Browse Chinese e-commerce site Taobao long enough, and you’ll come across any number of strange things—including the recent trend of hiring “praise givers.”

For a wide range of prices, users on messaging platform WeChat can hire a group of “professional praisers” to throw complimentary messages at a person of their choice for a prearranged amount of time.

One Taobao seller’s page features a screenshot of an apparently satisfied customer’s post, including the line “spent [RMB] 40 for one hour of happiness.” A sample of service contains compliments from “That’s awesome” to “Remember to contribute to a sperm bank, I hope my child is as excellent as you” (our translation).

Another shop advertises a premium product: praise givers who are humanities students from top schools, such as Peking University, Tsinghua University, Fudan and Shanghai Jiaotong.

It charges RMB 80 for five minutes of nonstop compliments.

Based on Baidu’s search index, the rise in popularity of “praise groups” has been sudden.

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