I have written quite a lot down the years about the word 'community' and its uses and abuses.
I've recently been considering in some depth what it means, for two reasons. The first is that early this year I moved to an area with a very strong community (it's the kind of place where everybody knows everybody else by at most two degrees of separation) and found myself immersed within it by virtue of having a school age child. It is like living in the 1950s. There is a traditional high street with a butcher, greengrocer, baker and so on; the kids all walk to school together in the morning and all play in the local park afterwards; people stop and say 'hello' to each other as they pass; there are thriving karate clubs and weight-loss groups and baby yoga classes and all the rest. Elements of it are vomit-inducingly bourgeois (baby yoga being a case in point; the area even has 100% Liberal Democrat local councillors). But it certainly beats having no community at all.
The second reason is that after decades of respectful agnosticism I've recently restarted semi-regular churchgoing, and have rediscovered the low-key virtues of high-church Anglicanism, the unique smell and temperature of English church halls, and the 'oddly reassuring and reassuringly odd' nature of parish life. A church congregation also has many of the characteristics of a community: a bunch of people who have nothing in common except that they live reasonably close by, and apparently share a common faith. (I use the word 'apparently' advisedly - it simply isn't done in Anglican churches to actually discuss personal religious belief.) It isn't the same as a 'community' strictly understood, for reasons which I'll come to, but there is a close connection.
'Community' is a particular form of human association that is chiefly defined by what it is not. It is not family, or friendship. Nor is it what you might call 'civil association' - the loose ties of common respect for the law which are necessary to make society function at all. It's not a business or charity. It is not quite the same as a tribe or subculture or 'scene'. Nor is it exactly a neighbourhood, because there are plenty of neighbourhoods with no community at all. Rather, it's what you get when a certain number of people are brought together chiefly by happenstance - because they have ended up living in the same area - and interact with each other regularly enough to become familiar. They are together through fate rather than choice, but they do choose to engage with one another beyond the level of mere coexistence.
It is not necessary to like, or even get along well with, the other members of a community. People can even detest one another - as long as they do it relatively discreetly and do not puncture the veneer of civility. All that is really necessary is polite toleration and somewhat regular interaction. Enough of the members have to see one another regularly enough - even if just to say 'hello' to - to generate a critical mass of baseline familiarity.
A church congregation, then - just like a baby yoga class, indeed - is not really a community in this sense. Nor is a sports club or political group or local charity, or a pub or cafe or post office. But all of these things do help foster it by providing the opportunities for interaction upon which community rests. (And it is often when all or most of these things have disappeared from a neighbourhood that its community collapses, because it means that people are no longer interacting with one another frequently enough to be familiar.) Some of these are more important than others, depending on the nature of the community in question. But all of them help.
What does this have to do with the OSR, then? Until recently, you would have had a very hard time convincing me that an online scene like the OSR could ever really meet the description of a 'community' as such. Too online, too diffuse, too anonymous, and with a membership united by a shared interest rather than the mere happenstance of living near one another. I am probably, on balance, still of that view. But I can also see that there is an argument from the other side - that the OSR might be thought of as a loose collective of individuals who interact frequently enough to generate a certain level of shared familiarity, such that, if we don't all know each other or communicate directly, there is a certain level of recognition of particular names, aliases and relationships sufficient enough to make us a simulacrum of what a real human community is. That it is no substitute for the real thing does not in itself invalidate the analogy.
To extend the analogy further: is a blog something like a village pub, with a rotating irregular cast of visitors coming and going from evening to evening? Is a Discord server like a post office or off-license through which people continuously flow through the course of the day? And is a forum like a church, full of ageing parishioners still gamely plodding along and slowly slewing off members from year to year?