Thursday, April 22, 2010

I am building a new addiction site

Having found a very good deal on hosting services, I have taken the step of getting a new domain (a couple actually) and am in the process of building an addiction web site with forums. The domain is and I have rather ambitious plans for the site. I would like to utilize the main page as a clearing house for information and have (ideally original) articles by addiction professionals, doctors and researchers posted a couple times a week.

I will also be creating a forum for people whose lives are affected by substance use disorders and people who suspect their lives are affected by substance use disorders - their own or someone else's. This is where I could possibly use a little help. I am committed to making this a space that is completely safe for people who are afraid of others finding out they are spending time at an addiction forum. This means that rather than just making it possible for users to post anon to the outside world, I want to provide assurance that administrators and moderator don't even have access to information that could identify forum members. This means not only providing means for creating accounts that hide all personal identifiers from everyone, but also hides their ip address and such.

I am honestly not to sure about how to make that happen, though I will be talking to the tech people who work for the host about it. I am using Drupal content manager, running on an apache server. I will also need to be able to keep track of the amount of traffic, even if I cannot keep track of any identifying information about the traffic.

The other thing that I am hoping to accomplish is the development of a forum for addiction professionals, researchers who study substances of abuse and MDs. Possibly even creating a whole different front page - or at least a feed (possibly keyword filtered for user preference) that identifies recent items. I know that this is less likely to come together - at the very least I expect it to be rather difficult to get people who are as busy as everyone who fits the requirements to actually take the time to make it happen. But I have long felt that communication between people doing relevant research and the people who actually deal with people with substance use disorders could be exceedingly valuable. And I think that MDs - especially those who work ERs, could also get a lot out of communication with addiction professionals. For that matter, it might be appropriate to invite emergency service providers into the discussion.

The other thing I am hoping someone might be able to help me with - or even possibly just create, is a news feeder for picking up addiction related news. Something that can be set to filter content from sites that turn out to provide inaccurate information.

Finally, I am also looking for people who have a bit of spare time, who could help as moderators. I have the tentative commitment of one person and would like to shore things up rather solidly. As the site isn't even up yet, I don't expect to need much help initially. But I am hoping to build things up rather quickly and would like to make sure that everything is covered. It really shouldn't be all that complicated. There are few enough restrictions that there really shouldn't be too much trouble. I am trying to set things up so that users can kill file other forum members if they run into conflict and also will be asking users to self flag posts that contain profanity, so that users who wish to avoid that can do so easily. Basically moderators would mainly deal with posts that should have been self flagged and weren't and personal threats. The only other issue that may be very complicated is users who set up multiple accounts so as to continue harassing users who have killfiled them - or who have been banned for refusing to respect the very few rules that will be in place.

Other than that, I expect to open the site within the next ten days. It will probably need some tweaking here and there - I have never set up a site before and have little help. But we will be ready to start talking by May 2nd at the latest. And unlike my last, rather blundered attempt at creating an addiction community (for smokers), I think this will work out much better. I think the biggest problem with that was the attempt to create what should have been a forum in a blog format.

I will also note that there will be no advertising on the site - I am rather up in the air about a donation button. I would like to recoup my costs if possible, but I am not terribly comfortable with creating any pressure for anyone who wants to use the site. I am going to keep the site as politically neutral as possible, not offering any "official" Talking Addiction position on anything except for the advocacy for more humane treatment of people dealing with addiction or addictive behaviors and people with other mental problems. I want this site to be a very comfortable and safe place for people to come and talk - including people who have yet to admit or who aren't really sure if they really have a problem.

Finally - a couple more important points; Sobriety is not a requirement for membership - or even for posting. And membership is not restricted to substance based addictions. There are all manner of behaviors that qualify as addictions and Talking Addiction will not discriminate. This is to be a site for people who are suffering from addictions and/or substance use disorders and anyone who either has (or thinks they might) those sorts of problems or knows someone who does will be welcome.

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