The e-AA Group

Group Inventory
April 26 June 16,  2002

12th Step List

  • I'm not sure how you can really gauge these things – response time? Helpfulness? etc. However, I feel it is a real valuable service and I have gotten feedback that indicates it is helpful and worthwhile. My only concern is that everyone actually informs the list when they have responded to a request for help. Guess it doesn't really matter as long as it's obvious someone has. Seems there is always a response right away when these emails come in, and I think we have enough people covering it. The system seems to work well. So, in summary – I think we are all doing a good job there, that it is a terrific service (I get a lot out of it too), and don't see any reason to change it or get rid of it !


  • I feel the same way. The only thing that gets me a little panicky is when I see a request for help that's a couple of hours old and no one has responded yet – or no one has said they've responded. As we add folks from more time zones, perhaps that will change. We don't get a lot of help requests, probably 15 to 40 a month. I don't think we should eliminate this one either. And we do have a link to the Online Intergroup's 12th Step list on our "Get Help" page. So, seems to me we're okay for now.


  • I love the 12th Step list as a great way to respond to calls for help or interest relatively quickly (sometimes instantaneously). In fact, someone who I responded to seeking help is now going to meetings (actually enjoying some of them!) and is getting into the steps with me. We've developed a great sponsor/sponsee relationship on-line. It's really a spiritual experience and ALL G-d's will when this happens and it happened as a direct result of our 12th Step list. I look forward to many more such experiences. I know others have found "this thing" (from the Big Book) by simply working with others via the 12th Step list. This is the bottom line or all bottom lines and the basic of basics," carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers." It's what we do best!


Discussion Forums

  • We have nearly 600 registered users. Most of those never post, of course. Now and then, I go through and delete the registrations that are over six months old, if they've never posted. There are some pretty good discussions there. Lots of folks seem to like the forum-type of communication. So far, we've banned only two people (in over a year and a half). There are more recent versions of the software, but what we've got seems to work just fine. Doesn't seem worth spending $150 to upgrade, yet. On the same topic – discussion forums – we do still have installed on our site the thing called "Sanity." Originally, it was intended to be "An Online Journal of Sobriety." But I think it was too complex for folks to use. It never took off. Or, perhaps we never gave it a chance. The pages are here if anyone wants to take a look at it again, or if you've never seen it:

    The nice thing about it is that it's self-contained. All the administration, including adding pages, can be done via a back-end control panel.


  • I'd like to suggest we change "Barry's World" to "Around the world" or how about "Trudgers." Globe-trudgers! With a brief description highlighting AA's around the world, and AA activity in the world. Hey, do we have a place where conventions throughout the world are posted?


  • Re: "I'd like to suggest we change 'Barry's World' to 'Around the world' or how about 'Trudgers.' Globe-trudgers!" Done. [Others] access to the forums control panel, so check out the description ( and if you would like to edit it, please do!


  • * Re: "Hey, do we have a place where conventions throughout the world are posted?" Yes. In the Links Directory (, though I don't recall how many of the events are outside the United States and Canada.


  • * I like the discussion forums. I like that we changed Barry's World to Globe Trudgers. I think it way cool that we have people from all over the world.


Chat Community

  • I am not a big fan of chat programs. I tend to get lost. I find that there isn't enough time to think about what's going on or to respond before the topic changes to something completely different. Nevertheless, many people love their chat rooms, and ours is being used by a number of regulars. There are perhaps 1,000 registrations; probably a couple dozen people are in and out of there regularly. We get requests from time to time for help with using the software, but overall the program seems to work fairly well. The benefit of the program we use is that there is not special software to download. You can just log in and start talking. There have been a few disruptors, but not many. (It's a bit more difficult to "control" a chat environment than a forum or email list.) We have one scheduled meeting per week, Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Barry is the secretary of that meeting. (I did it for over a year.) Carrie has been keeping an eye on the chat rooms for us. She's got the system administrator password. Anyway, since so many folks like to chat, it seems like a worthwhile thing, even though personally, I don't care if it's there or not.


  • A lot of folks do like to chat. Personally, I'm kind of done with computer chat when I get home from work. You know the hours I keep......So I never use it. The few times I checked it our it was confusing and you are right … BAM, as soon as you begin typing a response the topic changes. It doesn't bother me if we keep it.


  • I'll talk to Carrie and Barry about making an introductory page for the chat rooms that further explains what to expect, how it works, etc.


Sober Mail

  • The New Beginning list is the most active. There are 42 subscribers at present, from all over, ranging in sobriety from a couple of days to nearly 30 years. As with the Wednesday night chat meeting, New Beginning is listed in the Online Intergroup's meeting directory. I love this list. There are several people who have been there a year or so. One in particular joined when he had a few days of sobriety and now is approaching his one-year anniversary. He regularly shares with us. It's quite awesome. Most of the new subscribers come from initial contacts on our 12th Step List. When people write me back for more information or more help getting started in AA, the New Beginning list is one thing I suggest. The other lists – Steps, Traditions, Safety Valve – are quiet, though they have from 20 to 40 subscribers each. I don't know that we even need them, but they're there and it costs nothing to keep them going. I contact Cyndie, who administers the Women list, now and then. She says there's not much going on there. I believe Carrie may be on that list as well and perhaps can tell us more about it. As with the other lists, there's no problem just letting it be, even if it's not active. Ultimately, it would be good to have a moderator or listkeeper for each list – someone other than me. (All the lists can be maintained with simple commands sent by email – to subscribe and unsubscribe people, etc.)


  • We're hosting a new mailing list called "Out of Sight." (Hope that's okay with everyone.) It's specifically for the blind. Dan M., who's on the East Coast, is blind, and has about 20 years sober, is the list administrator. He uses screen reader software to navigate the 'Net. Though primarily for the blind alcoholic, in keeping with the 12 Traditions, anyone with a desire to stop drinking may join the list. (Just send a message to if you're interested.) I'll be working with Dan to help him register his group with GSO. (So, our group will just host the mailing list.) And to get the word out that they're there for the blind alcoholic.


  • Wow. This [“Out of Sight” list] is way cool!!!! It's Access Committee stuff at its finest!!!!  Yes, yes and yes again, you have my vote for hosting this site.....and thanks  for helping them get registered with GSO


  • I think this [“Out of Sight” list] is great...I love it!


  • I for one really enjoy the New Beginnings list!! It is terrific. As far as the women's list goes, it hasn't been active for months. It is up to you, if you want to keep it...or not. I could post a letter there today, and see if anyone cares either way. I may not get any response until after the weekend, but I will get back with you.


  • I emailed Cyndie a few weeks back. She said pretty much the same thing. It's okay for it just to be there. Doesn't cost us anything, especially if no one's using it!


Links Directory

  • Our directory (, if I may be a little lacking in humility for a moment, is the largest and best of its kind anywhere on the 'Net. We have just over 500 entries at present. One could get more links by searching on Yahoo!, for example, but 90 percent of the results there would be useless or irrelevant.

    For a number of years, Lola L., an AA member who lives on the East Coast somewhere, maintained a directory at She, apparently, has retired.

    There is a new, large directory recently installed on the Dallas Central Office web site. James, the office manager, got most of his information from our directory. Because of the way they've set it up, it's already becoming out of date, and it is only about half the size of ours.

    The links directory is the most labor-intensive part of our web site. I've spent, probably, several hundred hours setting it up and maintaining it. I recently spent, for example, about 10 hours cleaning out old links and entering new ones.

    The importance of such a directory is this: Next to – maybe – the Big Book, directories are the most important, and most used, AA publication. To verify that statement, imagine for a few moments an AA without directories or meeting lists.

    Our directory uses a database for entries. There's a back-end administrative site for maintenance. (If you'd like to take a look at it, email me privately and I'll send you the info on where it is.) People can also submit and maintain their own entries. (Approval is required before entries actually appear in the directory.)

    In working with the directory, and visiting literally thousands of web sites, a couple of things stand out. The number of official AA sites are increasing rapidly. For example, over the past year, seven AA areas went online (43 of the 93 US/Canada areas now have web sites). There are also more statewide meeting directories. In addition to state directories on area web sites, in the past year, two Intergroups/Central Offices have set up online directories: Maine and Arkansas. (Maine has had a directory for some time, but only recently got serious about keeping it up.) The number of Intergroup and District web sites has probably doubled over the past year and a half. The result, for purposes of a general directory like we do, is that information is much more current – the directory sites maintained by individuals, which would go unattended sometimes for a year or two or more, are decreasing. There is also far less advertising (a fact of life when using the "free" servers), so there are now more and more AA sites without all the banner ads.

    At present, there are perhaps a hundred or more AA and non-AA sites that link to our directory.


  • You are so right about AA directories being a vitally important part of our fellowship. In my early sobriety you'd go out of town, then you'd have to call the Central Office, if the town had one, to find out about meetings....sometimes it would be an answering service that would have to have someone from AA call you back (can you believe!) and if you wanted to go out to get a bite to eat you stood a good chance of missing the phone call, or you starved waiting several hours for the return call. This happened to me back in 1975 in Cheyenne, Wyoming and 1976 in North Platte, Nebraska. I was 2 & 3 years sober then. Now we are all just a click away thanks to on-line AA and links to meeting directories. So now it's "one link is NOT enough and 20 are still NOT enough" to paraphrase one of our slogans. I'm glad you let us know about the time it takes on your part to set-up and maintain these links. It's easy to just think you just wave a wizard's (web-masters'?) wand and prest-o change-o here's another link!


  • Yes! A very important part of e-aa. I don't personally use it all that much, but I know that it is the best. Fantastic, terrific, outstanding ... a real asset to the web site, and a wonderful tool for everybody.


  • I second that!


  • You are so right with directories on the web. The increasing requests coming from our website,, that is just 1 1/2 years old are mostly asking for meeting places. The email requests are increasing to about one a day. So "where to find AA" is indeed the most needed service in AA websites. And i am passing on the address so many times


  • I didn't mention the other really good AA directories out there. The AA Europe site (, which Cyrus maintains, truly is a monument to love and service. If you haven't browsed its pages, it's well worth a few minutes to do so.

    For phone numbers in the United States and Canada, you can't beat the GSO web site ( They've been including email addresses for a couple of years now, too, and have recently started linking to central office web sites. However, it's rather barren in that regard since they wait for requests from the offices before inserting links. As a result, there aren't many of them, and apparently not much effort is put into updating the links.

    Some GSOs provide meeting lists. My current favorite is the revised Australia GSO site (, which now allows you to search for meetings throughout the country. It's a nice site – clean and easy to navigate – as well. Next time I design an AA web site, or perhaps even a commercial site, I'm going to steal their design.

    For an example of an amazing meeting directory, take a look at Tom E's interactive directory for New York state: He wrote his own program, and has been building on it for several years. Essentially, clicking on a map point will generate a meeting list for a 25-mile radius, nearly anywhere in the state.

    For online meetings, the Online Intergroup's directories ( are really good. There's nothing like them anywhere else on the 'Net. There's also a good schedule of online chat meetings done by an AA member (Joe) here:

    A future project for the directory will be to allow people to generate their own links directories from ours, either for personal use or to place on their AA web sites. After all, we're not in competition. Duplication and consistency is a large part of what we do. Since all the entries are in a database, they can be pulled out relatively easily, by category or as one big list, in either html or text format, for online viewing, for downloading, or even as a delimited file for importing into a database, spreadsheet, or table. Someday soon, when there's time.

    In the even more distant future, it would be an exciting project to "WAP-enable" an international meeting directory so the wireless folks could find meetings anywhere on their digital phones. That would be a huge project and, given the lack of understanding of the Internet by many face-to-face AAs, not likely to be possible anytime soon. (Interesting fact: We love our cell phones in the US, but did you know that an estimated 84 percent of the folks in Italy use wireless phones?)


  • The links directory also plays a role in how we're ranked in the major public directories and search engines. Essentially, more links to other sites, higher placement in the rankings (how close to the top you get when someone enters a relavent search). It's just one factor, but an important one.

    We're listed near the beginning now in most major directories or search engines. A search for "alcoholics anonymous" pops us ( up pretty near the top of many lists:

    Yahoo: #5
    Yahoo (Canada): #6
    DMOZ Open Directory: #8
    MSN (Microsoft): #15
    AOL: #21
    Google: #23
    Netscape: #23
    Hot Bot: #26
    Alta Vista: #33 #33
    Look Smart: #48

    We also have a growing number of sites linking to us, both AA and non-AA (such as Huron Gastroenterology Associates – I don't know why!). That also helps in search rankings.

    The "popularity" is increasing (more people clicking our link from searches also moves us up in the lists). I remember that we began getting over 100 visitors a day shortly after we went online (October 26, 2000; yes, it's been that long!). We're now consistently getting 400 or 500 or more visitors a day. In May, we had our first 700-visitor day.

    That all sounds pretty cool. The biggest deal, however, is that the more we're in the spotlight, the more responsibility to AA as a whole, to adhere to the Traditions.


  •  Thanks for the information about the links directory. Pretty interesting stuff. May sound funny, but I like the idea that "we" are in the spotlight when people are looking for information concerning Alcoholics Anonymous – because I know that though we may disagree about some stuff – everyone involved with e-aa – will insure that the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous are followed.


Search Engine

  • Separately from the Links Directory, we have a search engine installed, the Fluid Dynamics Search Engine. Though not as powerful overall, it works pretty much like those the Big Boys use; e.g., Google, Alta Vista, etc. What it does, essentially, is index a web page or an entire web site anywhere on the 'Net. On the web site, you'll find a box on the About AA page where you can search the entire GSO web site ( On the More Info page, there's a box to search our web site. The search results appear on a page that allows even further searches: Online Intergroup, Grapevine, Al-Anon, and a number of AA history sites. So, if you wanted to find out all about Sister Ignatius or read the Akron Manual ("A Manual for Alcoholics Anonymous," published in 1940), you could find them using the search engine.


  • Okay … Search Engines. Are you happy with it, Dean? (If you're happy, I'm happy) Do we like pay a monthly fee, or something for it ? or how does that work?


  • Re: Happy? Yes. Quite happy. It's installed on our server. No monthly fees. I had purchased a license for it and was going to use it on another site I administer. But that didn't work out so I just stuck it on


Just for Fun

  • There are actually a couple other things not mentioned on the original list. In all:

* Sobriety Calculator. Does what the name implies. (The program was free.)

* Virtual Postcards. I think Susan uses this program frequently. (The program was free.)

* Polls. A rotating set of polls, such as "How long have you been sober?" There's a back-end control panel to change, delete, or add polls. (The program was free.)

* Tell-a-friend. Clicking on the tell-a-friend graphic pops up a little window so people can send an email recommending us to their friends. Doesn't get used a lot (I get notified when someone uses the script). Maybe once or twice a month. (The program is an adaptation I made from a free program.)

* Translations. Several pages can be translated on the fly into other languages. These aren't good translations but probably better than nothing, or maybe not. (The script that links to the free translation services was free.)

* "It's in the Book." This is a random quote from the Big Book (it's on the "More Info" page). It changes with each visit, or each time you refresh your browser. I made the script/program because I couldn't find one I liked. The quotes, I entered myself. I'm only about two-thirds through the first 164 pages.


Web Site

  • A number of the web pages haven't been updated since we began. I, and whomever else who wants to, need to go through and update them based on what we actually do now (as opposed to what we sat out to do). Etc. There are at least two things I've been thinking about adding.

    I think a site tour would be nice, or even a page or collection of pages to better help the first-time visitor, especially the newcomer. Perhaps even an introduction to online AA as a whole.

    Now that the Grapevine has a significant archives collection online, I think it might also be good to develop a Grapevine page, loosely patterned after the "About AA" page, only different (LOL). I've written to them to find out if they'd like to suggest content for such a thing.

    Oh, and the other big thing I can think of is: Is it time to redesign the site? Anybody sick of looking at the same thing yet? I'm working on some ideas, but I wouldn't change the overall design unless everyone liked some proposed new design, of course.



  • I've been doing this irregularly. You all saw the recent edition. I send it out to people who sign up for the email version (a little box on most pages of the web site). There are about 300 people on the list. I also post it on the "More Info" page of the web site. There's a back-end admin page where I do that, so it's automated. The program to develop the list and send the mail was free. The program that inserts the news on the "More Info" page was free, and modified by me to work with out site. It would be great to include more news, other news, news from others here or anywhere, but I people usually won't contribute to these things. I'll keep doing it for a while, then let it go.


  • I love the newsletter ! Why will you let it go ? Do you want people to contribute things? Is it too much work ? Is there anyone that could help you ?


  • I appreciate the newsletter and like Susan recognize that you do all the work on it. Perhaps it doesn't seem like a worthwhile use of your time because it's not the sort of thing we respond to? (Usually not even with a "thank you"?) Do you have some sort of image of what you'd like to see it become? Maybe there's a newsletter you like on another website we can look at to get some ideas of what could be done? And then, to get it going, how can we help? In the meantime, if it's not worth the time it takes for you to do it, and no one else will help, then it's certainly ok for you to let it go. Do you need my vote to give you permission to protect your time and energies? You got it! I admire and respect and appreciate (and sometimes am amazed) at all you do for this group – but I don't want to get a message from Susan that she had to put you in a rest home against your will to force you to take a break if you need one. Be good to yourself and do what you have to do.


  • This, I think, will answer previous questions. It's not about whether it's worthwhile, or even whether anyone responds to it. Of the 300 on the mailing list, now and then someone will write and say, thanks. But that's just the way it goes. It's really no different from the way these things go in the work world too. Rarely do I get feedback on a newsletter or web site unless something's wrong! LOL. I do it because I enjoy it and learn things from it and sometimes it's helpful to others.

    The reason for not doing it forever is because in AA we have "the spirit of rotation." We don't hang onto things forever, creating little power bases, etc. I'm not going to just dump the newsletter suddenly ... there is time to consider what comes next.

    Another side to that is, of course, about me. I've been blessed. I've learned a lot about AA. I've done that by taking on all sorts of service commitments. Staying in one place stunts my growth as well, is what I'm saying. So, hanging on to things is a bad idea for both AA and the individual service worker. Even the paid employees at GSO, who are there forever if they want to be, rotate through the various jobs (I'm talking about the staff people, not the Grand Mucky Mucks, such as the GM, of course.)

    Any contributions would be appreciated. They needn't be about the web site. They can just be about living sober, etc.

    I'm in a good position to do a newsletter because I see everything that goes on. Hopefully, someday, that – seeing everything that goes on – won't be the case. At that point, someone doing a newsletter would definitely need input from various people – from someone familiar with what's going on in the chat community, in the forums, on the mailing lists, with those we host, etc. There's time. There's plenty of time for a transition.

    Susan's specific questions mad me laugh (in a good way!). Those are the same questions she asked when I bowed out of doing our face-to-face General Service district newsletter. (Remember, Susan?)


  • I'm a firm believer in acknowledging service work folks do for the very reason you shared. There's just too little "thank you's" and "nice job!" in life....I never want someone to feel "taken for granted.". Oh, "[So-and-So] will do it, etc.". And thank you for sharing on the "spirit of rotation." We're beginning that process at our General Service District 01 meeting this coming Tuesday as the October elections will be coming faster than we realize. This December will be 9 years of continuous General Service work for me. It is so important for AA as a whole and for me as a grateful member of AA not to hold on to service jobs indefinitely. We have to "pass it on." Folks need to take responsibility and receive the joy … yes joy (don't laugh!) of service!!! And we don't need power-bases, which often occur slowly but insidiously as a result of holding on to AA positions far beyond primetime.


Services to Other AA Entities

  • We play host to two General Service districts, an Intergroup, a couple of guys who put together an online meeting directory for part of Massachusetts, a Bahrain web page, and, of course, We could take on more one-page things, but no more web sites. We're not running out of server resources, but we don't want to stretch them thin either.


  • Cool


  • How much of your time does it take to look after all this stuff?  Again, is it something you can have help with?


  • Re: How much time. After getting someone else's web site or mailing list set up, there's almost no maintenance. In fact, I need to contact some of those folks I haven't hear from in over a year now.



  • Online Intergroup and Online Service Conference. We're participating in both. We might also consider putting information on our web site about the Corrections Correspondence Service.


  • Cool. Guess there is a lot of politics involved with Intergroup and setting up the Service Conference – but I think its important to have representation there – and I really appreciate Barry and Mark – and you – for the work you all do. Also think the Corrections Correspondence Service information is a good idea.


  • Barry's turn to write stuff for everyone's consideration. Hope the internet lines to China stay open.


  • Corrections correspondence Service. Just a few introduction lines and a link to somewhere on GSO? You said earlier that the e-AA pages were getting crowded and maybe a little hard to get around? Maybe time to reorganize and get an index? Same old question – how to help you do what's needed so you don't have to do it all alone? I remember thinking at the time that I don't know anything about changing web pages and would be of no help. Maybe it's time for me to learn something new before my old general contractor's back and knees give out completely and I'm left with no gainful employment? Wanna teach an old dog some new tricks.


  • Yes – I thank almighty God, the higher power herself, for creating you people who can stand to do committee work. How you keep it up without resorting to personal violence and all loss of serenity is constantly beyond me. Thanks Barry! Thank you Mark!


  • Yep. It's Barry's turn. Cool.


  • Re: Corrections Correspondence. There's a standard block of copy, at least on The Grapevine site, we could use. It gives an address people can write to at GSO. Now and then we could say something about it in the newsletter. Not much to it.


  • Nearly all of the pieces we've been talking about have online administration panels. So, a person could take care of the forums, mailing lists (mostly administered by email), newsletter, faqs, quotes, search engine, links directory, etc. without knowing anything about making web pages. Eventually, I hope to convert the entire site so it can be easily changed (by responsible parties, of course) using online interfaces – no special software or knowledge needed.


  • You just don't see the violence! Yee Ha! Someday, for a hoot, you could subscribe to "The Open Forum" over at the Online Intergroup. It's the Wild West, a gunfight on every corner.


Steering Committee

  • I regularly invite people to join us, if they either consider themselves a member of this group or they participate regularly in any of the venues (chat, forums, email). If they hang with us, then it seems – to me – as if they should be allowed to have a say if they want. I do think that if there are other groups they participate in, then folks should pick just one when voting on stuff that affects other groups or AA as a whole (online or face-to-face).


  • Cool


  • My first thought? Is Dean going to invite EVERYONE? What if EVERYONE takes him up on the offer? Well, it's still REAL AA. It's a real group and our traditions are there for good reasons. What the heck. Send out the invite and see what happens! Do remember though, just to be fair, that you'll have to invite everyone to Chong's on Fridays.


  • I really haven't been inviting everyone. I have been quite specific when I mention this list. A person really does need to be a regular participant in the group in some way, in my opinion. I don't think that little qualification breaks any traditions (someone will correct me if I'm wrong, I'm sure). As you have seen, we don't get many takers. Most people just aren't interested in AA business, at any level. Most face-to-face groups – my opinion – make the mistake of throwing business items out at regular meetings. They invite confusion and disruption and participation by The AA Philosophers. There are some really good candidates for this list. Clark, for example, who's a regular in the chat rooms and the forums.


  • There are also things that should be left up to the individual segments of the group – in my opinion. For example, the people on the New Beginning mailing list should be allowed to determine their format and maximum size of the list. My opinion is that we – this list – shouldn't dictate to them. Same with the chat community. If there are folks who want to start a new meeting, cool. I'd even go further. They could be a meeting of our group, in which case they should send a representative to this list, or they could form their own group and we could host the meeting for them. Our role – authority, if you will – would be simply to ensure that the stuff that's going on is AA stuff.


  • I've already been inviting people for some time. Few takers, and that's a good thing.


  • Being new to this list, I totally trust what the group decides. Any if there is anyway I can help carry some of the load, let me know.



  • Temporary sponsors. Is there any interest in developing such a system for our group? In addition to the "calls" that come in to our 12th Step list, I get another 40 or 50 emails each month, some about getting started in AA. There are also occasionally posts in the forums about how to get started. I'm sure you chat community folks see that too. What we're talking about would be a list of people willing to serve as temporary sponsors. I haven't thought about the details of such a thing. Can't right now, but perhaps you all want to jump on it.


  • Members-only pages. There has also been some interest in having a section on our web site for photos and personal info. Yes, it could be password protected. A number of online groups do this.