Online Meeting Format

Video Meeting

Introduction

  • Meetings are based on the "3-S" Philosophy of Sobriety, Secularity, and Self-Help. See this link for more information. 
  • The Convenor is the host of the meeting and controls the flow and speaking times of the individuals in the meeting. The convenor will occasionally appoint others (co-host) to help out in the meeting. If the meeting becomes big enough (~ 16 or more people) the convenor might choose to use “Breakout Rooms” to create additional smaller meetings for the group.
  • Meetings are normally one hour long, but the convenor and others will frequently stay afterward if demand warrants it.
  • Meetings can be formatted in the following ways:
    • How was your week? (HWYW) - This format is used for the majority of the meetings. The attendee checks in with their first name and, if they want, recovery time. They then talk about their past week in recovery and whether there is anything coming up in the following week related to recovery which may be worrisome or exciting.
    • Topic meeting - Usually reserved for smaller groups or for special meetings. The convenor or attendees will introduce a recovery topic to discuss during the meeting.
    • WorkBook Meeting (WB) - These meetings are based on LifeRing’s Recovery by Choice, A Workbook which offers a structured approach for the recovering person to build an abstinence-based “Personal Recovery Program (PRP).
  • LifeRing supports cross-talk. Questions, ideas, supportive feedback, and positive experiences shared from your own recovery are welcome. Sometimes listening to others and knowing you are not alone in your recovery offers comfort and strength. Please refrain from offering advice and use “I” statements rather than “you should” statements.  

Controlling the flow of the meeting.

  • Since the quality of the connections over the internet varies with each person, the convenor will turn off the mikes of those people who are not speaking. Therefore, during the check-ins (HWYW format), it’s best to mute your connection while others are checking in.  You can indicate (make some visible sign, raise your hand, or type in chat) if you wish to respond with positive, supportive cross-talk and the convenor will acknowledge you.
  • The convenor might need to turn off your mic when you are not talking and possibly your video if deemed necessary. This is to prevent disruption in the online meeting environment. The convenor can remove someone from the meeting if an extreme case warrants it. We want to provide an open, non-judgemental meeting where everyone can participate in a free manner.  If you’re not actively sharing, please mute your mic so as not to distract others with background noise.
  • Additional examples of when the convenor might need to turn off an attendee’s video or sound or remove an attendee from the meeting.
    • Attendee is having a conversation with someone in their location or on the phone. If the conversation is in person, and the attendee is not wearing headphones, they should turn off the sound so the meeting cannot be overheard.
    • Something inappropriate visible in the background. e.g. a naked child, someone drinking.
    • Attendee is being abusive or disruptive to other meeting participants or the convenor. (e.g. critical/non-constructive feedback, personally attacking other individuals at the meeting, continuing a disruptive behavior after being advised to stop, etc.)
    • Use of alcohol, drugs, or smoking/vaping on camera. 

Chat Box Policy

  • Conduct yourself as you would while talking in the meeting. If it wouldn’t be appropriate to say in the meeting then it isn't appropriate to type it in chat.

Time Management

  • Please be mindful of the number of people in attendance and adjust your speaking time to allow everyone a chance to participate. The convenor may manage the time as well.

When to be silent at a meeting

  • If you are under the influence of alcohol or non medically indicated drugs, we appreciate the courage that it takes to attend   but we ask that you please remain silent during the meeting. Please identify yourself using chat and indicate if you would like to speak with members afterward if they are available.

Outside Attendees

  • If you are not in recovery but would like to attend the meeting, please identify yourself and tell the group why you are there.

Anonymity - This is the internet and things can happen beyond our control

  • If there is a concern, please change your screen name and leave your camera off. Use voice only. You may also choose to phone into the meeting.
  • Please feel free to share what you have learned in the meeting but please do not do or say anything that could reveal who was present there.
  • Use headphones or be somewhere where the meeting cannot be overheard.
  • LifeRing does not record recovery meetings.

Verification of attendance

  • The convenor (person in charge of the meeting) will post a link during the meeting to a URL that links to a Google form that you will need to complete for meeting verification (If the convenor forgets to post the link, please remind the convenor before the meeting is over). Fill out the form, then click on the “Submit” button. 
  • A “Meeting Attendance Verification” letter stating that you attended the meeting in question will be emailed to the email address you provided in the Google form you filled out. Please wait a day or two after the meeting is over for the email verification letter to arrive.
  • Meeting Attendance Verifications are only sent for attending one of the scheduled meetings, we cannot issue verification for time spent in the 24-hour Chat Room outside of scheduled meetings.
  • If the convenor did not post a verification attendance form link for a meeting you've attended, please email service@lifering.org with your screen name, the convenor's name, the day, and time of the meeting in question. The Google form link will be sent to your email address. 

 For any questions, please email chat@lifering.org.

Text Meeting

Be kind and respectful. Use language and content that would be appropriate at a family dinner. When a person is in need of support, change the topic to sobriety issues and attempt to provide the support that the person needs. If a chatter’s behavior is bothering you, set the chatter to ignore so that you do not see their typing, and send an email describing the incident including the date and time (Pacific) to chat@lifering.org.

Principles

  • In the LifeRing chat room, we ask that chatters be committed to:
    • Providing a supportive and respectful shared environment.
    • Protecting the rights of individuals to participate and remain anonymous.
    • Preserving individual rights of self-expression. 
  • Whenever an individual is disruptive to a supportive, secular and sober common chat space, we will act to protect the shared environment. Although we also recognize that LifeRing represents the diversity of its members, respect for others is the basis for all our sober conversations.
  • It’s very important that everyone enjoys the LifeRing chat rooms, and that the chat rooms support each chatter’s effort for sobriety. Those needing help for alcohol and addiction may include people from all walks of life and people of all ages, including young people and the elderly.
  • Our guidelines are designed to support a meeting that is safe, welcoming and supportive to everyone at all times.
  • These guidelines are not exhaustive and are enforced with a light hand and with common sense. Our moderators will often send you a warning if your behavior appears to be violating the guidelines, but warnings are not required. A moderator can remove you from LifeRing chat immediately, at any time, and for any reason, if they feel that it is to the benefit of the chat room, other chatters, or LifeRing as an organization.
  • Moderation is an art, not a science, and moderators walk a fine line and often are faced with no choice but to upset one chatter or another. Moderator decisions are made with the best interests of everyone in LifeRing in mind.
  • Moderators manage the chat room during the times between meetings. They are anonymous and are not allowed to discuss chat problems or issues with chatters. Those discussions should be directed by email to chat@lifering.org.
  • During scheduled meeting times, convenors manage the chat room. Outside of their own scheduled meetings, convenors have no special power, responsibility, or authority in the chat room.
  • Remember that our moderators and convenors are volunteers who are doing the best they can under difficult circumstances. Please treat them with respect, even when you disagree.

Who benefits from these guidelines?

  • The organization which sponsors the online meetings for their memberships selects the level of guidelines and moderation that are appropriate to the organization’s needs.
  • Guidelines may be brief and imprecise, which benefits the moderators by giving them a great deal more leeway in enforcing the organization’s perspective – or – guidelines may be detailed and explicit, which primarily benefits the chat community, by making it very clear what is expected in terms of behavior, by demanding consistency and fairness from the moderators, and by providing transparency regarding policies and procedures.
  • LifeRing has selected this latter course, and although the length of the guidelines may be daunting, it is good to keep in mind that by being specific about what is acceptable, meeting goers can enjoy a more predictable, consistent, fair and safe chat environment.

Problems in the Meeting

  • Anyone may respond effectively to chat room problems by setting a chatter to ignore, leaving the room, or by emailing chat@lifering.org to describe the incident. It doesn’t need to have happened to you for you to report it, you need only have witnessed or heard about a problem which may negatively affect others.
  • If you report a problem that does not involve you, you will receive a reply from the Meeting Coordinator, but you will not be informed about the progress or result of your complaint. This is to protect the privacy of the people you have mentioned.
  • To report a problem or to appeal the decision of a moderator, be specific about the circumstances and proposed solutions. Send your report to chat@lifering.org.
  • Always ensure that you include the following information:
    • The chatters’ names involved.
    • The name of the chat room where the incident occurred.
    • The text content of the incident.
    • The date and exact time of the incident in Pacific Time.
    • Your time zone.

Records That We Keep

  • LifeRing operates a strict logging policy in which all chat room activity is logged 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for security reasons. This is entirely for your own safety and our reference in order to effectively moderate the chat rooms.
  • Private messages are also logged and may be viewed by a board-approved administrator if required while investigating reports. Private messages are read-only to verify when a complaint is made via email to chat@lifering.org that someone is accused of violating guidelines in a private message that would require immediate banning. Then messages are verified and action is taken if required. Messages need not be verified if both parties agree fully as to the content of the interaction and provide matching chat transcripts from their own records.
  • By connecting to the chat rooms you agree that any chat – public or private — may be recorded and quoted to the Chat Coordinator via email by any participant, and any chat may be recorded and quoted by LifeRing staff and moderators in context and without restriction for the purpose of improving chat and resolving disputes.

For any questions, please email chat@lifering.org.