There is a big difference between social networks and online communities; these terms are many times confused but it is clear that these terms are not interchangeable.
Some of the most important properties of both of them include:
- has an organizational structure focused around an individual user’s one-to-one relationships
- has weak secondary connections between members
- allows its users to be members of many communities in the network at the same time
- is good for sharing activities
- is less effective at activities requiring cooperation and collective action
- makes it easier for users to build communities
- has an organizational structure focused around a shared purpose rather than one-to-one relationships
- has strong, predictable secondary relationships among members
- is distinct from other communities because of differences in purpose, policies, and computing environment
- is good for activities requiring sharing and cooperating
- is effective at providing the framework for activites requiring collective action
- should not be confused with “adhocracies,” “discussion groups,” “forums,” or “lists”
Social networks are online communities in the purest form. Social networks put individuals at the center of the relationships. They allow readers to:
- construct a public of semi-public profile within a bounded system
- articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection
- view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.In an online community, the individual is not the focus of attention. In contrast, the focus is put on the user’s commitment to the community.
Secondary relationships in online communities are more valuable than those made in social networks. Some aspects of online communities include:
- collective action
Online groups aren’t automatically communities. They must be successful in creating aspects that turn them into communities.