The starting point is Michael Warner, "Publics and Counterpublics, pdf .

Here's a summary: Publics are self-organized spaces organized by discourse. They are impersonal, and an organization of strangers. What holds a public together is that it is addressed as a public. That is, what constitutes a public is attention. It's where discourse circulates, and is circulated by. It's made of links. Publics come and go: they are located. And a public calls into existence the world it exists in. Warner writers that "a public is poetic world making." I prefer that a public is heuristic. My emphasis stays on the discourse. Warner's moves towards agent action and interaction.

Why is Warner's idea of a public valuable in thinking about Fedwiki?

as a counterpoint or even escape from _community_

the emphasis is on publics as generative, and the concept seeks to consider how publics are generated, evolve, disband

the term _pubic_ more accurately describes the position of Fedwiki users, both empirically and epistemically, than does _community_.

the term keeps the emphasis on the discourse and how it links agents, keeps a focus on the agency of attention, discourse creation, and circulation. _Community_ keeps sliding into social agency.


a pretty good summary of Warner's major book, _Publics and Counterpublics: webpage