In response to frequently asked questions, here are some answers.
George W. Bush was the subject of a seven-part biographical series that ran July 25-31. Bill Bradley's life was examined in six installments last week. The comparable series on Gore stalled after two articles, one on Oct. 3, the other on Oct. 10. "Why did the Gore biography vanish?" a reader asked. "Is it coming back?"
Chalk this one up to strange planning. The publication of the Gore series began before the work on it was completed. Then one of the reporters on the project, David Maraniss, took time off to promote his new book, "When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi." But according to Bill Hamilton, the national editor, the series will resume -- in six parts -- on Dec. 26. The Post also plans a biographical series on John McCain.
Why does The Post insist on including information on former spouses in obituaries, even when a marriage was childless and ended acrimoniously many years ago?
"Obituary news stories are biographies," Leonard Downie Jr., the executive editor, explained. "All relevant information must be in them." Using himself as an example, he said that his obit will have to include information on his two former wives.
As The Post promotes its presence on the World Wide Web (washingtonpost.com), an increasing number of readers obtain their news online. And many of them want to reach reporters and columnists -- sometimes to praise, sometimes to damn, sometimes to seek additional information -- via e-mail. Fewer than 200 editors, reporters, photographers and other newsroom staffers make their e-mail addresses available via washingtonpost.com. "What are some of your reporters afraid of that they do not publish their e-mail addresses on your Web site? That their ideas will not withstand logical scrutiny? That they are anointed and their publishing articles is a one-way communication street to us paupers?" a reader asked.
Downie, who was unaware that this was an issue for readers, has said he will discuss with his editors whether there is any good reason to withhold e-mail addresses.
One can use e-mail to submit guest commentaries for the page opposite the editorials at The Post (firstname.lastname@example.org) and articles for Outlook (email@example.com). But one cannot so easily send a letter to the editor; instead one must navigate through The Post's Web site and use a form provided there. "Why don't you provide a simple e-mail address -- my suggestion would be `firstname.lastname@example.org' -- where disgruntled, or better informed, or communicative or even gruntled readers could send their complaints, information or gruntles?" a reader recently asked.
That is a question for which there still is no good answer. Among newspapers that accept letters via e-mail are the New York Times (email@example.com) and USA Today (firstname.lastname@example.org). The subject is now under discussion in the editorial department of The Post. Stay tuned.
Why does the Insider's Guide, which appears in the Sunday Style section, insist on having the Social Security numbers of anyone submitting material for consideration? A reader put it this way: "For what nefarious purpose would you need a reader's Social Security number?"
Actually, the request had been more naive than nefarious. After complaints from readers, editors have decided that they really don't need a Social Security number from everyone submitting an article. Tom Shroder, the Sunday Style editor, said that, as of today, the request that a Social Security number be included with every submission will end. "There's been a lot of talk about identity theft," he said. "Rather than raise that anxiety, we'll just call if we need more information."
You'll find more answers to your frequently asked questions next week. Feel free to keep asking questions by contacting me at email@example.com or (202) 334-7582.