a behind-the-scenes look at how Ask a Manager runs

Recently I answered a question about the behind-the-scenes running of Ask a Manager, and readers said they’d be interested in an opportunity to ask more. So last week I asked people to post questions they were interested in, and here are a bunch of answers.

Note that I couldn’t get to all the questions (there were over 300 comments there), nor do I think you would have the patience to read all the answers if I did, but I’ve tackled 35 of them. Also, some questions were asked by multiple people with slight variations, so in some cases I’ve combined multiple questions into a single one.

1. How do you decide which questions get posted on the blog? I imagine you have a lot of submissions to go through! What factors decide the ones that get answered publicly?

It’s a mix of what I find interesting, what I think other people will find interesting, whether I feel I have something useful to say, and what the mix of questions has been recently.

Sometimes, too, it’s just what I feel like answering when I sit down to write. If I’m really busy that day, I might go for something short or easy. Or if I read a letter and immediately start writing the answer in my head, I try to commit that answer to paper (well, screen) right away because writing is easier when you don’t ignore that impulse. So what speaks to me when I sit down to write plays a role. I’m writing a lot each week, and letting myself choose letters that way makes the volume more sustainable.

2. How many questions come in a day?

About 50 letters per weekday (much fewer on weekends – probably because people aren’t thinking about work as much then). That number has fluctuated a bit over the years; at one point pre-Covid it was as high as 75 a day, but it’s stayed around 50 per day for a while.

3. How much time usually goes by between when someone submits a question and when you publish a response?

It varies wildly. Sometimes it’s really fast (within a few days) and sometimes it takes weeks or months.

My backlog is large and I don’t answer in the order things are received. Sometimes I’ll mark a question as one I definitely want to answer, but I don’t get to it for a while (meaning weeks or even months). If you look at the math – 50+ questions per day is 250+ a week, and I answer about 30 a week here – there’s no way to publish quick responses for the majority of them.

4. How often do you respond to letter-writers when it doesn’t end up on the site?

A lot! If I can send someone a quick private response, I’ll try to do that (even if it’s just a link to a previous post that might help). I used to try to do that for every letter but that got overwhelming pretty quickly. I still try to do it when I can, but the overall volume means that more questions don’t get answered than do.

5. How do you handle time-sensitive letters, like the ones where someone has to have a conversation with their employee within the next few days (or sooner) of submitting the letter? Do you ever send an answer privately back to a writer so that they can use the advice right away, and then you can publish your answer a few days later?

Yes! Sometimes I send a quick private answer right away and then write a longer one for publication when I have more time. Or if I already have that week’s content written, I might send the person a response privately and then publish it at some later time.

But there’s also no realistic way to do time-sensitive answers to everything that would need them. In many cases, I will write an answer at whatever point I get to it, figuring that even if I’ve missed the writer’s deadline, hopefully it will be useful or interesting to other people.

Key to all this is that the purpose of an advice column isn’t primarily to provide individual people with answers (if it were, advice columnists would just answer everyone privately). The audience is much broader than that, and I think every advice columnist picks letters and their timing based on what makes sense for the column and the columnist, not by a strict hierarchy of letter-writer need. (I’ve accepted that if I did it differently, I’d burn out and then be answering no one, and I’d guess it’s the same for other people doing this work.)

6. What makes you decide NOT to answer a letter?

A big reason is if I don’t have a useful answer! Sometimes I think it can be interesting to write an answer that says “you know, I’m not sure and here’s why” … but sometimes that wouldn’t be particularly helpful or interesting to read.

Another is when someone writes in on behalf of someone else (like a friend or a partner) and it doesn’t seem like they have all the details. Or when I’ve done similar topics recently. Or if something is very esoteric, to the point that it’s unlikely to be useful or interesting to anyone else (in that case, I might try to send a short answer privately if I can). Some things are incredibly esoteric but still likely to interest other people … but not all of them fall in that category.

7. Is there a letter topic that used to seem very common but is less so now? Conversely, topics that feel prevalent now but were almost never asked in the early days (disregarding clear time-bound issues like Covid concerns before 2020, etc.)?

Interestingly, I used to get a ton of questions about how to follow up on a job application or interview, and I get far fewer of them now. I’m not sure why that changed!

I definitely get more letters about outrageous/weird situations now than in the early years. I think that’s just a function of the site having a larger audience.

8. Do you have the questions and answered prepared and automatically set to post at certain times of the day? How far ahead do you write the responses? Meaning, are the responses for this week and next week all ready to post, or do you write a day or two ahead?

Yes. Everything is written ahead of time and set to auto-post on a daily schedule. The schedule is midnight, 11 am, 12:30 pm, and 2 pm ET Monday through Thursday. On Fridays, it’s midnight, 11 am, and 12 pm ET.

I usually write anywhere from a few days to a week ahead. The midnight short-answer posts usually get written only a day or two ahead, and other things usually have a little more lead time. (And then for updates month in December, I set everything up in November and then it just auto-posts all month long.)

9. Do you choose the pseudonyms used in the letters, or do people write their own? I always enjoy when there’s a theme to the names used (like TV characters), and I’m curious if that comes from you or from the letter writers themselves.

Usually any names in a letter come from the letter-writer. However, sometimes people don’t use any names at all and I’ll add names if I think it makes the letter easier to follow.

10. How do you decide when to email someone back for more clarification, vs. answering the question “as-is”? How often does this happen? Do letter writers generally respond when you do? 

I don’t do it often. When I do, it’s usually because it’s a really interesting letter that I’d like to answer but after reading it I have a question that feels central to the answer. Or I’ve started writing a response and then realized, “Wait, there’s a key thing I need to understand before I can continue.” I think people nearly always respond when I write back for clarification – it’s at least 99% of the time if not 100%.

11. How much editing do you do to original questions? Is it just spelling and grammar, or do you also edit for anonymity if the submission has personal info?

I edit for spelling, grammar, clarity, and sometimes length.

I will sometimes take out details that seem identifying, especially if they’re not essential to the question (like the name of the city where the person works or a very specific job title or field that won’t affect the answer).

12. Do you come across any questions that you don’t feel qualified to answer? What do you do with those questions?

Yes, definitely. If I can, I’ll suggest somewhere else they could try instead (often that’s a lawyer). But otherwise that’s part of the group of questions that don’t get answered.

13. It seems like some people send their letters to multiple advice columnists and so we’ll see it appear here and in Dear Prudence and AITA, etc. Does it bother you when people do that?

Nah. There’s no guarantee that you’ll get a response at all when you write to an advice column, so I can see why people might submit to multiple places in the hopes of getting an answer.

14. What is your approach to inquiries which seem too ludicrous to be true? Do you assume that all questions are legitimate?

I assume all advice columnists get trolled sometimes, and I’m sure I’m no exception to that. If I think something is absolutely, unquestionably false, I won’t print it, but otherwise I’m not terribly concerned as long as the answer might be useful or interesting to others. As another columnist – Carolyn Hax, maybe? – has said, “Every letter is hypothetical to everyone reading except the one person who sent it in.”

And I do think some of the stranger letters are still good opportunities to provide useful advice that can translate to less bizarre situations. For example, the letter about the employee who was putting magical curses on other employees – you’ll hopefully never be in that situation, but you might need to deal with an employee who is being threatening toward their colleagues in more mundane ways, and that column at its core is about how to deal with that. I like that approach in general – I think it’s useful to be able to say, “Okay, this is weird, but what’s really the crux of the problem, and how do we talk about that?”

15. Have you ever changed your mind about your advice when the letter writer added more detail in the comments?

Definitely! It can be really hard to know to know what details to include when you write to an advice column. You might pick a detail that perfectly encapsulates the situation to you but which sends everyone reading it off on a wild goose chase. Or you might not think to mention something that ends up being really important. It’s really common to be so caught up in the situation that you figure X is shorthand for Y that everyone will understand, and you don’t realize that it’s the wrong detail to capture that until it’s too late. So yes, sometimes when writers offer more info in the comment section, it can really change things — that’s just an inherent limitation of the format.

16. Are there “best practices” you recommend for asking questions? I’m sure you have to balance what’s entertaining with what’s helpful and what’s broadly applicable to other readers. Should we be really specific to our own situation or try to be vaguer so the Q&A could be more relevant to others?

Be more specific than vague. So often the details of a situation will be crucial in figuring out what next steps makes the most sense, and questions that are overly broad can be hard to answer for that reason. I can always edit out detail if it seems excessive.

17. Has there been an overall shift in the subject matter of the questions? I sense that it started out more about how to get jobs and now seems to be more advice on dealing with different situations within jobs.

I think I still receive around the same number of questions on job-searching as I always have, but I answer fewer of them, just because I’ve answered the job-searching stuff so often (although new variations are always interesting) and the other stuff is often more compelling to me.

18. Do you keep any kind of demographic data or are there any patterns you notice in your letter-writers?

Google Analytics gives me a bunch on readers, although I don’t know how accurate it is. For example, it says that last year, 75% of site visitors were in the US, 8% were in the UK, 7% were in Canada, 3% were in Australia, and the remainder from other countries (with the next highest portion being from New Zealand, then Germany, then Ireland, then the Netherlands). It also says 77% were female and 23% were male (not terribly surprising since advice columns in general tend to skew female). And it thinks 36% were age 35-44, 32% were age 25-34, 12% were 45-54, 11% were 18-24, 6% were 55-64, and 3% were 65 or older.

19. I thought I saw a graph posted here a few years ago showing the increase in visitors to the site, almost from its year of creation. Could we see some visualized statistics again about visits to the site?

Here’s a chart of year-by-year traffic.

20. Have you ever had letters where you’ve wanted to contact the person’s company or a news site for them?

Yes! I did contact the media about this letter, with the writer’s permission, and it did lead to some news coverage. I’ve also connected a handful of other writers with reporters so they could talk to them directly (after reporters contacted me wanting to write about those people’s situations; I then check with the letter-writers to see if they want to be connected), especially in 2020 (when a lot of reporters were interested in companies’ bad behavior during Covid).

21. Why do you bundle small questions together into the daily five-questions posts? I’ve always found these hard to follow: The comments get jumbled, and it’s hard to remember who was OP2 vs. OP3 and so on. By posting each answer separately, you’d have more ad impressions and more updates throughout the day to attract readers. Plus, it would be easier to link back to specific questions, and to remove a single question when needed.

I don’t know if my decision on this is the right one, but my reasoning is that those posts contain a lot of questions that aren’t meaty enough for a standalone post, but work well when combined with a few others. Also, making them each into their own separate posts would mean eight posts a day, which feels like a lot to push at readers. I agree it’s not always ideal for the comment section, but commenters are only a small fraction of total readership so they’re not the only thing I need to consider. All that said … I could be wrong! It’s just what feels logical to me.

22. How do the “you may also like” links at the bottom of posts get chosen? I’ve been wondering this forever. I assume there’s some kind of algorithm, but what is it matching on? Are you tagging keywords behind the scenes to make it easier?

It’s done through a WordPress plugin that generates the posts listed there by matching on title and content. However, I can manually override its selections and put in my own, which I sometimes do.

23. When letter-writers send you updates, how do you match it to their original letter? Do you match email addresses?

I match email addresses. Occasionally someone is writing from a different email address and then I try to match names. Sometimes I haven’t been able to, like with really common names, and then I write back to the person and ask if they can link me to their letter … and then once I know the specific letter, I check to make sure the names are the same in both emails. (So far it hasn’t happened that they’re not, but if it did, as an authenticity check I’d ask if they could tell me the email address they had written from originally.)

24. Have you ever considered switching from ads on the site to a Patreon- or donation-based revenue stream?

From a financial perspective, it doesn’t make sense because the ads bring in more revenue than the other options would.

25. Occasionally, you collaborate with other columnists. How does that process go? In addition – is this a live interview or an email exchange? Seems like it would be a lot of work to transcribe a conversation.

With the exception of the podcast, it’s always been in writing. For example, when Jennifer at Captain Awkward and I have answered questions together, we’ve usually done it in a shared Google doc where we can both add our answers and “talk” that way. Or when Harris at Dr. NerdLove quoted me last week, he sent me an email, we had some back and forth, and he pulled the quote he used from that.

26. Is this truly a one-woman operation, or do you have assistants? If so, what do they do? Do you have help for tech support, ads, marketing, etc.?

The bulk of it is a one-woman operation.

I have an excellent part-time tech person who keeps things running behind the scenes. That’s a bigger job than people probably realize; as the site has grown, its technical needs have become a lot more complex and things that were easy to manage when traffic was lower are more complicated at current traffic levels, with more pressure on the server and databases that keep things running. I also work with a company that manages the ads. That’s it!

27. If money were no object, what tasks would you most like to outsource to someone else?

Comment moderation. It doesn’t make financial sense to hire someone to do it, but I’d love not to have to do it myself. Also, possibly SEO, which I know very little about and spend no time on. The site has done fine without it, but if money were no object I’d hire someone to do it and would be curious to see what kind of results they got. It would also be nice to pay someone to do the projects I’m never going to get to – things like creating a site FAQ or pulling together more “best of” compilations like this one.

28. Are there any plans for an update to the comment system to improve the user experience — for example, adding features like being notified if someone replies to a comment one has made?

That’s a good example of the sort of thing I mentioned above that that were easier when the site got less traffic; we used to have exactly that feature and then it broke under the weight of the traffic once it grew. Trying to fix it broke other things.

Every so often I do look around to see if there’s a better commenting system available, and every time I am surprised by how limited the options are unless you’re willing to (a) pour major money into it or (b) compromise people’s anonymity. Right now the one we’ve got is the best of the options, given the various constraints in play. I definitely wish it had more flexibility though.

29. I’m sure there’s a lot of work that goes into running the site that we don’t see, beyond writing answers and posting them. Can you talk about some of the other work you have to do behind the scenes?

• Reading and responding to emails
• Keeping emails organized and categorized so they’re not in chaos later when I’m pulling things out to answer
• Tech stuff – everything from figuring out why the site is suddenly running slower than normal, to talking to my tech person about something that has stopped working or an improvement I’m hoping we could implement, to dealing with an issue with my web hosting company, to solving an issue with the email newsletter, to investigating and responding to tech problems that readers report, to dealing with major outages (some weeks nothing falls in this category and other weeks it can take up an enormous amount of time)
• Working with my ad network (reporting bad ads, tweaking ad configuration, etc.)
• Lots of little tweaks to the site – adding links to updates from the original letters, keeping the archives page updated, fixing broken links, etc.
• Sending people links to my response when their letters have been answered
• Comment moderation
• Managing the AAM Facebook and Twitter pages
• Working with sponsors on sponsored posts
• Doing occasional interviews with journalists who are writing on various work topics
• Sending takedown notices for (rampant) copyright violations

But writing answers is the most time-consuming work.

30. What work are you doing in addition to AAM now?

I do management consulting, mostly for nonprofit managers. For many years I did that work through The Management Center, helping to teach managers how to lead teams – everything from how to hire well, delegate work effectively, give useful feedback and develop people’s skills, address problems, build cultures that support high performance, and much more. One of my favorite things I did there was to create and run a management hotline, where managers could call and get advice on challenges they were dealing with, and I’ve made that a big part of what I do with my own clients now – real-time “let’s work through this very specific problem you’re grappling with.” I also write regular columns on workplace issues for Slate and New York Magazine.

31. How do you keep up with changing professional norms, both in hiring and more generally?

The consulting work I do keeps me pretty steeped in it. It also doesn’t hurt to read hundreds of letters a week from managers and employees about what’s going on in their workplaces! But that’s always a question that’s on my mind, especially because I’ve been trying to decrease the amount of client work I do. And definitely if my advice here stops resonating with people, that’ll be a sign the site has run its course.

32. Did you ever have any nervousness when you first started off, like “am I the right person to be giving this type of advice?” To be clear, I think the blog is amazing and your advice is spot on, it’s just that any time in my career I’ve considered taking a leap, especially to something a little different like trying to get into consulting, I’ve worried that I’m not “enough” of an expert or that other people won’t think I am, and I’m wondering if you’ve ever faced those kinds of thoughts and how you worked through it?

I absolutely had doubts! I’m not a perfect manager or a perfect employee. I’ve made a ton of mistakes! I think that often helps in advice-giving though; mistakes are how you figure stuff out. And sometimes recalling what my own thought process was that led me to a mistake makes it easier to spot when someone else is heading for the same land mine, and to try to steer them away from it.

But yes, it’s weird to hang out your shingle and announce that you’ll give people advice because, as you say, who is anyone to decide they can do that? It’s one reason I try as much as possible to explain why I’m advising what I’m advising – I want people to be able to see what my thought process is so they can decide if they agree with it or not.

Something that has been key to me feeling good about continuing with the site has been the people writing back in and saying, “Hey, I took your advice and it worked and things are better now.” If that stopped, I would rethink things. So with your own leaps, you might think about what signs you can look for that will help you know it’s working or not working.

Also, in case this helps you decide to leap, I think it’s so normal to feel the kind of trepidation you describe (and I worry a lot more about people who don’t feel any).

33. I would love to know how you organize and manage your inbox. Are you in inbox-zero person? Do you have staff to help you read and flag questions? Do you sort questions into potential categories or types? Flag others for long answer vs short answer? Multiple folders to organize ones you’re answering vs ones you are not? I am a huge nerd for organization and knowledge management, would love to hear how you approach, filter, and respond to the deluge of questions you no doubt receive.

I use an entirely different email program for AAM mail than for my regular email, so it stays in its own separate area. Everything I think I might want to answer stays in my in-box and gets a tag of some sort – different ones for short-answer posts, standalone posts, “ask the readers” posts, high-priority letters that I want to answer in the next batch, and so forth. That way it’s easy for me to see what’s available to choose from when I’m writing. I put updates into their own folder so they’re all in one place when I want to do an updates post.

I do that all myself, because the process of sorting through everything that comes in feels so valuable. Not only do I want to use my own judgment to decide what I’ll answer, but it’s so useful to see trends in questions, even ones I don’t answer. I think if I let someone else filter the mail for me, I’d have much less of a view into what’s happening out there and what’s on people’s minds.

34. What has changed in the time you’ve been doing this? I know the answers have felt more pro-labor over time … and I know that my own feelings have followed that same progression. Is that just the reaction to the way the world is or were there things that specifically triggered that change?

A decade and a half of reading my mail, for one thing – you can’t read years worth of letters from people being screwed over by their employers and not have that affect your thinking. (Or if you can, you should not be in this line of work.) That accelerated during the pandemic, when some companies’ choices made the cataclysmic effects of capitalism on workers really stark.

Also … personal growth. When I started the site, I was writing from the perspective of someone who the system had more or less worked for, and I believed more than I should have that what worked for me would work for others. Now I’m much more aware of all the people who it doesn’t work for, and all the reasons why, and I hope that’s reflected in what I write here (and I hope I will always be a work in progress too).

35. Can you please please give us a profile complete with photos on each of your cats please?

Yes, let’s get to the important questions!


Almost 10 years old, the grande dame of the house. She is very beautiful and requires that you treat her like a queen. She will hiss at you for absolutely nothing and then rub against your hand a few seconds later. She loves my husband.


Almost 7. May not be a cat; seems more like some strange little creature you might find in a forest or visiting from another planet. Very scampy, full of energy, lives life by rules no one but she understands. Has monkey-like climbing abilities, is a skilled parkour enthusiast, and likes to chase and be chased. Believes deeply that might makes right.


5 years old. Very smart, loves affection, prefers to be cuddled up against someone at all times. (Unfortunately her body is a small furnace.) Likes to stare way too intensely at people and animals she doesn’t know. Will politely tap you when your attention is required. Extremely chonky. Was a teenage mother to Wallace and kept the two of them alive on the streets until a kind person rescued them. Bonded to Hank.


Almost 5. An affectionate goofball, but also a distinguished gentleman. Loves to fetch. Fell into the bathtub last week and had his dignity injured. The friendliest of the crew to human visitors, and functions as the welcome wagon for any new cats and helps them feel at ease. Sophie nursed him until he was almost full-grown, a la Robin Arryn.


Believed to be 5-ish. Shy with humans but loves other cats. However much love you’re picturing, it’s more. Spent months meticulously plotting to become Eve’s friend; pulled it off and is now the only cat permitted to curl up with her. Took me months to gain his trust and whenever I thought I finally had, he would randomly act like he’d never seen me before. Now loves to flop over and kick with joy. Named after the neighbor boy from Little Women. Bonded to Wallace.


Believed to be 5-ish. Deeply sensitive and full of love. My husband, who is his soul mate, says, “His eyes reflect depths of emotion beyond human ken, and has a plaintive meow that approaches supersonic. Has Jon Snow level brooding if he feels affronted (exactly what affronts him is still being studied and collated). At all times desires either affection or a heavy blanket to doze under (has a cozy snore). Loves a warm hand on his belly.” Bonded to Sophie.

(Olive, Eve, Laurie, and Hank were foster fails. Sophie and Wallace are from a rescue group.)

{ 187 comments… read them below }

    1. Kaiko*

      The caaaaaaaats we love the cats also now there’s a whole new crop of fake letter-names to amuse us/confuse Allison

    2. Thin Mints didn't make me thin*

      Thank you, Alison, for all you do, but most especially for the field guide to your cats.

    3. nobadcats*

      I’m here for the cats. So good to get some company profiles on Alison’s co-irkers.

      Despite my username, my cat is being a jerk lately. She’s treating me like a bumper in her personal pinball game at 4am. Then yodeling in the bathtub, singing the song of her people.

      Me: I’m right here, where you just left me.
      Jerky cat: [more yodeling in the bath which echoes through the pipes]
      Neighbors: WTF is that noise??!
      Me Meeting Neighbors at the Trash and Recycling Bins: No, I don’t have a child, I have a very vocal cat. She’s 130lbs of fury in a 5lb bag. She’s annoyed that she’s not her actual size.

      1. Worldwalker*

        And that is why our cats are not permitted in the bedroom. Cricket walks on our heads and Mac attacks our feet under the covers. (bed mice!) Every so often one of them fools us into thinking they’ll act like a cute cuddly bed cat. Which they do … until about 2 am, when they decide they’re bored and attack the appropriate end of the sleeping humans, who are clearly remiss in our duty to entertain cats. (“I’m awake, so you should be too!”)

        1. nerdalert*

          For me, having a good cat bedmate required launching said cat off the bed when he attacked feet and stubbornly ignoring him when he yelled. They’re usually looking for attention, so if you give it to them they keep doing the annoying thing.

    4. Felis alwayshungryis*

      Something I’m dying to know: when you’ve fostered humans, what did they make of coming to your house and suddenly living with six cats?

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Generally they’ve been a big hit! Our longest-term foster teen so far absolutely loves animals (she used to volunteer in a shelter) and cats in particular and was amazing with them. She won over even the shyest of the cats pretty quickly, which was very impressive. (Until then, literally no one but my husband and I had ever been able to pet Eve, but Eve let her.)

        I read this post about foster kids and animals a while ago, and I feel like we’ve seen some of this in action too:

    5. ceiswyn*

      I am now a Sophie fan.

      (Probably because I also have a 5ish streetwise clever chonk, though mine is male)

    6. Orchestral Musician*

      I am obsessed with all these cats, THANK YOU Allison and to whoever wrote in requesting the cat profiles.

    7. My Cabbages!*

      Hank and Laurie look almost exactly like my two cats! The only difference is that my boychik Ink doesn’t have Hank’s fetching goatee.

    8. Certified Scorpion Trainer*

      this has inspired me to write bios for each of my thirteen cats on my instagram

  1. Ally*

    That was all super interesting thank you!

    The cat “who’s who” was obviously the most important, glad that was formally acknowledged.

    1. Bex*

      I’m glad Alison not only acknowledged the importance formally, but took each profile so seriously!

      Alison, if you ever do start to feel like your workplace advice stops resonating enough to be worth it, maybe you have a future writing blurbs for pet adoption websites.

  2. Lena Clare*

    This was so interesting thank you! I particularly loved the question and answer about how you organise your emails.
    And the cats…swoon.

  3. Middle Aged Lady*

    Your answer to #34 was humble and humbling. We can all grow and change. And learn from the evidence presented to us. Thank you.
    Olive is my kind of cat. All our cats have loved my husband more than me, despite my cleaning the boxes and buying the food. Sigh. He puts out heat and is irresistible to all animals, well, I guess me included!

  4. irritable vowel*

    I am crying laughing at the Robin Arryn comparison. Also, I used to know an odd little dog with a small body and long legs who was also thought to perhaps be a strange woodland creature rather than a dog. Also also, my old cat Sophie was known to reach her paw under my pillow to tap my hand while I was sleeping, as if to say, “why isn’t this hand petting me?”

    1. two snakes*

      My cat (Mabel) doesn’t like to eat without someone paying attention to her so when she gets hungry in the middle of the night she’ll sometimes wake me up by tapping my shoulder from behind me. It freaks me out EVERY time, cat toebeans have a very similar texture to fingertips. It’s the worst when they’re cold.

    2. Gracely*

      We have a cat who also pulled a Robyn Arryn until she was a year and a half, except it wasn’t even her mother that she was nursing. In fact, the older cat had been fixed a decade prior. But she just went with it.

      1. Anon4This*

        We had a male cat who let his kittens “nurse” after their mama was done with them and they were still little enough to want to do so. It was super cute!

        Our current cats are a family that was born feral in our backyard and even though we fed them all multiple times a day + always kibble, mama nursed her 5 kittens til they were about 6 months old. It was kinda bananapants to watch because she was so sucked up from producing all that milk; they’d swarm her like fast zombies and just push her over whenever they wanted to nurse.

  5. Megan C.*

    I’m so excited to see this post! Thank you Allison! And I love love love the cat profiles – they’re each absolutely purrfect. ;)

  6. Michelle Smith*

    Your cats are awesome! Thanks for sharing!

    I also feel really grateful my question was answered in a short answer post now that I see how many you get in per day. Whew!

  7. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

    Any chance we might be due for another round-up of everybody’s critter coworkers soon? :)

  8. Sunshine*

    I’m sorry, this was all extremely interesting and I’m thankful for this post, but the cats have stolen the show (and our hearts).

    1. Singing in the rain*

      Absolutely. The Q&A was great, but I feel like it was all dwarfed by the kitties. And 6! I had 6 at one point, now I have 4. And all of them just as interesting. Cats have a lot of levels.

  9. Reality.Bites*

    I didn’t submit a question, but reading the one about pseudonyms made me wonder if any indignant real-life Ferguses have written in.

      1. No Tribble At All*

        I think someone either wrote in or commented one time that the whole Wakeen/Joaquin felt a bit “you have a Funny Foreign Name because you’re Funny and Foreign” and Alison’s dialed back using Wakeen as a fake name. There was originally a letter about not realizing Joaquin (seen in email) was the same as Wakeen (heard out loud) which is the source.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’ve actually never used Wakeen as a fake name because yes, while the original story is a funny one, using it as a fake name feels like making fun of foreign names to me. (I understand people don’t intend it that way!)

        2. Doctor is In*

          I think it started when someone thought they had a coworker named Wakeen but it was actually Joaquin, they had only heard it spoken?

    1. turquoisecow*

      I know two dogs named Fergus but no humans, sadly. I don’t know where their humans came up with their names, either.

    2. Jen Erik*

      My husband once was involved with a work-place situation featuring a Fergus – lasted several weeks, and got gradually more dramatic until it reached: ‘If X hasn’t happened by 3pm, we’re calling the police in.’ It was as if we were visiting AAM World.

    3. EvilQueenRegina*

      My coworker named her new baby Fergus at Christmas. Something tells me I will never link her to this site.

  10. Grey Panther*

    About #21: I like the current five-short-questions format, and most commenters seem to begin their responses with either the question number or the question’s topic.

    Also, thanks for the Cat Directory. They’re all such distinct individuals—but now that I think about it, that’s part of the definition of “cat,” right?

    1. Blue*

      I like it too! Reading them is part of my morning ritual, and I think the current number of daily posts is perfect. I also enjoy predicting which of the five will generate the most interest from commenters :)

      1. peacock limit*

        Agreed! I also like that I can usually find at least one question of the five that interests me or I want to read comments about.

    2. Fluffy Fish*

      I think too that most of us don’t really have something to say about ALL the short q/a. One or two resonate with us that we comment on and yes, most everyone indicates which they are responding too.

      And I think that transfers to comments as well – people scan and read the comments relating to the post they’re interested in.

      I’d also be very surprised if a high percentage or readers actually read every single comment. I suspect those interested jump in, scan a bit, comment if they’d like and move along.

      1. Max*

        I also feel like 5 separate posts for the short questions individually would clutter up the site a bit too much. It’s nice having them be just one post so that each page of the site will generally have two or so day’s worth of content, especially the front page. Plus I wonder if making them individual posts would increase or decrease comments.

    3. Juror No.7*

      Re: 21. Also agreed. Maybe it would be helpful if the first 5 comments were automated/went up with the post with the question numbers and brief descriptions?

    4. turquoisecow*

      I like the short answers posts as well. Usually I’m interested in the response(s – including the comments) of at least one of the questions, while the longer questions sometimes I don’t bother to read the comments at all as they don’t interest me as much. Plus there’s usually a good mix of comments in response to each question (although sometimes one question will definitely inspire more comments).

    5. Jujyfruits*

      Agreed. If I don’t like one of the questions I skip to the next one. They’re my favorite.

    6. Beth*

      Another voice of approval here for the Five Short Answers posts! I like having them as one of the available types; sometimes I only have short breaks for reading, and have to save the longer posts for another day.

    7. ecnaseener*

      Seconded. There’s something I actively enjoy about engaging with the comments of multiple questions at once. I get that it can be confusing and isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s mine!

      Seconded about the cats too :)

    8. TrixM*

      Me too re the short posts. I think people are pretty good about tagging which one they’re commenting on.

      And while I’m pleased that Alison is getting sufficient revenue via ads – well-deserved! – I’m also glad to read a site that doesn’t feel like it has to milk every single paragraph for max revenue. I think Alison achieves a great balance, although I hope she does manage to acquire a good content mod one day.

  11. Andy*

    foster fail = best fail. it’s how you win by losing. Thank you for your site and for answering my questions!

  12. Cass*

    Regarding #21, I *love* the “X answers to X questions” short-answer posts! It makes my ADHD brain happy!

    And the cat profiles are the best thing that has ever been posted on this site.

    1. Just here for the scripts*

      I also love the x answers to x questions—please don’t change the format Allison!!

  13. turquoisecow*

    These are all fascinating answers but thank you especially for the cats. I often see the pictures of cats on the open threads and admire them but knew nothing about them (and until recently didn’t know how many there were)!

  14. Roland*

    Eve’s description resonated with me a lot. I also feel like one of my cats is unquestionably, fundamentally, irrefutably a cat while the other is much more questionable and has been described as “possibly a shapeshifter and/or alien”

    1. Zephy*

      I also have a creature living in my house that’s definitely cat-shaped, but we can’t be sure about anything beyond that.

  15. Irish Teacher*

    Your demographics data is very close to what I guessed. I mean, not the exact numbers but I did think about 2/3s-70% would be from the US, which is a little less than you’ve said and I did think there seemed to be a fair few commenters from the UK and Australia (which makes sense as they are large English speaking countries) and that there seemed to be a reasonable amount of us from Ireland, given that we are a lot smaller and that Germany seemed to be fairly well-represented.

    Thanks for this, by the way. It’s very interesting.

  16. Eff Walsingham*

    It was break time, so I read your cats’ profiles to the cat who was conveniently located on my lap. She purred and drooled a lot in response, and is now happily eating lunch.

  17. My cat's name rhymes with mustard*

    How many people didn’t read the answer to Q34 once they saw the cat photos? Apologies to Q34 asker.

  18. CRM*

    I love the short answer posts! I think the format is great. I may be a little biased though, as it has become a ritual to sit down with my morning tea and read the short answers each morning before starting work. I like spending a little more time digesting each question, it wouldn’t feel the same if it was only one question!

    1. BellyButton*

      It is part of my daily routine. Log onto laptop, sign into Slack, open email, open AAM- read and comment while drinking my coffee!

    2. The Prettiest Curse*

      Yup, I read those posts first thing in the morning too. I like that they’re bite-sized, I think expanding them all into longer letters would just lead to unnecessarily baggy answers. Plus, I can’t cope with anything too intense before I’ve had caffeine!

    3. Ferret*

      Speaking from the UK they are perfectly timed to read as I start my day and watch the comments develop throughout the day

    4. marvin*

      I like the pacing of the short answer questions. In general I prefer a pretty quick, traditional advice column style of answer. There are some advice sites that I rarely read because I don’t have the patience to read a whole essay response to most questions. At that point, I feel like the returns start to diminish for everyone except the actual letter writer.

    5. Irish Teacher*

      I get the train to work each morning at 7:30am, so…they are a good way to pass a journey. (I do, however, have a habit of commenting, then rushing as my train reaches the station and realising I wasn’t very clear or typoed because I hadn’t time to read over it before posting).

  19. BellyButton*

    “I believed more than I should have that what worked for me would work for others. Now I’m much more aware of all the people who it doesn’t work for, and all the reasons why, and I hope that’s reflected in what I write here”

    #34 is my favorite answer. Self-awareness, growth, and empathy- it is what all good leaders need.

    1. TrixM*

      I internally applauded that too – the actual learning and growth, and the reflection on it. Just lovely.

  20. Hei Hei, the Chicken from Moana*

    If you wanted, you know MORE work, you could write descriptions for cats. The Jon Snow level brooding is one for the ages and I shall be using it with my tuxedo boy. I thoroughly enjoyed ALL of this – thank you for sharing your BTS and your wisdom!

        1. Grey Panther*

          Okay, didn’t know that, thanks. (And another intended-to-be-lightweight remark bites the dust!)

    1. This used to remember my name*

      I’m not over 65 but I’m only one category down. :)

      I feel like (to the extent you can tell) the people who comment skew older than the reading demographic, but that might just be cognitive bias on my part. It’s not as if I’ve made a statistical study of the limited data available to me.

  21. No Tribble At All*

    Alison, you should’ve posted the Cat Biography as a separate post, because no one’s going to comment on the actual behind-the-scenes information!

  22. Anon cat lover*

    Your cats are adorable and gorgeous and fluffy and cuddly — may I transmit pets and snuggles to them via this message, since trans-Atlantic teleportation is beyond me rn?

  23. Ferret*

    One thing I wonder about is whether you would consider having a patron (or other funding support model) for people who choose to or who (like me) are reading the the site with and adblocker but still want to support your writing. I understand it might be more effort than it is worth but I’d appreciate the opportunity.

    Given the general state of the internet and the fact tha AAM has had issues with dodgy ads in the past (not that I blame Alison) I don’t feel comfortable switching my adblocker off but I do pay to support sites when I can

    1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      Yes, I was wondering about this – or something like kofi, for one off and often small contributions? I’ve been a daily+ reader for 2 years, and have been wondering how Alison pays for it. Only today did I realize my adblocker is doing its job! I’d be happy to contribute with my credit card in lieu :)

    2. Megan*

      I agree, although I don’t have an ad blocker I never ever click on internet ads. (usually because they have nothing I want). I would 100% sign up to a Patreon or similar. I do support you in other ways, I have your book!

    3. AngelicGamer*

      I would love this. I have to use an ad blocker due to my issues with light sensitivity – I live forever in night more in computer land – and majoirty of ads are BRIGHT WHITE (sorry for the all caps but ads scream at me color wise). I love reading this site, even if I’m not in a job right now, and I would like to give back.

    4. fhqwhgads*

      She also gets commission from the amazon links. If you’re not someone who is categorically opposed to purchasing things from amazon, you can support her in that way. I use an ad blocker also, but any time I know I’m going to buy something on amazon I make a point of coming back here first, finding a weekend post with a link, and clicking that before I buy whatever I’m going to buy.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I appreciate this sentiment! I think to do a Patreon, I’d have to create additional, Patreon-only content, which doesn’t fit into my “do less work, not more” goal, but I will give it some thought!

      1. Kitties!!*

        I would, in all seriousness, subscribe to a potential Patreon for nothing more than cat pictures. There’s always more cat pictures! (Or is that just me that takes 3908540379853458 pictures of my cats and refuses to delete any?)

      2. turquoisecow*

        I’ve seen websites that have a “tip jar” where you can give money if you want to but there’s no obligation. I don’t know where the money goes, like what service manages it, or if it generates much for the person managing it, though. Sometimes it’s just in the header, other times they’ll add it at the bottom of posts like “just fyi if you want to support me feel free to leave a tip.”

      3. Still*

        Honestly I’d probably sign up for a low-level Patreon without any extra content. I also have an ad block and I would welcome the opportunity to support the blog. I’ve bought one of your books but that was more of a one-off.

      4. MG*

        Like others have said, I’d be happy to pay even without extra content. I use Ad Blocker (and never click on ads anyway), but your site has been invaluable to me and I would love to be able to express my appreciation in a tangible way.

    6. Jessica Fletcher*

      I’m glad she doesn’t have Patreon. I wouldn’t be able to afford it. Nobody can afford to individually pay every person whose work they want to read.

      This site is free, but running a hugely popular site is probably why Alison is seen as an expert and gets paid jobs for other sites. It’s free to us, but it generates income for her.

      One option if you really want to pay to read her is to buy subscriptions to the other sites she writes for, or buy one-time access when she publishes. I’ve also heard that clicking on ads generates some revenue even if you don’t buy anything.

      1. Ferret*

        I’m confused about how a patreon would be any different for you than the other paywalled content Alison already produces which you presumably can’t afford either.

        “Nobody can afford to individually pay every person whose work they want to read.” – and therefore you think that nobody should charge for their work? This is extremely entitled, especially since I wasn’t even asking for addiitonal content! I’d be perfectly happy with some kind of guilt-free adblocker tier. And speaking of adblocker, if you block ads then you can’t really click on them.

        I don’t pay for all the content I read but the sites I spend a significant amount of time on I try to if there is an option

      2. Megan*

        I agree with Ferret, just because some people can’t afford it, doesn’t mean people shouldn’t do it.

        But I also agree with what she said further up re having a Patreon usually means generating extra Patreon-only work.

        I wonder though – I’ve been thinking of signing up to Slate, but how much of subscriptions like that actually go to the writers? Like with Patreon I assume Alison gets it all minus a Patreon cut, but with Slate et al, is it more loosey-goosey, like, if they get X customers over all then she may be offered an additional article per month or something, or if there isn’t enough, her articles will be cut? I guess I see Patreon as a more direct route to support, given I sit on AAM nearly all day and am obsessed with it haha. Like the amount of time I spent on here is insane and I do acknowledge all the insane hard work that goes into it.

        Jessica, I find that it can be easier to view things like this: if you can’t afford to go to the movies to see the new movie that’s out, then you don’t go. Simple. You wait until its on Netflix (which you also pay for), or you don’t see it. I fear/feel that writing online and not paying for it is becoming more and more common which is killing journalism, and people who want to get paid fairly for their work.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hi! I don’t get any revenue from subscriptions at Slate; I don’t think they’d have a way to associate subscriptions with particular writers since when you subscribe you’re subscribing to the whole site. They pay me a flat fee per article. (But subscribe anyway if you’d like to because they have great content!)

    7. Lenora Rose*

      I think I’d rather a Kofi – which is generally more like a tip jar, and would feel acceptable to add on to an otherwise free site without adding more content, where a Patreon tends to imply extra goods for the higher fees. Kofi also doesn’t require ongoing funding.

      1. TrixM*

        Seconded with Kofi – not so much because I’d prefer it to Patreon as such, but because it really is designed as a tip jar system, and makes it clear it’s only if you want to.
        Given some remarks here, seeing a Patreon would make some nervous about losing access to content, although I’ve seen many instances where the free content level stays the same, and it is truly just extras.
        In fact, one artist I subscribe to keeps all their content freely available – the Patreon just sees occasional WIPs as extras, and the real content is released there a day early. We get first dibs and a slight discount to buy a yearly calendar. And we get to chat amongst ourselves more. The reward levels are literally just promises to create the same amount of content as they already do, plus “you’ve paid for 5 new pens!”, etc.
        But anyway, as I also use an adblocker, I’d welcome being able to chip in $5 per month, which I believe is the usual kind of revenue per visitor who clicks thru on some ads (which I’d never do anyway – I only do that on sites that create their own ads).

  24. GingerNP*

    I cannot ever be a cat person because my older child and I are both violently, miserably allergic – but I love getting to know other people’s cats from afar and your pride is amazing.

  25. I'd Rather Be Eating Dumplings*

    You answered a question I had about an internship back in 2009 and I’ve been reading ever since!

    I completely understand how comment moderation must be a headache but I have to say, I think you do a fantastic job of it.

    The letters and answers are great but the ongoing conversations in the comments are often incredibly thought-provoking and I think this blog is a rare example of an area where someone is missing out if they don’t scroll down to check the conversation.

  26. WiscoKate*

    Scrolling up and down to see which friend each cat is bonded to. I love these little bios, I could write a book on the various relationships, grudges, quirks, and wonderful qualities of my cats.

  27. Rainy*

    I want to thank you especially for the detailed and helpful response to #35. :)

    Your response to #32 was also very interesting to me–I am in a role where I, essentially, give people advice for a living, and I initially had a lot of concerns about whether I was going to be able to do it justice that mirror what you describe, but at the end of the day it’s something I’m passionate about and I work hard to give the best advice and counsel I can at all times, and to keep my mindset firmly in a space of learning and openness. I’m never afraid to say I don’t know, and I’m never afraid to seek out additional resources to make sure that I’m aware of emerging practices.

    I think for me, my first role in this field was key because I had a manager who was very upfront about the fact that I would need mentoring and training and who was excited by that instead of annoyed or bored. If I’d had my current manager I don’t know if I would have succeeded, which is a weird thing to realize. I like my current manager but they have some problems with the development side of managing–I don’t experience them because my manager acknowledges that I am the expert in my role, but I’ve seen them in my manager’s relationship with some of my colleagues. I can’t do a lot about it for my colleagues, but I’m about to become a manager again (I think this is my fourth time managing staff in my career), and it has really made me reflect on how I want to show up as a manager for my hopefully soon to be hired report.

  28. Lurking Tom*

    How do you have six cats and no bloodshed?! We have four and we have to keep each group of two separated at all times or violence erupts instantly. We’ve tried feedings near doors (no effect), we’ve done snack time together with tubes of Churu (violence commences as soon as snack is done, and one cat ended up with an IBS flare-up from the Churu), we’ve tried toy distractions, but it all ends badly. I want so much for them to all even tolerate each other, I don’t even care if they play or cuddle, just irritated non-acknowledgement would be super!

    1. mlem*

      I’ve had as many as 9, now down to 4, and it’s always depended 100% on the cats themselves. I’ve had cats I could never allow into the same spaces as one another, to the extent I had to line my open stairs with window screens; I’ve had cats who … managed … as long as they could hang out on separate floors; but only one of my cats even wants to be friendly to anyone else. (My big boycat tolerates him; the girls avoid him.) I’ve always envied folks with friendlier cat crews.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We got really lucky! We ended up with a group who really like other cats, and it’s SO NICE. (One thing that helped: Hank and Laurie were the last two in, and we’d fostered them first and could see they were all getting along.)

    3. Gracely*

      It’s the cats themselves, honestly. At least if you’re introducing adult cats to other adults. The easiest way to integrate a new cat into a pre-existing group is for it to be a kitten, because then the hierarchy is easy for them to establish. Otherwise, it depends heavily on the individual cats’ personalities. Some are super chill, some are super not. For the cats in between, how slowly you introduce them can often make a big difference.

      Unfortunately, once it goes bad, they rarely forget the bad (or it takes literally months to get past). This is why we keep all our fosters in a room completely separate from our cats (which also helps avoid foster fails).

  29. brjeau*

    I got to the cat profiles shortly after my rescue fluffball hopped into my lap and started bathing himself, so that’s been a great work break!

    Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, it was really interesting!

  30. Green*

    Hello, Would you please consider posting a warning at the TOP of a letter when you’re going to post the answer somewhere that has a paywall? As it is right now, I get emotionally invested in the problem, start guessing at what you’ll say, get to the bottom all pumped to see if I’m right, and then you’re like “Head over here to this place you can’t afford because you’re poor to see what I suggest!” and I’m all UGHHHHH! If you put a warning at the top of the letter I’d just know and skip those. Thanks for considering my request.

    1. fhqwhgads*

      FYI, the Inc stuff is always the same day of the week and timeslot (or it used to be), so even without a blurb, you can know which you want to skip.

      1. Lenora Rose*

        But the Inc stuff is also old letters revisited. It’s New York Magazine – And Slate, IIRC? – which are blocked paid content.

    2. Giant Kitty*

      Yes, I second this! There is no way I will ever be able to remember what days/times the links to paywall posts are made, or to check before I read.

      Even when I don’t have a problem clicking through to the site (I’m still within the “X free articles per Y” limit or whatever) I find it (mildly, but continually) irritating to read through the whole letter before I know I will have to click away, then either have to read it all again or scroll up & down until I spot the place where Alison’s answer begins…by which time I may actually NEED to read the letter again because the irritation & clicking/scrolling actions have distracted to the point I forgot what it said.

      A little blurb at the top denoting that it’s a linked post would allow me to scroll to the bottom immediately so I can click over and read it all at once on the linked page.

      It’s a small thing that would be a great courtesy to readers who could chose to read, click, move on etc before they’ve made that bit of emotional investment of reading to the end.

    3. Unlit*

      I agree with the basic idea here – I’m never going to pay for access to those sites, because they do not have other content that would make it reasonable to do so and paying the subscription fee to several sites for the few articles Alison posts to each is prohibitive. It is definitely frustrating to read a post and then hit the link to a paywalled site, and it would be much easier if the subject line could read something like “Over at Inc today: how can I get my employees to be more comfortable figuring things out on their own?” or “New York Magazine column: I’m sick of having to do my incompetent colleague’s work” so it is clear upfront and readers like me don’t spend time reading something they can’t access the answer to. The only downside I can see is if the subject lines are displayed in shortened form in certain places (maybe on Twitter, if it’s still standing, or on RSS feeds/email bulletins?) in which case perhaps the offsite indicator could be appended to the end instead of the beginning?

    4. Lexi Vipond*

      I’m generally too lazy to click over to another site, but I find the first few comments mostly fill in all I really needed to know.

    5. Elenna*

      Agreed – I know I *could* remember which timeslot is the paid articles, but in practice I don’t, and I’d really appreciate a little “posted at Inc” or whatever at the top.

  31. Sociology Rocks!*

    Can we get an April fools day or something where the questions are answered by the cats???

  32. SpartanFan*

    Allison, the students at MSU are always looking for beginner projects to do as “consultants”, paid or unpaid, that might be worth testing your SEO stuff at a smaller initial risk based to see how well it turns out. https://msuconnect.msu.edu/

  33. Indie*

    I was lazily scrolling through, reading this and skipping that but now the only thing I remember is KITTIES <3 <3 <3

  34. This used to remember my name*

    #22 – I had always assumed it was (at least partly) automated because sometimes it would link a previous post whose topic seemed completely unrelated, but the same unique pseudonym was used.

  35. ProducerNYC*

    I’ve wondered so many of these questions for years, but mostly I want to thank the person who dared to ask #35, because I was too timid to type it myself!

  36. QuestionMark*

    #21 – what if on the multi-topic posts, you started a blue highlighted sub-thread for each question, pinned to the top of comments where responses could be consolidated by question?

    1. Modesty Poncho*

      I don’t think I’d like to have five sub-threads of sub-sub-sub-sub threads and people having to @ each other when they run out of room earlier than if they’d just posted a top-level comment. I find it easier to scroll past short threads and focus my attention on the ones that are generating a lot of talk.

  37. fhqwhgads*

    You don’t need to find time to write a FAQ. This post is the FAQ. Perma-post it somewhere on the site as that.

    1. anna*

      I assumed that meant an FAQ for the work questions she gets the most like how to follow up with your interviewer, how long to wait to move on after an interview, etc.

      1. fhqwhgads*

        Oh, I didn’t think that because you can already kind of tell the patterns for that based on the categories in the side nav. I always think of a site FAQ as about the site itself, not the subject the site covers.

  38. Silicon Valley Girl*

    This was all wonderful. Thank you!

    Also, now I believe I need more cats in my life (I live with only two).

  39. RB*

    Do any of the cats go outside? If not, do they seem to mind that, like do they try to sneak out when the door is opened, or have they all accepted that it’s not an option?

    I’ve always had indoor/outdoor cats but I’m thinking that for my next cat, he might be indoors only. My current cat LOVES the outdoors on nice days and would sit by the door and meow if I tried to put a stop to that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      They’re all indoor-only. Interestingly, they have no interest whatsoever in trying to go out (probably because they were all rescued when they were young, as far as I know, so they grew up used to being inside).

      1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy*

        Our raised-indoor cat tried to go outside once. She took three steps out, made horrible faces at the snow, and was turning around to book it back inside when my dog shoulder-checked her back through the door, held her down and licked the snow off her. She’s never tried to go out the door again.

    2. kitryan*

      My cat used to occasionally make half hearted attempts at exiting the apartment. However, I would notice a sharp drop off in her interest in the outside world immediatly after a vet visit or other outing. I assume she saw/heard/smelled what was out there and absolutely hated it, so each time I’d get a couple weeks’ break on attempted escapes until she got curious again.

  40. Jessica Fletcher*

    These are so interesting! I bet the drop off of daily letters from pre-Covid 75 to now 50 is because so many of us don’t have to see our annoying colleagues in person. I know for me, not having to be around a couple coworkers has significantly reduced my stress.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I normally get a huge number of letters about annoying coworkers and it dropped to nearly zero in 2020 and they didn’t really start coming back until late 2021. It was a weird time in my mail.

      1. tangerineRose*

        I think co-workers really have to work hard to be annoying when everyone’s remote, although it’s not impossible.

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Our experience here with the work form home staff was much more “How do I get my coworkers to communicate in a timely fashion?” than any of the more typical questions.

  41. Quickbeam*

    Just wanted to say that Alison answered my email and was very helpful even though it wasn’t part of the column. My work “buddy” wanted every summer Friday off which meant I had to cover. It was our worst day of the week for crises. It never went away but I was able to make it matter less. When I retired the office went into a panic because of the Friday problem. Thankfully it isn’t my problem any more. It felt really nice to be heard.

  42. Lucien Nova*

    *squee* Kitties!

    I have told my four kilo Maine Coon (her growth was horrifically stunted as she spent her entire life before coming to me owned by a hoarder who had thirty other cats) and my nine kilo silver tabby (who is honestly just a big baby with the squeakiest meep of a meow) that I have seen cats cuter than they are. They don’t care so long as I pet and feed them.

  43. Gary Patterson’s Cat*

    Q 7. Is there a letter topic that used to seem very common but is less so now?

    I’ve been reading a long time and I notice fewer questions about “weird office stuff” like bathroom and kitchen habits, food thefts and inappropriate dressers since the pandemic shift to WFH becoming more common. There used to be so much of these sorts of office annoyances.

  44. iliketoknit*

    I really loved the simple comment about Olive, “She loves my husband.” We rescued our own grand dame (who weighed about 6 pounds) who adored my husband and found me decidedly meh. She had three legs, having lost one when she was hit by a car before we had her, and walked in a dignified sort of hop. One week, my husband was out of town and I was clearly no fit substitute. I came home from work one night and she came hopping slowly down the hallway from the bedroom to the front door to see who it was. She emerged from the hall, saw it was me, paused… and turned around and hopped back to the bedroom again.

    I knew my place.

    1. Anon4this*

      We used to have a tiny little 5 lb kitten sized torti that LOVED me and was very meh with my husband, even though he adored her.

      I ended up in the hospital for a week when I needed a minor surgery and after a few days, she very grudgingly started sleeping with him because she didn’t want to be alone.

      When I came home and went to love on her, she SCOWLED at me, zipped off, and ran into the other room to make a HUGE SHOW of loving all over my husband. She was SO MAD. She spent the rest of the evening making sure that I noticed she was ignoring me, but when I went to bed, she finally forgave me for abandoning her, LOL.

  45. Pam*

    This was so much fun to read, thank you for taking the time to do it – loved seeing the behind the scenes of the lives of the resident kitties. :-)

  46. Library Lady*

    Oh my gosh, we had a gray cat named Wallace growing up (all gray polydactyl cat!), and for months he tried to nurse off the other female kitten we brought home at the same time, even though she was only a month older than him, had never been pregnant, and was not related to him in anyway. She was a very patient cat!

  47. V*

    #2 – Question Volume

    This answer was very interesting to me since I’m active on a Workplace advice site where we noticed the same impact of Covid. A sharp drop-off in question volume that settled on a new, lower, baseline very quickly and persisted ever since. It’s quite strange since we kind of expected a “return to normal” as people returned to the office. But that just hasn’t happened.

  48. voluptuousfire*

    Alison, I made Olive the background of my work computer. <3 :whispers: She's my favorite. :)

    She looked a lot like my old calico who was also a bit of a bitch goddess type, so I'm an Olive fan.

  49. Moira Rose*

    I just gotta say, I deeply appreciate the true anonymity of this comments section, something we could never have if it were powered by Disqus.

  50. ariel*

    I’m always amazed and grateful with your answers to my small and sometimes badly-phrased questions. Thank you for your work! And of course for the cat round-up.

  51. AliciaB*

    Great article but I especially loved the cat profiles. Eve sounds so similar to my tortie Rogue!

  52. New Senior Mgr*

    Cat pics!!!! Lovely!
    And so cool to offer clients that real-time help. That would be worth whatever your fee happens to be.

  53. Mr Experience*

    Response to part of Alison’s response #32. “I’ve made a ton of mistakes! I think that often helps in advice-giving though; mistakes are how you figure stuff out. ”

    I saw this a long time ago and I’ve tried to remember it when I made a mistake. Quoted by Jon Bentley, who used to write a column on computer science for the Association for Computing Machinery.
    Good judgement comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.
    — Fred Brooks

  54. Youngin*

    Sophie supremacy because I too like to stare way too intensely at people and animals I don’t know

  55. Illyria*

    Eve the cat may be from a book series called Warriors. I’m currently introducing it to my 9 yo son but I honestly enjoyed them as an adult.

  56. sfdgfg*

    You carefully and lovingly described each cat perfectly. It inspired me to write one about my own cat.

Comments are closed.