More than 1,000 users of the Professional Technology Temple (PTT) — the nation’s largest academic online bulletin board— yesterday formed a nearly 400m-long line to purchase a “PTT recognition card” that offers discounts from more than 300 stores.
PTT, run by National Taiwan University (NTU) students or graduates of NTU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, boasts about 1.25 million user accounts and more than 15,000 discussion boards on various topics.
PTT’s Activities Department Webmaster and coordinator of the card issuing event, Chen Huan-yu (陳奐宇), said the system was set up by a student at NTU’s Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering, Tu Yi-chin (杜奕瑾), in 1994, and now attracts about 2.5 million visitors a day.
Chen said more than 30,000 users pre-ordered the card on the Internet this month, and adding the people in line, he estimated that about 40,000 cards were sold during the launch yesterday at NTU campus.
Chen said that PTT has always been limited to the Internet, but after being inspired by recognition cards issued by a few of PTT’s discussion boards on local districts, they had the idea of bringing the system into real life, to enhance the cohesion of the Internet community on PTT.
“We don’t charge any commission fees from stores, but allow them to apply for cooperation,” Chen said.
There are three stores from overseas that have asked to take part in the discount program: a bubble tea shop in England, a travel agency in Malaysia and a commissioning agent for identification documents in Macau.
The cards were sold for NT$20 each, with two designs. The designs were selected through voting by PTT users, but both offer the same discounts.
The designer of the card with the most votes, a 25-year-old user nicknamed A-Mao (阿毛), designed a card with PTT’s mascot — the Kaka Monster, which is said to eat up nonsensical articles and was created to fill in the empty blanks when articles were deleted in discussion boards.
The first person in line yesterday was a 20-year-old NTU undergraduate student nicknamed Purple Fish (紫魚) who waited for more than three hours before the sales began.
“I was attracted to the card because the design is very cute and offers many useful discounts,” she said.
Bai Ming-hung (白明弘), a 24-year-old NTU graduate student, bought 20 cards for his family and friends.