is creating a website to share recordings of 12 step speakers




per month

About xa-speakers

Help xa-speakers.org Grow

www.xa-speakers.org is a collection of curated recordings from the speaker meetings, conventions and workshops of several 12-step fellowships. We mainly host talks from Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon Family Groups as well as from Narcotics Anonymous, though we welcome any talk from a 12-step fellowship.

The site was established in late 2001, and we have been operating continuously for over one and a half decades. To date we have more than 2,600 recordings in our database in various categories. In the last year alone we have been visited by over 200,000 different users, generating more than 6,000,000 hits; each month the site consumes at least 2 terabytes of traffic. We have served more than 12,000,000 downloads since the site was born.

We are launching this Patreon page in order to help others to help us continue this valuable 12-Step work. With our growing user base we need more resources just to 'keep the lights on'. We also hope to add new features that our users have requested time and again over the years.

We are working to modernize the site so that we can add the following upgrades:
  • Podcast support, to make it easier to use the site on a mobile phone
  • Web-based upload, to streamline adding new recordings
  • Updated security, to guard against increasingly sophisticated hacking attempts
  • A very cool secret feature that we hope everybody will love and use (on't worry; you'll see it when we add it)
These goals are within reach, but we need resources to achieve them. You can help. By becoming a patron, even if it is only for a dollar a month, you can help us finish the job. If everyone who visited our site in the last 30 days donated one dollar we would cover our most ambitious fundraising needs for the next four months. Check out the Goals to the left for more information.

We now invite you to visit us at www.xa-speakers.org If you like what you see (and hear) then pitch in and help us grow. Thanks in advance for your support.

Interested in learning more before you commit? We have a long history of solid loving service that we are proud to share with you. Please read on.

Our history begins well over a decade ago...
  • Late 2001 - Launched. Ran in a shared environment, with no hosting fees. Ran what was then the latest version of a PHP script called paFileDB.
  • January 2002 - Bought the domain name, www.xa-speakers.org.
  • 2002 - Site became too large to run in a shared environment, so we bought an old server and got free internet access, which lasted until the traffic got so heavy we couldn't stay there for free.
  • Early 2003 - Began curating all submissions, listening to each talk before posting it to the page to ensure audio quality and usefulness to recovery.
  • June 2004 - Added news feed, FAQ and contact buttons. Updated the paFileDB script to the latest version (released in 2002) and, given the vintage script, modernized the look and feel of the site as much as was possible.
  • July 2004 - Began accepting PayPal donations. Despite concerns about being perceived as a commercial entity, some income was required to cover hosting and other expenses.
  • June 2006 - Due to consistent hardware failures with the older server we bought a new server using the PayPal donations
  • Summer of 2006 - Started, but did not complete, work on a new version of the site. Considered what we needed, what open source projects we could use, and what functionality needed to be written from scratch. This was much more difficult than it is today, as web developers’ idea of 'a site' was pretty much only what you get out of the box today with Joomla/WordPress. We paid a developer in the UK to create a new page, but couldn't use what they created.
  • Summer of 2007 - Bought new server hardware as we simply outgrew the old one.
  • Late 2009 - Found a web developer to write the new version of the site who asked all the right questions; he actually stepped on the brakes and refused to keep on adding features without getting the full picture of what we wanted. This we did and it is still ongoing. We did some very cool proof of concept features that we hope to make work in the web framework we're currently using for the new site. Sadly, our ace developer had less time to contribute to the project to to competing responsibilities. Further development halted, even as site planning continues.
  • 2015 - Yet another server move. This time a bit more permanent. Restructured the back-end to prepare for distributed hosting of the MP3 files.
  • Summer of 2016 -  A legal entity was created for the site in Iceland and the name and rights to the site were transferred to it. The entity’s charter requireds it to be both non-commercial and non-profit. Further, our web developer 'hardened' the vintage script so that it isn't prey to SQL hacks, which were starting to require daily interventions.
  • Fall of 2016 - Created a proof-of-concept of the site in Wordpress. The proof-of-concept does allow for web upload and ‘tagging’ of the recordings, so tags can be altered without downloading and re-uploading files.

This is currently being done on a shoestring budget. Costs are currently around 125USD/month, excluding what we pay the developer to develop the site. We get a lot of traffic, but we’ve never had any ads or outside links to cover the costs. PayPal funds have been used when possible; team members have used their own credit cards when not.

We’ve received a lot of email over the years asking for increased functionality. This hasn’t been possible, because of the old script. But we would very much like to address some issues as follows:
  • The software that powers the site hasn't been updated since 2002. Among other problems, the software:
    • doesn't support podcasting. Mobile phones just play the recording in the browser window
    • doesn't differentiate between streaming and actual downloads. When you click the download button on a computer, it plays the recording in the browser window rather than downloading it to disk. This was necessary to allow files to play on mobile devices
    • doesn't work properly with Firefox
    • doesn't allow for web-upload without also publishing the file, which prevents moderation
    • doesn't 'tag' the recording with the correct 'ID3 information' (the text you see when you play the recording in simply an MP3 player)
    • doesn't support a tag cloud, only categories. This has led to a few Al-anon talks being placed in the AA category.
    • doesn't allow for self-registration of accounts for uploading

We have also seen much criticism for not updating the site often enough. The reason is simple. The site's antiquated script makes all updates – deven small routine ones – very labor intensive. To better illustrate how complicated the current process is, here are the gory details.

If someone wants to upload a recording from his local speaker-meeting to the site, the process is as follows:
  1. The uploader contacts us via the website
  2. They get a boilerplate reply with the FTP server's address, assuming they typed their email address correctly
  3. They must download a "real FTP client" like Cyberduck (they can’t go through their web browser)
  4. They log into the FTP server and read the ABOUT_UPLOADING.TXT document
  5. They prepare the MP3 files according to the instructions and log into the FTP server with a username and password they get by following the directions in the TXT document
  6. They upload the recording and a text document with the factual information they prepared in step 5
  7. They send an email with the name of the recording to the address specified in the ABOUT_UPLOADING.TXT document

That’s a lot of work. Meanwhile, on our end:
  1. We get an email about a new file having been uploaded
  2. The fileadmin downloads the file to his computer and opens it in iTunes
  3. The fileadmin puts the factual information from the text file into the recording
    1. If information is missing (assuming the uploader has actually sent any information to begin with), the fileadmin contacts the uploader for the information
    2. They wait for a reply; if no answer is forthcoming, the fileadmin then starts scouring the net for the information
  4. The fileadmin uploads the recording to the auditing area and sends a link to the recording to the team in 1-3 different bitrates (levels of quality)
  5. The team members vote 'approved', 'rejected' or 'pass' and comment on the audio quality and whether the description fits the talk or not
  6. The fileadmin tallies the votes and either deletes the files or publishes it to the website, copying the contents of the MP3 files Comments field into the description field in the webserver's database

If there is something wrong with the the text describing the talk:
  1. the fileadmin then downloads the files again
  2. opens them in iTunes
  3. makes the changes
  4. re-uploads the files

With 3000+ files to keep track of, this has been quite labor intensive.

That's all the more reason why we want to fully modernize the site from the ground up. With a new site architecture we will build in the following upgrades:
  • Adding web-upload, web-audit and web-tagging of the recordings
  • Adding support for podcasting. The majority of our visitors use a mobile phone; we really should give them the ability to listen to the recordings in a podcast format
  • Adding greater flexibility in the categorization of recordings (no more Al-anon talks in the AA category)
  • Having intelligent management of multiple-bitrate files (the site’s visitors shouldn’t have to figure out what bitrate they want every time they download something)
  • Having an intelligent web-based upload. FTP is neither user-friendly nor modern. It makes it more likely we have to delete files for being mislabeled or corrupted. We need to see who has submitted files in case we need to contact them for file informaiton, and we’d like to provide status notifications to uploaders as files go through the approval process
  • Having the ability to purchase a CD of the talk directly from participating tapers
  • And much much more. We have more than 100 features, big and small planned!

To be able to accomplish this we need your help. We may have gotten the art of keeping costs down to a fine art, but we need to pay the developers to finish the site.
$230.45 of $355 per month
Goal 3 of 5 - Improvements in infrastructure - Security (Advanced)
A more expensive security service featuring advanced DDoS security and–probably most importantly for users–end-to-end encryption of traffic.

All funds in excess of this goal, up until the next goal, will go toward further development of the site.
3 of 5

Recent posts by xa-speakers

How it works

Get started in 2 minutes

Choose a membership
Sign up
Add a payment method
Get benefits