I have spent an awful lot of time on the internet, maybe more than is entirely healthy, and for all the useful information, whacky animated GIFs, kitten videos, and other weird and wonderful content out there, I’ve found that far and away the most meaningful and important use for the web is the formation of groups of people. (I talk a little about this on the Halo page.) I have encountered some incredible communities online, learned a lot and had good fun, and it was even a personal point of faith for a long time that almost any topic imaginable would have a relevant forum or discussion list somewhere online populated with users just as expert as you’ll find anywhere.
Here are some links to the best of the communities I’ve participated in online. Most of them are subject-specific, but one of the best indicators of a really top-notch group is that they tend to discuss everything under the sun; the topic is still there, but is often just the common thread that ties the users together.
- halo.bungie.org: The preeminent fansite for Bungie’s Halo series. Active and popular web forum, plus other mini-communities such as the fan fiction niche.
- Subnova: A community site within the Bungie community. Includes forums and news, but the Hotline/IRC channel was the main interaction.
- CSS-Discuss: A popular web design listserv with a focus on CSS. Good folks.
- Project Wombat: A listserv, previously called Stumpers-L. Consists of reference librarians and other information-warriors, tackling tough research questions. Very bright people capable of finding answers to almost anything.
- Copyediting-L: A listserv of copy editors and fellow travellers
- Lockpicking101: A web forum for sport and hobby lock picking, consisting of hobbyists, “lock hackers,” and a few professional locksmiths exchanging information.
- Animal List: A moderated listserv with a focus on self-defense and martial arts. Headed up by Marc MacYoung and Dianna Gordon. Outstanding, eclectic, and fascinating people.
- irc.bungie.org: An IRC server, my channel being #hbo. A semi-official outgrowth of the (above-mentioned) halo.bungie.org community.
- The EKG Club: A public listserv dedicated to discussion of EKG interpretation. Moderated by Nick Nudell and Tom Bouthillet. Also available on Facebook.
- Trauma.org: A public listserv dedicated to discussion of trauma care in the prehospital, ED, ICU, and austere environments. Attended by some of the field's top experts and full of good info.