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I posted a blog a few weeks ago when a well-regarded, highly popular member of my online community died. I gave it the royal treatment and kept a tribute to him on the homepage of the site for several days. I even created a gallery to showcase all of the posts from other members honoring his memory.

Well, guess what? Another member died this week. He joined the community the day after we launched and was one of the first 100 members. We are now beyond 12,000.

He went by the name “GoPanthers” and had not been as active as he once was, but I do recall his presence during several of the live debate blogs I hosted during the Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates. I also looked back on some of my early editor’s blogs and shared posts that illustrated his high level of activity in our early days for members who may not have known his history.

His most recent blog spoke of an upcoming surgery that had him a bit concerned.

I have to say that I struggled with how to handle the profile and content of the first member that died. I ended up posting that he had passed away along with links to the tributes that had been posted in his honor. I initially thought that the best thing to do was remove it, but then I started reading all of the comments. The community was posting their condolences directly on his page and even talking to him directly. There was no way I could do away with such heartfelt sentiments! The same is happening with this member.

So while I feel as though I need a policy (actually I know I do) I think I’m leaning towards keeping the profiles and simply posting a note about the death as I did in the first case. Perhaps this shouldn’t be an emotional decision and I think that’s why I haven’t made it. I want to give the community what it wants. Maybe I’ll pose the question in a week or so and see if there is some consensus on the matter.

What do you think? How do you handle deaths in your community? I’d love to know as I embark on this important decision.

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This is a personal blog. The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer. Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry.

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