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I usually post under my real name, but for this question I don't wish to reveal my real name.

A somewhat odd, but—my state of physical health is deteriorating rapidly—relevant question:

How can I ensure that upon my demise, ownership of all my contributions in the StackExchange network is transferred to Community Wiki and that my account is closed and my profile deleted or edited to inform that circumstances indicate that the contributor can no longer be contacted?

What evidence of my demise and wishes in this regard, if any, need to be provided to whom for this to happen smoothly?

Is it legally sufficient to testament that a designated person of trust receives my credentials to log into StackExchange in my place, transfer the rights to my contributions to Community Wiki, and then delete my account?

Is there an easy way, when my account is logged in, to transfer all my contributions to Community Wiki at once?

Is it even a good idea to transfer ownership of my contributions to Community Wiki? (Basically it is about code snippets in TeX LaTeX Stack Exchange which should probably be made available under the LaTeX Public Project License or similar.)

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  • 2
    See also question on global meta site How should a user's death be handled? - Meta Stack Exchange
    – user202729
    Jul 21 at 7:11
  • 1
    What is your intent? All contributions are already CC-BY-SA, so code snippets are available. The only difference I see is that your account would stop accruing points, but I'm not sure to whom that would matter.
    – Teepeemm
    Jul 21 at 14:38
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    @Teepeemm My guess is that the questioner here is thinking that any 'real' (distributed-package) use of code in an answer would come with a comment asking for permission, and to use an appropriate license. A response is of course only possible while the person posting the code is active.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jul 21 at 14:46
  • @JosephWright Does the procedure of giving the login credentials to someone else by testamentary disposition in the event of death, so that they log in and delete/silence the account, comply with StackExchange's terms and conditions? Jul 21 at 15:26
  • @UlrichDiez Honestly I wouldn't like to say: this feels like it's going to depend on the law in the relevant jurisdictions.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jul 22 at 9:39
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    The question "How to ensure that ownership of all my contributions on the Stack Exchange network is transferred to Community Wiki after my demise? " on Meta Stack Exchange might be of interest. In comments it is stated that changing status of posts to "community wiki" is disliked. Statements regarding "vicarious agents" obtaining login credentials for doing things with your account in place/on behalf of you (like deleting/adding death-notice to profile) are avoided so far. Same for whether accounts are to be bound to single natural persons. Jul 23 at 16:15

1 Answer 1

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I think the short answer is that there is no official method to do this. To understand why, we need to think about how StackExchange operates (or at least the model that is supposed to apply).

Posts can be edited by others without any special steps. Edits are intended to be in the spirit of the original author, but that is a question of community agreement: edits can be rolled back, but even the original author can be prevented from making changes to a post.

Voting on answers is intended to be about the content not the author. The 'use' of votes is pretty limited, certainly once one has acquired a modicum of privileges. Making posts CW stops votes adding to an account, but is otherwise rather limited in effect.

The license for posts to the site allows reuse of the text, and can be applied to code (it's currently CC-BY-SA 4.0). Many people choose to make clear a more classical code license in their profile for their posts, and that can be done at any time. (For example, I use CC0.) The legal effect of the latter is not to my knowledge fully-tested, but I feel it is reasonable clear in intention.

Other than for moderators, there is no direct user-to-user messaging. A poster can ignore comments on their post, and the chat is entirely optional. That means that there is a very limited 'social' aspect to the site, and that in general the license that applies to content is the one discussed above, rather than any 'directly agreed' case.


In the life of the site, we have of course had some users where we know they have died: Brent Longborough is one who posted under his own name so is easy to point to. Brent's account is unchanged, and for most site users, the fact that he is no longer with us doesn't feature. In that sense, it's not different to someone who simply makes a post then life takes them elsewhere.

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