How the Internet Community Saved Alf

March 20th, 2009 by

People talk a lot about the power of community when it comes to social media and Twitter. One of the first mentions of this that really struck a chord with me was a video blog by Shana Albert titled Twitter as an Online Community, where she talked about how supportive the Twitter community was during and after an incident involving her son being bit by the family dog. I think Shana did a great job expressing how great an online community can be when it comes to being supportive in a time of need.

On Tuesday, I saw a whole new way in which the online community and Twitter can help people, but this time it was a bit less personal. Early Tuesday morning Content Writing Advice blogger Jeremy Rivera posted a cry for help on his blog. Turns out he had an Alf bobble head, that doubled as an SEO trophy, stolen from him and was left with nothing but a ransom note written in some alien like hieroglyphics.

In a blog post titled, Help Me Crack the Code to Save Alf,  he shared the back story to the Alf bobble head as well as an image of the ransom note asking the internet community to help him decode it. He followed up the blog post with a tweet asking all his followers to help him out if they could and retweet. What happened next was interesting…

A group of people at Jeremy’s place of work as well as myself and a number of outsiders in the online community went out of their way to try and crack the code. Comments on the post itself show that many people had their thoughts and feedback, and by mid morning Jeremy seemed to have the ransom note solved.

After solving the first clue he was presented with yet another ransom note, this time the note was written in some other alien hieroglyphic, which again he needed help decoding. He updated his blog post with the latest details and an image of the follow up hieroglyph. Again the online community stepped away from what they were doing to try and solve the puzzle. Again they succeeded and by Tuesday afternoon Jeremy and Alf were reunited.

It’s not the first time I have seen someone ask for help online and get feedback or an answer; however this is the first time that I have seen people work in such a collective effort. This type of effort leads me to believe that if a serious enough incident came up that needed problem solving the internet community could be an amazing resource.

I’m sure in this case a lot of the involvement was due to the fact that the subject matter and the problem that needed solving was kind of fun to decode, but when you look at the example Shana mentions and then look at Jeremy’s situation you can see that with the right mix of compassion and can-do attitude there is some great potential on Twitter and on social networks in general to get some seriously valuable help. A lot of people feel that social media and the internet is desensitizing us when it comes to communicating and relationships, I on the other hand feel it is just helping communication and those relationships evolve.

Have you ever had any really awesome experiences with your online community? Feel free to share in the comments below. I’d love to hear about it!

11 Responses to “How the Internet Community Saved Alf”

  1. Brian Harnish says:

    I certainly agree. The involvement of everyone as part of the collective effort was pretty cool. I think if a large scale incident occurred that needed such help and problem solving abilities that Twitter could be an awesome resource. I’d have to say as well that I thought the event itself was pretty cool and a lot of fun. It just goes to show that when you think something like Twitter has been used to its full potential, along comes a nifty little thing like this that causes you to think twice. Quite honestly, I don’t think online social networks like Twitter have reached their full potential yet. We’re still discovering new ways that it can be used.

  2. I’m really happy that I was able to get Alf back unharmed.

    I was most impressed by the random person who helped me crack the 2nd coded message, which was in Klingon. He has a Klingon language site, and so it seems like he uses Tweetdeck or another application to pick up any references to Klingon so he can respond. He was very helpful and I would have had a much more difficult time of things if he hadn’t tweeted me with that info!

  3. I realized about three weeks ago when I was showing my son YouTube videos of Alf that I was getting old lol

    Twitter is an amazing resource for many different things. I’ve seen it buy cars, fill the stomachs of starving children, help someone through the loss of a loved one, track loved ones during a tragedy, and just be a general all-around help.

    It’s allowed me to more than double my income (without a single self-promotion of the business to boot!), learn new things, research projects, and even find your blog.

    With the way the US/Aussie and others come and go, it’s like working in the same office with just a little different communication method.

    Twitter is certainly a foundation in my day. Great story!

    Angie Haggstrom (@angie1234p)
    Freedom Freelance

    • Mike Wilton says:

      Angie, twitter really is a powerful tool not only for building relationships and networking, but for advertising and getting your name out there. I have connected with hundreds of people on twitter all of which I have probably interacted with at least a handful of times.

      Before Twitter most of these people would have had no idea who I was or even cared. Now I chat with people from all over the world about SEO, Social Media, and life in general. And more and more visitors to my blog have been fed through twitter.

      Thank you for the comment. I’ve also started following you on twitter. 😉

  4. Articles about SEO as of March 20, 2009 | The Lessnau Lounge says:

    […] bahas XML-RPC Ping Services for SEO yang menerangkan tentng penggunaan rpc ping di website yang How the Internet Community Saved Alf Filed Under (Social Media) by Mike Wilton on 20-03-2009 – musingsforadarkenedroom.com 03/20/2009 People talk a lot about the power of community when it […]

  5. Shana Albert says:

    Great post, Mike. And, thanks for mentioning my video regarding my son Riley.

    Truly, that horrific experience was made so much better by the love and support I got from the online community, Twitter. It truly is amazing. It was heart-felt…. just as any friend in reality would have stood by my side during that ordeal.

    I must be hiding under a rock…. I totally missed the Alf story. That is HILLARIOUS!!

    • Mike Wilton says:

      Thanks Shana. I loved that video because I could tell how sincere you were and how touched you were by the whole ordeal. It’s been a while since you had posted it, but I thought it was a good tie in to this post and the value of online community and how supportive it can be in a variety of situations.

  6. […] home, a nagging suspicion began to build in my stomach. Could the same devious demon who recently held alf hostage be behind the ominous note? If so – what precious item might be missing from my cluttered, mess of a […]

  7. Thanks Mike, … you’ve just solidified Jeremy’s #1 ranking for the keyword. Now I’ll be stuck at #3 and will never have Alf on my desk..

  8. […] an amusing story about how the Internet community saved Alf by helping decipher a series of clues. Just in time for that DaVinci Code […]

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