Document Type



One of the new business models enabled by the Internet is the community-based model. The aim of this model is to profit from the value created by individuals interacting within a virtual community. While we know that a virtual community can be co-opted for business purposes, we do not know the extent to which a community-based business differs from a conventional one. If we are to systematically build community-based businesses, we ought to know which existing processes in a pure virtual community can be adapted for business purposes and, conversely, which processes are lacking and must be added to the virtual community in order to transform it into a business. This paper analyzes one of the largest teen-advice forums on the Internet,, which is also a profitable, community-based business. The goal is to uncover how virtual community processes map to conventional business processes. Using representational analyses I show that a virtual community contains autonomous supply, production, and consumption processes, while lacking advertising and income processes. I end by discussing how implements its income and advertising processes and in doing so creates a special kind of community-based business known as a programmable autonomous business.