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Production function

The first thing in relation to critical mass thresholds to reckon with, is that of the shape of the production function of the application, which can be accelerating or decelerating. In case of hypertext applications it delineates where the problem of producing texts, links and other community assets lies.

If it is decelerating, it is easy to get people to create the first few texts, but then as there are more texts, people see less value in adding new content. In this case there will be no start up problem, but a maintenance problem. While, if the production function is accelerating, then gaining critical mass is hard, but once it is attained, more and more content will be added (self sustained growth).

In Wikipedia, for example, the production-function most likely is accelerating. As the quality of articles increases, there will be more visitors, and more people motivated to add or improve articles. While in threaded web-forums a new reply to a thread that already is very long, is less likely to be read or valued, and thus in forum-threads the production function is expected to be decelerating (at least above a certain size).

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