We’re excited to announce a new feature for the Carolyn Hax community, based on suggestions from community members.

We know conversations between readers can often move past the questions raised in the day’s letters to Carolyn. Some people discuss past letters, others share problems in their own lives — asking the community for suggestions or advice.

Some community members have written to ask us to limit conversation in comment threads to the topics in the column at hand. Others have said that off-topic back-and-forth between community members is a critical part of their commenting experience. Our new feature will allow users to choose the experience they’d prefer.

Commenters on Carolyn Hax columns will be able to mark their own posts as off-topic. Posts marked as off-topic won’t be penalized; instead, they’ll be marked within our system and shown to readers who use a new button that will toggle display of off-topic posts.

Want to see off-topic posts? Turn them on. Don’t want to see them? Turn them off.

How does it work?

When you’re writing your next post, you’ll notice a small check box (highlighted below). Select the check box to mark your post as “off-topic.”

Whenever you have something to share that may be off-topic from the LW above, check the mark before posting.

The comment will post directly to the comments section but other readers will now be able to filter it out if they choose. To filter out comments marked as off-topic, a reader can toggle the “off-topic shown” icon to “off-topic hidden.” You’ll find that icon in the image above, right above “pause live updates.”

Because this feature came from requests by the Carolyn Hax community, we’re testing it in Hax threads first. Your feedback will determine how we evolve the feature, whether we expand it, and whether it sticks around.

Questions or thoughts? Please let us know in the comments section below!