Community vs. user groups


(Olivier Le Pord) #1

I am trying to clarify the 2 notions for a paper and wonder if you guys have some input.

I tend to see a “community” as a large scale virtual gathering to create and share knowledge, bringing value to its members. Could be company hosted or independant.
I see the user group as essentially a small scale affair that involves periodic face to face meetings with some online presence, more or less developed. The geo proximity is the defining trait.

But it feels that this dichotomy is a bit outdated. Meetup and other light formula can perfectly “live” under the umbrella of a larger online community, etc.

Any reference to look into?


(Sarah Hawk) #2

Calling in @JoeNarusis


(Nick Emmett) #3

Hi @maounde - I’m not sure how much I think the line between the two is blurry. I very much feel that Community is relevant both on and off line, unless you’re talking specifically about an online community. And user groups, for me, are also the same. Many user groups are just as active online and then meet up periodically for F2F meetings.

We’re just in the process of starting F2F meet-ups for our user groups, that predominantly have started online, and I’m quite keen to not refer to the format as simply a User Group, just because it’s offline. the same groups of people share and discuss online as well - this is just the offline opportunity for that group of people to actually meet in the analogue world.


(Darren Gough) #4

Not sure if this is helpful but in a former role we started to adopt the term “focus group” rather than user group. The message was really a shift to taking larger, often community led concepts in the wider community space and bringing together a key group of people with a very specific agenda or purpose.

I tend to, broadly, see community as more an open ended environment where people go off on tangents around a core subject, but a focus group as having a very defined purpose and objective. I appreciate there’s some crossover there but in general.


(Richard Millington) #5

I remember writing about the different definitions here:

https://www.feverbee.com/the-3-different-definitions-of-community/

I see a user group as a community of practice. i.e. it is (usually) one of many types of community. I don’t think there’s any real distinction between the two.


(Joe Narusis) #6

The comment provided by @Darren_Gough is a great explanation of the difference. Communities cover a wide range of people and topics, where groups focus on a specific problem or topic. See the definitions from this article: http://www-bcf.usc.edu/~douglast/620/bettina1.pdf by Dholakiaa, Bagozzia, & Pearo (2004, pp. 248)

“We call a virtual community defined this way, i.e., a specialized, geographically dispersed community based on a structured, relatively sparse, and dynamic network of relationships among participants sharing a common focus, to be a network-based virtual community

We call such a virtual community, constituted by individuals with a dense web of relationships, interacting together online as a group, in order to accomplish a wider range of jointly conceived and held goals, and to maintain existing relationships, to be a small group-based virtual community"


(Olivier Le Pord) #7

Thx @Darren_Gough . This makes perfect sense.