Online Crowds - Extraordinary Mass Behavior on the Internet

Proceedings of I-MEDIA ’07 and I-SEMANTICS ’07, September 2007

12 Pages Posted: 5 Jun 2010

See all articles by Chris Russ

Chris Russ

Institute of Applied Informatics

Date Written: 2007


In this paper a novel form of online users, the “Online Crowds,” is described. “Online Crowds” gather virtually, behave and act collectively and produce effects and phenomena which would not be possible without the Internet [Hof 05]. A remarkable example is “The Million Dollar Homepage” where a clever student made more than £100.000 only by offering a simple but unique online idea. He used the dynamics between online users and companies to make money with almost no effort. To understand these “social contagion” processes, an interdisciplinary conceptual and psychological model of “Online Crowds” is introduced. The model is based on the principles of “Other directedness,” “Critical mass,” “Positive feedback loops” and the accelerating impact of network effects on the Internet. Some recommendations are sketched how such “Online Crowds” can be actively formed for promising online business models. If the behavior and the characteristics of “Online Crowds” are better understood, decision makers and providers will be better capable to predict and promote successful online communities and services. Moreover a look at the positive and negative effects of these phenomena is taken and their challenges, as well as the implications for the affected society are analyzed. Especially the domain of New Media Technology (NMT) and the particular area of online recommender - and personalization technology are facing a potential for exploiting these Internet phenomena. Finally, a list of related work in the field and an outlook on further improvements in the discussed approach are given.

Keywords: Online crowds, collective behavior, herd behavior, social networks, Internet phenomena, Internet business models, social contagion

JEL Classification: H51, H54, J4, K4

Suggested Citation

Russ, Chris, Online Crowds - Extraordinary Mass Behavior on the Internet (2007). Proceedings of I-MEDIA ’07 and I-SEMANTICS ’07, September 2007, Available at SSRN:

Chris Russ (Contact Author)

Institute of Applied Informatics ( email )

Klagenfurt, Austria A-9020


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