Deaths Of Members

April 29, 2014Comments Off on Deaths Of Members

Over the years, a few dozen people have asked how to handle deaths in the community. 

I can recall one story on the topic.

The first time a member died in my gaming community was in 2000. I announced it. 

We created a place for people to write eulogies for the member. Over 250 people posted their comments. 

Then we created a separate navigation tab, on the homepage, to go to this thread. It forever remained one of the most visited pages. 

The average age of members was around 16. We thought this would be the only death we ever dealt with. 

But then a strange thing happened.

Members began dying on a regular basis. Every month a member's 'parents' would write to me announcing their child had died. 

This was an unintended side-effect.

Members wanted the attention of the deceased and to see what people would say about them if they were gone. It became a tricky problem.

We removed more members for pretending to die than for violating the community rules.

You can learn a few things from this:

First, announcing the death of a member and giving members a place to post their tributes is a good idea. It's a bonding experience for members, it's nice for relatives to be able to read that (I'll never forget the parents of the deceased member above personally responding), and it provides a place for members to be remembered.

Second, you have to verify deaths. The 'being present at your funeral' motivation is powerful among members who feel neglected. If someone tricks you, it deeply hurts the community.

Third, this is sadly a very small (but important) part of the job. You manage large groups of people. Some of them, by law of averages, will pass on before their time. You can't stop that. You can, however, take steps to ensure their member is honoured and respected within the community. 

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