A Study of Online Communities

MISSION STATEMENT: To provide insight into the phenomenon of online communities such as Ares, such as understanding how anonymity of individuals makes a well-functioning community difficult to achieve and how it differs from real-world societies/relationships.

One day I stumbled upon a virtual community called Ares. I never visited a “chatroom” before, except some hacker IRC rooms many years ago. One day I read some blog where something called Ares was mentioned. I thought I would try it. I found it carried thousands of chatrooms.

At first I didn’t appreciate the significance of it but eventually I realized that many people are actually living their lives in front of a computer screen, interacting with dozens of people in real time, making friendships, loving, hating and fighting, and experiencing all the same types of emotions experienced in real life but at a much faster pace than ever possible before… These were actually virtual towns with “regular” citizens! Each room has a different character, style and mood. Some rooms are very busy with dozens of “roomies” and random visitors constantly entering, and some are very quiet with a small “base” of regular users “regs”. The rooms also have a social order. The hosts/co-hosts, and different levels of administrators with some having more power than others, and of course the regs and visitors which have no control over the room. Control means the ability to “muzzle”, “kill” and “ban”. So usually there is no “free speech”. You are bound by the rules of the room which are usually posted when you enter, and the attitude/mood of the admins/hosts. Unless you are an admin or host you have to watch what you say. Room hosts/admins know each other so you can create a bad reputation for yourself in many rooms if a few people don’t like you. Some admins have that status in many rooms. Many have spent several years on ares, so they are highly dedicated to their “job.”


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