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!