Did you know Leslie Harpold? Can you help me keep her sites alive?
December 13, 2006 10:07 PM   Subscribe

Did you know Leslie Harpold? Can you help me keep her sites alive?

I was hoping to just quietly do this and not make a big spectacle about it, but it looks like I'm stuck and I'm hoping someone in the MeFi universe can help.

As many of you know we lost web designer and writer Leslie Harpold, who passed away last weekend. There is a MeFi thread with people offering their condolences and thoughts. I've posted my thoughts here, and Kevin Fanning has been collecting dozens of people's posts and thoughts.

I never got to meet Leslie, but I exchanged emails with her and was very inspired by her writing and her web sites Harpold.com and smug.com. Last night I was thinking how tragic it would be if her sites went dark because no one was covering the hosting fees so I started investigating if it was somehow possible to cover the costs myself.

I fully realize that this is incredibly presumptuous of me, and I truly hope that this is not offensive to anyone who knew Leslie. In my defense her sites have been up for quite some time, and after much thought I finally decided that if she had wanted to bring them down she would have done so already. If anyone who knew her thinks otherwise, please let me know.

Her sites are hosted by Liquid Web. I contacted them yesterday to see if they might allow me to take over the hosting fees for her domains. They refused, stating that they required either the billing information (the last 4 digits of the credit card used on the account) or the account's password to change the payment details. It's an understandable request, but as I have no idea what this information might be I've hit a dead end.

I know at some point her domains themselves will expire, but smug.com still has almost a year to go, and harpold.com expires in February of 2009 so there's still some time. I'm not sure how I would handle this but I'm hoping that given some time maybe someone might think of a way to renew them.

I know this is a total long shot, but what the hell: can anyone help? Or am I just an idiot for even thinking that this is a good idea?
posted by theNonsuch to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's a lovely thought, and who amongst us doesn't want our work to live forever? But really, this is something that should be discussed with her family after they have had a chance to grieve a bit. Better to make an arrangement with them about keeping the sites going than to hijack them yourself (and even though your intentions are good that is what you'd be doing).
posted by cali at 10:55 PM on December 13, 2006

Have you spoken to archive.org? I might be going down the wrong track, but if anyone knows something about "preserving the internet", it might be them.
posted by Jimbob at 11:13 PM on December 13, 2006

I know you mean well but you are way out of line here. The only people that get to decide what happens to the sites is her family/estate. If they want to keep it running, then they will do so. If you want to contact them and offer support for the fees, that's fine, but anything else is wildly inappropriate. If you want to do something just in case, make a backup copy of the sites' content, but by all means don't put that online unless the license of the original site specifically allowed it (ala Creative Commons) or you get explicit permission from the estate. Don't even think about pestering the registrar or hosting provider, that's just wrong.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:21 PM on December 13, 2006

I don't' see anything wrong with sending the family a check to cover the fees with a note explaining what it's for. Mention how you knew her and what she meant to you, and also mention that you're happy for the check to be donated to a charity if they don't want to maintain the sites.
posted by cilantro at 11:40 PM on December 13, 2006

I'm with cilantro; it's definitely not your place to try intervening in an administrative way, but I think it would be okay to send the family a donation (to cover EITHER the hosting fees OR a donation to charity in her name if the sites aren't what they want to put it towards).
posted by allterrainbrain at 2:38 AM on December 14, 2006

*cough* wget *cough*
posted by kableh at 6:12 AM on December 14, 2006

The family might not have the credit card number or password either, no? I suppose you could send a note to them with the suggested donation offering to help.
posted by amtho at 7:29 AM on December 14, 2006

Hi there, friend of Leslie's here. You're not the only person who wants to make sure her sites live online forever.

I am trying to get in touch with her mom to see what's going to happen. It's my hope that her mother has information regarding her domains and hosting; if anything comes of it, I will definitely let you know.
posted by kathryn at 8:23 AM on December 14, 2006

Her family might not have a clue what she was doing or how much it meant to how many. I'd do a little legwork before you contact them:

Try to figure out who in her family was the most familiar with her work, i.e., potentially most sympathetic to your intent

Put your proposal in front of her fan base to get their feedback and get an idea of how many people we're talking about

Draw up a plan A and B

You get the picture.
posted by atchafalaya at 8:50 AM on December 14, 2006

Her closest friends have all her passwords (not me) and we're talking about ways to ensure that all her sites stay up forever.
posted by mathowie at 9:10 AM on December 14, 2006

Thanks, Matt -- that's what I was hoping to hear!
posted by theNonsuch at 9:14 AM on December 14, 2006

This brings to mind the issue of the rest of us making our "online wishes" known. I have left the pertinent information in a locale my family will find.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 9:29 AM on December 14, 2006

I'm still quite sad over Leslie's death. It's good to know someone is working to save her online work.

It would be great if there were an online registry where one could make your online wishes known, perhaps store an archive if your internet works, then have those works revealed upon your death.
posted by IndigoSkye at 10:40 AM on December 14, 2006

IndigoSkye: like My Last Email?
posted by holyrood at 12:10 PM on December 14, 2006

Oh! I know one way anyone can help: I heard that her domain registrar, ghandi.net allows random people to gift a year of domain registration for anyone else. I know at least one person that added a year of paid service on all her domains.
posted by mathowie at 11:03 PM on December 14, 2006

I think that's gandi.net, they host all my domains too.
posted by jessamyn at 12:29 PM on December 15, 2006

Thanks, Matt - I didn't know gandi allowed this.
posted by theNonsuch at 11:24 AM on December 16, 2006

This is one of the best AskMetafilter questions and answers I've come ever read. I too wanted somehow to see Leslie's work outlive her and now all these lovely folks are doing something about it. Thank you to all and Merry Christmas!
posted by Lynsey at 10:38 PM on December 16, 2006

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