A free online community portal offers participants the opportunity to connect and interact with others via the world wide web. These communities will center around a website that is dedicated to a specific goal or area of interest. Some of the tools that are used to facilitate communication among users could include discussion forums, blogs, emails, newsletters, photo galleries, personal profile pages, chat rooms or instant messaging. In some cases, these portals may be dedicated to social connections, in other instances, business concerns might drive the existence of the website. Educational communities exist as well. Often these communities bring additional opportunities for friends to connect, but in many cases relationships are formed among participants who did not know each other previously and may never actually meet face to face.
In addition to social, business and education communities, a free online community portal could center around various hobbies, interests, or themes. There are entire communities that may be devoted to a particular musical group, performer, television show or movie. Fan sites may include information on the featured music group, show, movie, or artist. It may also offer related links, fan discussion forums, photograph albums, and informative articles. Any common interest can be a uniting factor. Poetry lovers, for example could unite under the banner of an interactive website that is dedicated to this literary form. Members of the same profession could congregate electronically through portals that center on their chosen field. Chat rooms are popular features on these sites, allowing members to converse in real time via text. Additional discussion forums could incorporate voice or video communication. News feeds, interactive maps, and comment areas are other popular features that might be included on a free online community portal.
Participants may be drawn to a free online community portal out of a desire for a sense of community. Ironically, the very technology that can tend to isolate the user can also be used as a tool for connection. But these sites do not run themselves. A facilitator is necessary if these virtual communities are going to take hold and succeed. As in face to face meetings, debates or panels, a facilitator will negotiate and encourage communication among participants. To achieve success as a facilitator on the Internet, an individual will need to possess solid communication skills. An understanding of the unique communication tools that the web offers is also essential.
Obviously, one of the main ingredients for a successful free online community portal is a quality website that is both compelling and relevant. Attracting web traffic that will stick around long enough to interact with other enthusiasts is key. Offering features that encourage participation and discussion can make the difference between success and failure. A clear focus is an absolute must. If there is no clear goal in mind, it can be hard for participants to climb on board. To get the word out about a particular website, it can be a good idea to submit links to related websites. Word of mouth can draw in new users, but so can effective search engine optimization. Once users of the site become regulars, they will want to make contributions to the site, perhaps out of a sense of belonging or taking part.
Among the many tools that are available to help facilitate a free online community portal is the discussion forum. These forums are very easy to understand. A facilitator will post a question or thought and ask participants to respond. This is called a thread and it can last for many days or weeks and draw many responses. Posters may even respond to the opinions of fellow posters within the thread. Many threads can function at the same time on a given website. Email may be incorporated as well. It is not uncommon for posters to return every day to read other postings and participate in the discussion again.
Blogging can be another popular pass time on a free online community portal. A blog is Internet slang for a web long. Bloggers are individuals who post their own personal musings to be shared among the online community members. Social networking websites exist for the purpose of allowing friends to connect and stay in touch. On a social networking site, account holders will post a personal profile and compile a list of friends who participate in the network as well. Friends can leave comments or messages on each other's profile pages and view photo albums or send private emails. All communities must have rules and the same goes for virtual ones. Most sites will post specific rules of conduct that users must agree to. Failure to comply could result in the termination of the user's account.
Additional activities that might take place through a free online community portal is the online event. Facilitators for these communities might choose to schedule events that relate to the theme of the website. For example, if a website focuses on a particular television show, an online discussion forum that takes place in real time as the show airs is a special event. Participants can share their reactions to what is happening on the show through text responses. Many members enjoy this kind of immediate reaction to a shared experience. The Bible describes the kind of behavior that believers should exhibit toward others. "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil." (Luke 6:35)
Free Online Virtual CommunityAnyone can join a free online virtual community for hours of fun interacting with people with similar interests. A virtual community consists of people from around the world who become members of global websites offering opportunities for strangers to become pen pals, cyberspace partners, or long distance lovers. Men and women over the age of 18 with Internet access can join a free online virtual community or chat room which focuses on almost any topic, hobby, or occupation. Scrapbook lovers, artists, vocalists, freelance writers, poets, and potters can find interesting people who share tips and tricks of the trade. Singles can meet eligible bachelors and bachelorettes from as close as the next neighborhood or as far away as the next continent. A free cyberspace club brings a lasting friendship or a forever lover as close as the keyboard. "A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24).
Women can discuss health issues on forums accessed by thousands of females with similar problems before or after consulting a physician. Sometimes chatting with other users or just reading comments in a chat room or blog provide information that may not be readily accessible in the doctor's waiting room. A free online virtual community can provide comfort, consolation and encouragement for females who need support or just a listening ear. Cyberspace "sisters" can visit the doctor's office a little more informed and a little less intimidated. Freelance writers, poets, and artists frequently join virtual communities to get free assistance on improving writing skills or discovering the latest digital design techniques. Web-based writing clubs often sponsor competitions and contests that award successful applicants with contracts or book deals. Graphic designers can stay abreast of innovations in the industry and tap into global resources to trade services. Websites may offer options for artists and designers to bid for freelance assignments via opt-in email alerts and postings from interested buyers. Poets who may rarely have the opportunity to share a craft or engage in conversation with other artists can join a free web-based club for inspiration.
Singles that join a free online virtual community discover that finding love and romance is easier in cyberspace. Eligible men and women can find potential mates by logging onto dating sites and posting a personal profile. Member profiles include a user name, gender, hobbies and interests, and age group. Members are advised not to divulge surnames or personal email addresses and phone numbers until users feel confident about contacts from interested parties. Singles receive email alerts from site administrators posted on user pages. Members can choose to chat with interested parties or browse profiles to find a special friend or lifelong mate. What makes dating via matchmaker sites fun and safe is the virtual anonymity. Unlike face-to-face encounters, singles can enjoy a cyberspace relationship without the intimidation or fear of rejection that can be part of dating a stranger. Fulfilling relationships can develop on the Internet that are non-threatening, casual, or cozy.
A free online virtual community is also a great place for musicians and vocalists to share original music or songs. Members can upload audio or video clips that can be viewed by an audience of millions absolutely free. No agents, no contracts, and no cash are required to share a talent with the world. Many performers have gained national attention simply by uploading video clips on popular websites. Anyone with a voice, talent, or unusual idea can produce their own radio or television show for a global broadcast. However, Internet community members should be aware that audio and video productions cannot be protected by copyright laws once they hit the public domain.
Professionals, such as lawyers, doctors, nurses, or teachers, also have access to a free online virtual community. Medical associations may offer sites which can be accessed free of charge to healthcare providers. Websites for educators include postings of available job openings in various school districts, information on certification and professional standards, and updates on policies, salaries, and schedules. Job seekers can browse an educator site for information on how to become certified, testing dates and locations, and contact information for principals of each school. Sites also include individual links to schools, along with photos of students and instructors, which give browsers a good idea about how institutions are structured.
Travelers can find a good free online virtual community to get special rates on tropical island vacations, take a virtual tour of exotic retreats, or compare notes on luxury accommodations. Before booking a vacation, tourists can log onto cyberspace communities and review blogs about far away places. Network marketers sponsor free sites to help independent sales representatives stay abreast of new product lines, get tips on direct-selling, and place customer orders. Instead of requiring affiliates and reps to attend out-of-town meetings, webinars bring company executives together with sales associates for real time conferences. Web-based meetings include televised broadcasts to hundreds of meeting attendees in several locations at once. Attendees can access conferences by logging into corporate servers and engage in virtual communication without leaving the comfort of home or office.
Finding a free online virtual community is simple. Users can just type keywords or phrases into a search engine and scroll down the results pages for links to websites. Scrapbookers simply type in "scrapbook;" freelance writers can type in "writers' guilds; or Christian singles seeking a mate can type in "Christian singles." Computer users can choose from hundreds of sites which provide 24/7 opportunities to share insight, opinions and topics of interest with interesting people. Joining several communities provides hours of engaging cyberspace conversation and companionship.