I've been pondering what should happen to personal websites once the owner has passed, or otherwise "moved on". Some time ago I stumbled across a blog by Kev Quirk, who wrote

I’d need to come up with contingency plans for...This website, and any other websites and own/manage

I thought it was a strange idea, to have a contingency plan for a personal site to survive its writer. Even a site such as my own, which (as sites go) would be trivial to host/mirror (since it's static), who would want to do that? Why would they do that?

On the other hand, whether something I've written is useful or not is largely independent of whether I'm alive and well. And if anything I've written is useful independently from me (to pick a recent example, my notes on imaging optical media), should it persist somewhere?

I've long thought of personal sites much like any website, which is to say, implicitly eternal, despite mountains of evidence that practically the reverse is true. I was influenced a long time ago by the article Cool URIs don't change. Thinking more about "digital legacy" led me to start believing that personal sites are ultimately not the right place for any kind of content that should have some persistence. (You might well have started with that assumption!)

Yesterday via Planet Debian I read Aurélien Jarno's recent blog post where they have deprecated all of their personal site bar their blog. Quoting Aurélien:

Wikipedia is a much better platform for sharing knowledge than random websites.

This struck me as an interesting idea. Wikipedia is a reasonable place for a lot of material that might otherwise be hosted on personal sites, and as a "living website", content can be adapted, corrected, etc. over time. Wikipedia is clearly not the right place for much other material that might exist on personal sites (it's not the right place for my aforementioned article). I'm not sure where might be. Perhaps we, as a culture, need to move away from the notion of personal sites, and devise a more collective concept. Or perhaps it's no bad thing that, without intervention, this stuff disappears.