Dear Nancy Baym,
When you mentions individuals who argue that online groups cannot be communities because of a geography reason, I have to disagree with them. Just because an online "community" isn't necessarily present on land does not mean it does not exist. As you mention an online community consists of individuals who discuss topics of shared interest and create new relationships by connecting with one another. Online communities can almost be seen as a culture. A culture is a group of people who share the same ideas and beliefs, and that is exactly what an online community is. Just because it is not in a physical location does not mean it is real. Culture is all around the world as is online communities.