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SoberFolk.org is a Joomla based internet site.  Joomla is an open source software system developed by people and groups around the world.  There are thousands of plug ins to this system developed by different companies and individuals all over the world.  We have tried to select the best of these for our purposes.  We probably have over a dozen installed. The most significant of these is JomSocial a reasonably priced commercially sold product.   Additionally there  are plug in to this JomSocial system as well some of these are free some are sold.  Almost all of these software systems continue to be developed and enhanced so each of them must be updated on a regular basis.  So keeping all of this held together and moving in the right direction is the responsibility of Subikar and his team of developers and designers at ITCSlive.com.

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There are literally thousands of products that work with Joomla.  Sometimes when we need a given function we have to check out hundreds before we find one that does exactly what we want for today’s problem but also for the future.  There are many systems that have been installed on this site that we are not currently using because of the effort that it will take to populate the databases for those systems and incorporate them into the site.  We have big plans for the future, but we try and live a day at a time.

This site has been under development for a long time but only went live less than nine months ago.  Since then our membership has gone from 0 to 6,000.  We couldn’t have done that without the very hard work of all of Subikar and all of the people at ITCSlive.com   If you are interested in building your own social networking site please feel free to contact me or Subikar and we will be happy to explain how we put this together and why we made the decisions that we did.   My strongest recommendation would be to hire Subikar and his team to implement your site.

The ideas behind this site were developed 15 years ago when I started another social networking site called Digital Democrats.  That was back in the early 90’s.  When I started that site my first major supporter was Theo G.   Her support and encouragement allowed me to launch that site.   Later in that effort I was joined by a partner James B. whose dedication and vision allowed us to build that site to the point that we had 50,000 members.   The ideas for this site were taken entirely from that experience.   So I dedicate this site to Theo G and James B and their foresight.

Digital Democrats was extremely expensive to build without James’ generosity it would not have happened.  The cost of our monthly computer systems alone were prohibitive.  Every function that we had was built by hand.  While there were application generators they were very crude by today’s standards and the problems were overwhelming.  The email coming in because of problems etc was swamping us.  So when I started this operation my objective was to find a public domain version of all of the tools that we needed so that we could modify existing software.  The amount of money that James spent in that great cause was massive.  But this site could not have been built without the lessons that we learned from that effort.  So for that reason James is the father of this operation as well.

When you build a site by hand you learn a lot more than about how each of the pieces fit together and how to select the best piece for the function that you are building and for the functions that will come later.  Much like if you built a car by hand when you jumped behind the wheel of a car you would have a different impression of that car than the person who had only purchased it.   But investing all of that time money and effort also makes you afraid to take that car on the road for fear of what it might cost you if anything goes wrong.  So when I started this effort I really needed support and encouragement and Theo was there again with that most important early money and encouragement.   She was there like she always has been encouraging people to go out and try new things to carry the message.

In order for us to continue to develop this site as rapidly as we want there are two  things that we need;  money and support.   Frankly the support is the most important right now.   But money always helps build functions faster and better.  Our members are beginning to contribute financially.  And while the amounts they have contributed are not enormous objectively they are HUGE to me.  These are very difficult economic times and everyone is watching their expenditures so for members to voluntarily contribute is very heartwarming to me.   Some day we will get to the point that the AA meetings are self supporting but right now I am thrilled that the number of meetings is now over a dozen and the number of people in the meetings is growing.  I would much rather have people than their money.

We need more people to come to this site, make friends, create groups and to help us spread the word all over the world.  We need greeters 24 hours and day seven days a week.  If we could get more people to come on the site and greet people when the come here; over time that will make all the difference.  If we can get people to go to yahoo groups, and Google groups and to Facebook and MySpace and help us spread the word then slowly but surely we will be able to reach our goal of meetings  24/7.

We have found a lot of people around the world that do not speak English but are members of AA in their country so our latest effort is how to offer support in various languages?  As Bill Wilson wrote  “more will be revealed.”