02/27/2012 03:54 pm ET

Babes No More

The question of whether virtual communities are real has been more than silenced of late by members, who have never met, rallying to each others' aid.

Among the most recent examples are blogger Monica Bielanko and her family, who were swooped up by readers of her blog after their house burned to the ground. The clarion call, which raised tens of thousands of dollars, was sounded by blogger Katie Allison Granju, who'd had her own taste of the embrace of strangers about two years earlier, after the death of her teenage son. In fact, the baby Monica and her husband carried clear from the fire was named Henry, after Katie's boy -- even though the parents have only met in person once.