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-   -   Handling death on the Internet (http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=96465)

Vexx 2010-08-12 12:13

Handling death on the Internet
 
I've been discussing this with friends and my tech coworkers sporadically since the late '80s. People die in real life for many reasons -- they may have many virtual contacts and friends on the internetz. There's no mechanism in place to let people know like there is in the "meat space".

Right now setting up a protocol is just about as complicated as trying to set up the instrumentality of a marriage without using the legal tool of "marriage".

You'd think a service would have evolved at this point but there isn't (and I can think of a lot of scary security reasons to worry about one). However, I've always hated it when people vanish out of the virtual spaces I frequent. I rarely find out whether they just dropped out or something happened to them.

This is what I've done. As part of my "will", I keep a list of important contact points on the Web (forum accounts, social networks, address book, etc) that I actually care about. There isn't a huge number of them.

Side note: There's also a set of instructions about how to get the maximum dollar value out of my various collections (anime, collectibles, etc) should no one want them.

In the event of my demise, I've asked my family to manually email those sites to let people know and to ask the admins to lock the accounts. Each of them has a similar set of instructions for their important stuff (though none of us are great about keeping them up to date). It isn't much different than the list of bank accounts, credit cards, and other crap one should keep -- but in this case, there's a "sayonara" message to go with it.

Points of discussion - have you thought about it, have you done something about it, have you found a service for such a thing?

((even young people step into the street at the wrong moment... so this isn't exactly an "old guy" thing :) ))

Ricky Controversy 2010-08-12 12:20

Heh, very interesting question V-jii (said with all affection). I have given some thought to this myself, as on more than one occasion I've been knowingly going into something that could be fatal. But I've had the precaution established since I was 16 or so. My best friend and I share all of our relevant information for internet access, and he'll be the first one to know if something should happen to me (and vice-versa). He would give due notification where necessary, both on websites and on the very short list of people I chat with over IMs. I would do the same for him in such a situation.

However, if something happened to both of us, then I do have instructions ready that can be followed for the most important stuff.

AnimeFrog 2010-08-12 12:34

I actually have thought about it before, but I don't have a way to tell people that I have ... gone ... but if I don't log on for years people will probably think that I've gone or just quit the internet ... more likely quitting the internet though xP Otherwise people who know me AND my brother would probably ask him what happened x.x..

Arbitres 2010-08-12 12:50

Quote:

Points of discussion - have you thought about it, have you done something about it, have you found a service for such a thing?
Afraid not Vexx. No service for it, but the way you make it sound, it definitely can be done if you have the wit to do things in preparations.

Not to be mocking to you Vexx (on the contrary, since it seems like a valid thing to ask about) but I really wish the afterlife had internet connection.... and anime/manga. And perhaps a dakimakura. :)

Back to being serious though: I don't know what I'd do, but I think if I could write my will right now, it would detail a short message that I instead decided to quit the forums and internet and form a more off-the-internet life. It's a lie, because I'd be dead. But I think that would be best because then people wouldn't be as sad.

I'm all about preserving happiness, so I apologize if that sounds rude, hurtful, or just unrealistic.

I think forums relying on a forum/sub forum based here with either Visitor Message or Blogs would be more easier to handle with this sort of 'passing the message' on sort of thing. Facebook... Well, Facebook is a collection of rumors and news -- true or untrue. So news throughf riends and contacts would erupt regardless of telling or not.

? Flawed maybe? Sorry.

Kaze 2010-08-12 12:51

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vexx (Post 3188230)
Points of discussion - have you thought about it, have you done something about it, have you found a service for such a thing?

((even young people step into the street at the wrong moment... so this isn't exactly an "old guy" thing :) ))

While each person may handle it in their own way.

Facebook may be a medium to partially bridge that gap (for the people you have in your friends list).
You could instruct to change the Facebook message to a farewell.

In no way is this an "old" thing, death can happen to anybody, anytime, it's something that's out of our control.

Arabesque 2010-08-12 12:59

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vexx (Post 3188230)
You'd think a service would have evolved at this point but there isn't (and I can think of a lot of scary security reasons to worry about one). I've always hated it when people vanish out of the virtual spaces I frequent. I rarely find out whether they just dropped out or something happened to them.

This is what I've done. As part of my "will", I keep a list of important contact points on the Web (forum accounts, social networks, address book, etc) that I actually care about. There isn't a huge number of them.

Hey, you wouldn't happen to be my GCSE Business Studies teacher? :p

I know that you probably aren't lol, but I remember running into her one day and having a chat about things and then the discussion got into inheritance tax and from there about a persons contact details being lost after they die to this very topic. She told me more or less the same quote above, and how it was inconvenient for many and wished there was a way to inherent email accounts(paraphrased e.g. from her in the event that, God forbid, her grandfather dies and they didn't write down their password for their e-mails or, even worse, the e-mail itself, then she wouldn't be surprised to find random people calling his mobile and asking if he still wanted to go through with opening that restaurant). That got me thinking about how to avoid this in the event I die.

Ofc, I still do go about my life not expecting to drop cold at any moment, but I don't want to simply push this aside and end up having my family or friends learn that I died 2 months ago.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vexx (Post 3188230)
In the event of my demise, I've asked my family to manually email those sites to let people know and to ask the admins to lock the accounts. Each of them has a similar set of instructions for their important stuff (though none of us are great about keeping them up to date). It isn't much different than the list of bank accounts, credit cards, and other crap one should keep -- but in this case, there's a "sayonara" message to go with it.

I haven't done anything to that extent (no instruction booklets due to laziness :P), but I do keep a small notebook with all my passwords, accounts (banks, e-mails, forums etc.) with a short list of contacts. It's not organised at all (I just add them as I go, have been meaning to re-write the whole thing) but I did let my brother and one of my friends know where it is in case they needed to contact anyone I know (knew). I haven't thought about writing a good bye letter, because in all honesty, I have no idea what to write in one. My family is one thing, but writing it and asking someone to post it on a forum where I'm not sure many will miss me if I'm gone? I don't know what exactly to put there. Couple this with my near-abysmal login schedule on my accounts, I don't think anyone will even remember me.

Daniel E. 2010-08-12 13:09

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vexx (Post 3188230)
In the event of my demise, I've asked my family to manually email those sites to let people know and to ask the admins to lock the accounts.

Can it really be done?

Do the mods close other accounts on someone else request?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Vexx (Post 3188230)
Points of discussion - have you thought about it, have you done something about it, have you found a service for such a thing?

No, not in the slightest. I am hardly as young as most people here, but I would be lying if I where to say that I have put any though on this so far.

synaesthetic 2010-08-12 13:14

The people I mostly talk to online generally tend to be people I knew in "meatspace" first, as instant messaging was my preferred method of contact before I got real cell service. So if I kick the bucket, one of them will know to tell the rest of them.

Vexx 2010-08-12 13:15

Quote:

Originally Posted by Daniel E. (Post 3188310)
Can it really be done?

Do the mods close other accounts on someone else request?



No, not in the slightest. I am hardly as young as most people here, but I would be lying if I where to say that I have put any though on this so far.

Therein, lies part of the problem -- because of the potential for vandalism, many admins would be hesitant or have no policy for taking such a request.

Probably the best you could do is have your executor post a message under your account with the appropriate "so it goes...".

To other posters: heck, no, humor in this thread is fine. :) In the Bad Old Days, wealthy people would have bell ropes installed in their coffins in case of "premature burial" (before they started making sure you were dead by embalming you).

This is another incarnation of "contacting friends, associates, and business acquaintances" in a new arena where the ground rules don't exist yet.

Kyero Fox 2010-08-12 13:23

Just like in movies, someone dies, people cry for 3mins then 10mins later their forgotten, it be the same for me.

james0246 2010-08-12 13:53

I'm of the opinion that it’s always better to keep 'em guessing. So, in the event of my untimely demise, I will either will my various memberships/websites/etc to a select group of friends (so they can continue them as they see fit), or simply have the memberships/websites/etc abandoned, forever leaving the question as to my life or death unsolved...thus keeping the legacy alive one way or another...

Kaijo 2010-08-12 14:19

Heh, picked this discussion off slashdot, eh? :P

It all depends on the hassle that places like Facebook and Twitter want to go through to delete accounts. As someone pointed out in the discussion, FB and Twitter *don't* want to close accounts, because it inflates their membership numbers. They seemingly are slowly coming around to instituting methods for family and friends to get accounts closed, but we'll see.

Personally, I like what someone suggested in the discussion. I'll set up a bot to randomly make posts on FB and IM people after I'm dead. Stuff like: "Wow, the afterlife isn't like I thought it was" or "Hmm, very hot here; need a beer" or perhaps "I have it on good authority that you should NOT go to work on Thursday!"

DragoZERO 2010-08-12 14:32

I have actually been debating this for a while now, partially because I am now relied on by some people for certain tasks. I don't have a will or anything, heck I don't even have any beneficiaries with my bank.

I thought about making a contact group in my Gmail. In the will would be the instructions to log on (no need to tell me my password because of cookies) and send a message (message included in the will) to the people I chose to include and I'd rely on them to spread the word.

I'd also have my computer nuked and drilled so all of personal stuff does not get out...like my private folders, lol.

Reckoner 2010-08-12 15:07

Anyone I truly care about already has real life contact with me. If you don't know that something bad happened to me, chances are you just weren't important to me. I don't really see the need for such a service because of that.

And if you die, it's not like you have time to carry about anything else anyways.

Regardless, I'm of the opinion of James, just keep them guessing.

yoropa 2010-08-12 15:11

I've sometimes run into threads where a young member passed away suddenly. Usually one of his friends knew he went to that site (though never himself frequented it) and made an account to let people know. That seems to be the only way somebody can know.

Personally for me, I don't have enough attachment to these forums I browse (which have been dwindling in number as of late) to warrant somebody giving a death message should I pass away. Most likely it'll just be that I stop frequenting and no reason will be given.

Raiga 2010-08-12 15:37

I think I actually did hear about a service like this before... only vaguely recall it. I think it was more concerned with e-mail and online bank accounts though, not forums or such, but it was some kind of service that would keep records of your passwords and only release them to certain willed family members after confirmation of death. Can't remember the name of the service though...

It is an interesting issue and I have thought about it before. Most people who would care if I die I do know in person, but I can think of some places online where people would notice my disappearance. I expect as we move further into the digital age and online accounts and such become more and more important, more people will take note of this issue and start coming up with solutions. Currently, though, I think most internet power-users are relatively young, which is why not as much has been heard about the whole death thing. :heh:

ChainLegacy 2010-08-12 15:56

I think of my online self as different from my net self in some ways. Like others, I'd rather it be ambiguous and my posts remain however long the website does.

Neat Hedgehog 2010-08-12 15:59

I've thought about stuff like this a lot. It is one reason why I still log into WoW, really, just so I don't vanish entirely from it.

The thoughtful, considerate part of me would like to leave some sort of will that would inform various forums and such that I kicked the bucket, just so that nobody would be disappointed if they tried to contact me somehow, only to receive no answer.

The snarky programmer in me would rather write a giant, complicated bot that would automatically visit all my regular haunts, making my general, obscure posts, and strange Facebook status updates, without telling anyone that I was dead. I would essentially be leaving a bizarre ghost out on the internet to float through cyberspace until updated protocols left it obsolete. Only by asking it the right set of questions would anyone be able to ascertain that I was, in fact, deceased.

Honestly, I like the second plan better. It sounds more like me, and everybody I know would get a laugh out of it.

Hooves 2010-08-12 16:01

Leaving some sort of will on the forums clarifying that I have "Kicked the Bucket" would be the best way to handle things just in-case people still try to contact you and after like 5 months = no answer, making them wonder so much.

Renegade334 2010-08-12 16:42

Interesting topic...and one that strikes a familiar chord within me, since I've been through that very recently.

I lost my father last year to a completely undetected aneurysm and ever since we always had a few...problems. As a collector he had made several subscriptions to certain services (bookshops, etc), some of which can be found online while others were in our direct vicinity. The big problem was that he was someone very cautious when it came to handling confidential data. A bit too cautious even: he never told me or the rest of his family some of his passwords...the most important of which was the password to his e-mail account, which happened to contain a good-sized address book we could've used to contact people, ask some things and even retrieve data from.

There were two questions we had to go through in order to retrieve the pwd (The usual 'forgot your password' contigency). We could only answer one (it would later turn out we had the right answer for the second, but my father had opted for a different spelling) and, rewarded with no success at all, ultimately had to relent. We just gave up.

However...roughly two months ago, I happened across a post-it that somehow slipped under my father's printer...and contained both the password to his account AND details for a few alternates (having a fallback address is always useful, for as long as you still have its pwd, too - and log in frequently enough to prevent deactivation, depending on the provider).

That's how some of my father's friends (interim workers he had known and chatted with from time to time) learned, almost a half-year later, that he was gone. From time to time, I also receive phone calls from companies he had either worked (many of which I had never heard of, which is kind of annoying) at or bought something from, asking us why he either didn't pick something up or why he hadn't called lately.

As disheartening or clinical/cynical as it might sound, someone who has even the lightest amount of active social life should keep in mind that, in this world, anything can happen - and thus one should ensure that some administrative steps can be made if something bad happens. Cancelling services, sending notices, etc - the aftermath of someone's departure is always a whirlwind of paperwork and heart-wrenching stuff. If you don't - and I can testify about that - the people you leave behind will end up banging their heads on their walls while dealing with the not-so-agreeable consequences of your lack of foresight.


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