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But in Cyberspace there are other communities too!

These are people with common interests that may have an effect on the corporation. Interests may be in a profession, hobby, life interest or religion. In addition the relationship a company may have through affiliation such as a trade organisation, pressure group or market place may be influenced by the Internet Society and in turn the organisation.

The relationship can be even more tenuous in that an Internet community may have a loose, permanent or, frequently, temporary coalition with virtual communities with different agendas. Frequently, members of one group will carry information from group to group and will also empower members to form a third, mutually interesting groups where the interest, or agenda, is common.

In society at large and throughout time this dynamic was possible before the Internet but today it is more potent, powerful and bigger. Interest of individuals, hitherto of a very personal nature can now be shared with others in communities of scattered enthusiasts round the world.

The nature of Internet communities is change with groups forming and fading like boiling clouds on a summers day.

Internet community relations management is now a bigger and more pervasive form of community relationship affairs than before. It affects the company more than ever before and communities are better informed and able to communicate more effectively. The extent to which the Internet aids democracy and infringes on the value of copyright are important maters for consideration and the effective Internet Reputation Manager will at least visit the significant discussions on the matter. They are important for all companies.

Virtual communities, born from common interests and aspirations of their members can be very closely associated with a corporate site. However, if, as part of the Internet presence, a company incorporates a discussion group or chat rooms there is a cost in planning effort, attention and time. The extent to which there is affinity with netzines , the rules to use, means for moderating (such as what topics can be touched on, what behaviour is acceptable and so forth), need careful planning and the means to continually bring new people and new interest to the community.

The relative anonymity of communities (chat, newsgroup, bulletin board etc) means people tend to say things they would normally not articulate. Rheingold expresses it well: 'As the Net has grown, the original norms of netiquette and collaborative, co-operative, maintenance of an information commons that enriches everyone have been assaulted by waves of clueless newbies and sociopaths, spammers and charlatans and loudmouths. Maintaining civility in the midst of the very conflicts we must solve together as citizens, isn't easy.'

Thus, the means by which a company may want to enhance its reputation by including discussion and discourse on its site can backfire dramatically. A guide to how to host a community on line is published by Rheingard.

So what do these virtual communities look like?

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Article Series

This article is part 14 of a 24 part series. Other articles in this series are shown below:
  1. The Internet Influence
  2. Reputation Management
  3. The Internet Society
  4. How People Use The Internet
  5. The Opinion Formers
  6. A Stakerholder Society
  7. Its Fast
  8. Technology For The People
  9. A Reputation For Responding
  10. Newsgroups, Chat and Cybercast
  11. The Nature of Newsgroups
  12. Chat Overtaking Newsgroups
  13. Cybercasting
  14. The Internet Communities
  15. Neighbourghood Communities
  16. Company Communities
  17. Community Currency
  18. The Effect Of Virutal Communities On The Bottom Line
  19. Political Communities
  20. Cyber Marketers
  21. Global Branding
  22. Accessibility
  23. Information and Content
  24. Cyberbrand Outreach Accessibility
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