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Monday, October 08, 2007

"I think that might be the definition of 'too much time on your hands'."

Reader-submitted question: Seriously? Somebody took exception to your blog disclaimer?


My readers are very -- how shall I put it? -- diverse. They fall into a few broad categories, though:

1. People who surfed in and stayed. People like Miss Lyndsy and A. They found me through some other blog and liked me enough to come back. I love these guys, although I don't know who most of them are because they almost never leave comments. This question came from a person in this category. Finding and keeping this type of reader is the key to increasing a blog's audience.

2. Family members. People like the Capitalist, the Princess and the Philosopher King (AKA Torq, but I prefer the name I gave him). They've been here since the beginning and they'll probably stay right until the end. We make fun of each other, but it's not intended to be mean, it's just a continuation of our real-life relationships.

3. Friends. People like Cin, Amy H and Seriously Frivolous, along with a whole bunch of people you don't know because they never post comments. This group is pretty diverse, but many of them are current or former journalists. I told most of these guys about the blog when I started to write, but some of them found me through my Facebook profile. There is some overlap between this category and the next:

4. Lawyers. I happen to know a lot of people with law degrees, and some of them are people I consider good friends (I don't hand out my URL to the Law Society). People like Karan S, Karen L and Stephen. This is really a sub-group of the last category, and I normally wouldn't give them their own heading, but it is relevant to this reader-submitted question.

There are people who will argue that when I give you an orange, I should specify that I am giving the orange together with its peel, juice and seeds, and that I accept no liability for any injury you might...OK, I can't keep that up. If I keep going, I'll get another reader-submitted complaint arguing that I wasn't clear enough, and should have mentioned that I make no guarantees as to the orange's freshness, sweetness or juice content, and that further, acceptance of the orange creates no obligation on your part, either real or imagined.


Yes, someone contacted me about my disclaimer, although I am pretty sure that it was intended in good fun. Disclaimers are not bulletproof but are usually put up to distance the writer from his job or other activities. For example, a person who keeps a blog might also be a member of the SPCA and write about his dog from time to time: this does not mean that he is blogging on behalf of the SPCA. Nowadays this is usually obvious, but there are still a few people out there who like to create trouble for bloggers. They pretend that they can't tell the difference between the writer's volunteer work (perhaps the SPCA is trying to set up a public off-leash area for dogs) and his personal blog (perhaps he confides that he won't use the off-leash area because he has a big dog yard). SCANDAL!

Disclaimers won't hold the Forces of Evil off, but they are usually enough to let normal people know that a personal blog is, well, a personal blog.


Anonymous said...

Wow! I (and some lucky others) get my own heading in your blog. I am, frankly, honoured.

Personally, I love the disclaimer. I think it says what many lawyers would like to say but cannot. Some of the disclaimers and warnings that are out there just floor me. You'll note, for example, that McDonald's coffee cups now carry a warning that the coffee is "hot". Yeah. Just in case you didn't grow up on this planet and know that is how we traditionally drink it. And it's all because some bozo had a cup of hot (yes, "hot") McDonald's coffee between her legs while she was driving and she burned her crotch. Oh, and she picked a jury of 12 people as stupid as she was, who agreed with her . . .

I'm not leaving my real name.

Glen said...

For the record, I would like to say that I was not the "lawyer" who asked the question. I use the word "lawyer" loosely as I'm only 1/4 a lawyer so far, despite my presence on the law school geek squad.