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Online communities can mean a variety of things, and the sites listed for us to take a look at are only one type, although they are some of the most popular. I’ve been a member of many different forums through the years, mostly consisting of people that I’ve met online through games. Because of this I tend to relate the word “forum? to something relating to gaming, even though there are countless topics that different forums discuss. I also use Xanga for the little amounts of blogging that I do outside of this class.
“A prevalent assumption by many observers is that the articulation of Friendship is equivalent to friendship (Kornblum, 2006). In other words, if people say that they are Friends on these sites, they must be friends in other contexts as well. This paper challenges that assumption.? (Boyd).
This brief overview of Boyd’s paper agrees with my thoughts about online communities completely. The best example I can give is an artist’s Myspace page. Some artists have thousands of friends on Myspace, yet most of the time the artist will never have any contact, on or offline, with a majority of these friends. If people can be friends online without any type of contact, then an online friend is really constituted by common interest. This is where Baym’s paper is still relevant. Baym compares an online community to a concept that, in my head at least, resembles a book club. This comparison as well as the data gathered about how the forum was used and what types of people used it goes to show that often, online communities are topic based, supporting my theory that online friendships are established merely by common interest (much the same as real life, except without the interaction.)