Are We A Community?


In this post I’m going to talk about Online Communities, but first let’s look at what an online community is and how we can define them.

An article on i-Scoop describes communities as:

“A natural phenomenon, a mindset and a way of engagement. Communities of people have always existed and online communities existed long before we even used blogs. Social communities are online communities using social platforms. An online community is no different than any other community except for the fact it’s online. It is a group of people with something in common, which could include shared interests, experiences, ideals, goals or profiles.

This is an interesting definition because it implies that the technology is irrelevant to the concept of communities, even though in some cases it is the main platform for communication.

i-Scoop defines 7 parameters for classifying communities: Scale, Scope (Exchanging ideas or answering questions), Settings (Public/private), Maturity (of the features, Networking and content sharing or collaboration and co-creation), Value Proposition, Members and Tools.

Using these definitions and parameters you could say that a blog or a site such as LinkedIn is not a community. This is because there is no clear community goal or engagement. Let’s see what happens if I apply this information to some of my own social networks.

Facebook – has a small scale based on my personal connections; is an environment for sharing ideas, having conversations or answering questions; the setting is private; the network has basic community features, and it has a wide range of members from various profiles all with a shared goal.

DeviantArt – has a large public community of members all with a shared goal or interest in Art. It is a platform for communication and learning and even collaboration, utilising basic tools and features.

By this definition, both of these networks can be considered communities. But let’s look at one more, and consider Kate’s twitter network of library and information professionals.

Twitter – has a large public and private audience; utilises basic features of networking and content sharing to communicate between people of a similar interest; and is used as a platform for sharing ideas, conversations, learning experiences and collaboration toward similar goals.

It meets all the criteria, I think it’s fair to say it’s an online community.

Lastly, I was going to write about my networks, where they exist, how I participate, enact relationships, etc. But I feel like I covered most of that In my previous blog post about my online identity so if you want to give that a read go ahead and check out my previous post, Internet & Me.

If you disagree with this definition of online communities or my conclusions about specific networks, let me know in the comments, I’ll be interested to hear your different opinions.

Have a lovely day,
– M

5 thoughts on “Are We A Community?”

  1. Hi Melissa, first of all nice post 🙂 You have some interesting points about Facebook. From what I found when searching for information for my blog post, Facebook as a whole is more a network than a community. However a Facebook group, for example, is more of a community as there is obvious collaboration, question sharing and a common goal. I used different parameters to you though, so how much of a community it is can definitely depend on how you evaluate it. Any thoughts?

    1. You’re completely right. Facebook is a network, I’m not sure what I was thinking when I said it satisfied the shared goal criteria. :/ But I agree that Facebook Groups can be considered a community. Thank you very much for your feedback, this was very helpful. ^u^

      1. Really good post Melissa! I agree with both you and Anthony here that Facebook is a social network site, within which you build your own networks, and within which communities can form. If you decide to choose this post for marking, I’d like to see you update the post to include your revised thoughts.

        Good job!

  2. I agree with the comment by Anthony as I find Facebook is more used for networking and putting people in touch with one another while the group side more reminds me of a community. I think this is similar to the difference in the gaming world as well. While some games are used to help put people in touch with another or to archive a goal; others are more used to keep in touch with one another and to develop friendships. Do you use gaming at all? And if so, what are your thoughts on this area?

    1. I don’t game very often… Mostly single player pc games like MineCraft; Beyond that I’m a nintendo gamer.
      I do believe there are community spaces in the MiiVerse but I don’t frequently go on there or use that functionality. The closest I get in the gaming world is just networking enabled by StreetPass, but that is nowhere near a community.
      Thanks for your opinion though, It’s nice to think about things from other perspectives.

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