Seth Godin recently argued that blogs have eliminated the need for most business books. Whether you agree with Seth's statements or not, you can't dispute the fact that online communities have made it easier than ever to access and share information.
This is a godsend for graphic designers who, before the Internet, had to rely on relatively local scenery or “publishable” books for inspiration. Now, you can learn new techniques, get free critiques from other professionals, and keep abreast of industry trends with the best online communities for graphic designers.
In no particular order:
HOWDesign Forum — Share your work, ask for critiques, and learn new styles in this rather active community.
All Graphic Design Forum — Don't let the poor design of this forum fool you: Its parent site is quite nice, and the community is moderately active. It’s a good place to go when you can't find an oddball answer elsewhere.
Your Design Forums — Another good place for critiques, this forum is run by YouTheDesigner, a popular graphic design resource in its own right.
Graphics.com Forums — This community boasts interesting threads that many of the other sites don't have.
Adobe Groups — What designer doesn't use Adobe software? With Adobe Groups, you can find and found a group local to your area, or join online and international groups depending on your preferences. Share and learn with a knowledgeable community of experts.
Graphic Design Forum — This forum has been around for a long time, evidence by the monotone VBulletin-style layout. Still, experience matters, and this community puts a wealth of information at your fingertips.
Estetica Design Forum - Another huge graphic design forum with tens of thousands of searchable posts, Estetica has a hundred or so users online at any given time.
These are the big dogs, but there are literally thousands of excellent graphic design communities on the web. My next mission: to identify several personal graphic design websites that offer extraordinary benefits to graphic designers. Help me out! Can you name any?