What Is a Community?

Posted: September 4, 2013 in Communities
Tags: , , , ,

communityIn a recent search on Google for “community definition,” the following appeared at the top of the results:

  • “a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common;
  • a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.”

How do you define “community”? What kinds of communities are you a part of? What separates a community from other groups you may belong to that you would not consider a community?

We speak of geographical areas as communities, yet I know only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of thousands of people in my city. Is that a community?

What about groups of people with whom you work, play, worship, volunteer, or go to school? What about the neighbors who live closest to you – do they make up a community?

My title at work is “community manager” for our enterprise social network of 29,000 employees and growing. Is that one large community or does it consist of many smaller groups that qualify for the designation? There are, after all, about 1200 special interest groups among that 29,000 members.

In reading the 10th anniversary edition of The Cluetrain Manifesto this week, I loved the simple definition of community I found there: “a group of people who care about each other more than they have to” (p. 133).

Brilliant!

I am fortunate to be part of several groups I am proud to call communities according to that definition – my team at work, many segments of the online community I manage at work, my church, and others. We all care more about each other than we have to.

Whether you have ever thought about the definition for a community or not, I suspect you know one when you experience it.

What communities do you belong to? How do you know you’re in a community?

Comments
  1. How about a group of individuals that share similar goals, values, and culture?

    • Jeff Ross says:

      I can see where a case can be made for that being called a community. I’d be more inclined to say yes if I knew there were interpersonal relationships involved, which is probably implied in your scenario.

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