Glossary of Online Interaction

Glossary of Online Interaction

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X – Y – Z


Aggregation – “Gathering information from multiple web sites, typically via RSS. Aggregation lets web sites remix the information from multiple web sites, for example by republishing all the news related to a particular keyword.” – Social Signal

Archive – (or archived topics) Topics from an online interaction that have been closed for participation, but kept as a record of the interaction. Chat archives are often called transcripts.

Asynchronous Interaction – Online discussions occurring independent of time or location. Participants send messages to a central location (discussion forum) where they are archived for later retrieval from other participants. Examples of asynchronous interaction are web based bulletin boards and email.


Back Channel – communication (email, instant message) sent personally to one or more individuals as opposed to a public conferencing forum. Back channel is rarely documented, but has a big impact in online interactions.

Blended Learning – “Blended learning is the combination of multiple approaches to teaching or to educational processes which involve the deployment of a diversity of methods and resources or to learning experiences which are derived from more than one kind of information source. Examples include combining technology-based materials and traditional print materials, group and individual study, structured pace study and self-paced study, tutorial and coaching.” – Wikipedia

Blog or Weblog – “A weblog, also known as a *blog, is a frequently updated website consisting of dated entries arranged in reverse chronological order so that the reader sees the most recent post first. The style is typically personal and informal. Freely available tools on the World Wide Web make it easy for anybody to publish their own weblog, so there is a lot of variety in the quality, content and ambition of weblogs, and a weblog may have anywhere from a handful to tens of thousands of daily readers. Weblogs first appeared in the mid-nineties and became more widely popular as simple and free publishing tools such as became available towards the turn of the century.” There are many other terms related to blogging. (Source: Jill Walker )

Blogroll – “A list of recommended sites that appears in the sidebar of a blog. These sites are typically sites that are either on similar topics, sites that the blogger reads regularly, or sites that belong to the blogger’s friends or colleagues. The term “blogroll” also evokes the concept of political logrolling (when legislators promise to vote for one another’s pet bills) — which is not unlike bloggers’ habit of reciprocating links by posting links to blogs that link back to their own blogs.” – Social Signal (note: as of  2015 this is now pretty much an archaic term!)

Blogosphere – “The totality of weblogs or blog-related webs.” (From Wikipedia.)

Bookmark – (v) To mark a document or a specific place in a document for later retrieval. Most Web browsers support a bookmarking feature that lets you save the address (URL) of a Web page so that you can easily re-visit the page at a later time. (n) A marker or address that identifies a document or a specific place in a document. With the evolution of content creation tools, bookmarking has gone “social” enabling sharing of bookmarks as a form of content curation.

Bulletin Board – A name for web-based online conferencing spaces. Bulletin boards are asynchronous tools and can be organized in linear or threaded formats. See also Forums.


Chat – Same time (synchronous) web-based text interaction. Typically fast moving, chat can be used for large “auditorium” events where there are presenters and audience, smaller group work meetings or social interactions, or small, one-on-one sessions. Some chat applications are now integrating voice as well as text chat.

Comments/Commenting – (Relating to blogs) – “Comments are a way to provide discussion on blog entries. Readers can leave a comment on a post, which can correct errors or contain their opinion on the post or the post’s subject.” Wikipedia

Communities of Practice (CoPs) – “Communities of practice are groups that emerge around a discipline or problem – a work-related subject like graphic design or the behavior of derivative financial instruments. They have no agenda; they are defined by the subject that engages them, not by project, rank, department, or even corporate affiliation. They are where learning and innovation occur … Learning is social, we have learned. Managers who focus on communities and teams can improve performance … Bosses used to try to break up the gang by the water cooler. Now they support them with web sites”. Tom Stewart in Fortune for 28 May 2001

Computer Mediated Communications (CMC) – Communication done via online tools such as email, web pages, online interaction or conferencing.

Conference (online) – A collection of topics or threads, generally organized around a theme or subject matter. Online interaction spaces are sometimes a collection of conferences. Conferences create a sense of “space” and help users decide where to “go” or read in the online interaction space. This is now a fairly dated and archaic term (2016).

Content Management Systems – Software suites designed to incorporate tools and processes for document management .

Curation or Content Curation

Cybrary – An electronic library or document repository.


Direct Message (DM)

Distributed – Refers to a group of people who are not in the same geographic location. Often used in conjunction with teams as in a “distributed team.”

Document Management – “The computerized management of electronic as well as paper-based documents. Document management systems generally include an optical scanner and a system to convert paper documents into an electronic form, a database system to organize stored documents and a search mechanism to quickly find specific documents. Key to document management is an understanding of the potential uses of the source material and a protocol for identifying content elements (such as key words and other characteristics of a document.)” Webopedia

Download – Copy files from the web space to the user’s hard drive for later, offline use.

Drift – (topic drift) When a conversational thread or topic gets off topic.


Edit a Post – To go back and change a posting in an online conferencing space. The ability to edit a post varies by software platform. For example, in the Web Crossing software environment, users can edit their posts for up to 30 minutes after their original post. Posts cannot be edited after that time except by the conference manager(s).

E-Learning (or Distance Learning) – A type of education where students work on their own from any Internet connected location and communicate with faculty and other students via e-mail, electronic forums, videoconferencing and other forms of computer-based communication.

Electronic Forums – Also known as a conference, bulletin board or discussion board. An online discussion group where participants exchange text messages electronically, usually over the Internet.

Email – Short for electronic mail, the transmission of messages over electronic communications networks. Some electronic-mail systems are confined to a single computer system, Intranet or network, but others have gateways to the Internet, enabling users to send electronic mail anywhere in the world. (For some basic tips on effective email, see )

Email List – (or listservs tm) A group email function that sends or “broadcasts” a single email to a group of people. Email lists use a variety of software tools with features that may or may not include multiple modes of participation (individual messages, daily digests containing all the day’s messages, etc), automatic archiving of posts on a website (such as http://www.yahoogroups), and varying levels of moderator control.

Emoticon – Also known as smilies, they are keyboard characters used in combination to produce whimsical symbols representing a range of emotions. Examples are happy 🙂and sad 🙁. Emoticons are used in electronic communication to show humor and express emotions that are difficult to communicate in a text-based environment. For a comprehensive list of emoticons, follow this link:


F2F – Short hand for “face-to-face” to mean offline interaction.

Facilitator – A person who helps a group achieve their goals. Origin from the word “facilitate” or to “make easy.” Online facilitators need the same skills as offline group facilitators along with a grasp of the technologies used. “A good leader talks little, but when the work is done, the aim fulfilled, all others will say, ‘We did this ourselves.'” Lao-Tse, 400BC

Feeds – Also known as webfeeds or blog feeds. “A web feed is a document (often XML -based) which contains content items, often summaries of stories or blog posts with web links to longer versions. News websites and blogs are common sources for web feeds, but feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data to “ top ten ” lists of hit tunes… More often, feeds are subscribed to directly by users with aggregators or feed readers, which combine the contents of multiple web feeds for display on a single screen or series of screens. Some modern web browsers incorporate aggregator features. Depending on the aggregator, users typically subscribe to a feed by manually entering the URL of a feed or clicking a link in a web browser.” – Wikipedia

Feedreaders – A tool which collects all the feeds a person has subscribed to and put them into an organized, readable form on the desktop or in an internet browser. Also called a “newsreader” or “aggregator.” See “ Feeds ”

Folksonomy – “A portmanteau word combining “folk” and “taxonomy,” refers to the collaborative but unsophisticated way in which information is being categorized on the web. Instead of using a centralized form of classification, users are encouraged to assign freely chosen keywords (called tags) to pieces of information or data, a process known as tagging. Examples of web services that use tagging include : Flickr , , etc. – wikipedia

Freezing a Topic – An administrative function where the software is set to stop allowing posting in a topic. Often used to close a topic or discussion, but still making it available for reading.


GMT – Greenwich Mean Time – a time standard that is helpful to use when working with global groups. GMT is measured from the Greenwich Meridian Line at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, UK. GMT remains the same all year around (no “daylight savings time” or summer time).



ICT’s- Abbreviation for “information and communication technologies.” A term often used in international development.

Internet Terminology – for more Internet related terms (including technical) see

Instant Message – A synchronous personal message sent between two users. Examples of instant messaging tools include ICQ, AOL Instant Messenger, Microsoft Messenger and Jabber.

Interaction Tools – See also the article, tools for online interaction.

IRC – Internet Relay Chat – “a chat system that enables people connected anywhere on the Internet to join in live discussions. To join an IRC discussion, you need an IRC client and Internet access.” ( )



Knowledge Management – “Knowledge Management caters to the critical issues of organizational adaption, survival and competence in face of increasingly discontinuous environmental change…. Essentially, it embodies organizational processes that seek synergistic combination of data and information processing capacity of information technologies, and the creative and innovative capacity of human beings.” Dr. Yogesh Malhotra , BRINT Institute . For an interesting “history” of KM, see


Linear or Conversational Conferencing Posts appear in chronological sequence, one after another, within a topic . Creates a sense of “conversation” and lends itself to building group interactions, but does not allow response to a particular post.

Listservtm – See Email Lists An older technology, listservs are essentially mailing lists that enable you to send multiple copies of e-mail by send a single message to a central address. Some listservs are very useful; some not so. Listserv is a trademarked name by the Lyris company.

Log-in – The process of going to a web site which requires the user to input a user name and password to get access to that space. Most online conference spaces require logging in. This allows posts to be attributed to unique users and to track user progress through the discussion space.

Lurking – Someone who reads in an online interaction space, but rarely or never posts. When they DO post, it is said that they are “de-lurking.” Also known as “readers”. Depending on the purpose of the interaction space, the facilitators may try and engage “readers” to begin responding and posting. This term sometimes carries negative connotations so in some settings, using the term “reader” is advisable. Lurking can be seen as negative, but in some cases, people who read only can have a significant impact in a community’s purpose — let’s say the purpose is to share information. If I read, you have reached me. If the purpose is to generate new information, then there is a stronger reason to get everyone to post — and generate. Readers provide an audience, they provide page views — they are an influence, albeit unseen and sometimes hard to understand. Readers can be CONVERTED to posters.

-M –

Mashup – “ Website or Web 2.0 application that uses content from more than one source to create a completely new service.” Wikipedia

Message – Text added by a user to an online discussion space. Also known as a “post.”

– N –

Netiquette – The set of online “manners” generally known as netiquette, or etiquette on the Net. You may wish to check out   Arlene Rinaldi’s User Guidelines and Netiquette Some alternative resources can be found at and – Most of these are now rather dated and there are some new norms that emerged with the social media era of Facebook, Twitter and other platforms.


Online Dispute Resolution or ODR – – a process of providing mediating services to reconcile disagreements using the online environment. This is an emerging practice out of offline dispute resolution. (For more see )


Permalink – “The URL of the full, individual article, designed to refer to a specific information item (often a news story or blog item) and to remain unchanged permanently, or at least for a lengthy period of time to prevent link rot.” Wikipedia

Podcast – An audio blog, typically updated weekly or daily. You don’t have to have an ipod (an Apple product) to listen to a podcast; although you can download podcasts to an ipod, you can also listen to podcasts on a desktop computer, or many other mp3 players. – Social Signal

Post –A message added to an online discussion. Also known as a “message.”

Presence Indicators – A software tool built into an online interaction space which show who is online in the space at any given time. These are useful to help build a sense of “group” and are often bundled with instant messenger tools enabling users who are online at the same time to send quick messages to each other.

Private Message (PM) or Direct Message (DM) – See Direct Message



Real Time – See Synchronous

Registration – A process of providing some set of information to get a user name and a password to an online interaction space to enable logging in .

Remix – Taking an existing piece of content (song, video, etc.) and changing, sometimes by combining the original material with new material.

RSS ( Really Simple Syndication) – At it’s simplest, a mechanism to allow you to subscribe to updated web content such as blog posts and forum messages. “The RSSformats provide web content or summaries of web content together with links to the full versions of the content, and other meta-data. This information is delivered as an XMLfile called an RSSfeed, web feed, RSSstream, or RSSchannel. In addition to facilitating syndication, RSSallows a website’s frequent readers to track updates on the site using an aggregator.” – Wikipedia


Seeding – Posting an initial message or series of messages in a discussion space to get the discussion started.

Shared Bookmarking – Instead of book marking websites in one’s personal browser, users bookmark in a web based site that allows them to selectively tag, share and access their list of bookmarked URLs from any web connected computer. Example:

Skypetm – One of the leading VOIP providers.

Slip – When two users in an asynchronous online interaction space post at the same time. The importance of being aware of slipping is that on some conferencing systems, you can miss messages from other users if they were posted at the same time.

Social Networking Tools – Social networking sites help people discover new friends or colleagues by illuminating shared interests, related skills, or a common geographic location. Leading examples include Friendster, LinkedIn, and 43people. Social Signal

Social Software (Social Media) – “Software that enables participation, contribution and networking (inter-connecting); for example blogs. Software that enables content or services to be combined by third-parties (this combination is often referred to as ‘remixing’ or a ‘mash-up’: a reference to DJ-culture where new compositions are created by sampling and combining existing sounds or recordings).” – Motive Glossary

Synchronous Interaction – (Real Time) – Online discussions occurring independent of location, but at the same time. Participants must agree on a time to log into the discussion forum and messages are received at the moment they are sent. This form of electronic communication is also called “chatting,” and can include audio and/or video.


Tags/Tagging – “ Tags are the keywords people add to articles in their blog or to web pages via social book marking tools like, Technorati, Yahoo ! My Web 2.0, etc.” – Wikipedia

Teleconferencing (also Audio conferencing) – Voice-only connection with multiple participants. May be using regular telephone lines or Voice Over IP (VOIP) on computers .May be paired with other tools to create a shared display such as chat, opening the same set of slides, etc.

Terms of Service – (TOS) The written rule of an online interaction space. In commercial or public online spaces, TOS usually refers to the legal agreements commercials sites require of users before they either access and/or post in an online interaction space.

Thread – (or thread) A series of posts on a single topic. This term is used in a variety of ways. When the topic starts drifting from its original intent, sometimes people suggest starting a new “thread.” See also Topic .

Threaded Conferencing – web based text interaction where posts follow a branching “tree” structure. Replies can be appended to particular posts. This format is good for technical question and answers or for organizing large amounts of information.

Topic – (or topic) A series of posts on a single theme or idea. See also Thread .


Upload – To copy a file from a user’s hard drive to the web based interaction space, thus making the file available to other members of the online interaction space.


Videoconferencing – A conference or interaction between two or more participants at different sites by using computer networks to transmit audio and video data. Some times the audio is done via separate telebridge. A point-to-point (two-person) video conferencing system works like a video telephone. Each participant has a video camera, microphone, and speakers mounted on his or her computer. As the two participants speak to one another, their voices are carried over the network and delivered to the other’s speakers, and whatever images appear in front of the video camera appear in a window on the other participant’s monitor. Multipoint videoconferencing allows three or more participants to sit in a virtual conference room and communicate as if they were sitting right next to each other.

Virtual Community – (Also called online community, e-community) A virtual community is a community of people sharing common interests, ideas, and feelings over the Internet or other collaborative networks. A possible inventor of this term and one of its first proponents was Howard Rheingold, documented his book, The Virtual Community. Rheingold defines virtual communities as social aggregations that emerge from the Internet when enough people carry on public discussions long enough and with sufficient human feeling to form webs of personal relationships in cyberspace. See also

Vodcast – A blog post in video form. “VODcast is an emerging term derived from the audio “podcast” and video.” Wikipedia

Voice Over IP (VOIP) – “Short for V oice over Internet Protocol, a category of hardware and software that enables people to use the Internet as the transmission medium for telephone calls by sending voice data in packets using IP rather than by traditional circuit transmissions of the PSTN . One advantage of VoIP is that the telephone calls over the Internet do not incur a surcharge beyond what the user is paying for Internet access, much in the same way that the user doesn’t pay for sending individual e-mails over the Internet.” – Webopedia


Web 2.0 – ‘Web 2.0’ encapsulates a rethinking and reinvention of how the web is used, and might be used—circa late-2004. The phraseology is that of software engineering, where the release of a new version is denoted by appending a number to the software title. Key criticisms of the term are that the web is not a piece of software, and that many of the ideas collected under the Web 2.0 moniker are not ‘new’ in a either a programmatic or technological sense. Beyond its initial use to describe an approach to software development, the term has also entered popular usage as a synonym for ‘new-ness’—leading to comparisons with pre dot-com bust buzzwords such as ‘killer app’, ‘bleeding/leading edge’, etc.

WebRing – “A WebRing is an Internet service and concept which links together a group of sites that have the same theme. In each WebRing, member Web sites have banded together to form their sites into linked circles. Their purpose: to allow more visitors to reach them quickly and easily.” Blogs can also form webrings, sometimes called Blogrings.

Wiki– “Wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. Wiki supports hyperlinks and has a simple text syntax for creating new pages and cross-links between internal pages on the fly. Wiki … allows the organization of contributions to be edited in addition to the content itself… Allowing everyday users to create and edit any page in a Web site is exciting in that it encourages democratic use of the Web and promotes content composition by non-technical users.” WikiPedia

WYSIWYG – “What You See is What You Get” which refers to formatting tools in word processors, wikis and weblog creation tools that allow users to format without knowing code.



For more technical web terms, see and The Jargon Lexicon . (Edited on Aug 15 to correct spelling of WSIWSYG and add webring)

Tags: onlinecommunity , onlinefacilitation

8 thoughts on “Glossary of Online Interaction”

  1. Is there any way for visitors to subscribe this blog using other ways instead of via RSS? I never make it work on any readers though it is possible to read it from ie.

    1. Hi Javier

      The answer is YES! on the front page on the left side (underneath the search box) there is a feedburner subscription box. Put in your email address, follow the subsequent instructions and you will be subscribed to get all posts via email.

      Thanks for asking


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