In the early days of the Internet, before modems were a household necessity, Scott Kurnit and Bill Day decided to create a new network to meet the needs of a growing Internet population. Their vision was to have a community of topic-specific websites that were written, managed and maintained by experts who were passionate about the topic.
They called their new network "The Mining Company" and their slogan was, "We Mine the 'Net So You Don't Have To."
To that end, in late 1996, they began recruiting experts on a wide variety of topics of interest. They searched the web for the best websites out there on those topics and they recruited those webmasters to come to work for Miningco.com.
I Picked a Topic
One of the first experts they recruited happened to be a former newspaper colleague and friend of mine who I had recently bumped into online via email after many years.
Because my friend was dealing with a family member who had a serious substance abuse problem, I had shared with her via email my experience, strength, and hope as a member of Al-Anon Family Groups with family members of my own who were struggling with addiction.
After The Mining Co. recruited her for their network, she told me about it and asked if I was interested. I checked it out, reviewed the various topics that were available, picked out one that I thought I was qualified to manage, and got back to her.
God Had Other Plans
"No, no, no!" she said when she read my choice of topics, "You know more than anyone I know about alcoholism. You need to apply for the Alcoholism site! I'll check to see if it's still available."
So, that's how I, a non-alcoholic and a non-member of Alcoholics Anonymous, decided to apply to be the alcoholism expert at The Mining Co. I figured they would want a professional addictions counselor or at least a member of A.A., but because of the work I was doing on some Al-Anon-related websites - some of which are still around - they accepted my application to my surprise in December 1996.
The Mining Company called their experts "Guides" instead of experts and their websites "GuideSites." So therefore, I became the "alcoholism guide."
Send Me Your Guide!
During the 20 years that I worked for the company, which later became About.com and after three ownership changes morphed into VeryWell.com, I received a lot of emails from people requesting information. Many of them would say, "Please send me your Alcoholism Guide."
I had to explain that they had to go to the website to get the information they needed, because I, the guide, couldn't exactly fit into an email message."
At one point in the early years of The Mining Co. while the network was undergoing a design change to spiff up its appearance, some unknown staff member changed the META title to the Alcoholism guidesite to "The Alcoholism Home Page."
People Seeking Solutions
And for years it was exactly that, the most popular alcoholism destination on the Internet getting millions of visitors each month. At the height of its popularity in September 2013, the site recorded 5.1 million page views during that month.
It was an awesome thing to behold from my vantage point: all those people hopefully finding the help and resources they needed to find solutions to very real problems in their lives.
When the new owners of the network decided first to do away with individual GuideSites and later decided not to renew my contract this year - along with many others - I decided that I would slowly rebuild The Alcoholism Home Page to try to keep helping people find solutions that lead to serenity.
But this time, I'm calling the website "The Alcoholism Guide" to cut down on the confusion."