Five online communities you need to be part of
It can be rare to meet new people who share the same interests as you. In our fast-paced modern world, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time, money or courage to go out, try something new, and find kindred souls to bond with.
Luckily, the internet is the perfect way to meet others and get stuck into a new hobby. Thanks to online forums, tip-sharing websites and virtual clubs, societies and groups, anyone can start socialising and getting to know new people – from the comfort of your own home, or on the move.
One of the beauties of the internet is that even the most niche subjects and activities, which may be difficult to find locally, can be discussed or even organised remotely. So if you really enjoy say, ice hockey, but your town or city doesn’t have an ice rink or a team, then you can still get involved with conversations with other ice hockey fans, connecting with a community across the globe.
However, with the sheer amount of online forums, websites and user groups, it can sometimes be daunting knowing where to start. In this guide, we’ve picked five of the best online communities – covering a variety of different interests – to get you started.
The Student Room
One of the oldest online communities out there, the Student Room has been helping young students as well as mature ones since 2002. As well as posting helpful topics about courses, grades and revision materials endorsed by Markedbyteachers.com, the Student Room has tons of helpful advice for life beyond the classroom.
From information on the best bargains and loads of free vouchers to tips for the best nights out in the country, the community covers pretty much every topic imaginable for all students, no matter what is being studied or their personal preferences. If you’re thinking of checking it out, make sure you sign up to the newsletter that updates members with the latest limited time offers, so you can save some cash for partying. Or books. Maybe.
Bringing up children is hard enough without the sea of self-help books, so Mumsnet was designed to create a network of parents who can contribute advice or ask the internet if they have an issue or question that can’t be found in a parenting manual. Mumsnet has evolved way past just parenting however, with plenty of discussion boards dedicated to everything from cheap groceries to car insurance. Mumsnet is especially handy for single parents, with local support groups and plenty of recommendations for babysitting, home help, as well as information on local schools and nurseries.
Mumsnet is the best parenting community in the UK, and the forums are usually a safe haven with plenty of moderation and advice that isn’t totally wrong. However, as with any online community, not everything should be taken as gospel truth, especially when it comes to medical conditions. Always consult a doctor before looking for answers online.
Going to the local bingo hall used to be a way of meeting new people and socialising. These days physical halls struggle to compete with online sites that offer games that can be played without having to leave the house, and now a different way of socialising, making it less appealing to have to venture to a local retail park or town centre for playing the classic game.
Wink Bingo has created the world’s first bingo community. Through an engaging forum that is safe and moderated, players can mingle and chat with fellow fans and chat about anything and everything in the process. New friends can be made and winning (or losing) experiences can be shared, simulating the experience a real hall can offer. The best part is that the website allows players to join this community and play bingo completely free. Of course you won’t be able win any of the great prizes on offer or take away any real money, but you can test the games out and just socialise without having to spend anything. The Wink community is a great cost-free way of meeting new people and if you decide to pay for a few games, you could even take away some extra cash.
With over 100,000,000 posts, Something Awful has gone from niche comedy website to well niche comedy website with thousands of users instead of a handful of nerds making computer jokes. It features takes on the latest games, current affairs cartoons and brilliant photoshop jokes that make fun out of pretty much everything.
Unlike its ugly cousin 4Chan, Something Awful is still weird and wacky but without the extremes. The site also has an interesting policy, with a $10 joining fee needed from all forum posters. Some aren’t a fan of paying for what was a free online community, but the fee has gone a long way to removing the trolls and offensive posters and keeping the comedy fresh and free from incessant swearing and annoying memes.
If you have a hobby already or are particularly passionate about anything, Pinterest is a great online community dedicated to sharing ideas and photos of everything from cars to food and drink. Pinterest is one of the fastest growing platforms out there, with new features added all the time, and all of the content is generated by its user community. Selected ‘pins’ include old photographs, classic cars, DIY ideas, clothes and fashion and of course the niche stuff like tips on how to nail job interviews and brutalist architecture from the 1970s (yes, that’s a pin).
Pinterest isn’t so much about the whole socialising element, but it’s a great way of finding more about what you’re interested in, then sharing ideas. You can get in touch with content creators, but Pinterest is more about getting inspiration from this online community.
So whether it’s ideas, meeting new people or staying in touch with old friends, there are tons of online communities out there, covering the most diverse and specialist subjects. If you can’t find your interest on any of the sites listed above (we guarantee you’ll find one on Reddit though) then just Google it – you’ll be surprised how many people out there have the same interests as you.
The editorial unit