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What Happened To… When People Disappear

Posted by on Apr 18, 2011

My buddy Mitchell Allen and I were discussing how one of the online sites we used to visit on occasion and actually wrote content for has disappeared. So has the site owner, whose blog and entire presence seems to have been wiped from the face of the earth.

Goodbye Cruel World

Of course we have our speculations, which shall remain so, but it points out one of those weird things that happens sometimes online, and often without any advance notice. It’s pretty much the “now you see them, now you don’t” thing. It’s not so much when people stop visiting your blog and you wonder why. It’s when you go to visit them and notice they’re no longer there, or you send email and accounts shut down or you never hear anything back. That’s when it’s, well, weird.

Of course people disappear for a variety of reasons. The biggest reasons are time and money. Either they don’t have the time anymore to communicate as much as they did in the past or they didn’t have the money to renew their blog or domain name or even an internet service. True, if they have something like Gmail or Yahoo email all they have to do is go someplace like a library or internet cafe and access things that way, but usually that’s not convenient enough for everyone and thus they don’t do any of it.

Humans are social; we like to know what’s going on with people we’ve gotten to know, whether we like them or not. If someone announces they’re leaving for awhile or permanently, that’s preferable to someone just disappearing without a clue. Of course, if someone has expired and their spouse isn’t internet savvy, there’s pretty much nothing you can do about it.

Or is there? I have kind of a backup plan. I’ve asked one of my friends to kind of intercede on my behalf if I’m unable to get the word out to anyone. Of course one of these days I’ll have to tell him where I’ve hidden my passwords, but to many things on my browser he won’t have any problems accessing any of it. That and I have other friends who I’m sure would get the word out if I went missing for any length of time.

Have any of you thought about what to do to try to get the word out if suddenly you’re unable to yourself? Do you think it’s important enough to at least think about? Would you be missed?

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Maybe nobodys going to miss ya Mitch,its just wishfull thinking that they might Eh ?

April 18th, 2011 | 1:26 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Always possible…

April 18th, 2011 | 3:44 PM

Ill miss ya Mitch !

April 18th, 2011 | 7:34 PM

I was reading a post about digital wills, or ways that you could setup someone to take care of your online life if something tragic happened to you. I don’t have that setup at all personally though – if something happened to me, all that would be left are my Twitterfeeds.

April 18th, 2011 | 3:56 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

I’m kind of with you, Kristi. I’d like word to get out that I won’t be back, but other than that if everything else fizzles out then so be it, unless I end up bringing in some good money that helps my wife out when I’m gone.

April 18th, 2011 | 9:14 PM

Facebook has such a policy if a person dies for family members to take control.

June 6th, 2011 | 6:12 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s a good thing, Ari; I’ve always wondered, especially since I know a few people that have passed away and still have Facebook pages.

June 6th, 2011 | 7:51 PM

I once wrote a post about those disappearing blog owners who still have content on the blog host, but it’s years old and there is no sign of them anymore. I used to leave comments on some of them but never got answers. Where’d the blog owner go? It’s a mystery.

I’ve thought about arrangements for my own blog and for my other worldly affairs, but as of yet have not done anything about this. I do need to take care of this because we never know and I’d hate to leave behind a mess for others to have to sort out.

Tossing It Out

April 18th, 2011 | 10:14 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Arlee, it can happen in an instant, and people are kind of left hanging. I know my wife gets the email thing but that wouldn’t suffice for blogging folks. However, I’m going to need to shore that up in some fashion as well.

April 19th, 2011 | 1:47 AM

I find, a lot of times, that bloggers tend to “fade” (for lack of a better expression) gradually.
First, no more new posts on their blogs for a while.
Second, they neglect to reply to comments.
Third, they stop approving comments altogether.
The next thing you know, there’s a “This domain may be for sale” notice on their home page…

April 18th, 2011 | 10:39 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

There is that progression sometimes Sonny, which is kind of weird. That’s when you know something bad probably happened much earlier. But it’s just odd in general when someone immediately disappears.

April 19th, 2011 | 1:49 AM

It takes a thoughtful person to really wonder where a person has gone, Mitch, and I believe it is very good for you to be doing this. Also it would be very considerate of you and of every blogger who cares enough to let people know that they will be out of circulation soon. I have to think about making plans on doing this one way or another as well. 😉

April 18th, 2011 | 10:53 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Wes. I just notice things here and there and I always want to know what’s going on with people I’ve been reaching out to for awhile, hoping that everything is going okay.

April 19th, 2011 | 1:52 AM
Jessica Sieghart:

I do think about that and I’ve offends wondered where some of my original BLOGGY buddies have gone. There’s times when my blogging slows to a standstill (like this week) just because I have no time or energy to sit and write. But to vanish entirely? I don’t get that. I made my hubby promise that if anything happens to me, he will at least post it on my blog and Facebook.

April 18th, 2011 | 10:08 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Jessica, the thing is that I wouldn’t have met you and a lot of other folks if it weren’t for, well, BloggerLuv, and now it’s gone and so is John. Whereas I might have wondered whether it was long for this world, I hate that suddenly all the people who were there are no longer able to be contacted since I have no idea who many of them are sitting here now, and of course I wonder how John’s doing.

April 19th, 2011 | 1:46 AM
Jessica Sighart:

John is actually on Facebook quite a bit and he also created a Facebook Group called “Cool Bloggers” that’s pretty active.

April 19th, 2011 | 9:20 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

See there Jess, I didn’t even know he was on Facebook, and that makes sense as all you need is internet access, not necessarily an ISP.

April 19th, 2011 | 9:49 AM

You come into this world with naught and you leave with naught.
The rest is wishfull thinking.

Just my oppinion.

If im strapped to a gurney I may change my mind?

April 19th, 2011 | 3:10 AM

You remind me of those services safe-keeping your passwords and online documents and releasing them to people you select when you, well, die. Ok you probably didn’t mean disappearing in these terms, but it’s a similar concept. Quite honestly, I don’t have plans for that kind of outcome, both of them actually. And being the paranoid being I am about security, I am sure it wouldn’t be an easy feat to access any of my online things.
Probably we don’t wanna think about that so we delay and delay. Specifically about disappearing, I guess we always think we’ll be able to find a way online, any way.
If I had to go off the radar voluntarily, I’ll spread the word around, not just disappear, that’s for sure.

April 19th, 2011 | 10:15 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Actually Gabriele, I meant in all circumstances, including that. I mean, we just never know since we don’t live in the same area and oftentimes our spouses don’t know all that we do or how to reach anyone we know.

April 19th, 2011 | 12:00 PM

If I am unable to blog, it would not matter would it?

I tried to send you an email I received from a blogger who intends to disappear but got this message:
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

Technical details of permanent failure:
Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the recipient domain. We recommend contacting the other email provider for further information about the cause of this error. The error that the other server returned was: 501 501 Address syntax error: (state 14).

April 19th, 2011 | 10:57 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Rummuser, it seems to be a little bit buggy, but it also seems to be working fine again. And if you were unable to blog, it wouldn’t matter to you but it would matter to the rest of us. Remember the last time you were away for awhile, your son sent us messages and that made us feel better that we at least knew what was happening to you.

April 19th, 2011 | 11:59 AM

Sorry to be a Party pooper but nobody really gives a Hoot about your oppinions when you gone.Its old news as they say in newspapers.Old News sorry

April 19th, 2011 | 12:36 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hoodu, I’m just wondering if it’s your intention to always be intentionally negative. I ask so I know what to expect from you as time goes on.

April 19th, 2011 | 4:44 PM

Dont take it personaly Mitch.

You asked a question you got an answer.If you believe people are going to miss you then maybe some will now and then maybe ? but overall the world will still spin and we all will still use the lav.
Thats the way it is in the real world,unless your another Einstein? If you think im negative then thats your oppinion I would say a realist.

April 19th, 2011 | 6:57 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Hoodu, if that’s your reality I feel kind of bad for you. As I wrote, I tend to miss people, so maybe I go against the grain of how you see things. I still miss my dad after almost 11 years now, and I miss my grandfather after almost 25 years. I miss Flip Wilson and I miss Michael Jackson and I miss, well, so many things. And I miss my wife when she’s gone for a few days. I think I’d rather live in my own little fantasy world and believe that maybe I’m making a difference and that a few people here and there will miss me. And if not, at least I was kind of happy thinking it, and in the end that’s all that matters.

April 19th, 2011 | 8:51 PM

Hmm ,I think I said some will miss you eg Family close friends etc see my post.

Are you trying to make me out as somebody who doesnt miss people or care ? becouse I may not miss your personal blog.

I am not sure why you feel sad for me as I am happy and I have a great partner and we have 2 great dogs and 17 baby ducks plus im a great lover!

The point is you seem to be seeking a stroking of your Vanity in the thought that we,as strangers and maybe some friends will miss your B Blog etc.
The reality is there will always be somebody else with a Blog we can all read who im sure who will be just as vain but maybe not as insecure.
I think you will be missed by friends and family but the ineternet wont miss you as its a tough place a never ending digital highway with no service stations for past vain bloggers.
I don’t want in any way want to try and pop your bubble so if you want to believe you witterings will be missed then I dont want to be the one to hurt your feelings as im only a guy with a differant oppinion to yours.
The good news is all what you do in life counts towards creating a better world including a bit of blogging.Be happy I am.

April 20th, 2011 | 2:40 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

No, I don’t think you’d miss me; heck, you just met me. I wouldn’t miss you either for the same reason.

But you began this conversation by saying no one will care about my opinions when I’m gone. How do you know that about me since you just met me? Then you said not to take it personally, but you said it to me about me; that’s kind of personal. If your language wasn’t meant to be that way so be it. So I came back with what I came back with; it’s what I do. Your tone is negative; mine isn’t. You didn’t pop my bubble; if you read the entire post, it wasn’t about me except for the end part, which means once again that you made it personal, not me. That’s what happens with one line responses that don’t fully explain themselves; they sometimes can be interpreted in the wrong way.

Or am I interpreting it in the wrong way? You tell me. I don’t mind debate, and I don’t mind people disagreeing with me; I certainly am not perfect. But your statement was personal in its words, if not in its intent.

April 20th, 2011 | 3:07 AM

Mitch its not complicated.
I and some others may not miss ya wittering.

Thats all.

Sorry :}

April 20th, 2011 | 3:24 AM

I actually just wondering this past days about a blog I visited often when I first started thinking of the internet as a medium for businesses. The blog had a full archive from when I was reading it, then it slowly started to publish less and less post until some day when the post just stopped coming.

The author didn’t say anything, the contact form information goes into some void space where no one may read it, and I am still wondering, what happened to that man who was behind the blog, why did he left and didn’t even left a goodbye post. This is a mystery till this day.

I think it would be easy to tell someone to tell people about where I disappeared if that is ever to happen. I have two people who know or have access to most of my websites and same of my emails, so contacting them to say something for me would be easy. Also, I have friends that know their way around the internet and I could called them and ask them to write a goodbye note.

But I think the whole thing of disappeared blogs/website is that people just give up on them or move one. They don’t feel the need to make a farewell on their blog as they would with a live audience.

April 19th, 2011 | 4:35 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

You’re probably right, Alex, but it leaves the rest of us wondering, even if we never get a true answer on it.

April 19th, 2011 | 4:45 PM

Hi Mitch

I have noticed a few people missing since I first started blogging too. One woman was very active around the blogosphere and now her blog is up but no posts since last year! Other blogs I used to visit the same thing has happened.

I have my passwords there for a friend should I become ill or not be able to blog for awhile for any other reason. Just so then my regular readers would know I’ve not gone for ever.

Patricia Perth Australia

April 20th, 2011 | 9:36 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

There you go, Pat, good planning. We just never know, right?

April 20th, 2011 | 11:24 AM

I’ve thought about it, but haven’t done anything about it. I would probably appoint my 19 year old son or my 13 y/o daughter for that job…they are the most computer savvy out of the bunch.

I did have a friend I met online through her blog. She had Cancer and was in remission for a while, then started having problems. All of a sudden, she didn’t post any more. I fear the worst happened.

It’s been a couple of years now….

April 20th, 2011 | 3:58 PM

Yes its odd you should say this as I started to follow a lady on her blog in 2011 and noticed she hadnt posted since 2009 it was a breast cancer site which I feel strongly about.I sent her a note wishing her well and I new I wouldnt get any responce but I just wanted to wish her well.
I still follow her blog on twitter even though it has had no posts since 2011 and I will not delete it as her uknown spirit means something to me.

April 20th, 2011 | 4:20 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

That’s a shame. One of the first people I met on Facebook was the same way. Had cancer and I knew she might not be around long. Then she was gone for a couple of weeks until her husband posted that she’d passed away. So sad, but I feel it was still better to know.

April 20th, 2011 | 9:58 PM

I have been in situation when there were changes on contact details, I mean the person have lost access to his email account. I had a back up on Facebook. For few weeks, I am experience problem on my SMTP server on one of my hosts, this also may lead to email failures.

April 22nd, 2011 | 9:52 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

Carl, it’s weird how that happens sometimes because it happens to me as well. Too bad we can’t just create our own.

April 22nd, 2011 | 1:07 PM

I get quite disturbed when someone’s blog suddenly vanishes. It happens so many times, too. I’ve done it myself a few times – just closed a blog and gone, but I think I’ve always told someone I’m going either just before or have emailed them soon after. (I doubt it will happen again, at least not for the same reasons as I’m much less insecure than I used to be).

If there’s a network of some sort around between a blogger’s readers, it’s possible for anyone who is worried to set the ball rolling and find out that way – I finally tracked down a blog-friend that way several years ago whose home was destroyed during Katrina in New Orleans. And someone else I ‘lost’ for a while whose blog went awol I found via a network of online friends. So my thoughts are that if something dire were to happen to me and people were really bothered, they’d be able to find out what happened. And if they’re not that bothered… why would I care?

I think people would miss you Mitch. I certainly would!

April 30th, 2011 | 8:33 PM
Mitch Mitchell:

Thanks Val. 🙂 And you’re right, Katrina was one of those circumstances where people disappeared for awhile and it took some real effort to find some of them. One guy took 9 months before we found him in Baltimore working on putting his life back together.

I think we all have someone we care about, and if we can, hopefully we find ways to at least let someone know so they can spread the word.

April 30th, 2011 | 8:54 PM