Though I'm still new to this site, and don't spend any time in chat really getting to know people, I still feel the effects of the loss of @AffableGeek. @LCIII and I joined this site around the same time, he articulates it very nicely:

He was like this site's "cool professor" that everyone wanted to be around in an academic celebrity kind of way. Getting an answer from him authenticated your question and made you feel good for asking it.

I felt the same way, reading his answers you got the sense that he was a genuine scholar. I always learned something from his answers, and respected his demeanor, looking back on it now, his presence was one of the things that made this site attractive — knowing that there was a sage of knowledge who spoke with a sense of authority (be it secular, scholarly authority). Being new, I still have the benefit of reading all his old answers I haven't read yet, so it'll be a while yet before I run out of things to learn from him, but I do feel that it is a blow to the community that he's no longer making new contributions.

In honor of @AffableGeek, I wonder if there's any way that his avatar can properly be memorialized?

It's cliche, but I was thinking something along the lines of giving his avatar or his profile page a pair of wings. Given the tradition of hats on SE, I think that it would be appropriate. What does everyone else think? Is @AffableGeek's avatar going to be left alone until after years of activity until it's eventually deleted? Or can something be done to preserve the memory of such prominent users?

I have a new idea. Moderators get a ♦ next to their name, what if passed users were given a ✞ next to their name?

Affable Geek ✞

  • 1
    Your new suggestion is worse. That's heading in the wrong direction. That would show on every post, which beings meta issues into the main site. Honestly, it's bad enough the mods have diamonds. I kind of think that should only show when they've taken a mod action, like close a question.
    – user3961
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 17:57

3 Answers 3


There's no plan to alter Affable Geek's profile in any way. We wouldn't even be having this discussion if someone (presumably a friend or family member) hadn't noted his passing in the profile. Presumably that person knows better than we do what Michael would have wanted. It seems disrespectful to edit his profile or to change his avatar at this point.

We don't automatically delete registered accounts with more than 1 reputation. As I communicated to Michael's pastor, we plan leave his account as a permanent memorial. I encourage people to continue to remember Affable on meta and in chat. Part of the grieving process is recalling the memory of the dead. (As an aside, I've found The Grief Recovery Handbook an excellent tool for dealing with loss. It is not specifically Christian or even religious.) It's altogether fitting that we memorialize our loss.

On the main site, however, I encourage everyone to treat Affable Geek's posts as you would any other. Feel free to edit, upvote, downvote, close, and even delete posts based on their content. While it's a bit odd to ping Affable now, it's perfectly fine to leave clarifying comments on his posts. In a strange way, people live on through their words.

  • 2
    As long as you can assure us that his profile will never be deleted, then I am happy.
    – user3961
    Commented Mar 5, 2015 at 6:26
  • I edited my question, what do you think about giving passed users a cross-✞ next to their name?
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 15:32

In some ways I agree with your post. In others I do not.

First and foremost, I do not want Affable Geek's profile ever deleted. That would remove the page from the site and all his posts would then be labeled with that ominous, greyed out "user1039". Essentially, it would entirely anonymize his work on this site and make it difficult to remember him and the stupendous efforts he put toward it.

But deleting his profile I don't think would ever happen. First, you have to specifically request that SE staff do that for you via email. Also, I don't think there is any auto-profile deletion in place for extended non-activity. Considering the stakes, I favor protecting it from these threats, despite how benign they might be.

I am not in favor of changing his avatar in any way. The issue I have with that is that it brings meta/community issues into the main site. There is no reason why every single Affable Geek post should note that Affable Geek is dead. On his profile, however, I would like to see a simple banner perhaps that notes his passing and links to the memorial meta post.

Unfortunately, this is somewhat new ground for SE and has been very hotly debated not too long ago with pretty much no conclusion. See the chat messages starting here and also this MSE post. That said, SE is unlikely to do anything. It can't hurt to ask though.


Perhaps a better idea would be to put a photo of Michael(Affable Geek) with a halo over his head. :)

But still, it would be "disrespectful to edit his profile or to change his avatar at this point" (Jon Ericson♦).

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