The purpose of this ethnographic investigation was to explore individuals’ participation in online communities in Saudi Arabia from within the social and cultural contexts. The findings of this study indicate that the active members had a strong sense of community. Online, they observed their cultural values, customs and traditions and abided by the rules of their religion. Meanwhile, the features of the online medium, such as the anonymity and lack of social cues, have also affected their behaviour online by causing them, for example, to utter obscenities and engage in flame wars. Participation in online communities had both positive and negative effects on individuals’ offline lives. For example, while members became more open-minded in their thinking and less inhibited about the opposite gender, they became less caring about family commitments. Similarly, it had both advantages and disadvantages. Among the advantages were information sharing and knowledge gain, and the increase in members’ ability to express themselves. Among the disadvantages were the excessive loss of time and the frustration arising from favouring only well-known members.