Best practices for deceased community members

We had a member of our community pass away last week. Are there any communities that have best practices for working with this?

Some thoughts—

  • create a group called RIP or In Memoriam
  • have a message on their profile page

I’m wondering how other communities have dealt with this or if there are any features that might be useful.

Thanks

12 Likes

I am sorry to hear you have lost a member of your community. My condolences! I think you are pretty much on the right track.

There is a procedure for this in the legal empowerment network community:

  1. change account status to tribute and change email address to community+username@foo.com
  2. As needed/appropriate:
    • Write tribute forum post and tag it #tribute
    • Update profile page with tribute bio, linking to tribute forum post
    • Update network champion for organization if appropriate
    • Draft and send out tribute via mailer (if core member or close partner)
    • Post replies to discourse post as appropriate

Step 1 is dependent on a wordpress user meta field used to keep track of members. Members can be active, dormant, tribute, or unreachable. community@foo.com is an email address for the helpdesk used in case later there is something going on with the account that needS attention.

Here’s an example: Profile - nomboniso - Legal Empowerment Network Community Discussions

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Sorry to hear that, Steve. Always a tough one for community managers.

Here are some things you could do:

  • If the platform allows, you can explore the option to ‘memorialize’ the profile with a suitable message.
  • If you can get in touch with the family (depending on the nature of the community), you could explore the option of giving them the user credentials to read & respond to messages in the memorial thread. This can be tricky because you want to ensure the right people have access. Trickier if the community member was using a work email for the community, in which case you might need the permission from their company.
  • Depending on the nature of the community, you can see if they can support the family in any way.
  • Lastly, if you have the access to a legal team, would be useful to get their advice and inputs on any initiatives you plan, especially around data privacy, security etc.

Again, most of this depends on the kind of community you’re running. I wrote a bit about this here: https://artplusmarketing.com/dealing-with-death-on-the-internet-f30ea8c735a3

11 Likes

This is a tough one indeed. Thank you for the thoughtful topic, and the replies.

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Hi all,

today we received info that a long standing member of a forum I host has died.

Here’s what I’ve done so far - very similar to the previous posts:

  1. Create a ‘in memoriam’ group and add a flair to show on the deceased account.
  2. anonymise the user email address

what has been suggested by the community is to lock all the user’s posts so they can’t be edited by anyone except ‘admin’ to create a lasting record of their community input.

Does anyone know a way to permanently lock all posts by a user?

Thanks all,

Dave

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Locking the posts like that is likely not necessary and adds UI noise to every post - plus, edit histories are public and such edits can be rolled back if needed.

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