Tuesday, July 01, 2008

When bloggers die

Spurred by headline on the conviction of the killer of Julia Campbell, I paid Julia's blog a visit just now. It's still up and will probably be so for the rest of the lifetime of Google. And that's just right, I think. It's a fitting memorial to a blogger and a dedicated soul.

That leads me to bring up a somewhat morbid but necessary question: what happens when bloggers die?

The answer, of course, is: it depends. Depends on what? First of all: was the blog hosted on a public platform, e.g., Blogger or Wordpress? Or was it self-hosted on a commercial web server?

It's a practical consideration. Think about it. Blogs on publicly hosted platforms last practically forever (barring an exception that I'll go into later) -- or as long as any company continues to host them. Self-hosted blogs will last only as long as the subscription does: when the contract ends, the blog goes down and the domain name goes to some SEO.

From the point of view of web immortality, hosting on Blogger or Wordpress is probably the better deal.

Regardless, as a blogger, you should think about what happens when you shake off the mortal coil. Like all things of value, financial or emotional, it should figure in your will. Whether it's self-hosted or publicly-hosted, you might want to pass it on to someone you trust. After all, a blog is part of your persona, and, as in the case of Julia Campbell, it's something that the world will remember you by. You'll want to leave it in good hands.

Personally, I would like to post an announcement on this blog about my passing, when that happens. A simple thank-you-and-goodbye message, more like. For that to happen, I would have to include the account name, password, and final message in the will.

And, of course, someone I really trust.

Another story comes to mind: sometime last year, a friend died under very tragic and violent circumstances. There were dark suspicions and bitter accusations all around, and it all came to a head not long after her interment. The battleground, sadly, was the comments section of her Multiply blog. Friends who thought they were defending her honor just added fuel to the fire. It was sad because it seemed that peace continued to elude her even in death.

Fortunately, someone (not me) had the good sense to write the folks at Multiply. Pretty soon, her account was deactivated.

Still, that's one more memory gone.

What about you? Any thoughts and suggestions?


  1. Thought provoking my friend.

    At least two persons who help me out in the technical aspects of maintaining my blog know my password. I will tell them one day that in the event that I be carted away to the heavens, they can take over and write a post that I just left, hoping to see them (my readers) again soon.

    And since it's self-hosted, will just let the registration lapse until they put it away for good.

    How's that?

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  3. I can't understand why this man would kill her....they said it was premeditated, but...why? What motive did he have? This is so senseless.
    This one,horrible act has affected so many people.When I looked, more than 19 thousand people had viewed her profile.

  4. I've actually had a conversation of this nature with one of my closest and most trusted friends not too long ago. It just came up during regular chit-chat. We thought it would be good to exchange user names and passwords so we could make a death notice or a brief farewell message. We haven't gotten around to really doing it and I've already forgotten about that conversation, but your post reminded me. Thanks. :)

  5. Hi, all:

    Avel & Leah: here's hoping for many more years of productive and provocative blogging.

    I just thought of an alternative, though: for those of us hosted on Blogger and Wordpress, we could create an additional posting account for those trusted ones. Well, just a thought.

    Robert: the claim was robbery, and it was premeditated because they said he followed her and that path. Still, you're right: it was just so sad.

  6. i like this post... i'm having wills and succession as one of my subjects right now, but never did i thought that someone's username/password could be left in a will. but it sure sounds as a good idea!

  7. Thanks, Sweet. Yeah, it's really something people should think of. There was also the case of a US soldier who died, and his father wanted the email provider to open up access to his account.

  8. I've been blogging for over five years. I imagine I will be doing it indefinitely. Barring Blogger disappearing, I've realised our blogs are our lifeline to immortality. What I haven't thought of is giving someone my password! Might be a good idea. Who knows when I will be gone? Oh. The practicalities of the postmodern age. How bizarre eh?

  9. Hey, Sparks! Good to hear from you.

    Maybe not so much giving your password as creating a co-author account.

  10. I'm not sure I want to leave everything I wrote in my blog for posterity. Will people want to read my thoughts in 10, 50, 100 years? And anyway, some of it will be archived in the wayback machine.

  11. morbid but practical :)
    i actually have a friend who already entrusted the passwords of her blog,friendster account and etc to a close friend and she even had her friend write her a eulogy in advance so she can read it while she's alive

  12. yay. it did occur to me once. i have this notebook where all my passwords go.. so maybe if my sissy gets curious she would get around to it. hehe. :P