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My question, I guess, is not that common. I am not even sure it is a question. Anyway, here what pushed me towards asking this...

Last year, I was constantly bumping into one user w/ name David. He was a nice guy. Very proficient and always ready to help. Few days ago, I just thought "it's been awhile since I saw David's answers" and just clicked on his profile. Immediately, I noticed he was last seen in October last year. "Very strange", I thought. Especially, for user that used SO since early days. It did not take much time for me, to Google his name and to find this link:

It was so sad. He died in November 2011. He was 49...

Again, I did not know this man personally. But, I was touched. We all so used to SO and those users who we see (and trust!) almost every day...

Now, why I'm posting this here? I do not know, really. I just felt I would love to hear what other people think about this kind of things (in regards to SO, of course).

Technical question would be "SO does not track user's age correctly after one's death". Maybe "Age: 50" field should be renamed to "Was born: 50 years ago". But, on the other side, can we really tell whether user is a real person or group of people etc.?

Is this something other users already asked about? Is it even worth a discussion?

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Wow, no kidding? I remember having a couple of interactions with that fellow. Definitely a smart guy. That's sad to hear, and not just because it complicates the UI. –  Cody Gray Mar 24 '12 at 0:22
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Related question: How should a user's death be handled? Not sure why those optimists closed it as "too localized". Death does happen to everyone... –  Cody Gray Mar 24 '12 at 0:24
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Personally, I'd like to look at it from a "his knowledge and help lives on" point of view. –  Nick Craver Mar 24 '12 at 5:12
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Related, it appears this person had lots of different talents and is missed in many places. –  Tim Post Mar 24 '12 at 10:38
    
Maybe there are a bunch of things that haven't been squared away yet after his passing - his business website linked from his profile is still active and makes no mention of his current, ahem, status. –  slugster Mar 24 '12 at 23:12
    
@slugster: The website may be still technically active, but it was last updated in 2009. Looks like it wasn't all that active even before he died. –  Cody Gray Mar 25 '12 at 8:40

2 Answers 2

up vote 79 down vote accepted

I don't think anything in particular needs to be done, but if the site is still around in 80 years and people are bothered by all the users who no longer visit and are listed as 120 years old then something can be done at that time.

It might simply be as easy as classifying users who haven't visited for over a year as "inactive" and not displaying some pieces of information on their profile, such as their age.

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Really like second option (+1 for that) –  Igor Turman Mar 24 '12 at 20:16

Wikipedia maintains a list of Deceased Wikipedians. Perhaps we could do something similar for Stack Exchange?

We could have a place where we list all deceased community members (must be verifiable). Couple this with @Adam's suggestion of an "inactivity" box, and we can get rid of the "community member for 120 years" text, while simultaneously honoring them. Maybe if the person is listed in the aforementioned "deceased community member" page, then we could have a slightly different status than "inactive"

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What is the point of posting this link - I don't see the subject David Fenton on there. So you've posted a link to a list of a bunch of dead people that don't include the one we're talking about. Are you suggesting he should be added to that list? –  slugster Mar 24 '12 at 22:37
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@slugster I think the point of the link is pretty obvious: Perhaps we could do something similar for Stack Overflow... –  Yannis Mar 24 '12 at 22:55
    
@Yannis - then Manishearth needs to mention that in his answer (after reading the other comments I was expecting a link that was directly related to the deceased SO member, hence my comment that our dead guy wasn't on the list). I think that proposal has merit, and wouldn't complicate the UI - there could simply be a link from their profile to an In Memorium page, with possibly a small section for each member on it. Their death would have to be verifiable though. –  slugster Mar 24 '12 at 23:09
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Wow, editing Wikipedia is really detrimental to life expectancy. Otherwise highly agree, given the risk factor. –  Uphill Luge Mar 24 '12 at 23:53
    
@slugster: Yannie got it right, I felt like we needed something similar. –  Manishearth Mar 25 '12 at 3:11
    
I don't want to be elitist or anything, but people must have been genuine contributers to make it on to the Deceased SOers - Gone to the Great Heap in the Sky list. Rep is usually a good indicator of contribution, although a better algorithmn could probably be determined. –  slugster Mar 25 '12 at 3:34
    
@slugster: Yeah, that would be a given. (Great heap in the sky--made me lol). Rep would be the easiest way to go I guess. Note that anyways, nobody would even notice and try to research the status of a low-contributing user. –  Manishearth Mar 25 '12 at 3:50
    
Though it would be better to include not just SO users.. Maybe overall rep-(association bonuses)? Or the user has to have >xyz rep on atleast one se site... –  Manishearth Mar 25 '12 at 4:03
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I...rather like the idea of a stackoverflow.com/mementomori page. I'm not sure what metric should be used, but I'd have to suggest a minimum rep threshold and perhaps having a yearling badge (for an assurance of committment) and at least a silver badge-tag (in David's case the ms-access)? –  David Thomas Mar 25 '12 at 5:15
    
@DavidThomas its better to keep a variety of mix-and-match criteria. For example, on Physics.SE, I don't stick to one tag, but answer stuff across a broad range of topics. Thus, I may never get a silver badge tag. The badge requirements atleast could be like "yearling AND((silver/gold badge tag)OR(goldbadge)OR(three golds)OR(Fanatic)OR(Legendary))". That sort of covers all types of committments. The rep requirement possibly could be variable for each site (based on the rep of top X contributors minus Jon Skeet). On some sites, rep is easy to get, whereas it isn't so easy on others. –  Manishearth Mar 25 '12 at 5:44
    
I think I agree with you on all points you raise. –  David Thomas Mar 25 '12 at 5:48

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