Online Communities

Written by Linda Alexander
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An online community is a group of people who connect with each other over the Internet. While discussions are a primary function of online communities, there is usually more involved. Communities can organize and act through online discussion. They can publish content on any particular topic or on general information. They can upload and download files, play games, or share personal profiles of themselves with other visitors.

In an online community, the people who visit will change regularly. That's why moderating discussions and having guidelines for posting is so important. The best online communities keep visitors coming back, though. This can be done in any number of ways.

Gathering People and Information

Information is the first thing people look for on the Web. Therefore, having valuable articles, reports, research and other information is crucial to the success of a community. Next, people with a common interest need a way to connect with each other. If your site is about golf, get golf enthusiasts together to share strategies on a discussion board. If it's about gourmet cooking, you could have message boards where people swap recipes. Online swap sites, auctions, polls, games, and chat rooms are other features to add to your community.

Some online communities are only partly virtual. For example, a neighborhood watch group might decide to start a website of their own. Or a book discussion group might want to continue the discussion online after the in-person group goes home. A true online community will have any combination of these features that make it interesting, informative, and interactive.

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