Carolyn Hax: Frequently Asked Questions on the topic

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I submit questions?
  • How do you choose the questions?
  • How can I improve the chances of having my question printed?
  • I saw the exact same question in your column and someone else’s column. Who steals from whom?
  • Haven’t I read this already?
  • More questions

How do I submit questions?

Email your questions (no attachments, please) to [email protected], or use the online submission form for live chats. Short questions are appreciated. I do not publish full names. If you do not provide a nickname, I will choose one for you.

How do you choose the questions?

There is no formal system. I choose questions that I find interesting and I feel comfortable answering them. I try to portray a range of topics, ages, experiences, and depths, but it’s secondary to anything that catches my eye.

How can I improve the chances of having my question printed?

For the cat, post it a day early. For an emailed question, keep it relatively short but not at the expense of key details. My word limit for an entire column is 550 words (825 on Sundays), so questions should fit without extensive editing.

I saw the exact same question in your column and someone else’s column. Who steals from whom?

It is not theft. People submit their letters to multiple columns all the time, and I have no way of knowing when they do. I’m not trying to prevent it or fix it when it happens. Hope it is helpful for readers to see different approaches to the same problem.

Haven’t I read this already?

1. When I’m on vacation, I reprint old columns.

2. I also adapt the live chat transcripts in columns. I do this for four of my seven columns per week, to distribute the discussion material to a wider audience.

Both types of columns are clearly marked when they leave my hands, either as reprints or as suitable material. Documents that have not yet been released are released on Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

I’m confused. How can there be reader responses in your printed columns?

See above. I use reader comments in some of my adapted columns. I host these live sessions most Fridays at noon EST, and you can join them here.

Are you already using chat questions in your columns?

Often. Anything you send me can be used in any of my work.

Chat questions that you don’t answer are automatically submitted to future chats, or do I have to resubmit mine if I still want an answer?

If I submit a question to chat but don’t want it to appear in a column, can I specify that it be used inline only?

I try to honor requests for chat material to stay “online only”. However, due to the volume of incoming mail, I don’t always see such requests. Please only submit questions that you are comfortable seeing posted on various platforms.

I never saw an answer to my question. Which give?

I get hundreds of questions and comments every week, especially in chat, so most of them don’t get answered.

Will you give a personal response if I don’t want my question posted?

I am responding for publication only.

I have a technical problem with the section (I can’t see the section / comments / chat, I haven’t received my newsletter, etc.). What do I do?

How to receive the daily newsletter?

Do you and Nick collaborate on the cartoons?

Yes. He is responsible for the images, but we work together on the lines. It also edits all my columns before I sort them.

Who writes the headlines?

Style editors have been writing them for years, but now I’m working on them with my editor, Christine Loman. The editors of my client journals write theirs.

What are your references?

I have a bachelor’s degree in American history and literature. I also worked for several years as an editor and editor at the Washington Post and the Army Times before that. I am not a therapist and I have no diploma in counseling or psychology.

Why do you post such old columns when you are away?

Because people remembered the newer ones when I rerun them. Plus the old stuff shows how your questions and my answers have changed in 15 years. (By the way, the dates in my vacation columns don’t always exactly match my actual vacation.)

How often are you on vacation?

I go one week per term.

Why do I have to pay to read your columns, even via Facebook?

Because subscriptions pay our bills.

Is there an archive of chat columns and transcripts?

We are working on it, in the long term. The column has survived different platforms, but archival material has not always carried over to news.

I saw your column in my local newspaper and it barely looks like the online version. Why is that?

If your local newspaper makes drastic changes to my column, please contact your newspaper directly or report the issue to the Washington Post Writers Group at [email protected]

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