Advice Chat

Here is an IRC channel where you can go to ask questions and get advice from other Internet folk. While I was in there I saw some honestly friendly people giving good advice to a lonely shy teenager on some ways to make more friends. I was relieved at the lack of sarcasm and joking around.


#advice (EFnet)

Annie's Mailbox

Ann Landers (1918-2002) -- born Esther (Eppie) Pauline Friedman in Sioux City, Iowa -- was, for most of her life, one of the two most beloved advice columnists in the United States (the other M.B.A.C. in the U.S. being her twin sister, Pauline Esther Friedman, who wrote Dear Abby). Eppie started writing her column at the Chicago Sun-Times in October 1955.

At the time of her death, on June 22, 2002 (actually, four days ago as I write this), Eppie was the most widely syndicated columnist in the world. Her column was syndicated to well over 1,200 newspapers around the world, with a readership of over 90 million people. Eppie did not want the name "Ann Landers" used after her death, so the replacement column was named Annie's Mailbox. Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, Eppie's editors of many years.


Ask E. Jean

Personally, I find E. Jean's advice just the type of insipid, retreaded, pseudo-straight-from-the-hip stuff you'd expect from a magazine (in this case, Elle) whose main purpose in life is to present one advertisement after another, punctuated by a small number of insipid, retreaded, pseudo-straight-from-the-hip articles. ("You could have brought forty or fifty of the finest men to the absolute limit of captivation with the energy you've wasted wishing and waiting for this stinker.") However, the questions are really interesting. Go figure.


Dear Abby

Dear Abby, written by Jeanne Phillips (1942-), is the most successful advice column in the world. The column was started in January 1956, at the San Francisco Chronicle, by Phillips's mother, Pauline Esther Friedman (1918-), the twin sister of Ann Landers (Esther Pauline Friedman). Pauline wrote the column for decades, building it into the most popular advice column in the world. A few years ago, the writing was taken over by Jeanne, who had been apprenticing for much of her life.


Devices that Answer Your Questions

There is an old Alice Cooper song (Halo of Flies) that starts, "I've got the answers / To all of your questions / If you've got the money / To pay me in gold..." Well, like Alice, these devices have all the answers. However, you don't need to pony up gold just to avail yourself of omnipotent wisdom. All you need is a question, a willingness to plug yourself into the spirit of the universe, and the curiosity to see what happens when you place your fate into the hands of an automated Internet soothsayer.


Dix, Dorothy

Dorothy Dix (1870-1951) was the original advice-to-the-lovelorn columnist, establishing an unprecedented following that paved the way for a gaggle of modern advice columnists, such as Ann Landers and Dear Abby.

"Dorothy Dix" was actually the pen name of Elizabeth Meriwether Gilmer, a well-educated Southern woman, who was born on a plantation and raised during post-Civil War Victorian society. She was married at a young age, but it turned out to be a disastrous match, leading her to the point of a nervous breakdown. Her start as a journalist was inauspicious, but she soon became successful, specializing in two areas: maudlin, evocative stories about high-profile murder trials (what used to be called "sob sister" stories), and advice to the lovelorn.

In the late decades of the 19th century, newspapers were the primary medium for the shaping of public opinion, and Dix was one of the most popular journalists in the United States. Indeed, by 1910, she was the highest paid journalist in the country. At its peak, Dix's column appeared in more than 200 American newspapers and many more abroad, reaching upwards of 60,000,000 people around the world.

With a confident candor that belied her own unfortunate love life, Dix did not hesitate to offer intimate advice to millions of people on how to love, how to raise children, how to act, what to think, and what to do. For example, in 1939, she published a book entitled "How to Win and Hold a Husband".

Although Dix was, perhaps, the biggest star in the history of advice columnists, it was widely believed, at the time, that she wrote some of the most intriguing letters herself, in order to set the stage for specific answers. To this day, Australians use the expression "a Dorothy Dixer" to refer to an arranged question that is presented to a politician in order to let him offer a prepared answer.

Still, whether or not Dix played fast and loose with her material, she was undoubtedly one of the most influential forces in early 20th century journalism, the inspiration of millions of common men and women who doted on her daily pearls of wisdom and advice. For example: "The price of indulging yourself, in your youth, in the things you cannot afford is poverty and dependence in your old age." -- "You never saw a very busy person who was unhappy." -- "Drying a widow's tears is one of the most dangerous occupations known to man."


Good Advice

Need some advice? Want to check out some questions and answers? The Internet is full of people giving advice, but how do you find what you want when you want it? Start here, where you will find a collection of links to a variety of advice-oriented resources. Not only will you find personal-type stuff (romance, relationships, teen issues, Internet relationships, family problems, and so on), but also places to check for advice about computers, health, diet, travel and finances.


Help Me Harlan

When you are young, there is no shortage of people willing to give you advice, most of which is best forgotten at the starting gate. Harlan, however, is able to tread that fine line between wise-older-person and remembering-what-it-was-like. If you are a teen or young adult, you'll find good, straightforward words of wisdom, and before you can say "Doing the right thing is a drag," you'll be developing good values in your spare time.


Miss Abigail's Time Warp Advice

Over the past hundred years, many books have been written offering advice. You may not have many of these books, but Miss Abigail does. So just ask away, and Miss A. will search through the books and find you an appropriate answer for such questions as "What is the proper age for marriage?" (a book from 1938 says at least 25 years old for men and 22 years old for women), or "How can I tell if a guy's not married?" (a book from 1969 counsels that a married man will never ask you out for a weekend date). So when you need the wisdom of the ages, check with Miss Abigail. After all, your best friend may be wise, but can she run to her library and check with "The Cool Book: A Teen-Ager's Guide to Survival in a Square Society" [1961]?


Miss Manners

Judith Martin (1938-), who writes under the pen name of Miss Manners, is the etiquette doyenne of the last quarter century. Although Martin was born in Washington, D.C.(on September 9, if you want to send her a card), she led a peripatetic childhood, due to her father's job as an economist for the United Nations. Martin grew up abroad, living in a variety of foreign capitals, and developing a firm sense of what was acceptable, proper and practical. For 25 years, she worked at the Washington Post newspaper, first covering social events and, later, as a drama critic. In 1978, she created an etiquette column called "Miss Manners", in which she answers her Gentle Readers questions with compassion and wit, all the while referring to herself modestly in the third person. Within her column (and her books), Martin pontificates with such pleasing, old-world grace, as to inspire even the most heathen among us to aspire to be as fine, well-mannered, and considerate as our maturity will allow.



Google Newsreader


MissInformation is Jayne Lytel, a technically knowledgeable writer who seems to know everything and is more than willing to give informed advice to anyone who will listen. (Now, who does that remind you of?) Lytel answers questions on many different topics. MissInformation is a good person to know when you have a question that would cause a normal person to go bananas just thinking about where to look for the answer.