Topic and relationship communities

Table of contents

  1. Two primary types of online communities: topic-based and relationship-based communities
    1. Topic-based communities
    2. Relationship-based communities

Two primary types of online communities: topic-based and relationship-based communities

There are two primary intrinsic motivations that make people participate in an online community: their own interest in the topic of a community and the people who are already part of a community. Even though both forces help us to keep users in a community, all communities use only one of these two motivations as their primary unifying force. It defines what the users should expect to get from the community and how a community manager should work with the group.

Topic-based communities

Topic–based communities are built on one’s passion for some activity. Some of the properties of the topic communities:

  • People associate themselves with a topic through participation in communities dedicated to this topic.

  • The more relevant users’ background or experience to the topic of the community, the more they like the group.

  • The more people identify themselves with the topic of a community, the greater their involvement in the community.

Any hobby community or community of practice falls into this category.

Relationship-based communities

Relationship-based communities are formed on a desire to build close relationships with other members of the community. Some of the properties of the relationship-based communities:

  • In relationship-based communities users tend to form small tightly connected groups.
  • Users feel attached to other people in the group rather than the community as a whole.
  • Off-topic conversations and personal messaging increase users’ involvement in relationship-based communities.

A good example of this type of community is the forums for mutual support where people with similar difficulties help each other to not give up and exchange their experiences of fighting the problems.