Calling all readers of internet advice columns:
November 16, 2016 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Which columns would you consider the best of the genre? What posts were particularly memorable?

Advice columns are having a bit of a moment on the internet, and I am compiling the best examples of the genre for a project I'm working on. Which posts from Dear Sugar, Ask Polly, Captain Awkward, Dear Prudence, etc. are ones that made you think, that you still remember years later, that helped change your life or spoke to you at a difficult time? I'm looking mostly at online-only columns and the 'modern era' of advice, so probably beginning with Savage Love.
posted by kingfishers catch fire to Grab Bag (29 answers total) 83 users marked this as a favorite
Ask A Manager, for advice about workplace issues of all stripes, is excellent and frequently hilarious (plus has good discussion threads, too)
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 12:20 PM on November 16, 2016 [17 favorites]

I personally really enjoy Carolyn Hax on the Washington Post. Her quality of advice has remained consistently high though the years. It also has a hilarious lexicon of Hax-specific slang such as "glassbowl" (newspaper-friendly euphemism for "asshole"), bacon pants, "nutterati" and so forth.
posted by Autumnheart at 12:22 PM on November 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Thanks! Advice columns I'm not reading are great, too, but I'm particularly hoping for links to favorite posts.
posted by kingfishers catch fire at 12:23 PM on November 16, 2016

I really like Dear Coquette but she is pretty polarizing. Here is a link to her Best Of posts, they're all great.
posted by pintapicasso at 12:27 PM on November 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Breakup Girl's "reunions with exes are not 'please be kind, rewind'" is an old favorite.
posted by praemunire at 12:32 PM on November 16, 2016

I used to read Cary Tennis when he wrote for Salon. I always liked the first paragraph of his answer to this question. (Apologies for all the non-related videos, sponsored stories, ads and whatnot breaking up the text.)
posted by dywypi at 12:37 PM on November 16, 2016 [8 favorites]

CAPTAIN AWKWARD! (starter pack of columns in that link) She's the best. Clever and lovely and so good. The Dear Sugar archives are good as well even though the column is long defunct.
posted by quince at 12:55 PM on November 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

Savage Love, for sure.
posted by Dashy at 1:06 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

(and that is what I get for enthusiastically scrolling on down to comment before I'd read the last words of a post)
posted by Dashy at 1:07 PM on November 16, 2016

I was an avid follower of Tomato Nation's The Vine for years. The ones I remember best are from "Young Nanna" and "My Kingdom for a Winning Powerball Ticket" - both in the DTMFA-epic-snarky-smackdown vein.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:14 PM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

She doesn't seem to be writing them anymore, but Sarah Bunting of Tomato Nation had an advice column The Vine. She has an ability to dig up what the person really wants to know, underneath the question that was actually asked. The writing's hot, the advice is searing when it needs to be, and kind when it needs to be. And she can solve grammar questions in a way that actually makes sense.
posted by Liesl at 1:15 PM on November 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Also, the "grilled cheese" question from's Love Letters is a good one. Be sure to read the comments.
posted by Metroid Baby at 1:22 PM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

This one from Dear Polly is not even that old but it hit me like a ton of breaks. As a woman of child-bearing age who will probably have kids but is admittedly still a bit on the fence and wondering if I am missing something about all the fuss made, it was a perspective I very much needed to consider and I feel a lot more empathy for the people in question now.
posted by lovableiago at 1:35 PM on November 16, 2016 [7 favorites]

Also, are you willing to consider memorable posts on this site? Because some of the Human Relations advice I've seen here on AskMeFi over the years has blown me away way more and had more of an impact on me than anything I've ever seen in the Dear Abby vein of professional advice-givers.
posted by lovableiago at 1:38 PM on November 16, 2016 [11 favorites]! Love their stuff :)
posted by wwartorff at 1:44 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

S. Bear Bergman's advice column at Bitch Media is dead on (as recommended by Cap'n Awkward herself). This post resonated with me.
posted by doornoise at 2:28 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

The New York Times's Social Q's is a weekly read for me.
posted by LKWorking at 2:45 PM on November 16, 2016

I have read every single Dear Sugar column, and listen religiously to the podcast (which might be worth also looking into!). The columns that I remember now, years later, are:

The Future Has an Ancient Heart, her imagined graduation speech to a class of young writers.

The Woman Hanging on the End of the Line, which taught me to breathe through hard things, moment by moment.

We Are All Savages Inside, about jealousy.

The Truth that Lives There, the one that has the lines "Go, because you want to. Because wanting to leave is enough," which I have seen quoted all around, including here on Metafilter.

... and, of course, Write Like a Motherfucker.
posted by stellarc at 3:02 PM on November 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

Ask A Clean Person.
posted by fox problems at 4:12 PM on November 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Here are a few brilliant posts from some favorite columnists:
Ask a Manager
Ask Amy

and if you are in the mood for a chuckle:
Some classic Dear Abby
posted by Toddles at 7:03 PM on November 16, 2016

Tiny Beautiful Things from Dear Sugar
How Do I Get My Husband to Act Like a Man? from Ask Polly
posted by somedaycatlady at 7:30 PM on November 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Dear Sugar: The Obliterated Place is absolutely devastating. In a good way, if such a thing is possible.

23. There is no 23.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:31 PM on November 16, 2016 [6 favorites]

I love love love the bad advisor.

Bad advice to letter writers from other columns telling them what they want to hear (while skewering them mercilessly)

Added bonus: Thanks to this question I now know it's been resurrected!
posted by sacchan at 11:22 PM on November 16, 2016 [4 favorites]

I also love Dear Sugar's The Obliterated Place. I cry every time I read it!

There are so many columns in Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things that are amazing. Here are a few that stuck with me:

The Baby Bird
How You Get Unstuck
No Mystery About Sperm
Beauty and the Beast
A Bit of Sully in Your Sweet
Ten Angry Boys

I think what really sticks with me WRT to these particular columns are the stories that Strayed pulls from her own life to provide advice to the LW. It's amazing how somewhere, in her past, she experienced this thing that perfectly illustrates her advice to the LW. Beauty and the Beast sticks out for me the most in this way.

This Captain Awkward stuck out for me cuz I could see myself behaving similarly as the LW so it's a good lesson on how to not be that way.

This Captain Awkward is all kinds of awesome because it really shows how to communicate what one needs. CA went above and beyond in this one AND there's an awesome follow-up by the LW!

Here's a great reddit relationships question and follow-up. Really beautiful and sad.

There was a certain paragraph in this Ask Polly which perfectly described how I was in childhood with my mom and sister. Seriously, Ask Polly is some kind of mindreader who just seems to know what's going on in so many people's heads and can name it so clearly.

I love Cary Tennis' treatment of this letter - how he describes the LW's problem as a curse and I really love how he suggests using writing to break that curse. It just reminds me how magical writing can be.

This doesn't exactly fit your ask - can I still include them anyway?

Dear Prudence: gay incestuous twins: I doubt very few Dear Prudence readers would ever forget this.
Ask Amy: Amysplaining "mansplaining": short, brilliant, hilarious and the title is absolutely perfect.
posted by foxjacket at 9:12 AM on November 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

It's already been mentioned more than once above, but Dear Sugar's The Truth That Lives There helped me find the strength to leave my unhappy marriage in a way that nothing else did. I'm almost 2 years out from my divorce, and I still go back and read it periodically.
posted by yawper at 10:13 AM on November 17, 2016

I really like this post from Carolyn Hax: Should being burned be a reason not to try for relationships?
posted by BeBoth at 2:16 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

All the a Dear Sugars above, but also this one not yet mentioned... especially the image of saluting the ghost ship that didn't carry you from shore. My god she's good.
posted by athirstforsalt at 9:12 AM on November 20, 2016

I'm late to the party and can't believe that nobody's yet mentioned Garrison Keillor as Mr Blue on Salon, back in the late 90s/early 00s. Compassionate and thoughtful, used to be one of my early internet go-tos, back in those dark days before I discovered Metafilter.

Sadly (unless I'm missing something), Salon doesn't seem to have done a great job of collecting all the columns in one place since Mr Blue downed tools in 2001, so it's down to a search for Mr Blue on Salon and rifling through some of the results.
posted by penguin pie at 6:23 AM on November 21, 2016

Oh - just noticed you're looking for more recent columns but will leave my Mr Blue suggestion anyhoo in case a longer view is of use. I kind of feel like Mr Blue is the foundation stone on which all the rest of these were built.
posted by penguin pie at 6:26 AM on November 21, 2016

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