“Dear Abby” For The Internet Age

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The Dear Abby of Sacramento has handled some touchy questions: marital infidelity, addiction and depression. “I’m pretty careful about everything I write,” she says. “I haven’t missed the boat yet.”Crowdsourcing isn’t just a fast way to raise investment bucks. Now it’s a pipeline to sage advice from those who know best: grandmothers, grandfathers and retirees who’ve played the game of life.

Elder Wisdom Circle is a free website that allows users to confidentially post questions about romance, careers, self-improvement or just about any topic other than finance, medicine and law. It’s the hottest advice site on the Web, according to Yahoo. Questions are reviewed and placed in a secure queue. From there, a roster of thoroughly screened elder volunteers crowdsource the issues best suited for their expertise. Perspective and wisdom follow, usually in a few days.

“I answer lots of questions about relationships,” says Debbie Caldwell, a Sacramento retiree who’s volunteered for Elder Wisdom Circle since last fall. “Questions like, ‘How do I win him back?’ Or, ‘How do I find a boyfriend?’ There are also questions about leaving a job, or leaving school.”

For Caldwell, who retired from human resources at UC Davis Medical Center, dispensing elder wisdom is the most rewarding work she’s tackled since quitting her day job. “I wanted to find a volunteer activity that resonated personally,” she says. “I volunteered at the library, which I love, but I was looking for something without too much structure at this point in my life.”

The Dear Abby of Sacramento has handled some touchy questions: marital infidelity, addiction and depression. “I’m pretty careful about everything I write,” she says. “I haven’t missed the boat yet.”