Back on the end of 2014, when I had just applied for universities in the UK, I was feeling anxious about what I would hear from them. I wanted to know when they’ll be replying my application, as to know if I wouldn’t or would have an offer from them.
I started looking on Google for answers about the UK’s applications’ processes, when I found The Student Room (TSR)*. As the “UK biggest education website” –as it is considered– it is a student community, for students from all over the world to support each other. I did find great answers, by the time, for what I was looking for. It gave me comfort and made me feel less anxious about the required next steps to finally get in the university. It was possible once I could hear from other students that were in the same situation as me.
This is definitely a good attribute for online communities. Wherever and whoever you are, whenever wanted to, you can access it. Having a support from other students seems really positive for the ones, just as me, who’s been facing challenges or any unknown situation. In my case, I had help regarding the application process, but they do have a huge amount of different forums and topics, from psychological issues, until getting a job in a certain industry.
However, as general characteristics of online communities, TSR also has its limitations. First, you don’t know who anyone really is, what creates a sense of no individual identity inside the community. The TSR’s users do have space where they can upload pictures, write things about them, fill in with their personal information. But still, people seem to be nameless, faceless, ageless, placeless. Also, the “conversations” * do engage people, but the loose connections it creates will hardly become a strong connection. There isn’t space for a relationship evolution as there’s in real life.
At this point, this whole superficial world we live online makes me reflect whether we can really call these kind of platforms a proper “community”.
p.s.* I inserted a link for a YouTube video that quickly talks about The Student Room. Worth watching it, if you’ve never heard about the community!
Also inserted a great and succinct post I found about the connections and conversations we tend to establish online.