Howard Rheingold’s (1993) book The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier was the first to bring virtual communities to the attention of researchers and practitioners. Although virtual groups have been examined previously, Rheingold’s descriptions of participating in the WELL, an Internet-based bulletin board, vividly portrayed the potential of online social groupings. Rheingold told stories of people who had never met face-to-face providing socio-emotional and even financial support to each other through times of crisis and celebration.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Common Identity Ccommunities: Virtual communities that form because of the members’ interest in a particular topic.
Co-Located Virtual Communities: Virtual communities which are associated with a physical location. Members interact both online and face-to-face.
Common Bond Communities: Virtual communities that form because of the members’ relationships with each other.
Virtual Community Success: When virtual communities are self-sustaining and meet the needs of their members and maintain member satisfaction
Sense of Virtual Ccommunity: Members’ feelings of belonging, attachment, identity and influence with each other in a group supported by e-collaboration technology.
Trolls: Members who enter virtual communities with the primary objective of stirring up trouble among the established members
Emoticons: Combinations of text that are believed to portray communicator emotions, for example,:-) and:-(.
Dispersed Virtual Ccommunities: Virtual communities which are not associated with a physical location. Members are dispersed around the globe and may not ever meet each other face-to-face.
Virtual Communities: Also known as online communities, these are groups of people who interact primarily through e-collaboration technologies and who have developed a sense of community with each other.
Virtual Settlements: An e-collaboration technology supported group identified by a minimum number of interactive, public interactions by a variety of sustained contributors.