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A virtual community is a group of people who share common interests, feelings or ideas, or pursue similar goals over the Internet or over any collaborative network. Social media is the most common vehicle for this sharing and interaction, which can potentially transcend geographical boundaries, race, culture, political views and religion when people are connected by another common interest or agenda.
This term is originally attributed to Howard Rheingold’s book "The Virtual Community," which was published in 1993. In it, Rheingold describes the virtual community as social aggregations that emerge from the Internet when people continue discussions long enough and with enough emotion to form real human relationships within cyberspace.
For whatever other reason, virtual communities are built around certain needs and goals. Here are some common examples of virtual community types:
Forums, online chat rooms, specialized information communities, email groups
These are made up of people who either discuss or share about a common topic/theme. They may also act as a place to ask experts in a specific field for help.
The people in virtual worlds share the common interest of the world itself. These worlds are often massively multiplayer games like "World of Warcraft."
Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are the most common social networking hubs, and they all allow people to form smaller communities based on other interests. Other communities in this category, such as Pinterest and YouTube, focused on media sharing.