Published: 22nd Jun 2016
One of the internet’s greatest strengths is its ability to connect people from all over the world. If you have an unusual or niche hobby, this means that online communities can be a great way to find other people who share your passion.
There are a few different types of hobby communities on the internet, so make sure you know what you want before you pick your preferred haunt.
One of the more popular varieties is the special-interest website. These pages are generally a home to publish content relating to a niche hobby, with the facility to discuss the articles and videos with other users in the comment section. It’s harder to have a free-flowing discussion on this kind of website, but the content is often a great way to find out about everything that’s new in the field, as well as gaining an in-depth understanding of content.
If you see a post described as an open thread, then you are free to talk about whatever you want, without being told to stay on topic, so ask your most burning questions there.
If this doesn’t appeal, you may want to look for an online forum or chatroom. These have been around since the birth of the internet, and provide a space for like-minded individuals to ask and answer questions and share their experiences. If you don’t see something you want to talk about, then you can just create your own topic. This is a big part of what makes forums so popular.
Whether it’s in the comments or on a message board, some people may be worried about unpleasant messages from what are known as “trolls” - users who like to upset others for fun. Healthy debate and (civil) disagreement are acceptable, but deliberate nastiness is normally banned in online forums.
In specialist communities, trolls are relatively rare, but there are some simple steps to take if you encounter one. Firstly, you should report their post to a moderator, who is responsible for enforcing the rules of the online space. If possible, you should also select options to block or unfollow the individual, to make sure they don’t bother you again.
On the other hand, make sure you follow the rules and regulations of your chosen community. These are normally straightforward and based on common sense, and are often pointed out to new users when making their first post.
Whether it’s knitting, gardening or politics, you’re sure to find an online group that shares your obsession, and its members should be more than happy to discuss the finer points of your hobby for hours on end - possibly long after your real-world friends have lost interest.
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