Terms and Conditions
The Silver Lake Study AA Group has created this site to serve two purposes:
- To communicate what Alcoholics Anonymous is and how it works to people in our community who might need us including alcoholics who still suffer, people who have family members or friends who suffer from alcoholism, professionals who work with alcoholics, and others, and:
- To create an online community for AA members through access to a password protected area. The password protected area includes functionality that allows the group as a whole to communicate with each other, provide reports to members following business meetings, discuss topics of mutual interest, and create a ‘social network’ among group members that is not public.
We consider this site similar to a closed meeting of AA. This means that membership is limited to those who have a desire to stop drinking, and that members are requested to limit their discussion the topic of alcoholism.
- Please note that we do not in any way speak for Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. Any views expressed on this website are those of members or the group conscience.
We have discussed and arrived at an informed group conscience regarding the establishment, maintenance, and ongoing operation of this site and believe it to be within the Traditions, Steps, and Concepts of AA.
Further, we’ve tried to gather and consider the experience of GSO and other groups, districts, and areas in operating our site.
Code of Conduct
We have several requirements for continued membership on our site. These are designed to create a safe and respectful environment for all members. If you have questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding these, you are welcome to provide this feedback at the ‘reply’ form at the bottom of this page. They will be considered at our monthly business meeting, which is held the third Tuesday of each month at 6 pm. Every member is welcome at this meeting.
- You agree to be respectful and civil at all times in our interaction with members and postings on this site.
- You agree to respect the anonymity of materials on this site just as you would sharing in a closed meeting – ‘Who you see here, and what you hear here, let it stay here”. This includes NOT forwarding any material from the membership area of the site into the public domain through email etc where such forwarding could be shared further beyond the intended recipient.
- You agree not to in anyway share member names or identities with anyone beyond the site without that person’s explicit permission
- You agree not to provide access to the membership area of the site to anyone else using your credentials
- You agree not to use your access to the site or materials on the site for any purpose other than those outlined above.
- Just as in a closed meeting of AA, members will try to confine discussions and posts to topics related to alcoholism.
When any internet user visits the site, standard information such as the users Internet Protocol (IP) address, pages visited, date and time of visit, type of web browser used etc. are collected. This is no different than nearly all sites on the internet.
Any comments published on the public pages of the site will be visible to anyone. Email addresses will NOT be included in comments or replies on public pages of the site. However, please remember that the contents of the comment or reply will be visible, so don’t use someone’s name, phone number, or other personally identifiable information in your comments or replies.
When a member signs up for the site, they additionally provide their email address and a user name, and select a password for their account. This information is stored online using what we believe to be best practices for protecting private information. The site may also create a cookie to store their credentials if they choose to make future visits to the site more convenient.
Any posts, comments or other submissions to the site will be visible to other members of the site by default. In most cases this can be further limited by the user or meeting by changing the settings and membership for features like ‘groups’, ‘discussions’, ‘documents’, ‘posts’ and ‘user profiles’.
If you have questions about any of this, please ask them in the comment box below, or email admin @ silverlakestudygroup. org.
The following materials were considered as guidance in arriving at our Group Conscience:
Decisions in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous are usually made through an informed group conscience and the decision to create a website is no different. Whether area or district, central office or intergroup, A.A. experience suggests forming a committee to discuss all aspects of the project, including all possible concerns about the Traditions. Unless password-protected and for members only, an A.A. website is a public medium, and, therefore, requires the same safeguards that we use at the level of press, radio, and film. Early on, it is important to agree upon a method for establishing the group conscience that represents the local A.A. community, and for informing local groups, districts and central/intergroup offices in an area (if affected) about the committee’s progress. When the committee has reached a consensus about its role and responsibilities and the scope of the website, its findings are shared with the whole body (district, area, etc.) and a decision is made through an informed group conscience vote on whether to move ahead with the development of a website. As part of this process, committees may wish to bring technical questions to experts in the field. A guiding resource of shared A.A. experience regarding websites is the G.S.O. service piece “Frequently Asked Questions About A.A. Websites.”
- Is an A.A. website promotion rather than attraction?
- As our co-founder, Bill W., wrote: “Public information takes many forms – the simple sign outside a meeting place that says ‘A.A. meeting tonight;’ listing in local phone directories; distribution of A.A. literature; and radio and television shows using sophisticated media techniques. Whatever the form, it comes down to ‘one drunk carrying the message to another drunk,’ whether through personal contact or through the use of third parties and the media.” The needs and experience of people in your own area, large or small, urban or rural, will affect what you decide to do.
- What about anonymity?
- We observe all of A.A.’s principles and Traditions on our websites. As anonymity is the “spiritual foundation of all our Traditions,” we practice anonymity on A.A. websites. Some A.A. websites contain password-protected sections for members only, but publicly accessible pages of an A.A. website have the potential for reaching the broadest possible audience and, Rev. 10/15 SM F-101 3 therefore, require the same safeguards that we use at the level of press, radio and film. For more sharing on this topic, see the resource page Anonymity — A Vital Spiritual Principle on G.S.O.’s website.
Deciding what contents to post on public websites requires careful consideration. As it is helpful when websites make minutes of meetings, reports and background material readily available to a broad population, it is also paramount to keep in mind that these documents may be posted in a public medium. Each document needs to be reviewed and edited to insure that the full names of A.A. members are not included. Some committees have one version of minutes for A.A. members only, which includes full names and personal phone numbers and email addresses, and a second version of the report that omits names and personal contact information so that minutes can be placed on the committee’s public website. In addition to local A.A. members, please remember that the following individuals are A.A. members and that their full names and photographs should not appear in publicly posted reports or on publicly posted flyers: Class B (alcoholic) General Service Board Trustees, A.A.W.S. and Grapevine Directors, G.S.O. staff members and some Grapevine and La Viña employees. If there is any doubt about placing a person’s full name in a report, it would be best to ask permission first. Some committees may find it perfectly acceptable to post full names and personal contact information on a password-protected website meant for A.A. members only. This will be up to the informed group conscience to decide.
Electronic mail is a widely used and accepted method of communication. It is now used regularly as a service tool in A.A., but as with any service, we need to ensure the Fellowship’s Traditions are maintained while still receiving the most benefit from this form of communication. When using email it is necessary to consider the anonymity of the recipients of messages. Sending messages to multiple recipients that disclose the email addresses of everyone on the addressee list is a potential break of someone else’s anonymity. Therefore, it is a good idea to obtain a recipient’s explicit permission before using his or her email address for A.A. correspondence, especially if it is a workplace email address. When sending A.A. mail to multiple recipients who wish to remain anonymous, use can be made of the BCC (Blind Courtesy Copy) option available on most computers.
It is not necessary to own a personal computer or laptop to utilize email. Many A.A. members in service who do not have computers use free email services to obtain an email account and specifically designate it as their A.A. email service. A.A. members can check their email accounts at public libraries, Internet cafes, and anywhere else Internet service is available. For A.A. service positions, generic email addresses can be passed from one trusted servant to another at rotation time. For example, the sample email address and account for firstname.lastname@example.org could, upon rotation, be passed on, maintaining the email address identity for the position, one rotation to the next.
Until relatively recently, A.A. members usually had little concern about placing their first names, last initials and personal phone numbers on flyers announcing upcoming A.A. events, since these flyers were typically given out only in A.A. meetings, left on tables at other A.A. events or distributed to members. Today, event flyers can be easily uploaded and viewed on websites, accessible to the general public. Due to search services on the Internet, it is now possible to utilize phone numbers to find out a person’s identity, including full names and, possibly, other personal information. If A.A. members become increasingly uneasy with personal phone numbers being placed on flyers, event committees may need to look into alternate ways of providing contact information such as an event email address
G.S.O. has heard of some districts and areas that have designated certain parts of their websites as “private,” which require the use of usernames and passwords to gain entrance. In some instances, the only requirement to receive a username and password is to state to the webmaster or another trusted servant that you are an A.A. member. In other cases, access is only available to those holding specific service positions. Website committees that are considering creating password-protected sections of their websites may wish to consider: what content is private and what is public; who will be given access to the private information, and how; and how usernames and passwords will be communicated, stored and/or maintained. Some websites use these private sections to change or update meeting information or trusted servant contact information. When giving the ability to a service worker to change content on a website or database, committees may wish to proceed with care. Members with the ability to change content may need training on the software used, and the committee may want to designate someone to review the data for accuracy. To date, G.S.O. has not heard of any major problems regarding nonA.A.s retrieving confidential A.A. information from these private sections. However, website committees may wish to discuss how they will safeguard confidential A.A. information, and how to avoid a breach in security. A.A.’s shared experience thus far is that some A.A. members feel comfortable using their full names and giving personal contact information on a password-protected A.A. website. However, other members are less comfortable providing this information for communication purposes, even for a password-protected site. Committees usually exercise care in helping members learn about new modes of communication, and continue to offer members the option of receiving A.A. correspondence by mail if preferred. G.S.O. has some experience with private, password-protected A.A. sites. First, the A.A.W.S. Directors and then the General Service Board of Trustees agreed to receive their background information via a “dashboard”—a username/password protected electronic communication tool. In 2008, the General Service Conference members also received their background information on a private dashboard for the first time. (All Conference members were also given the choice of receiving their background on CD and/or on paper.)
It is up to a committee’s informed group conscience to determine how best to approach service projects via the Internet, especially regarding C.P.C. or P.I. projects. It is strongly suggested that A.A. members not send bulk unsolicited email messages for A.A. service, i.e., email “mail shots.” By doing so they could be bringing the A.A. name into public controversy and damaging the reputation of A.A. as a whole. It may also be illegal, so get informed on the local and federal laws pertaining to email communication and spam. Instead, the committee could discuss the possibility of sending A.A. correspondence to a small number of recipients or sending personalized emails one at a time. Emails may be filtered into a recipient’s spam account so an alternative follow-up plan should also be in place in case there is no initial response. In addition to A.A. members continuing to make personal contacts, an effective route for interacting with professionals and the public has been to provide the link to G.S.O.’s A.A. website, aa.org.