An online community, also called an internet community or web community, is a community whose members interact with each other primarily via the Internet. Members of the community usually share common interests. For many, online communities may feel like home, consisting of a "family of invisible friends". Additionally, these "friends" can be connected through gaming communities and gaming companies. Those who wish to be a part of an online community usually have to become a member via a specific site and thereby gain access to specific content or links.
An online community can act as an information system where members can post, comment on discussions, give advice or collaborate, and includes medical advice or specific health care research as well. Commonly, people communicate through social networking sites, chat rooms, forums, email lists, and discussion boards, and have advanced into daily social media platforms as well. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. People may also join online communities through video games, blogs, and virtual worlds, and could potentially meet new significant others in dating sites or dating virtual worlds.
The rise in popularity of Web 2.0 websites has allowed for easier real-time communication and connection to others and facilitated the introduction of new ways for information to be exchanged. Yet, these interactions may also lead to a downfall of social interactions or deposit more negative and derogatory forms of speaking to others, in connection, surfaced forms of racism, bullying, sexist comments, etc. may also be investigated and linked to online communities.
One scholarly definition of an online community is this: "a virtual community is defined as an aggregation of individuals or business partners who interact around a shared interest, where the interaction is at least partially supported or mediated by technology (or both), and guided by some protocols or norms".