Even though the emergence or respectively the construction of online communities is of great interest for scientists and community engineers, only few empirical data has been presented on community growth. This article starts with a reflection on possible growth curves of virtual communities. It contrasts a network externality perspective that produces clear winners and losers in a market with a long tail perspective that also allows small niche products to be successful. These considerations are empirically tested with a sample of 74 travel communities whose numbers of registered members were recorded at two measure points. The results show that online travel communities develop into an archetypical long tail. A very small number of communities with exceedingly high numbers of members are accompanied by a vast amount of communities with only few members. An analysis of the long tail, however, reveals that the community tail is not dead but is populated by a large number of especially regional communities that show considerable growth rates.