Examples of great communities?

Folks, I need to ask for some help.

Like many, I have some go-to examples of great communities. This includes Wikipedia, OpenStreetmap, Ubuntu, Debian, Linux, and others. Many of these are software related, many of them are Open Source.

I would like to ask your feedback for other examples of great communities. These don’t have to be software-related…in fact I would love to see examples of great communities in other areas and disciplines.

They could be collaborative communities, communities that share a common interest, communities that process big chunks of data, communities that inspire and educate certain groups (e.g. kids, under-privilaged), or anything else.

I am looking for inspiring examples that get to the heart of what makes communities beautiful. These don’t have to be huge and elaborate communities, they just need to demonstrate the power of people sharing a mission or ethos and doing interesting things.

Please share your examples and in doing so, please share the following:

  • The name of the community
  • A web address / contact person
  • Overview of the community, what it does, and why you feel it is special


Its another software related one but I used to find the StackOverflow “family” of sites a good community.

Its a common interest community all about software development although recently the family of sites has expanded beyond the initial StackOverflow to include a variety of more “specialist” interest sites, such as one site specifically for programmers.

I wouldn’t say there was anything particularly special about the community. Predominantly what bring people to the community is to get answers (if you have a programming question chances are StackOverflow is on the first page of the results). Because of this the community is always respectful of each other. The community is always helpful and considerate and the overall goal is to just make better programmers. If the answer provided isn’t “perfect” there’s always someone on hand to help make the answer better.

The downside of the StackOverflow community is that the community engagement is based entirely on the issue at hand so there’s minimal community “chat”.

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I don’t think this is the kind of example you’re looking for, but I’ll mention it anyway.

Since the age of 11, I’ve been a radio amateur (aka radio ham to our cousins). Now there are several things, to me that makes this community special. First of all, i didn’t get the license explicitly because i wanted to be a radio amateur, the main reason was to learn electronics, which was of particular interest to me at that age.

After I passed, being the age i was, i didn’t have much money for the equipment. It, like most things, is an expensive game. But the community around me lent me equipment. One guy even taught me how to build an antenna tuner from parts out of an old hifi.

Moving on from me, there was great support for other users. One group especially springs to mind of some OAPs who lived in remote areas, would get up and have a chat every morning at 8am onthe dot. Without the radio, this couldn’t have happened.

I think the Wikipedia community has gone quite downhill. Are you familiar with the controversy over inclusive polices?

It’s pretty nasty.

For community, I think the conversation depends on what you are looking for. Do you need topical information? A sense of belonging? Meaninful human interactions?

Here is a list:

  • The reef tank: http://www.thereeftank.com/ - basically a major go to for people who are into fish, especially salt water reef tanks. You will see people doing interesting things, and really pushing the limits of the hobby. There are active contributors, and the atmosphere is very accepting of newbies. I just wish their forum software didn’t suck.
  • http://forum.bodybuilding.com/ - if you are into the gym, or fitness, this is a great place to get tips on weight lifting, and hear about what it’s like to body build. Actually the techniques that body builders use to stay lean, and healthy are fairly interesting, and again, the folks on here are quite nice to newbies. However, the machismo is high here, and you might see some unfortunate conversations, or wordings of things. However, it is quite diverse with atheletes from all over the world participating, a special sub forum for female body builders, and an active thread for gay body builders.
  • www.mantidforum.net - the premier stop for your praying mantis breeding, and husbandry needs. Need I say more?
  • www.reddit.com/r/reverseengineering - Basically where you go to talk about reverse engineering software. Some highly technical folks here, and the conversations are almost always worth while.
  • http://reverseengineering.stackexchange.com/- Another great stop for the reverse engineer. If you look up the profiles, you will notice some top experts in the field, including Microsofts only full time titled “Reverse Engineer.”
  • http://www.nuclearphynance.com/ - Ever wonder about automated high frequency trading? These guys are the real deal, and they have some deep conversations about the math and programming practice associated with it.
  • free node’s ##security - Some of the nets top security analysts hang out here. You can often find H.D Moore, the author of the metasploit framework lurking about.
  • http://www.therpf.com/f9/adam-savages-mythbusters-toolbox-78239/- The real prop forum. Adam Savage from myth busters hangs here. People are deeply into making prop replicas.
  • http://www.kvraudio.com/ - basically the top audio DSP site.

I should mention that absolutely none of these communities has much of the touchy feely community stuff that many people associate with the word “community.” I’m usually just happy if my community members aren’t saying horrible things, and are contributing gainfully to the subject matter at hand. Sadly, it can be very hard to get to know people on the net, and sadly, top programmers, Mantis afficianados, or whatever, are not necessarily good people in real life.

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