What is a Online Community?

There is a discussion going on in the WELL [Jon][] is quoting from. His take on the changing face of *community*:

> What’s happened is that communities are no longer tethered to specific technologies or virtual places.

This trend, if you may call it so, it not new. [Since the Internet slowly turned into a regular means of communication][sc1] (mass communication, directed communication, peer to peer, …) more and more people began to realize that, and here I quote myself, [the Internet of course is driven by technology, but the purpose of it is communication between people][sc2].

In 2003 at the Chemnitzer Linuxtag in Germany, the catchphrase of [my talk][sc3] (MP3 files available) was
> *Online Communities is not about websites where people gather, instead it’s about people who gather on websites.*

[Ross][], quoting Jon, asks about opinions on the changing sense of *community*. I don’t see such a change. When we talk about tools we do not talk about people, hence not about communities of any kind. A discussion about technology, as going on in the WELL, is not about *community*.

As [Lee][] points out, a community is a byproduct - perhaps a goal, too, in some cases - that emerges after you successfully implemented what he calls *Social Strategy*. Summarized:
> *Community* is not up to you [the host], it’s up to the members.

Regardless what terms we use, one thing is for sure: *community* is about the people inside and outside our community building, not about the excavator or concrete used to construct it.

[Jon]: http://www.weblogsky.com/archives/000423.html
[sc1]: http://www.itst.org/web/280-selfpublishing.shtml
[sc2]: http://www.itst.org/web/316-der_menschliche_faktor.shtml
[sc3]: http://www.tu-chemnitz.de/linux/tag/lt5/vortraege/detail.html?index=29
[Ross]: http://www.corante.com/many/archives/2005/04/20/untethered_communities.php
[Lee]: http://www.commoncraft.com/archives/001012.html

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