特、無名小站相繼轉型後,PTT堅守非營利的原則,反而樹立起超然的可信度。「少了商業色彩,不但提升站上資訊的可信度,也創造多元自由的言論空間,」陳奐宇說。

至今,PTT站上擁有三千多個主題廣泛的看板,像是僅有小眾喜好的芭比娃娃板,或是交換小道消息喧鬧不已的八卦板,都共存於站上。「因為沒有營利包袱,無法存活在商業論壇中的小眾主題都能保留在PTT,」陳奐宇說。

資訊經由反覆辯證,也增加了可靠性。陳奐宇舉例,平日僅有三十多名用戶上線的戰史板,就曾有人發表國民黨遷台導致台灣通膨的看法。但隨即有網友反駁指出,日本撤退前加發一倍貨幣,才是台灣戰後通貨膨脹的主因。

「不像部落格板主能刪除留言者文章,權力關係不對等,PTT站上的網友彼此都是平等的,」陳奐宇說。正反意見並存的言論空間,PTT使用者得隨時面對「戰文」挑戰。

高人氣PTT,起鬨文化熱潮

以文字傳遞的PTT,是現有唯一容許百萬網民在線,且不影響流速的網路媒介,因而吸引大量網民。成立20年的PTT也不斷吸納他站創新功能。譬如PTT網民用來點歌傳達心意的虛擬P幣,就是仿自「小魚與紫色花園」的「花園幣」;又如Facebook廣受歡迎的按讚功能,PTT早有形式相仿的推文、噓文機制。此外,黃厚銘指出,PTT提供的隱匿性,也貼近現代人既想群聚取暖,又想保有個人自主的矛盾心理,「呈顯了個人對社會的愛恨交織狀態,」他說。

他解釋,藉由網路連結與匿名的特性,PTT使用者透過網路認識彼此時,也能經由網路的屏蔽卸除現實裡承擔的人際壓力。黃厚銘以「流動的群聚」(Mob-ility)一詞,形容網友的互動。

2005年,PTT逐漸走向「大者恆大」,衍生的「起鬨文化」使得人氣節節攀昇。黃厚銘分析,PTT入口畫面顯示的在線人數,以「紫爆」象徵同一時間有10萬人集中在單一看板等細緻設計,都鼓吹網友到PTT湊熱鬧。不少用戶邊看球賽轉播、最新熱門戲劇時,還一面登入PTT分享心得的「LIVE文」,就是「起鬨文化」的最佳表徵。

鄉民文化「踹共」,社群認同萌生

眾多無厘頭,反映當下時事的戲謔詞句不斷在PTT衍生。例如取自「出來講」台語諧音的「踹共」,為釋疑事件經過發展出的「懶人包」解說法,自嘲自己是loser的「魯蛇」用詞,都顯示了PTT網友自成一格的用語特色。

至於已成為PTT使用者代號的「鄉民」一詞,則源自港星周星馳電影《九品芝麻官》中的用語。2004年,站長調停板上紛爭時引用:「請看熱鬧的『鄉民』退到黃線外面去。」將帶有貶意的「鄉民」一詞,轉變為PTT網友認同的稱號。而這些獨創於PTT的新式語彙,經由新聞媒體援引快速傳播,形塑出台灣特有的「鄉民文化」。

2013年,現為大學講師的PTT資深鄉民ffaarr更將站上過去20年來衍生的詞彙及歷年重大事件,編目出版為《PTT鄉民大百科》。

2011年PTT站方首度發行「PTT認同卡」,邀集三百多家商家加入提供優惠。第一年6萬張快速售罄,甚至引起高價轉售,因此又於2013年發行6萬張,再次引發搶購熱潮。「不像一般商業卡,發行PTT認同卡是為了凝聚『鄉民』認同,」陳奐宇說。

因為認同PTT與鄉民文化,眾多「神人級」的高手潛藏其中,時常寫出驚豔四座的專業「圈內」文。不少看板也樹立起專業地位,例如名列前十大熱門看板的電影板,即是電影熱賣與否的風向球。2007年,熱賣台幣五億多元的國片《海角七號》起初不被看好,但在PTT電影板上好評不斷後,開低走高逆勢創下國片票房新高。

嘉惠眾多學子的留學板,也是學生海外求學前必訪的資訊站。陳奐宇表示,不少使用者基於鄉民認同,加上求學過程從中受惠,學成歸國後,也會反饋經驗分享給他人,形成正向循環。

陳奐宇表示,近年Facebook崛起後,校園學子已不再透過BBS交換訊息,聊天社交。「每年暑假因應新鮮人入學的帳號申請潮,已鮮少出現高峰,」陳奐宇說。取而代之的是共鳴於公共政策、工作職場等議題的上班族群。

據PTT站方統計,目前用戶申請量每日仍有一千多名,年齡結構卻向上攀升,20歲以下的網友正逐年遞減。「儘管青年世代申請量減低,但用戶的使用年限卻延長了,」他說。

破解「萬人響應,一人到場」,展現動員實力

PTT大量的人氣也逐漸轉化為實際行動。黃厚銘指出,PTT創站初期,使用者在帳號、暱稱與名片檔多突顯個人的獨特性,如今的使用者更寧願以無名氏的「鄉民」身分展開行動。

2009年莫拉克風災釀成災情時,就有PTT鄉民率先於「八卦板」號召,並在短時間內籌組三十多人的「PTT鄉民救災團」,迅速成立災情平台,並募資南下救災。過去2年來,引起各方關注的野草莓運動、洪仲丘事件與太陽花學運,也都展現了PTT鄉民的動員能量。

沒有炫彩的特效,無須大量的網路資源,成立20年的PTT構築起的自由空間,讓大人物免去現實的壓力悠遊其中,也能讓默默無名的小人物化身專業神人,發揮影響力,各地的網民靠著PTT攜手串連,從虛擬世界走入社會,一起發揮「鄉民力量」!

相關文章

近期文章

英文

PTT’s Legendary “Villager Culture”

Liu Yingfeng /tr. by Jonathan Barnard

Established in 1994, PTT, a highly popular Bulletin Board System with a lively and varied user base, has attracted more than 2 million users to its discussions.

This network space, which bridges the gap between the virtual and real worlds, has given birth to a “villager culture” distinctive to Taiwan. It has also helped to push users in various locations toward collective political action, accomplishing a feat that’s rare internationally.


Visit PTT, Taiwan’s largest bulletin board system (BBS), and you’ll discover a lively assortment of “villagers,” which is what its users, whether students or working people, call themselves. Among their ranks are luminaries such as Mayday’s lead singer ­Ashin, the animated baseball announcer Hsu Chan-yuan, and the Internet writer Giddens Ko.

Especially during the peak wee hours of the morning, there can be tens of thousands of users on at once, searching for information and engaging in vigorous debate on boards of a variety of topics, including those devoted to overseas students, travel and gossip.

In 2012 the director Hero Lin drew material directly from PTT for his film Silent Code. Describing relationships between members of a virtual community that closely resembles PTT, it became the first dramatic feature film, domestic or foreign, to focus on a BBS.

A rare phenomenon

PTT’s original simple, easy-to-read interface has survived to the present day, and the BBS has become a highly popular networked platform for exchange of opinion. ­Huang Hou-ming, an associate professor of sociology at National Cheng­chi University who has studied Internet communities, says, “It’s a rare phenomenon anywhere in the world.”

In 1984, when Taiwan’s Ministry of Education began to promote online academic networks, it assisted National Chiao Tong University and National Sun Yat-sen University in each setting up a BBS. Although not selected by the MOE, National Taiwan University set up one on its own called “Coconut Grove.” Joining NCTU’s “Phoenix City” and NSYSU’s “Formosa,” it became one of the island’s three large academic BBS systems.

As a result of controversies connected to control over the content of posts, BBS systems had strained relationships with campus authorities. In 1995, National Cheng­chi University decided to shut down its BBS when defamatory remarks about faculty were posted. In 2000, due to use of the site for cyber love and one-night stands, NTU’s Coconut Grove BBS stopped allowing visitors the freedom to pick anonymous user names. With stricter monitoring, its users fled.

At the same time, the costs of setting up a BBS were dropping dramatically, so students started to pool money to establish BBS systems of their own that used academic bandwidth. In 1996 Yeats Luo, an electrical engineering student at NTU, established his private “Sun of Beach” BBS and released information and technology to encourage others to found BBS systems for themselves.

Most users left the original academic BBS systems, establishing several dozen independent systems, including the gaming-oriented “Bahamut,” the feminist “Room of Her Own,” the film-oriented “CIA,” and PTT. It was the beginning of the golden era of BBS systems in Taiwan. “In the wee hours there would always be upward of around 10,000 online,” recalls ­Huang of those heady days.

The popularity of BBS systems prompted Internet entrepreneurs to experiment. In 1999 Bahamut left the academic network to become what is today Taiwan’s largest gaming discussion site: gamer.com.tw. In 2000 Stanford University alumni and students from NTU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering founded the BBS KKcity. For a period it was all the rage. The highly popular Wretch BBS at NCTU, which offered photo storage and which became a private company in 2005, helped to stir up the craze for blogging in Taiwan.

At a time when other non-profit BBS systems often found themselves unable to fill key management positions and went under, PTT, which had been constructed by the NTU computer science student Tu Yi-chin in 1994 and took a team-oriented approach to management, survived into the “post-BBS era” and was even able to acquire two other large BBS systems: Sun of Beach and Fish’s Purple Garden. It became Taiwan’s sole remaining large BBS.

PTT: Professional and independent

PTT public relations chief Chen ­Huanyu notes that when Tu had just founded the BBS, he actively promoted a division of labor within the management team. While many of the BBS systems had founders that handled both management and technical development, PTT had separate departments for managing accounts, public relations and promotional activities, legal affairs and so forth. It employed graduates of law, political science and other non-engineering departments in its management team.

Whereas Bahamut and Wretch transformed into commercial sites (Wretch closed down a couple of years ago), PTT kept to its non-profit principles, and established much greater levels of trust: “Lacking a commercial character not only raises the credibility of the site’s information,” says Chen. “It also creates room for a variety of free discussions.”

So far PTT has more than 3,000 topical boards. These include sparsely visited boards such as one devoted to Barbie dolls, as well as the rowdy and well-visited gossip board. “Because there is no pressure to turn a profit,” explains Chen, “there is space at PTT for topics attracting small followings that might be eliminated on commercially run boards.”

A cultural phenomenon

Conveying mostly exchanges of text, PTT is currently the only Internet site with over a million users that doesn’t sometimes have bandwidth and speed issues. Those features have also made it attractive to netizens.

In the 20 years of its existence, PTT has continually absorbed innovative functions from other sites. For instance, the P currency, which PTT users use to send each other song lyrics, was modeled on the “garden currency” of the Purple Garden. Just as Facebook uses the widely popular “Like” button, PTT early on adopted similar “Approval” and “Hiss” keystrokes. What’s more, notes ­Huang Hou-ming, PTT offers anonymity with user names, meeting the conflicting psychological desires of contemporary people to congregate in groups but also to preserve individual autonomy. “The anonymity demonstrates the conflicted love–hate relationships that individuals have with society,” says ­Huang.

He explains that PTT users, by connecting anonymously, are able to use the Internet to get to know each other but also able to screen out the pressures that people deal with interacting in the real world. ­Huang has coined the term “mob-ility” to describe the interactions of Internet friends on PTT and elsewhere.

From 2005, PTT’s size gradually began to snowball, creating a “critical mass” culture that has kept its popularity from ever flagging. Huang notes that the front page to the BBS has a counter displaying the number of people currently using it. Purple explosions indicate that individual boards have more than 100,000 users on at once. These design features are all aimed at encouraging villagers to join in the fun. Quite a few users log on to PTT when they are watching sporting events or broadcasts of popular television shows so as to offer live commentary. This is one of the best examples of its “critical mass” culture.

New coinages prompt a sense of identification

PTT’s boards are also known for humorous coinages, often involving Mandarin characters that sound somewhat similar to Taiwanese expressions or English words such as “loser.”

As for the term “villagers,” which is how PTT users refer to themselves, it originally came from the Hong Kong film Hail the Judge, directed by Stephen Chow. In 2004 a moderator made an appeal on a board experiencing a flame war: “Move along, villagers. There’s nothing to see here.” Though the word originally carried with it a somewhat derogatory meaning that implied a certain level of provincialism, it was embraced by PTT users as a badge of identity. New terms invented on PTT have ended up being much more than just an online phenomenon. They have been quickly picked up by the news media to create a “villager culture wave” that is unique to Taiwan.

Because they identify with PTT and its villager culture, posters with high levels of expertise in certain areas can make impressively in-depth posts on PTT. For instance, the film board, which is one of the ten most highly populated on PTT, has regulars whose posts can have a big impact on a film’s success or failure at the box office. In 2007 Cape No. 7 was not at first enthusiastically reviewed in mainstream media, but after a series of strong reviews on PTT’s film board, it rebounded to set an all-time Taiwan box-office record for a Taiwanese-made film.

Anonymous mobilization

Huang Hou-ming points out that in the early days PTT users showed great individuality in their accounts, nicknames, and signatures, but today’s users are more inclined to go about their activities in the guise of anonymous “villagers.”

When Typhoon Mo­ra­kot wreaked devastation in 2009, PTT villagers answered an appeal first made on the gossip board and quickly formed a PTT Disaster Relief Squad with more than 30 villagers. They created a platform for rapidly conveying information about the disaster zones and for bringing donations south to those in need. Over the last two years the Wild Strawberries Movement, the protests in response to the death of Corporal Hung ­Chung-chiu, and the Sunflower Student Movement have further borne witness to the mobilizing capacities of PTT villagers.

Free of dazzling special effects and thus requiring little bandwidth, PTT has for two decades given the famous a safe and anonymous space to vent their opinions and given average Johns and Janes a chance to make a difference. Demonstrating their collective power, PTT villagers all over Taiwan have proven they can have a meaningful impact on the world.

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!
更快速更方便!