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  • Dan Berger

A Taxonomy for Communities

Updated: Mar 28

This is the 2nd of a 5 post series on how authentic communities can contribute to our sense of belonging.

I recently made a purchase and received an email confirmation with the subject “A warm welcome to our ThermoWorks family.” I laughed. You’d think I adopted a child when all I did was just purchase a meat thermometer! 😂


I see a lot of companies make gaffes in the spirit of creating a “family” or “community building.” The word community is becoming overused thanks, in part, to marketers who see it as a way to differentiate / increase brand loyalty, the tribalization of web3 projects and metaverses, and social media’s desire to bucketize its users.


This insincerity around such a sacred word is why we need a taxonomy for interest groups. Communities, at their most basic form, are a group of people who share an affinity for a specific topic. At their peak, they are a mechanism for cultivating a sense of belonging for their members.


Here is my proposed taxonomy.

  • Affinity Group - Open to anyone with interest in a specific topic; no other litmus tests (e.g. meetups).

  • Community - Has a certain level of conscious exclusivity (selectively inclusive) for those with interest in the topic; values are symbolic; some risk (e.g. time commitment) may be required (e.g. industry association).

  • Authentic Community - Conscious exclusivity makes it open only to those with shared values, similar interest(s), and shared level of passion toward said interest. There is high risk involved (e.g. vulnerability), and members have a stake in the community’s success (e.g. startups).

And here it is in more detail:

I’ve written previously about how to find deep belonging through authentic community. My next post will be about how to create an authentic community.

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