The sloppy thinking is to consider any Group Discussion to qualify as a "virtual community". Perhaps a better filter would be "would you lend money to a member of that group, or invite them to stay over at your place overnight when they're in town?".
Jonathon Delacour says about the Radio Userland community (2002): A few years ago I was involved in the Electric Minds adventure, an online community that eventually imploded. Everyone has a theory about why that happened but I believe a community without tangible goals frequently degenerates into a talkfest or flamewar. Hopefully we can avoid that because we have goals: to build the infrastructure, wire up the communities, and generate the flow. Everyone can play. His general point is good, but I don't think the Radio usership counts as much of a community, either (or, it may for awhile as it's a small group with common interests and attitudes, but it won't be strong enough to scale, which is OK...)
Some historical documents, to avoid repeating mistakes: