I noticed this Slate article, and it inspired me to respond, because I think it contains some significant misunderstandings about on-line communities:
I have to admit I am confused about what "on-line atheism community" is supposed to mean. I don't see any community structure, indeed I see diverse groups with dramatically different opinions and strategies. But going by what Martin Pribble implies - that there is an atheist approach of 'debating theists who make a ludicrous claim', then there is a simple way to avoid such debates which is to simply avoid such debates! There is no necessary 'debating-theist' aspect to whatever 'on-line' atheism is. There's nothing at all necessary about atheism except for not believing in gods, which is why I find it irritating when I come across phrases like 'atheists want..' or 'atheists believe...'.
But, I believe there is something important about being on-line and atheist, which is to be as visible and atheist while being purely and simply yourself. Visibility is important, because the world will be a better place when atheism is universally considered to be a part of normal life, and that acceptance comes from familiarity.
There need be no general community and there need be no debating, but what there really does need to be is simple visibility.