The development of my involvement in this community from lurker to participant to virtual ethnographer provides a unique opportunity to compare the on and off-line interactions of an internet based community.
In Hong Kong mostly, where pro-democracy protesters are using it to communicate amid fears of network shutdowns.
It's also been used by Iraqis and Taiwanese students during their anti-Beijing Sunflower Movement.
Begun as a project at Tencent’s research and project centre in Guangzhou - away from its Shenzhen headquarters - in 2010, it caught on very quickly, growing to 50 million users in its first year.
Tencent has since expanded the app into a mobile platform, with payment, gaming and social media services.
The country’s rapid growth in mobile internet usage and a smartphone user base exceeding 843 million has launched a new wave of smartphone mobile chat services that can be used to channel traffic to many other apps and websites.