On another website, I saw a post which provoked commenters to consider the problems of blogging after death. I.e. what happens to the site, will it just fizzle out, or would the site notify the readers somehow? I made the following comment, which worries me, as I didn't realise I'd given quite that much thought to this issue!
"Although I guess if you have a fairly popular blog you could always use it as a cheap will. Just always have a post with the info dated two weeks or so in advance and update it before it gets posted each time.â€
I've thought of that before, the only reason I don't do it is the thought of "What if I forget"?
So I think it would need a pluginâ€¦.
Fo ease of coding what follows the post might need to be held seperately to regular posts, relying on the plugin to copy it to the appropriate place in the database
On each successful login, the date is automatically updated (to be N weeks after the last login). N would be customisable. (say, 4 weeks default)
At a fixed time (three weeks default? this allows for a long holiday) before D-A-D (death announcement day), the plugin would email all the contact addresses which you've registered to it ("are you dead?" messages - it'd provide a link for you to follow if alive). It'd only send these to confirmed email addresses!
These emails would be resent at intervals (user settable)
At some other time (say, D-A-D minus 1 week by default) before D-A-D a post would be made to say "the owner of this website has not updated it in some time, and apologises for this - an explanation will come shortly" (this serves to alert the owner via other means, rss, the website page etc - without alarming people if it's a false alarm. The post might encourage people who know the owner personally to phone direct for an early explanation, thus either providing another alert, or allowing news to be broken in person)
The default text of the post would be worded such that it on a subsequent login the reason could be "busy with work" or somethingâ€¦.
Shortly before D-A-D, say 24 hours beforehand, the plugin would try the emails again, with very obvious subject lines demanding urgent action.
Of course, all the times, alerts and posts would be customisableâ€¦ And any login resets the clock! For a multiple user system, this'd be on a "per login" basis (settable by the admin) - if offered, some users could switch it off.
Nice extras: The plugin might provide some way for the blogger to specify "trusted users" - who could receive emails D-A-D be imminent, and who would be trusted to amend the D-A-D message with exact circumstances of death or serious illness. These people would be told exactly how to do this in the email. The trusted users would be told of the OTHER trusted users so they co-ordinate. It may be possible to specify degrees of trust (e.g. trustworthy acquaintance who will do as asked, but is unlikely to get emotional - or trusted family member who may not want to go editing blog posts at a time of concern - the acquaintance can't change the family member edits, but the family member can change the acquaintances)â€¦.
Do you think, perhaps, that I've given this way too much thought?
A simple version could be done via the 'future post' ability of most comment website software, however this could easily be forgotten - I'd aim for the post only to appear if there really was nobody to stop it appearing! Yes, a dead man's switch might be a good alternative, but you're reliant on someone else to make the post, with the reminding system above, other people only come in as an optional 'tweak' to the post.
I already have a post set to go 'live' in february 2007, so if anything happens to me before then, it may give some people a shock!