We explain what a virtual community is and what they are for. Characteristics and examples of different virtual communities.
What are virtual communities?
Virtual communities are called certain groups of subjects (individuals, groups and institutions) that concentrate their efforts on the ordering of data processed on the Internet , based on online services. In other words, they are groups of individuals and institutions organized cybernetically around a range of specific interests, whose interactions, links, relationships and communications occur through the Network.
Virtual communities can be very diverse and specific, involving people from geographically and culturally distant backgrounds , organized around a common theme of their passion or interest, and a virtual “space” that can be determined by a Web page or an On service -line.
This term was first used in 1994, in the book The virtual community of Howard Rheinhold. However, the first virtual communities already existed since the 70s of the twentieth century , particularly around the exchange of specialized data in military, scientific and academic fields, thanks to the communication mechanisms of the then rudimentary Internet, as bulletin systems ( BBS) or bulletin boards.
Currently virtual communities are a massive online phenomenon and closely linked to the explosion of social networks , capable of interconnecting this type of virtual organizations or creating their own , around massive communicative axes and different times and modes of interaction.
What are virtual communities good for?
In principle, virtual communities have the purpose of exchanging specialized information about a topic or axis of topics that can be any, from science and technology , literary creation, sports or cinematographic fanaticism, etc. Those who collaborate in them are both consumers , producers and / or replicators of the information available in this regard.
On the other hand, they are a useful tool for corporate spheres, allowing an internal organization of communications, as well as a closer and more direct contact with consumers, organizing a community around the product or brand ( branding or loyalty). It also operates as a space for socialization and exchange of diverse nature among people of all types, within the framework of social networks and culture 2.0.
Characteristics of virtual communities
Virtual communities are usually characterized as follows:
- They involve individuals from different backgrounds, who may come from distant geographies, diverse social groups, etc.
- They organize their members around a specific topic or specific interest, be it the debate around certain topics, joint literary creation, video games, the opportunity for romantic dates, etc.
- It does not have a physical anchor in the real world, but in a service or website available digitally.
- It prints a sense of belonging in its members as strong as traditional communities , whether or not it lends itself to physical and face-to-face exchange.
Examples of virtual communities
Some examples of today’s virtual communities are:
- Twitter . A social network that allows you to establish a bulletin board to read, share and comment on news with other users from anywhere in the world.
- Microsoft commnity . A virtual forum that groups users of Microsoft products and allows them to interact with the company , to obtain solutions to technical problems, recommendations, express their opinion, etc.
- Wikipedia . Beyond the open information for the consumption of all Internet, there is a very diverse community of collaborators, anonymous or not, who debate the articles, correct them, create new ones, translate and allow the collective encyclopedic project to be updated.
- Tinder . It is a social network that operates as a community of romantic interests, allowing its users to meet new people and get in touch with it to manage appointments and establish romantic relationships. It has a version intended only for the gay public, known as Grindr.
- eMule . Software Connection peer-to-peer (P2P) that allows users to engage virtual exchanges of data and information from their own computers , and create joint databases to share information that is important to them personally.
- Letralia . This website was once a mailing list system and is currently an important information community on literary matters, in which texts are published , calls are spread, contests are announced, etc.