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Abstract

This article presents a method based on Jones' “virtual settlement” theory for testing empirically for the presence of virtual community in Internet Relay Chatting (IRC), The conditions for virtual community proposed by Jones are related to the technological context of IRC and formulated as conceptual hypotheses. The author argues that sustained level of co-appearance and nickname stability should be included in testing. Interactivity analysis should include both verbal exchanges and action-simulating messages. Analysis of message references should be done in terms of message content as well as message syntax. Major issues related to research design and implementation are discussed in depth.