With more than 384 million netizens desperate to discuss or deride the "next big thing", the demand for Web celebrities - people made famous overnight by a well-seen clip, blog or post - has become enormous.
In recent years, pictures circulated online have helped a homeless man shoot to fame for being "well dressed" and a pretty village girl in traditional ethnic Qiang clothing become a pin-up model.
Although this seems like luck, analysts say these people are often the clients - and sometimes victims - of so-called tui shou, Internet marketers who stand to earn big money by thrusting them into the limelight.
By paying thousands of netizens to leave positive or negative posts on China's popular websites, thereby generating attention, tui shou (literally pushing hands) potentially stand to make thousands of yuan on advertising tie-ins and promotions, even if the star of the show does not.
For the casual browser, forwarding hilarious or shocking stories or clips about crazy stunts maybe just a bit of fun. To some, it is a serious business.
On average, it costs about 3,000 yuan ($440) to pay netizens to leave just one post on more than 3,000 online forums - and with a large enough budget, marketers can almost guarantee that their client will become an Internet sensation.
“We don't care who is behind these stories," said Du Peiyuan, mop.com's Beijing-based director of interactive service. "We've built the platform but we don't really care who is dancing on it. "
It is almost impossible to identify who is gaining fame due to the sheer weight of interest or the Internet marketing machine (tui shou take credit either way).
然而，作为当今网络红人之一的罗玉凤却否认自己成名与外援有关。 However, Luo Yufeng, one of the biggest Web celebrities today, denies receiving any help on her road to stardom.
The 24-year-old, who is more commonly known as Feng Jie, or Sister Phoenix, shot to fame after she handed leaflets on the streets of Shanghai's Lujiazui financial district that stated the characteristics a man would need in order to marry her.
她在传单上写道：“他必须是北大清华经济学或相关专业的精英。同时身高必须在176--183之间，且相貌英俊。” "He must be an elite with a degree in economics or similar from Peking University or Tsinghua University," she wrote. "He must also be 176 to 183 centimeters tall and good looking."
As Luo is petite and arguably plain-looking, netizens immediately hailed her as the nation's newest laughingstock. Others were quick to see the business opportunities, though, with several self-proclaimed "experts in viral marketing" stepping forward to take credit for masterminding her success.
She was joined on the show by her "boyfriend" and "ex-boyfriend" (both were later confirmed to be actors) to talk about their "love triangle", and also made bold comments such as: "I started reading literature at 9 years old and no one can surpass me", and "No one in the last 300 years can compare with my IQ".
As the Feng Jie story rolls on, Luo continues to be surrounded by reporters waiting for the next outlandish quote, and has offers from plastic surgery clinics for free consultations. She also receives many invites from talent shows to sing a song - no matter how badly she sings it.
But what happens when the netizens lose interest?
For Shi Hengxia, another Web celebrity, who was nicknamed Furong Jiejie, or Sister Lotus ,watching the spotlight slowly turn away from her has been a frustrating experience. All attempts by Shi over the last few years to launch a mainstream career in dancing, singing or acting have fallen flat.
Ultimately, a Web star attempting to start a mainstream career is like "writing in the water", said Du at mop.com. "If Shi tries to change herself, then she is not the famous Sister Furong anymore," he said.更多信息请访问：http://www.24en.com/
So, the only options these celebrities have are to court more controversy or become less famous. "That's the real tragedy," shrugged Du.
desperate 极想望的, 极需要的
hilarious 十分有趣的, 非常滑稽的
outlandish 古怪的, 奇异的