Standard Article

Online Communities

  1. Lee Sproull

Published Online: 15 APR 2004

DOI: 10.1002/047148296X.tie128

The Internet Encyclopedia

The Internet Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Sproull, L. 2004. Online Communities. The Internet Encyclopedia. .

Author Information

  1. New York University

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2004


This chapter traces the development and nature of online communities. It discusses technology, processes, and attributes common to many online communities. It then demonstrates how underlying technologies and social processes can result in many types of communities, depending on member and sponsor interests. Just as community types can differ, so too can the positive and negative consequences that accrue to members, sponsors, and the larger society. The chapter concludes with an overview of research methodologies and issues for understanding online communities.


  • (A)vocation communities;
  • concern communities;
  • condition communities;
  • creative communities;
  • customer communities;
  • Internet relay chat (IRC);
  • listserv;
  • place-based communities;
  • usenet