A few notes regarding online communities.
1. Online communities are socially oriented groups of people. Their primary function is communication.
2. Online community members may or may not have common interests, depending on the goal of the community.
3. Communities are distinct from one another, but community membership may overlap.
4. Online communities have shared responsibilities and a set of mutual obligations. These are defined either by a written code such as a Terms of Service, or by an unwritten code of mutually understood and agreed upon practices. The larger the community, the more likely the code is to be written down.
5. Online communities usually have a form of government. These governments are made up of community moderators and site administrators. Governments are almost never democratic in nature. They more often conform to a type of benign dictatorship or aristocracy.
6. The primary role of an online community government is to facilitate communication. This involves site maintenance, performed by the administrators, and police work, performed by community moderators.