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Memorializing User Profiles

Posted by Kim on May 13, 2020, 9:00am

NOTE: This has been a somewhat needed feature for some time, and planned for a long time as well. I built it before the pandemic started, and wrote the initial article about it then too. It was scheduled in the list of all the other feature spotlights to go out today, after Epic Week. But since the pandemic began, I've been waffling about whether to push it out -- it just feels so strange to be talking about death right now. But also very strange not to talk about it! So I just want to acknowledge up top before going in to this that there's probably no great time to talk about this subject that won't feel very heavy to some in the audience. But, deep breath, holds hands, we'll get through this mildly weird announcement together <3

Of all the things I thought I would need to think about when starting a website for RP gaming, I did not think that how to handle a death would be one of them. Yet over the years, the community has lost some very dear friends. How to memorialize them has always been an open question.

So far, we've had an informal policy of
  • Not deleting the profile (unless contacted by a verified family member who requests it)
  • Not editing the profile in any way
  • Allowing kudos that may not meet the normal kudos guideline to be left on the user without the mods intervening, as a form of memorializing the user

But those friends who are grieving a user have often wondered if anything more could be done to protect the profiles, or to place a notice that would let others who knew them find out about their death.

So, now we finally have a way of marking a profile as "In Memoriam." Doing so:
  • Prevents anyone from logging in to the account again
  • Protects the account from being deleted by automated Server clean-ups
  • Places a small note on the profile that the user is deceased, and the profile is being kept as a memorial
  • Allows many more kudos to appear directly on the profile at a time, and stops those kudos from showing up in random order (on the theory that older kudos may be encouraging people to RP with the person, while the more recent kudos are tributes meant for family and friends to see)
  • In the moderation review queue, submitted kudos are shown with a message to mods about the relaxed kudos guidelines to try and prevent mix-ups.

We're also changing our guidelines somewhat on what we'll accept as proof of a user's death. Instead of only accepting a copy of a death certificate, a combination of an online obituary and some other proof such as a link to a news article about the deceased may also be accepted.

Comments

alfred0809

May 28, 2020
5:36am

that so amazing

lowlaville

May 25, 2020
11:23pm

Queen_of_Hell wrote:
I support the idea of keeping up the profiles of the members that have passed on (unless a family member asks for it to be taken down.) It is wonderful to keep their profiles in as a reminder <3 this is very sad but incredibly thoughtful.

Yeah, I agree.

Gaeilge_Banrion

May 21, 2020
1:04pm

Kim thank you so much for this. I know I talked to you about a friend of mine before, and unfortunately I have no digital proof she's passed because I found out in a phone call. Long story, I don't want to hash this up again.

Anyhoo, a memorial is perfect. This is needed and I'm so grateful to you for doing so. Thank you very much. For those of us who grieve a lost friend on here, it's wonderful we have a way to remember them.

TheCreator7

May 19, 2020
10:28am

I have had great RPs going and then suddenly the other person 'disappears'. I now wonder what happened to the other person, If I offended the person or hurt them in some way. If I did, I would want to apologize. So at least it would rest my mind if I knew that someone is gone.
Perhaps others have had the same situation.

Kim

May 17, 2020
9:36am

@Aydra Families can still request that accounts of deceased loved ones be taken offline. :)

Aydra

May 17, 2020
7:39am

This is very thoughtful idea<3 Yet in some cases deceased's actual family would rather prefer/(or the deceased themselves.) That their online accounts are deleted rather than kept as memorial, death in all cases is tragic and in some cases it may cause friends and family even more pain when the person is 'kept alive' by online sites that won't let their information be taken off. This, I think is something many sites should consider as well. Even if I do respect the effort many sites and their staff put in this, and gesture it represents.

LakotaSiouxWarrior

May 16, 2020
11:49am

This beautiful moving and would help the greving process. Its great to be memoralized and remembered by your loved ones.

Rogue-Scribe

May 14, 2020
6:21pm

This is really good! It is a tough thing to address, but it happens. I've lost so many good RP friends over the years, and to have their works memorialised is a beautiful tribute!

Coheed

May 14, 2020
5:54am

This is such a great, thoughtful feature. It might not seem like much to some but keeping someone's online presence alive after their passing can help online friends keep their cherished memories.

Kim

May 13, 2020
6:31pm

Since we don't allow people to log into accounts that were not created by them in life, a "next of kin" system like the one you described that lets someone else claim ownership of the account to play with is unlikely to fit with our rules and culture here. But if you'd prefer to have your account deleted instead of memorialized if we ever get that call, do let me know and I'll put a notice in your file :)

Moki

May 13, 2020
5:43pm

Ao3 actually has a policy that allows you to add "next of kin" to your account in case of your untimely death, so they can take over managing it and do whatever it is you wish them to do with your account, be it memorialize it, continue posting things, delete works, etc etc. https://archiveofourown.org/tos_faq#next_of_kin
it'd be lovely if we could have something like that here along with this memorializing feature! :D I've often wondered what will happen here if I kick the bucket, so this memorializing feature is a great comfort!

Lizzie

May 13, 2020
4:33pm

Amazing idea, thank you for this <3
This will help so many people.

HibariHaru013

May 13, 2020
4:07pm

This literally gave me chills and made me cry (but in a good way). Love this idea. It's beautiful...and condolences to everyone who has lost a friend or loved one. * hug hug* <3 <3 <3

Kim

May 13, 2020
1:05pm

@Tusitala2017 - I'll put a note about that in your mod log.

@AgentMilkshake - As per this announcement, we no longer require a death certificate. :)

Kruhee

May 13, 2020
1:00pm

Yes, there is no good time to talk about death, however I believe not only does this come at a critical time but also serves to help those in mourning over friends and or family. Death is hard, but this allows the community to acknowledge it and move forward with the best of intention. Thank you for all that you do, and thank you for tackling such a difficult subject for all of us here on RPR. This has been a very thoughtful, sweet, and meaningful idea to add to the site.

BrandyCat

May 13, 2020
12:47pm

This is wonderful, heartwarming and definitely needed. This is also a kind, thoughtful approach to the whole matter.

Thank you, Kim. I love this.

AgentMilkshake

May 13, 2020
12:46pm

One note- not just anyone can get a death certificate and they are expensive. I know you're not talking about an original, but parents of someone who is a minor may not give a friend access, particularly an online one. This came up in a college course years ago. A professor was absolutely insistent that a student in the class that had missed a week provide a copy of the death certificate. Apparently, the woman was not familiar with the fact you just can't get these easily and she wasn't an immediate family member of the deceased. She was a close friend or something.

MissPixie

May 13, 2020
12:25pm

Thank you Kim for taking a very thoughtful approach on speaking about this subject and for finding a way to save someone’s profile in a way that would help their friends going through grief.

Tusitala2017

May 13, 2020
11:55am

in case of death... I want my profile and all characters deleted/obliterated.
will there be a yes/no feature or question on my profile that I can select to this effect?

Winters_Fury

May 13, 2020
11:32am

Understandable, and makes sense. Well then. IF I ever get to that point, I'll have to find a way to make certain there is some kind of proof.

Thanks Kim, appreciate that heads up!