Internet heroes are those people who inspire the masses, who use the Internet to do amazing or enlightening things and who most perfectly exemplify the virtues around which online citizens from around the world have been rallying for years. (These virtues include transparency and honesty, a lighthearted sense of humor about even controversial or disagreeable subjects and, above all, a commitment to the freedom of expression online.) Though some of the people on this list were celebrities and public figures before 2012, all of them have done something this year that stands out, that made millions of people around the world take notice and cheer them on from blogs, social media networks, message boards, forums and comment sections everywhere.
Many of the individuals on the list come from the world of video games, particularly indie game development. These include "Notch," the infamous creator of underground game sensation "Minecraft," and Tim Schafer, whose Kickstarter campaign for the Double Fine Adventure game raised over $3.3 million. Speaking of online fundraising, that was also the claim to fame of bus monitor Karen Klein, for whom the Internet raised hundreds of thousands of dollars after a video went viral showing her being bullied by middle school students. Comedian Louis CK also made waves in 2012 for selling his comedy special, "Live at the Beacon Theater," exclusively through his website for $5, and then putting tickets to his latest tour on the Web as well.