Online Communities and Community Building

Online Communities and Community Building

Martin C. Kindsmuller (Berlin University of Technology, Germany), Sandro Leuchter (Berlin University of Technology, Germany) and Leon Urbas (University of Technology, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-553-5.ch388
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“Online community” is one of today’s buzzwords. Even though superficially it is not hard to understand, the term has become somewhat vague while being extensively used within the e-commerce business. Within this article, we refer to online community as being a voluntary group of users who partake actively in a certain computer-mediated service. The term “online community” is preferred over the term “virtual community,” as it denotes the character of the community more accurately: community members are interacting online as opposed to face to face. Furthermore, the term “virtual community” seems too unspecific, because it includes other communities that only exist virtually, whereas an online community in our definition is always a real community in the sense that community members know that they are part of the community.

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