In this essay we will be examining what exactly critical mass is, and how it affects collaborative hypertext environments. In short critical mass is the minimum number of users required for an application to make it worthwhile for new visitors. While, generally, the effect of critical mass on hypertext applications is that it makes them fail because it cannot be attained.
However there is more to it, and in order to be able to give a more precise answer, we will first be examining some of the terminology used to denote critical mass, further delineate the problem, and specify some limits of this essay. The foremost of these limits is that we do not attempt to provide a magical recipe for obtaining critical mass. The essay merely tries to clarify the notion in the context of hypertext applications.
Then, under the heading of network effects, we will investigate what advantages the presence of other users can bring to an application. Following, we will be discussing four different conceptions of critical mass. We will continue by exploring various aspects and properties of critical mass thresholds. Finally, we will discuss the factors that are important for collaborative hypertext applications in relation to the attainment of critical mass.