#stopdrinking /r/stopdrinking

Can you give us a description of your community?

  • Stopdrinking is a community for people to motivate each other to control or stop our drinking. We welcome anyone who wishes to join in by asking for help, offering advice from personal experience, sharing stories, or just encouraging someone who is trying to quit drinking or cut down on their alcohol consumption.

The general guidelines for participation are in the /r/stopdrinking wiki and there are some specific ones for IRC.

In the #stopdrinking channel we spend much of our time simply chatting and goofing around in a friendly and informal manner. However, the moment someone needs help or to talk seriously all that is needed is to say so and we drop our conversation, listen and try to help. If you are new, expect a bot and maybe a few humans to greet you when you first join but after that we won’t pester you. It’s left up to you to ask for help or to talk seriously. Otherwise, feel free to join in the banter or even just lurk. There is no “right way” to participate. The community guidelines can be checked to learn about the few “wrong ways” which are either discouraged or prohibited. In particular we ask that you do not participate in conversation when you are drinking.

What inspired this community?

  • The initial inspiration and organization came from /u/Franks2000inchTV. It was based on his vision that everyone feel welcome regardless of how we are trying stop or control our drinking. Today, this inclusive acceptance remains a guiding principle with the current mod team.

Inspiration in the community is bolstered by individuals sharing the benefits of sobriety and by sharing new problem-solving strategies and coping methods that individuals develop to help them stay sober. Getting sober and maintaining a non-drinking lifestyle are difficult for many people to understand, as are the issues that arise in pursuing their goal. The majority of adults do not encounter problems related to drinking on a level that many people on SD experience. The world can be an isolating, scary, confusing place for the newly sober person. Members in the community frequently express how safe and refreshing it is to interact with people that “get it”.

What sets your community apart from others?

  • In a general sense, the stopdrinking community is unlike many subreddit-based communities due to the care members have for each other. In SD, there is little animosity, arguments are generally rooted in a deep sense of concern for others, and there is very little negativity expressed towards members. There tends to be no ill-wishing, less troll activity and very few instances of bullying or massive downvoting.

There are other communities devoted to similar efforts. The Stopdrinking community is unique from many of them in that we do not endorse any particular program nor do we reject those that have at least some legitimacy. This is in keeping with the original vision of /u/Franks2000inchTV. Interestingly, many view Stopdrinking as having a strong bias as to exposing what is the “right way” to approach drinking problems. Through comments made by various individuals and from the 2014 Stopdrinking Survey we know that some think we are biased towards specific programs while others think we are biased against those very programs.

In reality, the team of moderators takes their responsibility very seriously and works hard to keep the sub’s content consistent with the community guidelines which call for the openness first envisioned by the sub’s founder. In particular there is zero tolerance for any kind of personal or commercial promotion (a big problem with many individuals and groups involved in the “recovery industry”). Nor is there any tolerance for abusive behavior. The Stopdrinking community is a place where people should feel safe from ridicule or worse. It is also not a soap box for telling people what to do. Part of the community guidelines is that members “speak from the I” which means to talk about “what worked for me” instead of “you should do this”.

What is your goal with this community?

  • Each individual member has personal goals. As a matter of course, the primary, shared goal is to control or stop our drinking. For some, our goals include helping other community members to obtain this primary goal. Offering this help often ends up also helping ourselves.

What is your community (in)famous for?

  • We do not seek fame, good nor bad. If any may exist it’s not the community’s concern.

What is the most popular post of all time in the subreddit?

  • The /r/stopdrinking subreddit is more about communication than “winning reddit”. As such, we tend not to strive to accumulate “fake Internet points”. We naturally have a lot of repetition and duplication in our posts and our replies. This is not discouraged as discussion and reaching out, particularly to new comers, is part of the process and thus some rehashing is expected. So, our posts tend to have a flat “popularity curve”.

That said, some particularly choice comments may get copied in to the sidebar as a “Quote of the Moment”. These are automatically cycled through the sidebar by one of our bots. Also found there are links to recent posts, posts lacking responses and a link to top voted comments broken down into various past time periods. Other links include the latest thread on bits of wisdom found in posts or replies and links in to the wiki on books, videos and music of interest to the community. The /u/rstopdrinking bot also trawls the posts and comments in order to make a summary report each week.

Do you have any favorite quotes or posts from your users?

  • Besides the collections described above, we have some quote type features as part of our #stopdrinking IRC channel on Snoonet. One bot lets you “grab” what someone just said so that it can later be retrieved, often at random and totally out of context. This is just for some silly fun. For more “deep” or simply longer quotes we maintain a quote database similar to “bash.org” on the web and accessible via one of the IRC bots.

What do you hope your community gains from this subreddit?

  • The community is essentially reliant on the /r/stopdrinking subreddit. Without it, the community would likely evaporate or with some great effort reform somewhere else. Reddit provides an almost ideal place for such a community. The ability for members to form online identities that are not linked to our offline identities is particularly useful for us as we can be open in our discussion without concern for the stigma that is often associated with the subject matter. We also benefit from the ability to interact with Reddit through its web API. This allows automated and customized management of our discussions and supporting content while not requiring us to expend the effort to create an entire web site from scratch. It also has allowed some integration between Reddit and our Snoonet IRC channels. This includes in-channel announcement of new Reddit posts, accessing user flair (badgebot badges) and other bits of Reddit information.

What have you learned from being a part of this community?

  • Many community members have learned how fantastic it is to be sober. We have learned that we are not alone in attempting to deal with our problems associated with alcohol. We have learned that many of us are still yearning to achieve sobriety and we need help which we have otherwise had trouble finding and for some, the Stopdrinking community is just what we were looking for. Another amazing thing we have learned is that we can actually change. It’s amazing enough to see it in ourselves but we can also see it occur in others even when observed through the narrow lens of exchanging text online.

Does your community have any traditions or special events?

  • Even cursory reading of the sub shows we enjoy celebrating all manner of sober anniversaries. We make use of reddit flair and the wonderful services of /u/sodypop’s /u/badgebot to keep track of the days. Usually people use a badge to track the number of days since the last alcoholic drink. But, this is not a requirement and the badge may be interpreted by the user however one wishes or even not used at all. Badges can also be accessed in-channel via one of the bots.

We have semi-regular Saturday Shares (not always on Saturday) where individuals who wish can give their story in some depth.

Organized IRC events include book club and movie nights. One of our earliest IRC bots taught us to celebrate Yi which we do when we have the tavtime.

One organizational tradition that we have intentionally created is to keep the moderating of the subreddit and the operation of the IRC channel loosely coupled. Most of the Reddit mods are not IRC ops and vice versa. Besides spreading around the work, this helps keep control distributed and hopefully removing any single point of failure. Given our nature, this balance of control is particularly important to the long term health of the community.

With both IRC and the subreddit we try to foster an emphasis on protecting the newbie as it is they who need the most help. In particular, this means that when a mod or an op must exercise their resonsibility and enforce our community guidelines the senority of the individual transgressor does not matter, only their behavior and such that it breaks our guidelines.

Does your community have any associated social media or websites? (facebook/twitter/instagram/etc)

  • The the Stopdrinking subreddit is our main social media. Various community members have started SDLocal spin off subs where we can organize meet-ups or providing area-specific information.

On Snoonet the community is in the channel #stopdrinking and we use #stopdrinkingmeeting for the book club, movie nights and any other (dis)organized events.