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Help shape a new phase for Living Sober

July 25th, 2017 Guest Posts

This guest post is by Nathan Brown (@nathanb) from the NZ Drug Foundation, the organisation which maintains Living Sober.


Let’s start a discussion about what happens next on Living Sober. Two big developments, which I will explain, mean we need your support turning them into opportunities to take the community forward.

Mrs D started this when she shared her gutsy and raw journey with alcohol so powerfully. She then invited each of you to join her in growing Living Sober into the caring and vibrant community it is today, three years later. Just as Living Sober would not exist without Mrs D, it would be nothing without you, the members. So now especially, we need to call on some of that community spirit.

Firstly, Mrs D and I received unwelcome news from our technical partner last week. Top of our agenda was the ‘lost post’ bug in the Members Feed, which I’m sure some of you have experienced. After hearing about their attempts to scour the world for a developer willing to help, we were told that the bug cannot be readily fixed. The reason is that Living Sober is a victim of its own success and has outgrown the platform it was built on. To fix this issue, protect against future issues, and allow for continued growth and improvement; the solution is rebuilding Living Sober under the hood. The good news is that we have saved money from previous years for a task like this, which means we can do this work and potentially make it better. The challenge is that this is a complex task and we must take care to preserve what it is that makes Living Sober work with the limited budget available.

The other big challenge is that we must adjust to a tighter funding situation for Living Sober. The Government agency which partners with us and Matua Raki to fund Living Sober has announced their continued financial support, but at a reduced level. This is because all the partners see the positive and real impact the community has on members’ lives. The challenge is for us to make Living Sober stronger, but with less.

While these challenges require action, this is not the first time we have thought about the future, or asked you for ideas and looked at proposals to improve the community. It’s now time to put some of these ideas into action.

Two-point plan
To address these challenges, we have outlined a two-point approach which we need your help fleshing out further.

Members moderate
Like many online communities, a new kind of member called a moderator will be introduced. Moderators will be promoted from the existing membership to strengthen the community by picking up some moderation ensuring that the community is the caring place it always was. Mrs D will manage the moderators.

Refresh and rebuild
The site will be rebuilt under the hood while taking care to preserve the most successful elements of Living Sober today. The look and feel of Living Sober will be retained but we can rethink what’s there, and identify areas to improve.

People come here for help and not only do they find it, they also find themselves generously giving much more. Above all, this is what we need to protect and strengthen. Please comment below to start the discussion and Mrs D and I will be around to listen and respond. What are your ideas and concerns? What are the most important and least important features of Living Sober to you? What parts of Living Sober need to be improved?

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