University of Maryland

Classification schema for online communities

Lazar, J., & Preece, J. (1998). Classification schema for online communities. InProceedings of the 1998 Association for Information Systems Americas Conference.


A synthesis of the literature suggests that the key characteristics for classifying online communities are: (i)their attributes, (ii) supporting software, (iii) their relationship to physical communities, and (iv) the sociological concept of boundedness. A classification schema based on these four characteristics is presented in this paper. Examples of each type of community are discussed. These classification schema have important implications for the design and management of online communities. Computer networks, such as the Internet, have begun to connect people around the world. In the past, access to computer-mediated communication was mostly limited to employees in the government, military, or university research communities (King, Grinter, and Pickering, 1997), and to work-related tasks (Greif, 1988). As more diverse groups of people gain access to computer networks, a new type of communication group, known as an online community, has begun to emerge. What is an online community (also called a virtual community or an electronic community)? Although there is an increasing amount of research being done on online.