I have belonged to an e-list group of writers since 1995 on the internet where we converse and support and cheer each other on. It's limited to 100 members and we can nominate people to join because people do drop out. Not everyone converses, tho. A lot just lurk. It's been active the whole time whereas other groups have become silent or have changed their purpose.
On FB I"m active with several closed writers groups (and some secret ones), all with graduates of Vermont College of Fine Arts. These are the groups I talk writing-talk with. But we also support and cheer each other on.
Working backwards, what I loved about being on GEnie was - the focus of each separate group there. I belonged to a Moody Blues group, a Children's book writers group, and a Science Fiction (and fantasy) writer's group, and lurked in a Romance writer's group.
What I hated was the word-processing. You couldn't revise your sentences. Once you hit return and began the next line, you could not go back.
But it wasn't my first online writer's group. My husband was computer crazy since before 1989 (He became the first IT person and helped convert our library system). He discovered FIDOnet. FIDOnet was not the internet as you know it. FIDOnet consisted of packets of messages sent around the world from computer to computer. It was the first time that people everywhere in the world could talk to each other. You downloaded your selected packets, created your own messages to respond, then uploaded your messages to be folded into the next packet.
He talked to MG-T type car people plus computer people, and he found a writer's group which had some children's book writers on it and got those packets sent to me. It also had some crazy people on it but we all got along.
By the year 2002, I gave up this position and let a younger person, one with more computer savvy than me, take it over.
What was your first experience online?