Online Community Faves

Meredith sent me a few questions as part of some research for her forthcoming book on social networking and libraries. One of them was: what are two of your favorite online communities and why.

For someone who spends, I don’t know, every day thinking about online community for librarians, you’d think this would be an easy one. On the contrary. This question totally stopped me dead in my tracks.

It has been several weeks now since Meredith’s reply email has been marinating in my drafts folder while I’ve pondered my list of … top ten or fifteen online communities. (I probably should send her the answers to the other questions she asked!) They all have something different to offer, and I like them all for different reasons. Some of them are commercial (Netflix) others are totally personal (Flickr) others bring commercial and personal together (Amazon) still others are professional (WebJunction) and then others bring personal and professional together (Library Thing) and others have been completely temporary (event wiki) and these can be anything from personal to professional to commercial, or all three. And I’m not even gonna go into the online communities I admire, but am not personally a part of.

Then I realized that I was focusing, against my own religion, so to speak, on the tools and not the people or purposes behind them. And when I realized that, I realized that the question was maybe asking which part of my life I like best, and which groups of people are my favorite. The answer would have to be that I like them all.

Do you think this is a cop-out? Is there an online community that you’d call your fave? Is it about the tools there? Or the people behind them?