What was your first internet community?

I took to the online life late- I didn’t get an email address until eighth grade- and the first community I joined was a message board for synesthetes called Mixed Signals. As befitting my sheltered life, it was one of the most polite places on the internet- at one point we had an eight-page thread on religion that was completely civil and on-topic. Being a Net newbie, I didn’t know just how unusual that sort of effortless amity was. Most of the other members were in high school, or their very early twenties, and in general they were very nice people.
It was also the first place where I encountered actual LGBT people. I was uncomfortable at first; I thought sexual orientation was a personal thing that shouldn’t be discussed in public. As I got to know people, I became uncomfortable with my discomfort- there was a sweet pair of German school girls in particular who clearly in love. How could I not wish them happiness in their relationship?

alt.arts.poetry.comments on USENET

Fantastic poetry critique with a really hard-nosed edge and a ton of snark.

This place.

On the actual internet-internet, it was a few Usenet groups such as one for Magic: the Gathering back around 1993-94.

Prior to that, I was active on a few Bulletin Board Services in the late 80s during my Commodore days.

My first online community was the women’s studies moderated email list (WMST-L). I had an email account on the university’s mainframe in order that the course instructors could email us our assignments, and for us to send in our completed work. One of the other students in my class approached me: “Would you join this women’s studies list? There are some men who joined up just to disparage feminism, and it would help if there were more male subscribers who were pro-feminist”. That was the first time I was made aware that this email thing wasn’t just within our own campus but was networked.

This was 1991. I think technically there existed web sites and web browsers but for the most part no one had heard of them yet. Internet meant email and FTP and gopher.

My second online community was the Info-Mac Digest for Mac people asking and answering each other’s support questions, advertising freeware and shareware for download (via FTP from sumex-aim.stanford.edu, the Info-Mac repository).

Right here.

My first community was an IRC chatroom that’s long since gone the way of the dodo.

Other than some people I knew over the years that would set up little home based BBSes that were short lived and probably only had a handful of people on them, it was this one, back when we were on AOL.

I had a Commodore 64 starting around 1984, and eventually started using it to access bulletin board services (via dial-up of course). Eventually, I started to access ones that were members of Fidonet, which allowed one to send messages to people on BBSs around the country.

And in 1984, I started college, where the school mainframe ran MTS (Michigan Terminal System). One aspect of the system was that each user was allocated so much in system resources, represented by an account with something like a hundred bucks in play money. The more time you spent on the system, the quicker the account was used. And I think I used up the allocation for my freshman class in programming (this was in Fortran) very quickly. Later there were message boards, of a sort, on the MTS system, and as a junior, I remember someone announced they had successfully sent an electronic message to someone at a different school. This was at a time when you could print out a diagram showing the entire internet on a few sheets of paper, since it was only about a hundred sites or so.

Same. Prostar Plus Users Group out of Auburn (I think)WA until about 1992 It was mostly locals because you had to actually go to their office and buy a printout with coded credits on it to log in and spend time on it. No idea anymore what the rates were. Chat rooms, a few games with no graphics apart from clever ascii drawings, probably some other features I can’t remember. And of course, dial up on a 14,400 modem and the attendant frustration of someone trying to make a call while you we’re online.

Then here.

You had a 14,400 baud modem? That was wicked fast. My first modem was 300 baud. The text flowed on the screen so slowly that you could read it faster than it scrolled.

It was the pride of the neighborhood–lights would dim all down the street when we fired that sucker up. I remember when we upgraded to it because the screech was different. That bit in Terminator III where the evil bot picks up the phone and speaks to it in modem? Kids today don’t know what the hell’s going on there.:smiley:

By my definition of Internet and Community it would be the alt.gothic mailing list. Other usenet groups and lists I was on didn’t feel like a community, and the AOL trivia group I was active in was in the walled garden of AOL so I don’t count that.

This is the second internet community I’ve been a part of.

I was a BBSer in the 216 area code when I first started in the 90s. Then my next community was alt.fan.conan-obrien on Usenet, and #windows on IRC (efnet). There was also a Ben Folds Five mailing list, the Magical Armchair. Imagine communicating with a group via email!!

Then I wised up and came hre.

I have some vague recollections of Yahoo Chat from my high school days, but really I think the SDMB, which I was introduced to freshman year of college, and LiveJournal which I probably started fairly concurrently were my first real online communities of note.

And, aside from one other specialty message board that I’ve been on since 2005, I never really participated in any other online communities in a meaningful way.

Hah, this just reminded me that when I’d post anything to Usenet from my campus system it would give me a stern warning that my message would be broadcast globally and potentially cost my network extra money and was it something that could only be sent locally or regionally? Obviously I always selected the global option because that was the whole point of being on the internet.

Not strictly speaking the Internet, but another very early Usenet user.

Various sci.* and comp.* groups (as they were known after the Great Renaming).

I had email with several friends long before I joined any “community” to speak of. I think those email chains are probably how I started.

For a loose definition of “community” – the chatroom in the Science Fiction group on AOL, circa 1994. It was the first place online where I spent more than a few minutes, and the first place where I interacted online with people whom I didn’t already know.

I ran a BBS in the late 80’s and early 90’s, and that was my first electronic but not online hangout. Does anyone else remember Fidonet? I remember using that to get usenet access years before the internet came to my hometown so I could read and post to rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5, which probably fits the OP better.