SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ They gathered in cavernous ``auditoriums'' on America Online, at a ``convention center'' on CompuServe, and flooded the Internet's oj-simpson newsgroup with 1,000 comments.

As soon as the O.J. Simpson verdict was read in a Los Angeles courtroom, a worldwide electronic clamor erupted in cyberspace.

``A vicious double murderer walks free. Justice. Hah,'' Beverly Talbott of San Francisco tapped out to the WELL computer network five minutes after Simpson was acquitted in the slayings of Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

The CNN-OJ home page on the World Wide Web got so clogged that latecomers couldn't log in even 10 minutes before the verdict was delivered. Twenty minutes after Simpson became a free man, the line still reported overload.

CompuServe, a commercial online service based in Columbus, Ohio, began preparing for the onslaught Monday as soon as the jury said it reached a verdict. ``We're expecting four times our normal user load tonight when everyone's home with their computers after work,'' said spokeswoman Michelle Moran.

Virginia-based America Online used its online ``auditorium'' to accept up to 5,000 users at a time to discuss the case. One hour before the verdict was handed up, more than 200 people were discussing the case and its possible outcome.

On the Internet, users who spent the past year chatting about the case on the alt.fan.oj-simpson newsgroup made their farewells.

``Well, folks, the jury has spoken and tomorrow we find out just what it said. So just about anything I or anyone else can say from here on is pretty much irrelevant. So I'm gonna shut up and signoff and bid you all godspeed,'' wrote a Carlton, Calif., user.

A reader from Hong Kong concluded:

``After following this Newsgroup since its creation, I am almost sad to say good-by to some of the most sensitive writings I have ever read. Our blood has been stirred. ... I hope we have all learned something about ourselves.''