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I wish my affairs to be settled when I'm dead. This includes avoiding the false impression that I am still alive and reachable when actually I am dead. This also means that internet accounts that I have used are closed and not maintained as unnecessary ballast. The idea of ​​an orphaned internet account of mine that is no longer needed bobbing around is against my conception of tidiness.

On TeX Meta Stack Exchange, the issue "How to ensure that ownership of all my contributions on the StackExchange network is transferred to Community Wiki after my demise?" has come up.

One of the questions touched on there can be paraphrased as follows:

Does the process of passing login credentials via testamentary disposition to another designated trusted person to log in and transfer ownership of things to Community Wiki and then delete/shut down the account in case of death comply with Stack Exchange's terms and conditions and policy as long as it does also comply with the legal situations of the relevant countries?

I think that might be a rather uncomplicated way to settle matters properly.

I am aware that this is, among other things, a question about one aspect of the legal situation and that legal situations usually consist of many aspects.

I am inclined to find a way which both complies with the relevant jurisdictions and with the terms and conditions and policy of Stack Exchange and with my wishes. Thus I am interested in the point of view of Stack Exchange in this regard.


So the question can be split into several aspects:

  • The Stack Exchange company generously grants rights to users, e.g. the right to create an account, to log in, to read/write questions/answers/comments, to fill out a user profile individually, ...
    Which of these rights may a user transfer under which conditions to third parties, who e.g. act in his place/on his behalf as vicarious agents?
  • Are accounts tied to individual natural persons?
  • Is it allowed for an account to be used jointly by several persons? E.g., could an account be registered to "Me, myself and I and - in case of death - designated bereaved"?
    (If yes, then the following questions are obsolete, because then I can regulate during my lifetime who in the event of my death belongs to the persons who may use/log into the account, e.g., for the purpose of deletion/of adding a death notice to the profile/...)
  • Is it okay with the Stack Exchange company to have login credentials of a user account passed to another person via testamentary disposition so that this person can do some modifications to the account/profile?
  • If yes: Which modifications would be okay? (I think about things like: Deleting the account/Adding death-notice to the profile/Transferring ownership of postings to Community Wiki/...)
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  • Welcome to Meta SE. FYI, a couple of somewhat related posts are How should a user's death be handled? and What should my family do to notify SE if I die?. Jul 22 at 21:17
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    I'm confused what is the intention. You want to know if you can both convert all posts to community wiki and delete the user? Deleting the user would inherently leave the post in a somewhat-anonymous state, not owned by anyone. Converting it to a community wiki inherently lowers the privilege barrier for editing. Regardless of user's wishes upon death, that is destructive to the site. We don't want hundreds or thousands of posts to suddenly be editable by more users for no reason other than it was their final wish. Deleting the user is a very different discussion than wikifying the posts.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 22 at 21:18
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    @animuson Basically I would like to know if passing my login-credentials to someone else when I am dead is okay with StackExchange. So that that person can log in and transfer things to community wiki and delete the account. I don't want asking somebody by testament to do that for me to result in problems with the StackExchange-company. It is about code-snippets in TeX LaTeX StackExchange. A lot of development is going on in the field of TeX/LaTeX, thus keeping contributions up to date might be of interest.
    – user1230597
    Jul 22 at 21:21
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    But you're conflating different actions together into one question, that have different answers. Whether it's acceptable for them to login to your account with your credentials (possibly, I don't know for sure) is a separate issue from whether they would be allowed to convert all your posts to community wiki (definitely not).
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 22 at 21:25
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    Converting to Community Wiki and then deleting your account would cause some weirdness, I think: your name would stay on the post until someone edited it. You can see this same weirdness with name changes too, since the old name will stick until it's edited. Why not: 1) have someone only delete your account; or 2) have someone edit your username/profile to say that you've passed on?
    – Laurel
    Jul 22 at 21:25
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    @Laurel 1) or 2) would be okay with me, but still the question is lurking around whether it is okay with the StackExchange-company when my login credentials are passed to someone else for doing modifications to the account/user profile.
    – user1230597
    Jul 22 at 21:28
  • @animuson "Whether it's acceptable for them to login to your account with your credentials (possibly, I don't know for sure) is a separate issue from whether they would be allowed to convert all your posts to community wiki (definitely not)." I wouldn't mind these aspects being treated separately in answers to the question. ;-)
    – user1230597
    Jul 22 at 21:34
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    The most pertinent question that comes to my mind here, specifically regarding the Community Wiki bit, is... why? The licensing doesn't change when you convert something to community wiki, so there's no gain or loss from a content usage standpoint. Users can still edit it just like every other post, whether you're around or not. If you want to "[avoid] the false impression that [you are] still alive", then I'd say account deletion is the most reasonable way to go, though there is no expectation that answer authors stay around for any length of time, so I'm not sure this is really an issue.
    – zcoop98
    Jul 22 at 22:45
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    I think my confusion over what you were wanting stems from the fact that you keep saying "transfer [ownership] to community wiki" which doesn't really make sense in the context of what community wiki is. We would normally say "convert" because wiki is just a state your post can be in and does not technically affect ownership - in that state it would still be your post tied to your account. I was just trying to clarify if you understood what community wiki actually is in our system and whether that was what you were requesting as part of this.
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jul 23 at 1:53
  • @animuson The relevant part of the question is whether it is okay with the Stack Exchange company to pass login credentials to someone else for doing whatsoever changes to the account/to the profile. The question about "vicarious agents" acting on behalf of the one who registered the account. The question whether accounts are to be bound to single natural persons. None of this is answered at all in the questions linked. ... Jul 23 at 15:38
  • @animuson ... In short: Someone asked for a statement from the Stack Exchange company regarding which rights the Stack Exchange company wishes to grant to which persons. This statement should not be a problem. Jul 23 at 15:45

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