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Monday, February 11, 2008

Thoughts on apology

Those readers who are even the tiniest bit observant likely noticed that there was no update on Friday. Personally, I'm of two minds in discussing this.

On one hand, it would be polite to apologize to my readers. I had a Grandmother who was a stickler for manners (as well as grammar and spelling), and she would likely have approved of an apology for the disappointment I may have caused. My own personal leanings are toward an explanation accompanying any such apology -- to me, if you apologize without explaining why, it seems hollow, like you don't really care enough to take the time to explain.

On the other hand, the blog-o-sphere is full of blog posts about how the blogger missed one or more posts, spending the whole post doing nothing but giving lip service (finger service?) to the apology. Presumably this is because they either A) feel guilty, or B) don't want to lose any more readers. (Or possibly C) that they don't have anything better to say.) In other words, the whole "I'm sorry I didn't post" thing seems overworn and, dare I say, trite.

So, is this kind of apology worth the reader's time? Do blog readers care if you apologize for missing a post or two? And I'm not just talking about the positive kind of caring -- the "oh, that's so nice" response -- but also the negative stance, as in, "Bla, bla, bla, don't waste my time!"

I suspect the threshold is quiet ephemeral. Depending on the type of reader the blog attracts, and the general tone of the posts, plus a myriad other factors, the correct decision could lie in either zone. In fact, "zone" is a good word to use here, since the possibilities for how the apology (or lack thereof) is addressed represent a continuum, not a binary proposition. The zones themselves also have blurry edges, where it's hard to discern the demarcation between the two camps. Kind of like Kitchener and Waterloo.

A political response to this issue would be to issue some sort of cleverly worded non-apology. A hedgy mollification that talks around the situation while still leaving every reader satisfied in a vague, flavoured water kind of way would certainly be one way to address this concern. I think that there's already too much political blogging going on right now, though, so this idea has little merit, at least on the originality scale.

It seems to me that the best thing to do is to simply acknowledge the interruption with as much brevity as I can muster (and I know, I'm brevitally-challenged, most days), while at the same time expressing some contrition, without comming off as either smarmy or smart-alecky. So here goes:

Hm. Missed the post on Friday. And on Monday.

Life just gets in the way, sometimes.



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