Posting from beyond the grave August 5, 2007 3:16 PM   Subscribe

How to Share Your Obituary With Your Online Friends. When your journey is over, you are probably going to want your online friends, who may live all over the world, to know why your postings have suddenly stopped. Here's a good checklist for anyone who is an active part of an internet community.
posted by ColdChef to Etiquette/Policy at 3:16 PM (84 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

ColdChef, your funeral home should do this as a web service. Pay you guys $50 or something to hold our passwords and make goodbye posts on our behalf!
posted by mathowie (staff) at 3:20 PM on August 5, 2007


related: How to Escape the Condemnation of Hell According to the Word of God in the Bible. Excellent! I agree with mathowie, ColdChef, this would be a great 2.0-ish service to offer people. Let me know if you want to go into business together.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:25 PM on August 5, 2007


In my will, I have made it clear that the moment I am declared dead, an auto-login program is to be initiated on my PC that will randomly post Goatse, Tubgirl, and Lemonparty to the front pages of every web community I belong to until my accounts are frozen.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:28 PM on August 5, 2007


It's a morbid subject, but it's definitely something to consider. Recently a member of the mailing list I've been on for several years has disappeared w/o warning. His mailbox has filled up and we have no contact information for him, so this hits close to home.

Thanks, ColdChef, I'm mailing this to my group.
posted by Devils Slide at 3:34 PM on August 5, 2007


If someone could just pop in and fdisk my computer after I croak that would be great. The screen door is never locked.
posted by Cyrano at 3:42 PM on August 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Step 1: Assessment. Do you have any online friends? Would anyone notice if your postings suddenly stopped?
posted by Wolfdog at 3:43 PM on August 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Recently, I had a funeral for a 23 year old kid who died in an automobile accident. He had a fairly large group of friends on MySpace, but his family had no idea on how to access his account to let them know.

As I told Matt and Jess, I've left pretty explicit instructions on how to let the various online communities I belong to know that I've died.

One thing I DON'T want, though, is for my wife (or designated appointee) to post my death AS me--under my name. For some reason, that seems...I don't know...wrong. Is it just me?

I've thought about this quite a bit. The problem is, if an email comes from HER, it might be deleted as junk if it's not recognized. On the other hand (and yes, I'll admit that I'm a crazy person here), an email from ME telling people that I'm dead seems mort disturbing.
posted by ColdChef at 3:44 PM on August 5, 2007


More disturbing. Damn you, Freud.
posted by ColdChef at 3:45 PM on August 5, 2007 [2 favorites]


I was working under the assumption that my death would cause so great a disturbance in the force that people would instantly know. In retrospect, that might have been a tad egotistical.
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:47 PM on August 5, 2007 [7 favorites]


As I told Matt and Jess, I've left pretty explicit instructions on how to let the various online communities I belong to know that I've died.

Chefstah, I'll be able to smell your bourbon and andouille-bloated corpse clear up in Queens, so that won't be neccessary.

However, when my long-awaited freak can-opener accident occurs, I appoint you as the messenger of my demise. (I'd have said Divine Wino, but he'll probably be comatose due to stray can shrapnel.
posted by jonmc at 3:53 PM on August 5, 2007


ColdChef, your funeral home should do this as a web service. Pay you guys $50 or something to hold our passwords and make goodbye posts on our behalf!

It's an interesting idea, but there would still have to be some way to notify us that the death had occurred. And, I suppose, provisions stating that if someone died as a result of...oh, I don't know...public auto-erotic asphyxiation, that maybe the online communities don't need all the details.
posted by ColdChef at 3:59 PM on August 5, 2007


The best bet, I think, is someone who
A. has a close relationship with your next of kin
B. is internet savvy
C. will not steal your online persona
posted by ColdChef at 4:02 PM on August 5, 2007


Step 1: Assessment. Do you have any online friends? Would anyone notice if your postings suddenly stopped?
*cries*
posted by dg at 4:04 PM on August 5, 2007 [4 favorites]


Oh guys, I forgot to tell you: ColdChef died 3 months ago. I've been posting as him ever since.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:04 PM on August 5, 2007 [5 favorites]


Thank you for sharing this. I'm filing it away to think about as part of my estate planning.

FWIW, my father passed away last month, and although he was not online many of his distant family really appreciated being able to read his obit online, as well as a newspaper story the local paper published about him. I was the "coordinator" for the family, including making sure all the primary contacts got the online info, and then several of them passed it along to others whose addresses I didn't have.

Coincidentally, we learned today that an old friend of ours passed away back in June, and this came only through another friend seeing his obit a month in the Bay Area Reporter a month after the fact. Even though we'd been out of touch for years, there's an extra sense of loss in not knowing about until weeks or months later. I wish he had planned ahead to let people know.
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:07 PM on August 5, 2007


It's an interesting idea, but there would still have to be some way to notify us that the death had occurred. And, I suppose, provisions stating that if someone died as a result of...oh, I don't know...public auto-erotic asphyxiation, that maybe the online communities don't need all the details.

Sounds like another opportunity for legacy.com, since in many cases they do know
posted by Robert Angelo at 4:11 PM on August 5, 2007


It's an interesting idea, but there would still have to be some way to notify us that the death had occurred.

Folks who subscribed to the service would get an automatic email every six months. SUBJECT: Are You Dead? Failure to respond would result in your obituary being posted to your online communities. I would pay $50 for this.
posted by LarryC at 4:13 PM on August 5, 2007


This is a good post, ColdChef, thanks for sharing that link with us.

And, I suppose, provisions stating that if someone died as a result of...oh, I don't know...public auto-erotic asphyxiation, that maybe the online communities don't need all the details.

Well, I dunno, if it's public, the more the merrier, right? And speaking of which, that's exactly how the talented underground comix artist Vaughn Bodé is reputed to have died.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 PM on August 5, 2007


Hey, LarryC, that's a good idea!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:14 PM on August 5, 2007


Astro Zombie and I seem as if we may be at rather opposite ends of at least one band in the self-perception spectrum.
posted by Wolfdog at 4:23 PM on August 5, 2007


Folks who subscribed to the service would get an automatic email every six months. SUBJECT: Are You Dead? Failure to respond would result in your obituary being posted to your online communities.

Heh. I can already hear the deafening roar of complaints from the future. I once made the mistake of listing someone as John Smith JR, instead of John Smith SR. One fucking letter, and I had freaked out dozens of people, who all felt the need to call me and tell me what an idiot I (admittedly) am.
posted by ColdChef at 4:31 PM on August 5, 2007


I think about this subject a lot, actually, because a few people I know who have passed on still have Myspace pages/websites up that people use as online memorials. I always figure that I have enough crossover between my online friends and meatspace friends that the word would get out relatively easily.
posted by SassHat at 4:32 PM on August 5, 2007


I remember this came up in MetaTalk once before and I was either indifferent towards the idea or actively hostile to it. I can't remember why; it seems perfectly sensible to arrange to let people know if an online friend has died....

Is there any service that does this (one that's trustworthy)?
posted by Tuwa at 4:33 PM on August 5, 2007


Better would be for the query email to be sent out say once every month. Then if you missed verifying your oxygen consuming status three months in a row the auto notifiers would kick in. This would help to mitigate some of the possibilities for false positives occurring because you were on vacation/your email was down/your spam filter went crazy.
posted by Mitheral at 4:34 PM on August 5, 2007


I think about this subject a lot, actually, because a few people I know who have passed on still have Myspace pages/websites up that people use as online memorials.

The problem we came up with on the situation above with the 23 year old kid was that he had his MySpace set up so that he had to approve of all posts. So, nothing got through. It's still heartbreaking to read all of his posts from the week before his death. He talks about meeting up with friends in a few weeks, and how he can't wait for several of the big summer movies.
posted by ColdChef at 4:39 PM on August 5, 2007


the email every six months thing is a terrible idea.

It will screw up all the time as people change email accounts and forget to tell PostMyObit.com

On average you'll have been dead 3 months before your death will be posted, at which point it's more like a "Remember aubilenon? Yeah well it turns out the reason he disappeared completely back in march was he got run over by a cement truck".

Probably it would make more sense to have in your will or something something to the effect of "I've made an account with PostMyObit.com. The friends&family ID is 61361367. Please log in and follow the prompts to notify them of my death. This will tell all my fake internet friends that they're never going to get that Coke I said I owe them."
posted by aubilenon at 4:43 PM on August 5, 2007


I know there was a recent web 2.0 startup that will send out notices and such on your death. I recall that someone notified the service that a customer had died, and then a certain number of people had to confirm that person's death. If I can find the site again, I'll post it.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:57 PM on August 5, 2007


The technological solution is to have a secondary password.

When you sign up for Myspace you give your everyday password and your emergency password. Its like an extra key.

This key then goes to your mom, friends whatever.

You only use your primary password and NEVER use your secondary password. If your secondary password is ever used, all sorts of alarms go off - emails get sent and so on. If it was compromised, the primary password holder can still log on and shut the whole thing down...
posted by vacapinta at 5:00 PM on August 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


i have died.
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:04 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm back again !
posted by sgt.serenity at 5:04 PM on August 5, 2007


I don't remember these being the ones, but:

YouDeparted
DeathSwitch
posted by IndigoRain at 5:04 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm relying on my real life friends who also belong to MeFi and Facebook to tell people I've bought the farm. If I disappear and you don't know why, BLAME THEM.
posted by orange swan at 5:15 PM on August 5, 2007


Great post and all, but I must confess that I had no idea that Vaughn Bodé is a dead Cheech Wizard. All these years I've enjoyed his comics in various books, but somehow the fact that he is no more escaped me. I suppose I could have connected the dots, but still.

*pours a vial of liquid LSD on the ground*
posted by soundofsuburbia at 5:20 PM on August 5, 2007


*dives to the ground, face up, mouth open, to try and catch whatever of that acid hasn't yet spilled into the dust*
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:33 PM on August 5, 2007


i have died.
*sniffs*
Yep, he's dead, all right.
posted by dg at 5:34 PM on August 5, 2007


Might there be a service that would notify my online communities that a certain part of me has died?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:36 PM on August 5, 2007


If I disappear and you don't know why, BLAME THEM.

Nah, I'll just blame myself. It's been working for me for years.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:38 PM on August 5, 2007


This is perhaps an appropriate thread within which to link to my own humble version of the great American traditional tune, Oh Death. I believe everyone should hear it at least once, before they die.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:43 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


When your journey is over, you are probably going to want your online friends, who may live all over the world, to know why your postings have suddenly stopped.

Very helpful, thanks ColdChef!

(My original plan was to post an update on my user page, but since that would mean losing my images - thank you very much, mattamynex -, I've been looking for an alternative.)
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 5:45 PM on August 5, 2007


I always just assumed that my wife would eventually think about going to MetaFilter and post as me, telling everyone I was dead. If you never log out, there's really not a problem.
posted by yhbc at 5:51 PM on August 5, 2007


"If you never log out..."

But we're talking about the big log-out here...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:58 PM on August 5, 2007


an email from ME telling people that I'm dead seems mort disturbing.

Are you kidding that sounds awesome! hell, it's death, you might as well have some fun with.

But there's no reason why your online personality has to die. Just designate a few people to take up the slack and "you" can be posting 'till the end of time.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:00 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


I don't remember these being the ones, but:
YouDeparted
DeathSwitch


Those both look interesting, but far too complicated for my tastes and, speaking professionally, if I had to wait for four people to log in and then wait a day before I knew what kind of funeral services were preferred, I'd be pissed off (as I can imagine the family would be as well).

To me, the best option is the most simple: register your wishes with your immediate loved one or notify your preferred funeral provider of your intents.
posted by ColdChef at 6:09 PM on August 5, 2007


I think the bigger question is: who do you designate to delete your porn?
posted by yhbc at 6:10 PM on August 5, 2007


<i
posted by ColdChef at 6:11 PM on August 5, 2007


Just designate a few people to take up the slack and "you" can be posting 'till the end of time.

If I start immediatly posting about how Lindsey won't talk to Britney because she told Paris about Brad, then you'll all know that ThePinkSuperhero has control of my everlasting posting powers.
posted by ColdChef at 6:13 PM on August 5, 2007


good advice in the link.

I recently went through this with my son. Fortunately there was a fare bit of crossover between meatspace and online friends. I was also able to hack his e-mail and livejournal accounts to gather contact info.

I would recommend leaving email contact info and even specific messages to be sent out upon your death. Those close to you probably don't know all your friends. In the old days a newspaper obituary got the message out but now it's more complicated.
posted by arse_hat at 6:32 PM on August 5, 2007


Sorry about your son :-(
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:38 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


There's a firefox extension that tells you whether I'm dead or not.

No wait, that's Abe Vagoda. Sorry, I get those two confused a lot
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 6:55 PM on August 5, 2007


yhbc, I have a designated neighbor who is supposed to come in my house and throw away my porn before mom gets here. Guess I better find a bookmark deleter, too.
posted by tizzie at 7:03 PM on August 5, 2007


How sad that you have a real-life example to share, arse_hat - I am sorry about your son.

I told my sister that if anything ever happened to me, she had to notify quonsar for blort, so presumably, he would tell y'all. The question is, would he be believed? Mathowie, I am not planning on going anywhere (who ever is?) but in case of the unexpected, I am going on record with a request for an irish wake thread with images turned on ;-)
posted by madamjujujive at 7:32 PM on August 5, 2007


Two things that particularly strike me:

1) Not too long ago (but still well into the internet age) this would've been laughed off as creepy and/or irrelevant;

2) On MeFi, the idea is not only posted by an undertaker but also warmly welcomed and supported by two of the mods in the first two comments.

Personally, I don't find it weird at all (if that needs to be said), and sort of feel it (*also*) belongs in the Blue (if only for the eyeballs). It's the online equivalent of not only wills but also ICE; and laugh as you will, it will only become more common as the internet generation ages.

If "laugh as you will" comes off a bit cross, I must say I myself feel tempted to make some sort of joke about the great MySpace in the sky or whatever - but then I've already witnessed and participated in a few online vigils for people around me who died much, much too young, and I think this is not a bad idea at all.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:40 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm counting on this site to let you know what's happened if I disappear.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:01 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you go, Tcitl, I predict the title of the thread will be "eponysterical."
posted by madamjujujive at 8:38 PM on August 5, 2007


only if he died in a library.
posted by empath at 8:48 PM on August 5, 2007


i've already arranged for someone to post my obit on metafilter, and for someone else to take over my account.
posted by bruce at 9:08 PM on August 5, 2007


My plan is to die mid
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 9:28 PM on August 5, 2007 [3 favorites]


User accounts on the various social sites of the world just need a special "dead mode".
posted by blacklite at 9:33 PM on August 5, 2007


I guess this is a good place to mention myspace deaths.
posted by puke & cry at 9:58 PM on August 5, 2007


I've added a page to the wiki listing members known to be no longer with us. So far I've only got MiHail and poopy. I know there is at least one more, a younger ?blonde? woman who made a meetup. If anyone knows her username or the name of anyone else please update the wiki or post it here and I'll take care of it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:07 PM on August 5, 2007


If I remember correctly, it was a young woman that was hit by a car while biking, to work I think. I can't remember her name though.
posted by puke & cry at 10:11 PM on August 5, 2007


We've added a note to the accounts of the users that we've known to be deceased. I'm not sure what that gal's name was. She was friends with DaShiv? Or was that MiHail?
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:20 PM on August 5, 2007


comment.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 10:27 PM on August 5, 2007 [1 favorite]


Hmm - I don't see a note on MiHail or poopy's profile, jessamyn.
posted by Iamtherealme at 10:30 PM on August 5, 2007


jessamyn writes "She was friends with DaShiv?"

Could be, there is a fabulous picture of her. I could be totally off base but I think her username either had the string "tree" in it or it had something to do with trees.
posted by Mitheral at 10:35 PM on August 5, 2007


Wise idea, CC.

Since our pal died in the wake of the Bali bombing, I've been planning to send my deadman switch usernames and passwords to my best old friend (with whom I've talked many times over the decades about what we want done when we kick), but still haven't gotten around to it.

For Metafilter, at least, in case I kark it sooner rather than later and haven't done it yet, his username here is Bearman.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:36 PM on August 5, 2007


I'm sorry to hear about your son, arse_hat.

Thank you for this post, ColdChef. (By the way, I LOVED the interview you did on the Metafilter podcast. If I needed a funeral home and lived in your area I would go to you.) I think this is very useful information and it is something I do think about every once in a while. I agree with goodnewsfortheinsane that this issue--how to notify online communities of the death of a member--is something that will only become more relevant as time goes on. I was still only a lurker when poopy's passing was noted in MetaTalk, and I remember feeling odd, like someone I knew had died, not a total and complete stranger, even though I had never interacted with him, only read his comments.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:40 PM on August 5, 2007


I don't see a note on MiHail or poopy's profile, jessamyn.

Yeah, it's admin-facing. There is also cancergiggles.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:44 PM on August 5, 2007


Is this who you're thinking of? RIP alicila, mi hail, poopy and cancergiggles.
posted by Lynsey at 11:26 PM on August 5, 2007


Also, profound condolences to arse_hat and a big thank-you to Cold Chef. This is something I've wondered about over the years - who lets your online community(ies) know when you die and how do they do it? I'm glad to see such thoughtful responses on this post.
posted by Lynsey at 11:31 PM on August 5, 2007


I can't find an image of alicila on metatalk and I'm fairly sure the person I am thinking of had her image posted in her obit thread.
posted by Mitheral at 11:37 PM on August 5, 2007


That's who I was thinking of, yes. I can't remember any other deaths besides those mentioned already.
posted by puke & cry at 11:51 PM on August 5, 2007


Found her thanks to jessamyn's hint. Radio7 was indeed a friend of DaShiv's.
posted by Mitheral at 12:03 AM on August 6, 2007


I live - so far - at the other corner of the country from cold chef. How would he ever hear of my death?
OTOH, my husband might be considered a MetaFilter muggle, so I will find an executor with computer-fu.
posted by Cranberry at 12:04 AM on August 6, 2007


By that time, Fiona will be running the site, and there will be mutliple millions of Mefites. I am hatching a way to auction my user number which will be golden then.
posted by Cranberry at 12:10 AM on August 6, 2007


ColdChef - the family can email MySpace and so long as the deceased had their *real* name attached to the account, and the family can prove they are dead, then MySpace will allow for a password reset so that the family can access the account. This happened with a high school friend that was killed in Iraq last year.
posted by SassHat at 12:54 AM on August 6, 2007


Yeah, it's admin-facing.

Is there some reason it couldn't be visible to members, too? It would be a nice thing to know when you are looking at someone's profile.
posted by Rock Steady at 5:23 AM on August 6, 2007


Luckily (?), I have a bit of a crossover with real life and virtual friends that I think word would spread pretty quickly in the event of my death. In any case, I've already set my boyfriend up to post on a variety of forums about my tragic demise. I've never found this to be morbid but rather quite sensible. But hey, I oft daydream about my funeral so I can't be that sane.
posted by liquorice at 6:10 AM on August 6, 2007


One fucking letter, and I had freaked out dozens of people, who all felt the need to call me and tell me what an idiot I (admittedly) am.
posted by ColdChef at 6:31 PM


What was the Curb Your Enthusiasm joke on those lines? The obituary's supposed to say "beloved aunt," but the a gets swapped out for a c?

Thanks for posting the instructions, CC. I'm going to be having a weird conversation with my wife tonight.
posted by COBRA! at 7:02 AM on August 6, 2007


Is there some reason it couldn't be visible to members, too? It would be a nice thing to know when you are looking at someone's profile.

We've been talking about a longer-term way to put indicators on the profile pages so that people can tell who has been banned, who is deceased, and I'm not sure what else. It's on the longer term to do list, not the shorter term one.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:38 AM on August 6, 2007


It's on the longer term to do list, not the shorter term one.

So is my death, so that works out.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:19 PM on August 6, 2007 [2 favorites]


We've been talking about a longer-term way to put indicators on the profile pages so that people can tell who has been banned, who is deceased...
You could streamline the coding by taking some simple steps to ensure the two lists always coincide.
posted by Wolfdog at 3:58 PM on August 6, 2007


Think I'm gonna wear a wireless heart monitor and Twitter my lifesigns. If my rss feed goes out, it's going out! Kind of like this guy, only without all the fiction.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 4:02 PM on August 6, 2007


User accounts on the various social sites of the world just need a special "dead mode".

IIRC, on the SomethingAwful forums if you die you get permabanned. Presumably it's to stop people faking their death and then returning to cause "drama", or people hacking & taking over the accounts of actually dead people.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 4:14 AM on August 7, 2007


« Older get out of jail free   |   I can't be the only one? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments