A synthesis of the literature suggests that the key characteristics for classifying online communities are: (i) their attributes, (ii) supporting software, (iii) their relationship to physical communities, and (iv) the sociological concept of boundedness. A classification schema based on these four characteristics is presented in this paper. Examples of each type of community are discussed. These classification schema have important implications for the design and management of online communities.
Lazar, Jonathan and Preece, Jenny, "Classification Schema for Online Communities" (1998). AMCIS 1998 Proceedings. 30.