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Lecture Three for Participation in Occupation course. Otago Poly School of Occupational Therapy


  • 1.Participation in Occupation 1 BT230001 Lecture Three:Online Communities

2. 3. Introduction

  • Definitions of Community and Online community
  • The development of online communities
  • What attracts people to join or form online communities?
  • What benefits do online communities offer that traditional community do not?
  • What negative implications attach themselves to online communities?
  • Some examples of online communities

4. Community

  • Community 1.a. the people living in one locality.B. the locality in which they live.C. (as modifier): community spirit.2. a group of people having cultural, religious, or other characteristics in common.3. a group of nations having certain interests in common 4. the public; society 5. common ownership

5. Types of community

  • It is generally recognised that there are three types of different usage of the word community
  • Geographic communities : range from the local neighbourhood, suburb, village, town or city, region, nation or even the planet as a whole. These refer to communities oflocation .
  • Communities of culture : range from the local clique, sub-culture, ethnic group, multicultural or pluralistic civilisation, or the global community cultures of today. They may be included ascommunities of needoridentity , such as disabled persons, or frail aged people.
  • Community organisations : range from informal family or kinship networks, to more formal incorporated associations, political decision making structures, economic enterprises, or professional associations at a small, national or international scale.
  • Communities are nested; one community can contain another - for example a geographic community may contain a number of ethnic communities

6. Online Community

  • Avirtual communityoronline communityis a group of people that may or may not primarily or initially communicate or interact via the Internet. Online communities have also become a supplemental form of communication between people who know each other in real life. The dawn of the "information age" found groups communicating electronically rather than face to face. A "Computer-mediated community" (CMC) uses social software to regulate the activities of participants. An online community such as one responsible for collaboratively producing open source software is sometimes called a development community. Significant socio-technical change has resulted from the proliferation of Internet-based social networks.

7. History of Online Communities

  • Usenet : Established in 1980, as a "distributed Internet discussion system," it became the initial Internet community. Volunteer moderators and votetakers contribute to the community.
  • The WELL : A pioneering online community established in 1985. The WELL's culture has been the subject of several books and articles. Many users voluntarily contribute to community building and maintenance (e.g., as conference hosts).
  • AOL : The largest of the online service providers, with chat rooms which for years were voluntarily moderated by community leaders. It should be noted that rooms and most message boards are no longer moderated, however.
  • Slashdot : A popular technology-related forum, with articles and readers comments. Slashdot subculture has become well-known in Internet circles. Users accumulate a "karma score" and volunteer moderators are selected from those with high scores.
  • Wikipedia : Wikipedia is now the largest encyclopedia in the world. Its editors, who voluntarily publish and revise articles, have formed an intricate and multi-faceted community.

8. Development of online communities

  • Most online communities grow slowly at first, due in part to the fact that the strength of motivation for contributing is usually proportional to the size of the community. As the size of the potential audience increases, so does the attraction of writing and contributing. This, coupled with the fact that organizational culture does not change overnight, means creators can expect slow progress at first with a new virtual community. As more people begin to participate however, the aforementioned motivations will increase creating a virtuous cycle where the more participation begets more participation. It can be likened to a network, whereby the network's value is directly proportional to the square of the amount of users it has. Many online community members describe their participation as "addictive".

9. Why do people join online communities?

  • Peter Kollock (1999)
  • Anticipated reciprocity
  • Increased Recognition
  • Sense of Efficacy
  • Sense of Community

10. Benefits

  • Can compliment real life communities
  • Can provide large amounts of information
  • Can provide connections over great distances instantly
  • Ability to connect with people of similar interests/needs/ concerns
  • Can foster understanding and unity

11. Benefits cont

  • Can allow silent observation prior to participation
  • Often without monetary cost
  • Individual generally have an equality of voice.A move away from mass media.
  • Speed of information sharing
  • Ability to monitor and regulate users

12. Negative Issues

  • Digital divide (who has access)
  • Technology compatibility
  • Misuse
  • Delusional reliance on virtual communities
  • Rapid grown may result in unwanted or unperceived changes
  • Limited communication tools
  • Validity of the information being shared
  • Who sustains and manages the community


  • Benchmark virtual communities
  • Blog : LiveJournal, Xanga, MySpace, Facebook, Blogger
  • Virtual world/city : LucasFilm's Habitat, Secondlife,
  • Yahoo! Messenger, Windows Live Messenger,
  • MMORPG : Everquest, Ultima Online, RuneScape, World of Warcraft, Silk Road Online
  • P2P : Kazaa, Morpheus, Napster, Limewire
  • Wiki : Wikipedia, WikiWikiWeb, Wetpaint,
  • WWW : eBay, GeoCities,

14. Examples of Communities 15. Websites

  • File Sharing:


  • General description
  • A non-hierarchical keyword categorization system is used on where users can tag each of their bookmarks with a number of freely chosen keywords. A combined view of everyone's bookmarks with a given tag is available; for instance, the URL " " displays all of the most recent links tagged "wiki". Its collective nature makes it possible to view bookmarks added by similar-minded users.
  • has a "hotlist" on its home page and "popular" and "recent" pages, which help to surface interesting content and make the website an effective conveyor of popular internet trends.

17. Websites

  • Reference:

18. Websites

  • Health:

19. Websites

  • Miscellaneous:
  • http ://

20. Chat Rooms

  • Achat roomorchatroomis a term used primarily by mass media to describe any form of synchronous conferencing, occasionally even asynchronous conferencing. The term can thus mean any technology ranging from real-time online chat over instant messaging and online forums to fully immersive graphical social environments.

21. Conclusion

  • Although not generally as connective as real world communities and relationships, online communities have a great deal to offer.They can, if used constructively, provide information, support, entertainment and identity as a supplement to our everyday lives.

22. References

  • Community and virtual community information retrieved 21 stFebruary 2007 from:www.wikipedia/virtualcommunity
  • For more information on setting up and building online communities check out