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,