What is Community – Followup III

Yes, that’s right – I’m still talking about defining community.

In the last few days, I’ve had a number of email/IM/phone conversations with friends, colleagues, and bloggers about the What is Community? post. I wish I had trackback on (stupid trackback spammers…), but for more discussion, check out these links:

After talking to Jennifer this past weekend about all this, I think I now have a better handle on what I was trying to get at here.

At it’s core, asking the question “What is community?” is inherently flawed. What we’re really been talking about Social Connection – an umbrella that covers a range of activities and interactions.

We can even think about this as a spectrum. On the left end of the spectrum, we have lightweight, short-term, or loose connections. On right end of the spectrum you have deep, long-term, relationships.

When I defined “community”, I was really defining the right end of the spectrum. When others have asked how various things have fit into my definition, they were really asking where they fit into this Social Connection spectrum.

One of the questions brought up in the BrandShift discussion was “are lurkers part of a community?” I said no – you must participate in a community to actually be a member of it. I still believe that, but I think the right question to ask (using our new definitions) is “are lurkers somehow connected to something social?” I’d say absolutely yes, but that connection is a loose connection, falling more to the left side of our spectrum.

So I stick by my definition of “community”, I’ve just chosen to clarify what “community” actually means.