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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 5:32 pm   

The front page title.
 
After seeing Rorso's reaction to the site, I think it might be better if the word "death" were removed or changed (perhaps to "emergency"?) from the title of the first page. It's going to become apparent after a few sentences that death is one of the uses of the site, but there's no reason to slap the user in the face with it in 30pt text.

Not to mention that the site has many more uses than as an online will.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:00 pm   
 
Anybody have suggestions? I tend to agree, but that's the search term that we originally used in Google to try and find a similar service. I thought about just "Online Email Notification Service", but I think that is too general.
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Tech
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 9:43 pm   
 
'calamity' or 'extenuating circumstances'?
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Chiara
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:54 pm   
 
What about 'incident'?

I think 'extenuating circumstances' is too long.
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Chiara
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 1:36 am   
 
We're thinking of Crisis.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 2:08 am   
 
I set the "title" of the page to "SlightlyMorbid - Online Crisis Notification", and then changed the main banner headline on the home page to "Notify your online friends if something happens to you".

In the certificates, I replaced "Online Death Notification" with "Online Crisis Notification". At least for now.
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Rorso
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Joined: 14 Oct 2000
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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2008 7:12 pm   Re: The front page title.
 
Fang Xianfu wrote:
After seeing Rorso's reaction to the site, I think it might be better if the word "death" were removed or changed (perhaps to "emergency"?) from the title of the first page. It's going to become apparent after a few sentences that death is one of the uses of the site, but there's no reason to slap the user in the face with it in 30pt text.

Not to mention that the site has many more uses than as an online will.

Take a look at the image used on the page title. First you have a reaper... Then a mysterious blue curve which I guess is supposed to mean heart rate. Eventually the curve turns to a straight line which is pretty obvious what that mean... Then a very beautiful sunset.... The symbols make the website scream out "death". It is pretty clear what its purpose is. The 20% discount on military personnel is kinda scary, and it's pretty obvious there is a belief such people might need this service. There is little question about it. It is a website concerning the greatest tragedy that can happen people.

My suspicion is that running a service like this if it gets much use is that it could get complicated. A web service is not human and cannot provide much comfort. It is similar to what was discussed in the blog entry about rudeness online. What will happen when people start get death notification messages? They might run to the SlightlyMorbid.com website in panic with tears in their eyes just to get thrown a cold website at their face. Noone can see their face or read their emotions when they get the fatal news. So noone can help them through a possibly tough time.

I found this essay relating to real death on Ultima Online that show how scary this is. I think it can take years for people to sort out their thoughts about someones death if it is someone they are very close to. Though I think often you never sort it out and life change after something like that occur. You might also read about things such as this. How do you handle something like this? How can you accept that someone you knew are forever lost, and will never again be met in this world? Even if you get a "last message" from the person it might not really do much good. The fact that the person has left is still there. You are alone.
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Tarn
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 8:18 am   Re: The front page title.
 
Rorso wrote:

My suspicion is that running a service like this if it gets much use is that it could get complicated. A web service is not human and cannot provide much comfort. It is similar to what was discussed in the blog entry about rudeness online. What will happen when people start get death notification messages? They might run to the SlightlyMorbid.com website in panic with tears in their eyes just to get thrown a cold website at their face. Noone can see their face or read their emotions when they get the fatal news. So noone can help them through a possibly tough time.


Personally, I'd rather know someone had died than just never hear from them again. I recognize that other people may have different opinions.

Quote:

I found this essay relating to real death on Ultima Online that show how scary this is.


The "real life person" who allegedly died was a convenient fiction of someone who wanted an online alter-ego (rereading, I'm not sure if this is the original article or if the Velveteen reference was added after the fraud was exposed)

For additional information,
http://dir.salon.com/story/tech/feature/2003/04/14/who_killed_miss_norway/
(now, that link requires clicking on the "enter" button in the upper right)

I'm not just trying to be argumentative- I think that the truth here illustrates some of the complexity of pseudonyms, online relationships, how people react to loss, and what they feel is real.

Quote:

How can you accept that someone you knew are forever lost, and will never again be met in this world? Even if you get a "last message" from the person it might not really do much good. The fact that the person has left is still there. You are alone.


That happens with people you know in person too. I'd still rather have as much information as they're willing to give me.

-Tarn
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Rorso
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 9:39 am   Re: The front page title.
 
Tarn wrote:

I'm not just trying to be argumentative- I think that the truth here illustrates some of the complexity of pseudonyms, online relationships, how people react to loss, and what they feel is real.

That's quite nasty. Like the article also mention though: To the players she was real. The players who got the news definitely experienced it as real even though they were deceived. My point definitely still hold if not even more now.

This really show that a service like this is very sensitive and has to be done with great care. There's absolutely nothing that prevent someone from making up "trusted contacts" and do a Karyn. Does the website do any verification on the "trusted contacts" to verify they are separate entities from the one owning the account? If it is easy to do a "Karyn" then the website is not worth much. The exception might be if you personally know and trust the "trusted contacts". That mean they would probably have mailed you anyway.

Quote:

That happens with people you know in person too. I'd still rather have as much information as they're willing to give me.

What I meant is that you have to be very careful when running a website or any kind of service like this, because you never know how people might react. While people surely react in real life too you have to see the difference: In real life someone might phone you about it or come to tell you. The person is probably not alone when they get the bad news. What we are talking about here though is a cold email sent by a machine. An email, as you indicated in your post and I touched it in my post above as well, might very likely be fake.

It is very interesting with the Karyn character. In theory you might get an email about an online friend who has died. A person who never quite existed and an email sent out from her trusted contacts who in turn might be fictional characters all part of someones mind. Reminds me of this article on Imaginary Realities.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 10:11 am   
 
There's not much point in adding that kind verification, because someone who wants to defraud people in that manner will find a way - the easiest being simply not using the service and sending emails themselves.

The point of the service in the latter case is because this isn't a choice between the alternatives of receiving a phone call or receiving an email - if they knew your phone number, I'm sure they'd rather phone you as well. The idea is that given a choice between the alternatives of receiving an email with some information and getting no information at all, you're generally going to prefer the email.
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Tarn
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 12, 2008 5:18 pm   Re: The front page title.
 
Rorso wrote:

This really show that a service like this is very sensitive and has to be done with great care. There's absolutely nothing that prevent someone from making up "trusted contacts" and do a Karyn. Does the website do any verification on the "trusted contacts" to verify they are separate entities from the one owning the account? If it is easy to do a "Karyn" then the website is not worth much. The exception might be if you personally know and trust the "trusted contacts". That mean they would probably have mailed you anyway.


I don't think there's any realistic way to verify anything at all about the trusted contacts other than (possibly) that they respond to email to an address the account owner claims is theirs. Zugg gets payment information for the account holder (which could still be stolen, fake, or untraceable like a prepaid gift credit card bought with cash) but you can't impose anything like surrendering credit card numbers or more on the trustees and still have anyone use the service.

Quote:

What I meant is that you have to be very careful when running a website or any kind of service like this, because you never know how people might react. While people surely react in real life too you have to see the difference: In real life someone might phone you about it or come to tell you. The person is probably not alone when they get the bad news. What we are talking about here though is a cold email sent by a machine. An email, as you indicated in your post and I touched it in my post above as well, might very likely be fake.


The problem you describe is real, but I'm not sure that the possible harm of people misusing the service outweighs the positive good it can do (particularly in the case of notices like "Tarn's house was badly damaged and had all electricity knocked out in the storm that just rolled through and he's going to be offline for a few weeks while he cleans up the pieces, but everything's fine.")

If someone wanted to send out a fake death notice, there are MUCH easier ways than using a pay service to send a one-off email that is obviously not directly from anyone's email account. Unfortunately, it's trivially easy to do that with any free web forum or email service.

If I were Zugg, I'd be more worried about trustees either getting angry with an account holder or leaving their username/pwd taped to their monitor.

Quote:

Reminds me of this article on Imaginary Realities.
...
If it is easy to do a "Karyn" then the website is not worth much.


I think that's a difference between glass-half-full (many users may be helped by this service) and glass-half-empty (some may absuse it) views. I'm not sure that it's possible to know in advance how high the rate of abuse will be (though there will probably be a strong correlation between price and number of fake messages).

Yes. The service will probably be used occasionally to retire pseudonyms.


It's very hard to tell who someone actually is online if they're careful.

-Taryn

;)


(more seriously, I'm an easy target. It wouldn't be at all difficult to come up with my real life contact information, though I prefer it to remain private, but even that wouldn't be sufficient to prove that I'm not ALSO "someone" else with harder-to-follow tracks)
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Chiara
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 2:55 pm   
 
Rorso, thanks for taking the time to weigh in on a topic that makes you uncomfortable.

Two of the people I invited to beta test are military. The one I've heard back from is former enlisted Air Force and currently the wife of an officer deployed to Bhagdad. She thought it was a brilliant idea. I'm still hoping the aforementioned husband will also weigh in, but as I said, he's deployed to Bhagdad and has limited time and internet access.

The fact that people *already* fraudulently post about the deaths of people behind characters says that there will always people who will abuse the emotions of others. We can't stop that. I do think that Tarn has a strong point with :
Quote:
though there will probably be a strong correlation between price and number of fake messages


Zugg and I have discussed this at length and we're pretty sure that the number of people who are willing to pay actual money to contribute to frauds like Karyn is limited. Its only fun when its free. or something.

Quote:
While people surely react in real life too you have to see the difference: In real life someone might phone you about it or come to tell you. The person is probably not alone when they get the bad news. What we are talking about here though is a cold email sent by a machine. An email, as you indicated in your post and I touched it in my post above as well, might very likely be fake.


I agree that email can be cold and impersonal, although it doesn't have to be, but we're setting this service up for relationships where phoning isn't an option. I don't know about you, but I have quite a lot of those. I don't consider them less real because communication is only electronic.

For example. If, Heavens forbid, a rock falls out of the sky and hits Zugg, those of you here will probably notice something is wrong long before I am in a place where I can deal with remembering to notify you all. Plus, I don't have phone numbers for you all. The options become, a cold, but not necessarily impersonal email from someone looking after me, a colder, more impersonal, probably shocking post to the forums, or no news at all.

I see the email as the best of the available options.

Quote:
If I were Zugg, I'd be more worried about trustees either getting angry with an account holder or leaving their username/pwd taped to their monitor.


Zugg is working on a method to maybe delay notifications for 24 hours and first send a copy to the account holders registered address to give them time to intercept any possible fraudulent use of their account. Unfortunately, there's no good way to prevent stupid people from signing up, or to keep other stupid people from abusing a good system.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 5:20 pm   
 
Chiara pretty much covers all of it. But I think this goes to show why a service like this doesn't already exist. If you focus on the problems and the "what if..." then you'll never do it.

This service isn't going to be for everyone. For some people, this is a subject that they just don't want to think about. But there are a *lot* of other people who want a service like this. Our response to test questions from various people we know has been overwhelmingly positive. So I'm not going to let what some people "might" do with the system stop me from solving a problem that a lot of other people want to be solved.

You can never stop someone who is bent on abusing a system. It's just like trying to stop hackers. The copy protection in CMUD doesn't stop hackers. It just makes it harder. The cost of the SlightlyMorbid system probably won't stop abuse, it just makes it less likely. After all, anyone can sign up for a free HotMail or GMail account and send whatever email they want to anyone. Anyone can sign up for a forum account on Zuggsoft.com and post whatever they want. So there is nothing stopping anyone from using an existing *free* service to post messages saying you are dead. And this kind of thing already happens in the world. SlightlyMorbid isn't going to make it any more or less common.

When a Trusted Contact sends *any* email using the system, the original account holder is emailed a copy. So you can always immediately determine if one of your Contacts is abusing the system. As Chiara mentioned, for the Death category, I am trying to implement a 24-hour delay so that you had a window of time where you can log in and stop the message from being sent (you get the message immediately, but your friends are delayed by 24 hours).

Yes, sudden death is a horrible thing to have happen. I've experienced the sudden loss of someone close to me already. It's not fun. But that doesn't stop it from happening. It's inevitable. Some people will be turned off by that. I'm sure there are a lot of factors between age and different cultures that will affect people's reaction to this service. There is really no way to control that. As I said, this service isn't for everyone. But especially as people get older, they realize that sometimes you have to think about this kind of stuff.

It's no different when putting together an official Will. Determining exactly who will get what when you die is not a pleasant experience. But it's a necessary one, and something that everyone eventually deals with (usually when they get older). This site is no different than that.

Yes, I agree the graphics might be a bit "harsh" for some people. The "grim reaper" is someone in a Halloween costume, but I guess it comes off a bit more gruesome when it's made smaller so that you can't really tell it's a costume. The graphics are certainly subject to change if anyone has better suggestions.

When a Trusted Contact logs into our system to send out bad messages, there is really nothing we can do to "improve their mood". They are going to be distraught no matter what we do. No matter what the site is called or what graphics we have. They will usually be family members who have already had to deal with a Will and a funeral, and all sorts of other details. I personally believe that being able to log into this site and send a single message to all online friends is a lot *less* grief than composing a personal email to each person, or composing a printed letter for each person. That's the only way to notify friends without this service: to put a list of email or postal addresses into a Will or important papers to be notified manually. At least this system takes away some of that burden.

Yes, email messages are impersonal. Nothing we can do about that. Obviously phoning your friends is better than sending emails. But as many people have already mentioned, this service is for your online friends that you *can't* call. And if one of my online friends died, I'd still want to get an email rather than never hear anything at all.
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Tarn
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 6:53 pm   
 
Zugg wrote:

When a Trusted Contact sends *any* email using the system, the original account holder is emailed a copy. So you can always immediately determine if one of your Contacts is abusing the system. As Chiara mentioned, for the Death category, I am trying to implement a 24-hour delay so that you had a window of time where you can log in and stop the message from being sent (you get the message immediately, but your friends are delayed by 24 hours).


Could you let the user pick the delay time? (a day, a week, two weeks, a month)

Most of the time the messages won't be time-critical, and it would be nice to at the very least be able to be absent for Friday evening through Monday morning and still catch the note before it goes out.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:00 pm   
 
Yes, that's something I'll allow customization of at some point. I'll also let you change it on a per-category basis.
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:05 pm   
 
Oh, and on the military discount. As Chiara said, we live in a military town and have many friends who have been deployed to Iraq. So we have gotten pretty good feedback from some of them about SlightlyMorbid. Not only is it true that military personnel are at more risk for death, but they also train for this and go in knowing that the risk is higher. So they actually have less trouble than other people in dealing with a service like this.

However, even though it's something that military people will benefit from, I am still going to remove the Military Discount from our system. The problem wasn't with the concept, but with the implementation. I realized that my idea to give a discount to *.mil email addresses was very U.S.-centric, and that I needed to either specify that clearly on the front page (discount for US Military) or get rid of it entirely. I've decided to just get rid of it because I didn't want the site to be US-centric, and there are many other people in the military around the world working with the same risks.

Since it's easier to add a discount later if I figure out how to do it, compared to removing an existing discount, I'm just going to remove the discount for the public launch. If I figure out how to validate *any* military user in the future, then I might add something like that back to the system.
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Fang Xianfu
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 7:38 pm   
 
I don't think there's an easy way to validate every military user, but surely some discount is better than none? I can't see (m)any Europeans being turned off because you offer a discount to the US military but not to theirs when the alternative is no discount at all. And, you know, it is the country you live in. Some bias is to be expected.
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Tarn
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2008 10:23 pm   
 
Zugg wrote:

However, even though it's something that military people will benefit from, I am still going to remove the Military Discount from our system. The problem wasn't with the concept, but with the implementation. I realized that my idea to give a discount to *.mil email addresses was very U.S.-centric, and that I needed to either specify that clearly on the front page (discount for US Military) or get rid of it entirely.


Echoing Fang, I'm not sure if that's necessary (if you think it's worth the incremental effort).

If I were browsing a foreign site, I wouldn't be offended by a small notice that said something like "I'd like to make this discount available to the military personnel of other nations, but I'm not sure how to validate that simply and reliably. Suggestions are welcomed, but given our small company size and low pricing the method has to be very simple and something that can be easily automated (such as a '.mil' email address for the US)."

-Tarn
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Zugg
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2008 6:54 pm   
 
OK, that's good feedback. I put the military discount notice back on the page and added the explanation that it's only for U.S. military with *.mil email addresses.

I'm sure this will be one of those cases where I can't please everyone...someone will complain no matter what we do. But I think it's the right thing to do.
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