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The internet has an opinion about everything. But there's no reason to rely on random strangers to weigh in with their two cents when there are reputed advice columns to get free help from the experts.


Agony aunts and advice writers are some of the oldest columns in publishing. But several famous advice columns are now behind paywalls, like Carolyn Hax of The Washington Post or Philip Galanes of the New York Times. Don't worry; there are several free advice columns where anyone can seek help for relationships, work life, mental health, or anything else.

Dear Prudence is one of the oldest and most popular advice columns on the internet. Started by the online magazine Slate back in 1997, there have been different editors writing the column, but they have maintained the same style of witty, helpful, and centered advice.

Dear Prudence generally targets issues around relationships and people, dispensing advice on how to be socially prudent. Do note that the column has been criticized for its left-leaning advice (but that's a given considering Slate's political stance) as well as for featuring fake letters (which several long-running advice columns are guilty of).

The Chicago Tribune has been running the Ask Amy advice column since 2003, and it's nationally syndicated in several newspapers. Online, you can read the column for free on the Chicago Tribune's website, as well as a few other news portals. You must sign up for a free account on most newspaper sites to read older archived posts.

Generally, Dickinson is warm and kind in her advice, but she is also known for her wit and sarcasm, especially when calling out advice-seekers who are clearly in the wrong. Readers note that she has an innate ability to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of the matter, and then give practical and actionable counsel. She is a font of no-nonsense life advice.

Ask a Manager is one of the best websites for career advice, helmed by experienced management consultant Alison Green. The questions can be from managers and employees about topics such as career advancement, uncooperative coworkers, and dealing with uncomfortable situations at work.

Alison's advice has been hailed as being sound and realistic by recruiters, managers, and executives across the internet. Ask a Manager also has frequent update posts from advice-seekers, which makes reading particularly fun. Alison also has a collection of her favorite posts, which is a great place to start reading the column.

Dating coach Harris O'Malley's column Dr. Nerdlove went viral when it was published on Kotaku, targeting geeks who struggle with their love life. Unlike several columns, the questions and the answers are both long and detailed, giving advice-seekers the space to lay out their problem clearly, so that the answer can be as nuanced.

The main page has featured posts as well as the most popular articles on the site, which is a good place to start reading. In the sidebar, you'll also find a way to filter posts by categories like online dating, what not to do, friend zone, etc. You can otherwise head to the advice column and read articles chronologically.

While most of the questions are asked by men, O'Malley does have women geeks writing in for advice often. The column has been criticized both for being chauvinistic as well as too feminist-friendly, which could be interpreted as a sign of someone who doesn't lean heavily towards any particular ideology.

Peepas is a screenwriter and filmmaker and notes that her expertise is not in the advice itself but instead in helping people frame how they can communicate what they want to say. Her advice style is friendly, practical, lucidly written, and with dollops of humor thrown into every entry.

Before you start writing in for advice to any of these columnists, you should probably read a few of their posts first. You need to know the philosophy and approach of the advice-giver to figure out who you would take seriously.

An advice column is a column in a question and answer format. Typically, a (usually anonymous) reader writes to the media outlet with a problem in the form of a question, and the media outlet provides an answer or response.

The responses are written by an advice columnist (colloquially known in British English as an agony aunt, or agony uncle if the columnist is male[note 1]). An advice columnist is someone who gives advice to people who send in problems to the media outlet. The image presented was originally of an older woman dispensing comforting advice and maternal wisdom, hence the name "aunt". Sometimes the author is in fact a composite or a team: Marjorie Proops's name appeared (with photo) long after she retired. The nominal writer may be a pseudonym, or in effect a brand name; the accompanying picture may bear little resemblance to the actual author.

The Athenian Mercury contained the first known advice column in 1690.[1] Traditionally presented in a magazine or newspaper, an advice column can also be delivered through other news media, such as the internet and broadcast news media.

The original advice columns of The Athenian Mercury covered a wide scope of information, answering questions on subjects such as science, history, and politics. John Dunton, the bookseller who established The Athenian Mercury, enlisted experts in different fields to assist with the answers. As more people read the columns, questions on relationships increased.[1]

In 1704, Daniel Defoe began a public affairs journal, A Review of the Affairs of France. He used the name of a fictional society, the "Scandalous Club", as the "author" of a lighter section of the Review, and soon readers were sending 40-50 letters a week asking for advice from the Scandalous Club. At one point, Defoe complained of a backlog of 300 unanswered questions. Eventually, he spun off the letters-and-answers into a separate paper called the Little Review.[2]

A few years after the Little Review ended, The British Apollo newspaper provided advice to readers' questions in London.[2] These have been compiled and published as The British Apollo: containing two thousand answers to curious questions in most arts and sciences, serious, comical, and humorous, approved of by many of the most learned and ingenious of both universities, and of the Royal-Society.[3]

Della Manley, the first recorded woman editor in Britain, began a gossip sheet in 1709, the Female Tattler, which included advice to readers, making her the first Agony Aunt. Her advice column approach was soon mimicked in the Female Spectator, a women's magazine launched by Eliza Haywood.[4]

As Silence Dogood and other characters, Benjamin Franklin offered advice in the New England Courant and later in the Pennsylvania Gazette.[1] The popular columnist Dorothy Dix began her column in 1896. Marie Manning started "Dear Beatrice Fairfax" in 1898.[5] In 1902, George V. Hobart wrote a humorous advice column, "Dinkelspiel Answers Some Letters", in the San Francisco Examiner. In 1906, a column called "A Bintel Brief" ran in the Jewish Daily Forward in New York, which answered questions from new immigrants.[1] From 1941 to her death in 1962, Eleanor Roosevelt wrote an advice column, If You Ask Me, first published in Ladies Home Journal and then later in McCall's.[6] A selection of her columns was compiled in the book If You Ask Me: Essential Advice from Eleanor Roosevelt in 2018.[7]

An unusual advice column that foreshadowed internet forums was "Confidential Chat" in the Boston Globe. Launched in 1922 and published until 2006, readers both asked and answered questions without a columnist as intermediary.[8]

Advice columns proliferated in American newspapers early in the twentieth century as publishers recognized their value in capturing the interest of women, a key advertising demographic.[1] An advice column for teenagers, "Boy Dates Girl" by Gay Head, started in Scholastic magazine in 1936.[9] Advice columns specifically for teens became more common in the 1950s, such as "Ask Beth" which began in the Boston Globe and was then syndicated to 50 papers.[1]

Unlike the broad variety of questions in the earlier columns, modern advice columns tended to focus on personal questions about relationships, morals, and etiquette. However, despite the perception that sex was not a topic in advice columns early in the twentieth century,[11] questions about sexual behavior, practices, and expectations were addressed in advice columns as early as the 1920s, although not in the explicit manner that can be found today.[1]

Many advice columns are now syndicated and appear in several newspapers. Prominent American examples include Dear Abby, Ann Landers, Carolyn Hax's Tell Me About It, and Daniel Mallory Ortberg's Dear Prudence. In the 1970s, the Chicago Tribune and New York Daily News Syndicate estimated that 65 million people read "Dear Abby" daily.[2] As recently as 2000, both the Ann Landers and "Dear Abby" syndicated columns were published in over 500 newspapers.[1]

Internet sites such as the Elder Wisdom Circle offer relationship advice to a broad audience; Dear Maggie offers sex advice to a predominantly Christian readership in Christianity Magazine, and Miriam's Advice Well offers advice to Jews in Philadelphia. These days, men as advice columnists are rarer than women in print, but men have been appearing more often online in both serious and comedic formats.

When people wrote letters, they were writing not only to the columnist, but also to their peers who would read about their problems. By discussing shared issues, advice columns contribute to a common understanding of mores and communal values. For example, as a community dialog, "A Bintel Brief" provided Eastern European Jewish immigrants with advice on adjusting to American life and helped bridge their disparate national cultures. David Gudelunas states "Newspaper advice columns in the twentieth century are just as much about community discussions as they were in the seventeenth century."[1] 041b061a72


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