AA and Electronic Communications
- Bulk Email (Spam)
- Conference Calls
- Electronic Communications Liaison Officer
- Local Websites
- Important Points to Remember
The purpose of this guidance is to provide practical help for AA members, groups, intergroups and regions who wish to use electronic communications in their service work.
“A vast communications net now covers the earth, even to its remotest reaches… nothing matters more to AA’s future welfare than the manner in which we use the colossus of modern communication. Used unselftshly and well, it can produce results surpassing our present imagination.”
Bill W, The AA Grapevine, Inc., November 1960
This guidance is not intended to be a technical manual; its purpose is to give guidance on the appropriate use of electronic communication in AA service work, to outline the role of the Electronic Communications Liaison Officer (ECLO) at intergroup and region level and to Alcoholics Anonymous Great Britain (AAGB) policy in respect of our presence on the Internet.
Electronic mail is a widely used and accepted method of communication. It is cheap, effective and very fast – and is used regularly as a service tool in AA. It is, therefore, vitally important to ensure that our use of this facility conforms to our Traditions, and special care must be given to guarding the anonymity of our members. It is recommended that the blind carbon copy (bcc) option be used when emailing multiple addresses, unless all recipients have agreed otherwise.
It is not recommended that workplace email addresses are used for AA work. As well as a potential breach of anonymity of the member, many employers object to employees sending/receiving private emails and actively monitor their systems.
It is recommended that officers at intergroup/region use AA email addresses for service correspondence rather than their own personal email addresses. Not only does it give a more professional appearance, especially when emailing to recipients outside the Fellowship, but it ensures continuity as the AA email address is transferred to the next office holder when rotation occurs.
Bulk Email (Spam)
The term “spam” is widely used as a derogatory term for any kind of unwanted electronic communication and is seen as a major nuisance. Spam is email sent to a recipient not known to the sender, and/or mail that has not been specifically requested by the recipient. Adding inappropriate or out-of-context messages to mailing list communications could also be included under the spam heading.
It is, therefore, strongly suggested that AA members do not send bulk unsolicited emails for AA service work i.e. email “mail shots”, as to do so could bring the AA name into public controversy and damage the reputation of AA as a whole.
Conference calls via the internet are a most cost effective method of verbal/video communication.
Various communications programs enabling video and conference calls are downloadable from the Internet. This often free facility enables free calls to be made computer to computer
– with the ability to transfer documents between the callers as an added benefit. Such systems can allow calls both between computers and computer to telephone, so it can be an ideal way for small numbers of remotely situated members to engage in discussion, but is not recommended for meetings of more than 10 as it becomes unwieldy.
Conference calls and internet communication could be considered as a way of reducing the costs of small service meetings.
Electronic Communications Liaison Officer
The principal role of the ECLO is one of liaison, communication and co-ordination between groups, intergroup, region, and the Electronics Communications Sub-Committee (ECSC)
- and to facilitate correlation and dissemination of relevant information between these principal service Therefore a good understanding of the Traditions and Service and Structure Handbooks is more important to the role than technical knowledge. A minimum of three years’ sobriety is recommended, and a general competence with the use of computers.
If desired, a committee of technically skilled members could be formed to assist the ECLO in setting up/maintaining/updating any local website, with the ECLO acting as Chair of this committee. Such a committee would provide an opportunity for less experienced but technically skilled members to engage in service.
- Is the liaison point between the local Fellowship and the AAGB website team, advising the intergroup/region on the availability and use of the facilities available on the AAGB website
- Is responsible for checking the accuracy of any local information posted on the website (i.e. meeting list addresses, local webpage content etc) to ensure that out of date or misleading local information is not published on the website
- Plays an important role in the recruitment of national webteam members (Online Responders, Forum Moderators and Technical Web Assistants), giving guidance and assistance to members applying for positions on the national webteam.
The AAGB website provides hosting for local websites free of charge and is maintained in accordance with our Traditions and the guidance given in our Structure and Service Handbooks.
To host local sites outside of the AAGB website incurs costs and charges, therefore it is strongly recommended that any local group, intergroup or region with a website take advantage of the hosting facilities provided by the national AAGB website to host their local site, thus saving AA money and promoting Unity.
The content of local websites should be kept updated regularly by those responsible.
If any personal data is retained, due care must be taken to comply with all relevant legislation. It should be noted that the only websites which can be truly called AA websites are those
which are endorsed by an official AA service body, i.e. intergroup, region or country.
Important Points to Remember
Although there can be many advantages to using electronic communications, we must always remember that there can also be disadvantages. Care must be taken to ensure that no member is disenfranchised through lack of a computer or internet connection.
When using email in PI work, remember that your email may be the first contact the recipient has ever had with the Fellowship – and first impressions matter. Use an AA service email address to send to recipients outside the Fellowship.
Remember the recipient of your email cannot see your smile, or hear the tone of voice you use, so it is easy to give offence where none was intended. Be aware, also, that your email could be passed along to other recipients, unknown to you.
Courtesy and politeness in written communications is always essential, and we need always be mindful of our Traditions and general code of conduct.
When posting information in the documents library, remember it is accessible to all.
Note that using the File Storage area cannot guarantee the security of documents – while every effort is made to maintain stability it should not be used as a sole archive.
Electronic communications are evolving swiftly. New features and services, which are not possible at the time of writing this guidance, will appear. There will be greater advantages to be gained – and greater pitfalls to avoid. We are responsible – not only for making the best use of the service and facilities available – but also of ensuring that it is used with integrity and in accordance with our Traditions. If we do this, we will not go far wrong.
Reprinted with permission of the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Ltd
© 2013 General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain) Limited Registered Charity No. 226745, SC038023