Can we just stop for a second and appreciate that in group situations people want to be good, and moral and right? For a shining, solitary moment, the internet was at its moral best.

This man inspired mob rule of a positive nature…

What the hell am I talking about, you ask? Only about how Neil Gaiman - and the internet - were saved from a potential leak of his latest Doctor Who script which was accidentally left in the back of a taxi. An absent-minded actress had reportedly been reading it in a cab and presumably left it sitting in the back seat while she was paying and forgot to pick it up again.

The script was found by a non-Whovian (non Doctor Who fan - to those not in the know) who posted a photo of it on her Facebook page. Her friend, a Whovian and Redditor (editor on social news website, Reddit), known as “Shrimpdude” posted the image on Reddit and pondered over what to do.

Instead of demanding that they be provided the script in full and immediately so that they could find what fate was to befall the Doctor and his new companion, the internet seized on the post and insisted it be returned to the BBC unsullied and unleaked.

The most upvoted comment on the thread reads: “Listen, that needs to go right back to the BBC Wales offices. A lot of people are excited about Neil Gaiman’s return to DW and Steven Moffat put a LOT into casting it.please do the right thing and tell your friend not to spoil it or let it fall into the wrong hands.
[EDIT] I am literally sick thinking about how bad it would be if that were leaked. As a Doctor Who fan and the TARDIS, I implore* you to steal that from whomever happens to have it and just march it into the BBC. I’m sure they’ll be most appreciative. As would every whovian that doesn’t want what is sure to be a fantastic episode to be spoiled.”

People gave their two cents about who to speak to, pondered over whether Gaiman should write another meta episode about the whole incident. Few, if any disagreed that it should be returned.

Neil Gaiman tweeted that he was willing to help out (though from the tweet he wasn’t confident about how he could).

Within a few days Shrimpdude had written that he had succesfully arranged a return of the script.

“Been in touch with various members of the production team (Nerdgasm) and we’ve arranged a return of the script,” Shrimpdude wrote. “Thank you everyone that upvoted this post so it got the attention of the BBC. This thread has made my life - I never would have believed I could help out the Doctor Who production team!”

Can we just stop and appreciate for a moment how rare, and beautiful a moment this was for the internet?

This moment was a test of moral character. It was an opportunity for any and all who were interested to see how people behaved in group situations.

Keep in mind people on Reddit are mostly anonymous. There was nothing stopping them from letting their curiosity get the better of them except for their own conscience, and possibly the fear of judgement from others. It’s nice being in the know. People enjoy being the first to discover a new band, or new tv episode or have the inside scoop.

Doctor Who
is not only one of the UK’s most popular TV shows but in Australia too. The first episode of the new series was the most viewed program on ABC’s iView app EVER.

The Sandman author has only written one other script for the series, so the episode has been hotly anticipated. Desperate though many people may be to find out what happens - they resisted.

Really this was a test between good and evil - or at least right and wrong. (Not sure I would really classify the leaking of a TV script online as evil).

And good won out.

In an era where the future Queen’s lady parts were splashed all and sundry over the covers of magazines, where music, TV series and films are downloaded illegally due to people’s incapacity for patience, where the right to know, to watch, to consume is put above almost everything barring oxygen, food and sleep, I’m just putting it out there that this act of kindness is pretty rare.

I’m sure Neil Gaiman’s generosity in his writing certainly played a part. On top of the countless film scripts, books, comics and graphic novels he has written, he also blogs constantly on Tumblr and his personal website, he tweets, he gives inspiring speeches to classes of aspiring students. As far as content goes, Gaiman gives A LOT away for free, and for this we should all feel incredibly grateful.

I’m not sure whether the same courtesy would have been extended to other writers or directors, but there’s something quite lovely that by paying it forward, he has encouraged others to do so too.

It warms my heart that things like this still happen.

Despite all the burn books and the bullying that we hear about all too often, let’s stop to remember that given the opportunity people are good and they want to be.

That is all.

Comments on this post will close at 8pm AEST.

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    • Humpty says:

      10:54am | 15/11/12

      As a regular Redditor, there have been some great outcomes on that website. I’m sure that similar positive stories happen across a lot of other social media.

      I’ve seen people raise thousands for various charities/causes,
      Lives have literally been saved by contributors encouraging people to seek medical help for various issues.
      Kids struggling with their sexuality, or abusive parents, or whatever, have been supported by complete strangers with no vested interest, other than to provide some help to a fellow (anonymous) human being.
      Famous people have answered questions,
      people have donated goods, services and equipment.
      I remember one reddit discussion where redditors helped a guy who was too scared to leave his home (agoraphobia I think) - the convinced him to just step out to get the paper…then the next day to check the mail.. then we he was ready, to step onto the footpath.  The whole time he could go back inside to his computer where hundreds of strangers offered support and advice…

      With all the negative publicity around social media its good to know that people still see positives (I mean, we all remember when Alan Jones was impacted by ‘cyberbullying’ - ha ha, what a tool that guy is….)

      Anyway, good work internet! Good work people!

      Now, back to wasting my day on Reddit…

    • Brimstone says:

      10:58am | 15/11/12

      I love Neil, and I love Doctor Who, but this doesn’t make up for all the dodgy stuff on Reddit - from r/creepshots to r/jailbait.

    • iansand says:

      11:04am | 15/11/12

      We have solved an existential crisis over a TV script.  Next stop - Whirled Peas!!!

    • Philosopher says:

      11:05am | 15/11/12

      ‘the internet seized on the post and insisted it be returned to the BBC’

      sounds like this scenario could be lifted straight from DW: the Internet, embodied by a sort of slithery organic super computer, threatens to destroy Earth unless the script is returned. The Doctor charms his way into tweeting with the Internet by offering the creature a jellybaby. Yes I am of the Tom Baker generation, yes he is the greatest Doctor of them all, and yes Leela was one sexy babe. That is all.

    • fromage67 says:

      11:58am | 15/11/12

      +1 Re Tom Baker (and especially Leela, just the thought of her Janus Thorn, Ooooh baby!). But Jon Pertwee comes a close 2nd!!

    • Philosopher says:

      12:33pm | 15/11/12

      Jon Pertwee: agree!
      Janus Thorn: ahh, had forgotten that one; she was so proficient in killing! Sexy and dangerous - what a combo. I would love to see her and Zena in a jelly wrestling *0*^* oops, I mean their own spinoff series. Ahem.

    • St. Michael says:

      11:10am | 15/11/12

      If this article had been about an act done by a religious person for no reason other than clinging to the principles of his or her religion, going by the responses to the child abuse articles here, a good portion of people would be screaming that ‘Internet freedom does nothing for humanity,’ and calling for variously the sites of Broken Rites Australia, WikiLeaks, Drudge, and 4chan alike to all be shut down so they can’t pervert the youth.

    • lostinperth says:

      11:29am | 15/11/12

      ahh, but you can’t run a hate campaign and also acknowledge the good that religious organisations do. So you just ignore the good side or pretend that anyone could do them, and focus on only the negatives.

    • Austin 3:16 says:

      12:31pm | 15/11/12

      Yeah the church does so much good we should just ignore the little bit of paedophilia and cover ups that goes along with it.

    • Colin says:

      12:46pm | 15/11/12

      @ St.Michael

      Yes, but the people who organised all of this did so from a sense of their own moral values; not because some sky-fairy believing loonies told them that they would burn in hell if they didn’t do the right thing…

      THAT is the difference between altruistic deeds and religously-driven ones…

    • St. Michael says:

      01:15pm | 15/11/12

      @ Austin 3:16 - show me where anyone, be it Cardinal Pell down, said that it’s fine to ignore paedophilia or that it’s fine to cover it up.

      @ Colin: a good portion of said people with their own lovely unchanging moral values will probably then log onto opinion sites to variously trash, insult, or even threaten people who express dissent over whether Doctor Who is actually a good show or not.  And will probably see no issue with having such a double standard.  Are you sure said people aren’t religious, by your standards?

    • Colin says:

      02:17pm | 15/11/12

      @ St. Michael 01:15pm | 15/11/12

      Err…and having the threat of not getting into heaven/being relegated to purgatory/sent to hell for eternity is a good way to instill those sentiments, is it?

      And it is also a long bow to stretch to say that - obviously, as irreligious heathens - these same people would then go on to attack and impugn other people and commit evil deeds…

      You don’t have to be religious to be good, St.Michael. And that, I think, is what annoys you religious types the most, doesn’t it..?

    • Kipling says:

      02:54pm | 15/11/12

      Um the very simplistic, rigod and archaic stance on the confidentiality of confession is of itself condoning acts of paedophilia (and a range of other brutalities). The suggestion of Pell to not hear a confession if a priest has some prior knowledge also fits some criteria for sayig it’s ok.
      Of course I expect you would only accept an exact quotr because it would be a fairly safe brt that such a quote would not exist. Except maybe in a confessional.

    • St. Michael says:

      02:58pm | 15/11/12

      Not at all, Colin.  You don’t have to be religious to be good.  You’re just looking at the world with one eye shut when you do.

    • Pattem says:

      03:59pm | 15/11/12

      @lostinperth & Austin3:16, not ignore or cover up the bad that the Church has done, but clean it out so that the good can be restored.  Maybe difficult with something as institutionalised as the Catholic Church, but it needs to be done!

      I think the good (arbitrarily 80%) that a lot of the religious organisations do outweighs the bad (arbitrarily 20%), but is mis-proportionally represented through the media.

      Is there any good left in the Church?  I believe there is, but mud sticks.

    • St. Michael says:

      04:42pm | 15/11/12

      @ Kipling: “Um the very simplistic, rigod and archaic stance on the confidentiality of confession is of itself condoning acts of paedophilia (and a range of other brutalities).”

      Confession is not heard if the person is unrepentant or not trying to amend their ways.  It comes down to the conscience of the priest hearing or proposed to hear confession as to whether or not he thinks the candidate is both repentant and trying to amend.  The sacrament and the doctrines by themselves do not condone paedophilia.

      The confessional shouldn’t be available as a shield against a court’s questioning—and in most States of Australia it isn’t—but imposing a positive duty of disclosure is another kettle of fish entirely, which I gather is what you’re really demanding.  There are solid reasons for the sacrament of confession, both spiritual and psychological.  I’m concerned that people don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater on this issue.

      “The suggestion of Pell to not hear a confession if a priest has some prior knowledge also fits some criteria for sayig it’s ok.”

      This does not track logically.  Further, it’s not a suggestion.  It’s the church’s own internal rules.  You equally break those rules if you break confidentiality as you do if you allow that confidentiality to be abused.

    • Austin 3:16 says:

      04:52pm | 15/11/12

      St. Michael,

      What cover ups you must be imagining things. The Catholic Church would never do such a thing. Why recently high profile police officers have spoken enthusiastically about the full, open, frank help they’ve received from the Church while conducting their investigations. Whoops hang on a second no they haven’t, I’d just confused Catholic fantasy for reality there for a moment. Happens to all of us.

      “anyone, be it Cardinal Pell down, said that it’s fine to ignore paedophilia or that it’s fine to cover it up”

      Yes because that’s what makes a cover up so effective, high ranking officials publically acknowledging them.

    • St. Michael says:

      05:22pm | 15/11/12

      @ Austin 3:16:

      “The Catholic Church would never do such a thing. Why recently high profile police officers have spoken enthusiastically about the full, open, frank help they’ve received from the Church while conducting their investigations.”

      Sarcasm ill-becomes you.  I didn’t deny there was a cover up.  I only want you to find someone who said it’s okay to do so.  The Commission will doubtless get to the bottom of it, and all power to them when they do.

      My issue remains where anti-religious types draw the bow “Church coverup on paedophilia = no Christian God = no value to any religion anywhere”.  As in, the sort of hysteria that I’m seeing right now.

      If you don’t believe in Catholicism, fine.  But don’t conduct your own coverups of all the good that the Catholic Church has done over the centuries along with the bad.  And don’t accuse the religious of being taking impermissible logical leaps while doing the same thing yourself.  If you would convince with facts, use facts.  If you would convince with logic, use logic.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      11:12am | 15/11/12

      Doesn’t surprise me actually. It does make me wonder where negative presumptions about the motives of ‘the mob’ actually come from when we have a clear example of a consensus of people doing the right thing.

      This article only increases my endorsement for Citizen Initiated Referenda (which is already practiced successfully for both constitutional matters AND policy matters in Switzerland). I could only imagine how it could be used here- Gay Rights and Euthanasia being two obvious issues with apparent majority support but low government support. Developer issues and privatization I think also needs a greater amount of public input too.

    • St. Michael says:

      12:14pm | 15/11/12

      “It does make me wonder where negative presumptions about the motives of ‘the mob’ actually come from when we have a clear example of a consensus of people doing the right thing.”

      Exhibit A: 4chan.  Also some of the more, shall we say, vile sections of reddit.  But then I’ve said humanity has good and evil mixed into it, so…

    • sunny says:

      11:29am | 15/11/12

      *Spoiler alert*

      This was the plot: The Doctor and his spunky female sidekick travel forward in time to a planet with human breathable air that is under threat from evil creatures that look a bit like humans dressed in cellophane and tin foil and leave a slime trail when they move about and led by a particularly ugly one called Spivros who speaks like a chain smoking Nazi. There they face great danger, but The Doctor -after offering everyone a jellybaby- saves the day with his sonic screwdriver and then they jump back in TARDIS and fuck off out of there.

    • Philosopher says:

      11:44am | 15/11/12

      you forgot to add the Gaiman twist: Spivros was an avatar of an ancient American god worshipped by the American Indians. Cool huh??

    • TheRealDave says:

      12:09pm | 15/11/12

      As a dedicated Whovian - you just described 73% of the episodes….


    • sunny says:

      12:54pm | 15/11/12

      Philosopher “an ancient American god worshipped by the American Indians” yeah funny how planets a gazillion light years away have near identical iconography to us. I reckon when we actually find life on other planets it will look like a bowl of soup.

      TheRealDave - I’ve spent too much time sitting though Dr Who episodes waiting for Monkey to start. When are they going to do a Monkey remake, that’s what I want to know?

    • Macca says:

      11:34am | 15/11/12

      No man saves the internet more than The Oatmeal. His recent philanthropy has been excellent

    • Dave says:

      12:26pm | 15/11/12

      Tell that to Funnyjunk

    • taz says:

      12:15pm | 15/11/12

      Come on this is all a farce to gain more publicity for the show.
      The show will take a hit without Rory and Amy in it anymore so they are just trying to boost it’s presense.

    • Ben says:

      02:05pm | 15/11/12

      Taz, Amy and Rory were getting old FAST, they needed to go and they overstayed their welcome by at least 1 season…. I for one am looking forward to watching the new season of Amy and Ror—- Sorry, Doctor Who.

      And thanks for the laugh, too by the way. The show would take a hit without Amy, HAHAHAHAHA!

    • AJ says:

      12:47pm | 15/11/12

      But, I LOVE spoilers!

      I don’t understand all the secrecy around the production of television shows and movies these days. Sure, people shouldn’t be “spoiled” if they don’t want to know what will happen until they’re viewing it on the big or small screen, but there’s nothing wrong with learning story details, etc before the final product is screened - IF people want to know that information.

    • Stormy Weather says:

      12:58pm | 15/11/12

      “his latest Doctor Who script which was accidentally left in the back of a taxi”

      “Yeah, right”!...., Oldest publicity, leak trick in the book.

    • moritheil says:

      02:52pm | 15/11/12

      I’m happy that Neil’s script was returned, but let’s not pretend that this was not anything but a huge peer pressure episode.  If hundreds or thousands of people yell at you to do something, will you do it?  Probably.  It has nothing to do with the actual rightness or wrongness of the act itself.  History is rife with examples of both evil and good being done due to the influence of crowds.

      In short, this is hardly the moral victory of good over evil the author paints it as.  It’s a victory for the collective over the individual.

    • Craig says:

      03:04pm | 15/11/12

      There’s a lot more good online than traditional media likes to report.

      “If it bleeds it leads,” is a mantra for editors, not communities.

      Once you’ve spent a decent amount of time online you realise how good most people are.

      The bad ones simply speak more often.

    • stephen says:

      04:11pm | 15/11/12

      Um, pardon me, but does the BBC really deserve so many favours ?

      Any way, I saw Red Dwarf last night, and it’s a bit more grown-up !

    • TheRealDave says:

      04:39pm | 15/11/12

      New Red Dwarf is great…but still a bit same old same old. Season has already finished sadly :(

    • Grey says:

      04:52pm | 15/11/12

      The probably the whole scenario from start to finish was dreamed up by some social media public relations consultant.


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