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The Whole Earth ’Lectronic Link, better known by its acronym The WELL, was founded in 1985 and is an early example of an online community. It quickly became a popular space where registered community members participated in lively discussions on all sorts of topics. Although The WELL might be seen as unique considering its type of participants and especially its organization, they were neither the first nor the only online community. It was basically a dial-up bulletin board system (BBS) that allowed users with a personal computer and a telephone plus modem to connect with other users and start an asynchronous or real-time written conversation. Around the mid-1980s, BBS-based computer-mediated communication (CMC) through teleconferencing had become quite popular, and The WELL tapped into this but ...

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