Sound Advice

Educated Guess

Educated Guess
Credit: Deluxx

A lot of people lead fantasy lives online—as do I. But instead of slaying orcs or posting amateur porn, I live out my dream of being an advice columnist.

Five years ago, I joined MetaFilter. MetaFilter began as—and primarily remains—an online space for members to share interesting links and comment on them. Period, end of sentence. But a few specialized subgroups have developed, including one of my favorite places on the entire internet: AskMetaFilter.

The concept is simple: Post a question, and people will answer it. The variety is as rich as MetaFilter’s main page: People use Ask to get recommendations for lawn mowers, figure out if they should dump their girlfriend, diagnose that little rash on their knee, learn how to negotiate a raise, discover a better way to track widgets in Excel. It’s a universal help desk.

Since 2006, I have asked 71 questions and given 2,835 answers. More importantly, 1,492 of my answers have been marked as favorites by other users, which is akin to “liking” an item on Facebook. I think that a 50 percent positive response rate means I’m pretty good at this thing. I seem to be best at answering relationship, travel, and cooking questions. I don’t give very good workplace or legal advice. I love giving medical advice, although I am completely unqualified to do so.

No one who knows me would be surprised that I spend my free time telling other people what to do and how to be. I’m Lucy van Pelt from Peanuts—I can be a little bossy and a little judgy; I hate to be wrong and I love to have the last word. I also like to pretend, for a few minutes every night, that I actually understand how the world works. I don’t, of course. It’s all just an educated guess.

That much, at least, I do know.


TMN Editor Liz Entman (they/them) has lived in St. Louis, New York, and Nashville. She sweats the small stuff, like hyphens and commas, and has a day job, but won’t bore you with the details. More by Liz Entman

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