My Understanding of an online community is a virtual place or page where people come to connect and share interests or work together in many different scenarios. These can go from an online community solely created for leisure and fun to a community built to gain a better understanding in a certain industry or for a certain product.
In my opinion the characteristics of an online community, or the characteristics an online community should have are as follows;
The community should have engagement and interaction from or with everyone who is involved. If there was no engagement from members what would be the point of having the community in the first place?
Of course the community should have conversations, not just formal or un-formal posts on the subject or subjects. Real engaging conversations, which, in my opinion makes people feel more at home and comfortable within the community.
A community should not be limited to a single narrow audience. It should share culture and expand its community by giving users a means to engage in a completely different culture and find out what others think about the same interests from all walks of life.
This is fairly straight forward. There needs to be relevant content in the community to stay on track and keep the users from dispersing to a different community.
I believe having a member rating in an online community is a good way to encourage users to contribute good content, sort of like a reward system. Having a member rating also gives other users of the community a way to search the higher and more intelligent users for any more serious questions or feedback they have.
Administration is always needed in online communities to prevent the content from becoming toxic and keep members posting with relevant information. This is also used to ensure there are penalties on users who abuse the system or other members eg. trolling, posting ads on website, posting disallowed content.
The 6 characteristics listed above are some of the main characteristics of an online community. Without the following characteristics it would be difficult to keep a successful online community alive.
If you take a look at the following ‘successful’ online communities you will see some of the characteristics I have mentioned that are required.
These are 5 of some of the most popular ‘Online Communites’;
(1.39 Billion Active Users – Most popular social networking site)
Google Plus Communities
(540 Million Active Users)
(700 Million Active Users)
(284 Million Active Users)
(300 Million Active Users)
These are some of the most active Online Communities today all of which have hundreds of millions of users and upwards so you can see how rapidly growing Online Communities are growing.How many are you a part of?