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The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » The Vine

The Vine: January 10, 2014

Submitted by on January 10, 2014 – 1:48 PM38 Comments


I unabashedly love The Vine. I like advice columns in general but nobody that I've found takes the time that you do to create a thoughtful, real answer. Most advice columns are just little paragraphs here and there, but every time you publish a Vine I feel like you and the commenters really get involved and I just love reading it.

Now I know…you have a life and obligations and you can't sit there publishing 20 Vine letters a day just to appease me so I had a question for the other readers. Sometimes I see in the comments that people read other advice columns and I'm wondering if they have suggestions on which ones are good/fun/informative to read for those days that you don't publish a Vine letter!

Thank you,
Vine Junkie

Dear VJ,

Aw. Thank YOU. I wish I had something to recommend, but since I quit reading Dear Prudence after the "binge-drinking leads to rape" flapdoodle last year, I actually don't read any advice columns on the reg, so I'd like to see what the readers have to offer. (Occasionally I'll do a deep dive into the Hairpin advice archives; I also enjoy Havrilesky's "Polly Esther" at The Awl. So I guess only Sichaverse advice columns? Hee.)

Readers, whatcha got?

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  • Bria says:

    Carolyn Hax is my all-time favorite (read her directly through WaPo; her stuff is syndicated, but the syndications are often edited really strangely). New columns are published Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Columns adapted from chat submissions run all of the other days. Live chats are Fridays 12-2(ish) eastern time.

  • Sarah T says: is fantastic, with a great bunch of commenters also.

  • Lore says:

    Captainawkward is great, though if you're a completist who tends to read through archives, be aware theirs is very deep. I like Hax as well, especially the live chats, which seem to go more in depth (counterintuitively) than the individual columns. Also, while it's specifically focused on workplace advice, is terrific: she posts multiple times per day and has a very smart, consistent, helpful comment base (very similar to commenters here).

  • attica says:

    Another vote for Captain Awkward as being thoughtful, kind and in-depth.

    I love advice columns so much, I even like the bad ones. Mostly for the 'omg-no-way-is-that-a-good-idea' response that wells up within, but I figure a little eyerolling keeps the muscles toned, you know?

  • Jinxie says:

    They don't do it on a super regular basis, but every so often the fine ladies over at The Toast do a damn fine advice column called She Said/She Said. Coincidentally, there is a new SS/SS post today! Coincidentally, there is a new post today!

  • Jo says:

    I like Carolyn Hax. I'd read her on the Washington Post website. She often posts letters that started in live chats, so there's a little back and forth with the writers. She gives good advice and is honest and to-the-point.

    And while Dan Savage's column is all about sex and relationships, he can be pretty fun if you don't mind bad language and the graphic sexual talk. I think he's on hiatus now, but he's been reprinting old letters. The paper he works for is The Stranger in Seattle, but he's syndicated too. Try

  • Cora says:

    I actually asked much the same question here on the Vine in February 2009 — here's the link. Lots of comments, including one I buried in the comments a year later when Peter Tork (Yes, the Monkee) still had an advice column — which sadly, is now gone.

  • Kristin says:

    I also stopped reading Dear Prudence after that slop. Too bad, because I really loved that column…but I just can't bring myself to read it anymore.

  • IsisUptown says:

    Thirding Captain Awkward:

  • Kim says:

    For variety, I also enjoy the Bad Advisor. She (?) deftly skewers the letters that are thinly-veiled pleas for validation, and she also ripped a nice strip off of Prudie for the flapdoodle Sars mentions. Posts aren't super frequent, but they're gold.

  • Maria says:

    I have liked Dear Sugar on the Rumpus, and it made me read Cheryl Strayed's books which was pleasant. I always read Dan Savage. I like Carolyn Hax. I grew up on Abby/Ann, and want to like Dear Prudence but can't. I like Cheryl Lavin who writes Tales From the Front, a relationship advice column. For a while I was surfing the relationship sections in Answer Desk, but meh. It's not very snappy and takes too long to wade through the debris. These are all good, but I'll never quit the Nation.

  • Maria says:

    Whoops it's AskMe Help Desk.

  • trish says:

    I love Yes, all the questions are work related, but that still covers a wide range of human behavior (From today: "My boss's kid punched me in the groin."), it's updated EVERY DAY (even weekends) and the comment section is very engaged and civil.

  • Morgan says:

    I was coming here to nth Captain Awkward and suggest The Bad Advisor, but Kim beat me to the suggestion. It's a nice short take down of some of the more ridiculous letter writers.

  • shani says:

    +1 Carolyn Hax and the Friday chat, #1 to Captain Awkward.

  • ferretrick says:

    I love Etiquette Hell. It's not an advice column per se, although some of the letters do ask for advice. More of a "can you believe this person did this?" but the stories are usually very entertaining. Warning-I find the admin to be WAY judgmental, narrow minded and dictatorial. More than once when I've submitted respectful comments that state my disagreement with her they haven't made it through. But the stories are still very entertaining.

  • Lulu says:

    I read Carolyn Hax, Dan Savage, Phillip Galanes (Social Q's – on the short side, but good). This is going to be an off-the-wall suggestion, but I love the "Judge John Hodgman" podcast for the same reasons I like advice columns: glimpse into someone's life, impartial ruling.

  • Jane says:

    Sars has already mentioned it, but I adore Heather Havrilesky's column at The Awl and think it deserves more love here. It's also worth noting that their keywording is a little wonky, so "Turning the Screw" will get you all the archives while "Polly Esther" pretends to but doesn't.

  • Sherry says:

    Another one that is updated every day except weekends is Dear Wendy – mostly relationship type advice. I think I may have found Wendy through that 2009 Vine column. If not directly, then through some kind of chain that started from there!

  • Katie says:

    Love Letters, written by Meredith Goldstein of the Boston Globe. It's all romance-related questions, and I almost always agree with Meredith's advice.

  • S says:

    I'm agreeing with Dan Savage. And I love Miss Manners – no one skewers idiots like she does.

    Question for the group: Prudie is completely fake, right? The letters she gets cannot be real. I'm talking about the identical twins who want to be in a relationship, the guy who thinks his brother is the product of an affair because of the brother's giant peen, the person who killed their neighbor's cat. I know she's said she doesn't print letters she thinks are fake, but she writes them herself, right? She has to.

  • Allie says:

    Captain Awkward forever!

  • Kim says:

    I would add Ask Metafilter, which I'm pretty sure I discovered as a result of the 2009 vine question. It's sometimes hard to believe just how good crowd sourced advice can be.

  • Candace says:

    Dear Sugar, even though Cheryl Strayed is off doing book tours now.

    Also yes to Carolyn Hax, Dan Savage, and Miss Manners.

  • Jane says:

    @ferretrick–I knew the admin on Usenet years ago, where she was more Hell than Etiquette. I've wondered how much of a conversion had to take place since then–sounds like it hasn't been complete.

  • RachelG says:

    I also used to read Dear Prudence but can't now after that whole kerfuffle last year. For sheer crazy, I read Ask E-Jean ( because I can't believe that kind of thing happens to real people.

  • ferretrick says:

    @S: I admit I never thought that she could be writing them herself; I just thought either she didn't care that they were fake, or she was very, very gullible.

    @Jane: Good to know it's not just me.

  • Niki says:

    I love seeing this question posted occasionally, as it means new columns to explore!

    Nothing new to add, but I will say that columns that come closest to filling the urge for the Vine are Carolyn Hax (I follow her on Facebook, which means daily columns and Friday chats are all posted regularly, yay) and Ask A Manager (I think I discovered her here last time this question was asked; she posts multiple times per day and has really good commenters); Dear Sugar, which seems to be on permanent hiatus, but the archives are worth reading through). Once every month or two I read through several Dan Savage columns, sifting the wheat from the chaff.

  • Katie says:

    I actually HATE Captain Awkward. I think she comes off like a smug know-it-all. I'm a feminist, but that site encapsulates all that I hate about feminism on the Internet.

  • Marnina says:

    +1 to Carolyn Hax live chat. And +1 to Judge John Hodgman!

  • Megan says:

    I really like Ask Amy ( I've found that her responses are generally as long as the question really requires. Her logic matches mine, and I don't think I've found her answers to ever be offensive.

  • PBonJ says:

    Captain Awkward, and "Thatz Not Okay" on Gawker.

  • Natalie says:

    I love Cary Tennis, who used to write for Salon but now is off on his own site:

  • ct says:

    "Thatz Not Okay" is great!

  • GBL85 says:

    If you're open to listening instead of reading, there is a podcast called "The Read" (hosted by Kid Fury and Crissle West) that has a listener letters segment. Some of the letters are general questions for the hosts, but often the writers are seeking advice. The advice is generally solid, in my opinion, and the hosts' reactions and comments are often hilarious.

    It's usually the second segment of the podcast, with the first 30 minutes or so devoted to discussing pop culture, but they've done a few "mailbag" episodes dedicated strictly to listener letters.

  • Niki says:

    Just coming back to curse you all, in a friendly way. I have now spent every spare (and not-so-spare) moment over the past several days working my way through the Captain Awkward archives. Bliss! (At least, until I get to the end of the archives and have to wait for new content, sigh.)

    I can't wait to try out some of the other new-to-me columns (and maybe the podcast too).

  • ErinW says:

    I love Thatz Not Okay. The structure of the question-and-answer component of it allows for Caity Weaver to do the same thing I love that Sarah does in The Vine: tell the letter writer when they ARE the problem. More advice columnists need to be prepared to tell the writer that they sound like a loon.

    I also still read Prudie. I hated the accusatory "binge drinking leads to your own justified rape!" thing as much as anybody, but I still read her. Her answers really vary widely in quality, but the questions (fake or no) are always good for a discussion amongst friends.

  • anotherkate says:

    Dear Coquette is one of my favorites, I don't always agree with the advice but it's always entertaining.

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