Honestly, I'm not sure I how to ask, or even if it's indeed a question. A few months ago, I was searching for some info on MathSE and I found an answer by a user interesting, if I remember correctly. Either way, the important thing was that after visiting the profile page, and searching a bit about him on the internet, I found out that he had killed himself. I checked the date the user was last seen, and it was a few days, or something, just before his death. I'm not sure anymore, but I think he was a computer science expert or something... I think it may have been this guy Since then, I haven't been able to shake the feeling that we should do something, if possible, about some of our users that have died. I don't know, but it just doesn't seem right not even trying to do something about it...

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    $\begingroup$ On MathOverflow, a line was added to a profile: mathoverflow.net/users/9062/bill-thurston. Something like this would seem appropriate and sufficient. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2015 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ @AndresCaicedo For a user with a lot of activity on the site, probably yes. Someone may be commenting on their posts and expecting a reply... leading to awkward situations. When the top user on Christianity.SE died, someone edited in a statement into his profile -- but only on that site, where he was very prominent. $\endgroup$
    – user147263
    Mar 5, 2015 at 19:37
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    $\begingroup$ The user you guessed had only one answer here, so possibly the guess was wrong. $\endgroup$ Mar 5, 2015 at 21:40
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    $\begingroup$ Louis CK opened one of his shows by telling the audience something like, "Look, there are 2500 people here tonight, it's a full house. Chances are, one of you is not going to make it to Christmas. I'm sorry, I don't know which one, but one of you is going to ruin Christmas for their family". It's a big site, and it's been up and running for several years by now. Chances are there are people who used this site and are now dead, or incarcerated or been in some horrible accident. It's sad, but true, and inevitable. $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Mar 5, 2015 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ In some cultures like Indigenous Australians, talking about dead people is not appropriate. For more information see here. $\endgroup$
    – user180918
    Mar 6, 2015 at 6:14
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    $\begingroup$ @AliSadeghDaghighi We can't account for every culture. In some cultures, maybe mathematics is a bad thing. We can't shut down for them, can we? $\endgroup$
    – AvZ
    Mar 6, 2015 at 12:07
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    $\begingroup$ @AvZ Sure, but you should be respectful to the native culture of the dead person. It is a part of showing respect to dead people and their acquaintances. $\endgroup$
    – user180918
    Mar 7, 2015 at 6:09
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    $\begingroup$ @AndresCaicedo I think yours is the best solution ;) Thanks $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2015 at 21:27
  • $\begingroup$ So, how does one go about getting a line added to the profile of a deceased user, in line with the suggestion @AndrésE.Caicedo made? I ask because Robin Chapman, a valued contributor in the early days of math.stackexchange, and briefly a moderator of the site, passed away unexpectedly on 18 October 2020. emps.exeter.ac.uk/mathematics/news-events/news/articles/… $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2020 at 3:32

2 Answers 2


Stack Exchange VP Jay Hanlon gave a thorough answer. Summary:

for a site like ours, a formal policy or process around memorializing the accounts of the deceased might do more harm than good.

This was written specifically in the context of Aaron Swartz's suicide. His SE accounts remain intact; naturally there was some sympathy voting following the news of his death, but otherwise they look like any other account.

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    $\begingroup$ Have you seen the link in Andres Caicedo comment? Maybe a simple line would suffice... Thanks for the answer ;) $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2015 at 21:27

This is an example of how they commemorate deceased editors on Wikipedia. Of course, only notable editors will end up being commemorated this way.

  • $\begingroup$ thanks for the answer ;) $\endgroup$ Mar 9, 2015 at 21:27
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    $\begingroup$ The Wikipedia user you give as an example is a mathematician who received many prizes and therefore has his own Wikipedia page. I am wondering how much it influenced the choice of preserving its user page. What does happen to editors of Wikipedia that did a notable work inside Wikiepdia and have no page in the encyclopedia? $\endgroup$
    – Taladris
    Mar 10, 2015 at 10:39
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    $\begingroup$ Usually the Wikipedians who are known to have died are remembered in this way. It's just that people who are well known enough to have their own wikipedia article cannot usually die without people knowing about that. If I were to drop dead right now, no one on Wikipedia would notice, because I don't keep in toch with other editors there on a personal level. $\endgroup$ Mar 12, 2015 at 17:17

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