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 e-aa.org
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!
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
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
(http://www.e-aa.org/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi) 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 (http://www.e-aa.org/links/index.php),
though I don't recall how many of the events are outside the United States
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 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.
Our directory (http://www.e-aa.org/links/), 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
soberspace.com. 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
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
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.
You are so right with directories on the web. The
increasing requests coming from our website,
http://www.aa-europe.net, 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
http://www.e-aa.org/links address so
I didn't mention the other really good AA directories
out there. The AA Europe site (http://www.aa-europe.net),
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 (http://www.aa.org). 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 (http://www.alcoholicsanonymous.org.au/),
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
For an example of an amazing meeting directory, take
a look at Tom E's interactive directory for New York state:
http://www.ny-aa.org/. 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
For online meetings, the Online Intergroup's
directories (http://www.aa-intergroup.org) 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 e-aa.org 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
(e-aa.org) up pretty near the top of many lists:
Yahoo (Canada): #6
DMOZ Open Directory: #8
MSN (Microsoft): #15
Hot Bot: #26
Alta Vista: #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
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.
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 e-aa.org web site, you'll
find a box on the About AA page where you can search the entire GSO web
site (www.aa.org). 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.
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?
Just for Fun
* 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.
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
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 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,
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, aa-europe.net. 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.
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!
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.
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).
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.
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.