Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Social Network Analysis and Mining

pp 1171-1181

Date:

Online Communities

  • Anatoliy GruzdAffiliated withSchool of Information Management, Dalhousie University

Synonyms

Computer-mediated group; Online group; Virtual community; Virtual settlement

Glossary

API

Application programming interface

CMC

Computer-mediated communication

MUD

Multiple-user domain/a multiplayer, real-time, virtual world

SoC

Sense of community

Definition

Online communities (also referred to as virtual communities), like their offline counterparts, can be characterized as groups of people who share similar backgrounds, values, or interests and meet regularly. However, the unique characteristic of an online community is that its members form and maintain their relationships via computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies such as online discussion boards, web blogs, and social media (For consistency, we will use “online communities” throughout this entry instead of using other synonyms.).

An online community can be exclusively “virtual” when members only meet via the Internet or may include both online and face-to-face interactions. Members can interact with each other synchronousl ...

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