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Online communities emerged as a new communication and cooperation paradigm around new media based on information and communication technology. At the beginning they were considered a social phenomenon, but soon it became clear that online communities can be of great economic importance and might provide efficient organization forms in certain application areas. This provoked the need for their systematic initiation and support by comprehensive community supporting platforms. The paper defines online communities and their features and proposes a concept of a component based architecture for community supporting platforms. The generic concept of media and the related media reference model are applied as a framework for component identification.