I've found three kinds of on-line support--each very different, but still very necessary:
1) Research websites and loops
2) Supportive loops
3) Critique Partners
RESEARCH WEBSITES AND LOOPS: These websites are places to go when you have a technical question or problem relating to your manuscript. There are hundreds of good sites, specializing in all kinds of subjects. As an example, if I have a forensics question, I can ask at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/crimescenewriter/.
If I'm trying to create a futuristic world, I go to Patricia Wrede's website at www.io.com/~eighner/world_builder/world_builder_index.html.
When someone recommends a good site, I check it out and make an index card. It's amazing how often those cards come in handy. Recently, I had a gun-related question. Googling did not produce the answer I needed. As a last ditch effort, I flipped through my index cards and, when I pulled up the website I'd found, discovered exactly the answer I needed. To confirm the data, I checked with a veteran friend of mine. He verified the validity of what I'd written.
SUPPORTIVE LOOPS: These are on-line groups of writers in a particular genre who provide support and information to each other. I belong to a lot of these loops. To manage the traffic flow, I've set my "preferences" to send the emails to me in a daily digest. That way, I can quickly scan the subject matter and either respond or delete the digest. Among the most helpful loops I belong to are the RWA special interest groups for Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal; Kiss of Death (Mystery); and Passionate Ink (erotic romance) as well as the Brazen Hussies loop. The Hussies all took the same on-line class in erotic romance from Jan Springer back in February of this year. We had so much fun as a group that we formed our own support loop when the class ended.
CRITIQUE PARTNERS: As I've posted in the past, good critique partners are more precious than--and sometimes as rare as--rubies. I have a half dozen on-line partners whose critiques I trust. They don't all write in the same genre, but I've found that a good critique partner will transcend genre. I have a friend who writes cozy mysteries, but who is perfectly at ease reading my erotic romances. I'm always on the lookout for new partners--ones who will give me suggestions without insisting on imposing their "voice" on MY manuscripts.
Writing is a very solitary pursuit. The Internet has done a lot to provide a working environment for writers. Now, although I'm alone in my study, I have a whole group of people with whom I interact every day. I regard my Internet writer friends as co-workers with whom I can celebrate successes and lament failures. They help keep me sane, focused and on target.