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Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:53 pm
by GAA
Online Meeting Leader Guide
Guidance on online meeting etiquette (originally written by the Original Online Meeting Group)

The purpose of this guide is to give guidance to meeting leaders on how to support a safe, respectful environment conducive to open sharing and healing and how to handle the rare disruption or occasional straying from etiquette. The guide can be downloaded as a PDF file from the end of this post.

Don’t worry about remembering all of this information. Please read the first section General etiquette for leading meetings and refer to the remaining sections when necessary.

Table of contents
General etiquette
    Our general aim
    Meeting culture
    Other boundaries
    What is "cross-talk"?
    Modeling helpful sharing
Time limits
Who can be a meeting leader
Applying the traditions
Using outside literature as part of the meeting format
Calm leadership
Trolls
    Dealing with Trolls
    How to recognize that a troll pack has arrived
How to deal with disruption
    Dealing with lesser disruptions
    When to NOT address a seeming disruption
    When to consider talking with someone after the meeting
    When to address a disruption during the meeting
    One last reminder on gentle compassion

General etiquette
This guidance and our etiquette are not intended as rules. We are sharing our combined experience of what has worked in our meetings. Most of these things are probably obvious to you already, as they are part of the unspoken culture of our meetings. Most newcomers figure them out quickly on their own. We include them here to be clear on the group's chosen approach to hosting helpful, safe, open, and respectful meetings.

If you attend meetings of other groups and fellowships, you likely have noticed that different meetings have different norms and expectations on everything from how long to share, what to share about, how to talk about outside help, appropriate language, and so on. This guide reflects the etiquette that was decided by group conscience for the combined OOMG and EGGA meetings groups.

Our general aim
The organization of our meetings is fairly relaxed. One person volunteers to lead the meeting by reading certain material at the beginning and end of the meeting, greeting people, asking those with unfamiliar names if they're at their first GAA meeting, picking a topic, and sometimes filling in a bit of the silence between shares (mostly by asking, "Who would like to share next?"). We call this person the meeting leader or chair.

Next, people take turns sharing their personal experience of recovery from gaming addiction. During discussion, one person shares at a time without interruption or comment. Our aim is to have a supportive atmosphere where it is easy to participate, easy to listen, and helpful in learning to live well without video games.

Meeting culture
  • We want to allow enough discussion time for all who wish to share. Sometimes the meeting leader will write a private message to someone who has been talking quite a while, asking them to please wrap up soon, so everyone has a chance to share. Detailed guidance about time limits are given below.
  • We avoid controversial opinions on outside issues such as those involving political parties, government, or religion. People sometimes share about their own spiritual views and how that helps them in recovery, which is always fine.
  • We try to minimize profanity out of respect for others, but do not prohibit it.
  • While someone is sharing, we often make brief one-word written acknowledgements, like "nod", "relates", "hugs", or "congrats", but we avoid interrupting with cross-talk.
Other boundaries
  • While people very commonly mention recovery from other addictions briefly in ways that are quite helpful and relevant to their share, extensive sharing about problems with other addictions (rather than recovery) can detract from the purpose of the meeting. The leader may privately message someone and ask to please bring it back to gaming addiction, or may talk to the person about meeting etiquette after the meeting.
  • We ask those who do not have a problem with gaming (typically a family member of a compulsive gamer) to wait until after the meeting to ask questions or talk with others.
What is "cross-talk"?
  • Interrupting by voice or text is considered cross-talk (other than brief one-word written acknowledgements like "nods".) Generally we refrain from interrupting or interjecting commentary, even when well intentioned.
  • Evaluating or commenting about another person's share is cross talk. A brief mention about how you related to something in someone else’s share is common, but we don’t go beyond that.
  • Directly advising another person is considered cross talk. We generally share personal experience with the whole room and refrain from advice. It's fine to share experience that seems relevant to a particular person and it's fine to give brief encouragement, appreciation, or empathy.
  • Back-and-forth commentary between people is cross talk. In meetings, we each take a turn sharing from personal experience and find it disruptive when two people get into a back-and-forth exchange.
Modeling helpful sharing
People usually notice etiquette on their own. These suggestions are not meant to be advocated as part of leading a meeting, but are helpful to model when sharing.
  • We focus on overcoming video gaming addiction and learning to live life in all its many aspects and deal with difficulties without video games.
  • We generally avoid mentioning the names or detailed game-play of specific video games.
  • We often make mention of problems in our personal lives, but when we need to talk at length about a personal problem, we find it far more helpful to have a back-and-forth conversation with a recovery friend or sponsor outside of meetings.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:55 pm
by GAA
Time limits
After leading the same meeting for a while, a leader will get a sense of whether or not to suggest time limits. When typically there are long silences, no time limit is necessary. On the other hand, if people share one right after the other from beginning to end and not everyone gets a chance to talk, then a time limit is appropriate. Here are some general guidelines based on the number of people typically present by the end of the meeting.

Different online groups have different limits. OOMG has a 5 minute limit. EGGA has a 4 minute limit.
  • For typically large meetings (more than 15), the leader asks everyone to keep shares to the limit and gives a reminder when necessary. 
  • For typically middle-sized meetings (11-15 people), the leader may or may not ask people to keep their shares to the limit. It depends on past experience with how much or little the current attendees typically talk. 
  • For typically smaller meetings (10 or fewer), setting a limit is unnecessary. But if someone is talking a long time (10+ minutes) and it seems likely other people are waiting to share, the leader can privately message him or her.
  • When someone is sharing at the end of a meeting, the meeting leader can privately message him or her to wrap up so the meeting finish on time.
If a meeting is going to use shorter or stricter time limits, the regular attendees should decide that together in a group conscience meeting.

When someone is over the time limit, it works well to message the person how long he or she has been sharing. For example, “you’re at five minutes.” Give the person a minute or two to notice the message and wrap up. If the message is not noticed, you can speak up to ask the person to please wrap up soon. Alternatively, you can ask for a volunteer time keeper at the start of the meeting, someone who will notify people when they're at or near the time limit.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:56 pm
by GAA
Being a meeting leader

Anyone who has been to 15+ GAA meetings and has been off games long enough to get past the worst of the withdrawals can volunteer to regularly lead an OOMG meeting. (Other groups have other requirements.) The open spot is taken off the announcements and replaced with thanks to the person for volunteering. Anyone with concerns about the potential leader can raise them at or before the monthly business meeting by telling the chair (directly, or through the forum, WhatsApp meeting leader group, or leader email list at meetingleaders@gaais.org.) If concerns are raised, normal group conscience approval process is conducted. Otherwise, the volunteer is automatically approved. Once approved, the person's name is added to the meeting on the calendar.

If no one shows up to lead a meeting, any member present who is familiar with the format can lead it. The format is stickied at the top of the Online Meetings forum and is accessible through https://gaais.org/oomg-format and https://gaais.org/egga-format

Regular meeting leaders have additional software privileges like being able to mute or move people to the Waiting Room. They can make another participant co-host to help with duties.

If you are scheduled to lead a meeting and can't make it, please post to the WhatsApp group ahead of time or directly ask people to cover for you.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:57 pm
by GAA
Applying the traditions

The Twelve Traditions apply to GAA groups, business meetings, and recovery meetings. Here are some ways they apply.
  • Our meeting leaders are trusted to serve the group by upholding the decisions, format, and etiquette of the group conscience (per Tradition 2.) While trusted to make some minor decisions, a leader does not govern, discipline, make impactful decisions about ongoing format and etiquette, or in any way override the will of the group. If a leader is not respecting group decisions, the group may elect a replacement meeting leader. 
  • Anyone who has a desire to not game is a member of the group if they say so (per Tradition 3.) Anyone who thinks he or she may have a problem with gaming is welcome to participate in meetings, even if not yet ready to stop. 
  • The primary purpose of our meetings is to help each other with recovery from video/computer gaming addiction (per Tradition 5.) As noted above, sharing at length about outside issues can detract from this purpose.
  • Meeting leaders should be careful when making announcements, choosing an opening reading or ending prayer, or otherwise inserting statements into the format, not to imply that the group has affiliations with outside organizations (per Tradition 6), opinions on outside issues (per Tradition 10), or additional membership requirements (per Tradition 3.) This includes not advocating particular higher power concepts or outside recovery organizations like AA.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:57 pm
by GAA
Using outside literature as part of the meeting format

In the future, we hope that literature that has been approved or published by GAA will meet all our needs. For now, we allow limited use of outside recovery literature by meeting leaders. (This section applies only to the meeting format and meeting leaders. Individuals are free to briefly quote any literature they find helpful.)

To use an outside reading as a topic, re-word it according to these guidelines. Experience shows that keeping readings brief works best, typically three paragraphs or less at a time. For a short reading as a topic, please take the time to re-word to say “video gaming” and “gaming addiction” and change any specific higher power concept to "power greater than ourselves" or "higher power". Choose from literature approved by a recovery fellowship (AA, NA, GA, etc) which is appropriate for recovery from gaming addiction.

If a reading from another fellowship is used verbatim, please preface it with this statement and re-post the statement as more people join the meeting. “We're reading a brief selection from the __ fellowship to generate some discussion on the topic. GAA is not affiliated with the __ fellowship and their literature does not necessarily speak for us and our experience. GAA does not promote specific higher power concepts.”

If a meeting is going to make extensive use of a piece, such as using the same book or reading every week, the regular attendees should decide that together in a group conscience meeting.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:57 pm
by GAA
Calm leadership
We do our best to maintain a healthy, safe, supportive atmosphere. Generally each of us shares freely with whatever we're facing, from wherever we are at, each in our own style, and the rest of us listen without interruption. At meetings, people are generally accepting and supportive, even when sometimes people get off course by rambling off-topic, expounding on opinion, or complaining.

Even when people stray from etiquette, it is almost always best to respectfully refrain from interrupting. Sometimes a reminder of etiquette between shares (by the meeting leader or another calm member) is helpful. Sometimes a private message might be helpful, briefly quoting the meeting format or etiquette.

Remember to allow leeway with newcomers. Newer people need time to learn the ropes. Most of us learn as we go along by seeing the example of others and automatically hold ourselves to group norms.

If necessary, we use gentle reminders about etiquette and requests to wrap up soon rather than to “stop talking now!” Forceful controls like kicking or muting the person sharing are not appropriate with members or newcomers except in circumstances of extreme disruption.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 9:58 pm
by GAA
Trolls
Dealing with Trolls
Occasionally, a group of gamers hears about GAA and decides to harass us. Sometimes kicking a disruptive troll will be enough. Sometimes they keep returning. Unfortunately Zoom does not allow a permanent ban.

1. Claim Host so that you can boot someone if it becomes necessary.
2. Enlist a Co-host or two.
3. Under Security settings, disable everything. Hosts will have to unmute people when each one is ready to share.
4. Under chat settings, change “Participant can chat with” to "Hosts and Co-hosts Only"
5. (Optional) When 100% sure someone is a member, make them a co-host and they can share video and unmute themselves. Be aware that some trolls change their names and pics to match legit members, so it's good to recognize the member's voice before making them co-host.
6. There is a Suspend Participant Activities option, an emergency lockdown in case of extreme harassment.

We do not kick anyone unless we are 100% sure they are trolling, or if someone keeps disrupting despite the leader's warnings. If you are less than 100% sure, do not kick the person. Instead, use the Security settings to be ready for action if necessary.

How to recognize that a troll pack has arrived
Even if they're not immediately disruptive, there are some clear clues that a pack of trolling gamers is in the room.
  • A bunch of new, unregistered names show up around the same time 
  • One or two of them are eager to talk and interject commentary 
  • Their names may be suggestive of trolling, impersonation or disruption
  • They talk to each other 
  • They mention their favorite game titles
If you see these clues that users are part of a troll pack, it's important to lock down. You don't need to immediately ban them. There may be a legit newcomer who happened to arrive at the same time. But awareness helps to more readily take action when necessary.

Re: Online Meeting Leader Guide

Posted: Thu Nov 19, 2020 10:01 pm
by GAA
How to deal with disruption

Dealing with lesser disruptions
There are a few problematic issues that disrupt people's ability to listen, share, and benefit from the meeting. They don't happen often, but on the rare occasion one does arise, we need to be able to deal with it.

In keeping with our primary purpose to help one another recover from addiction, we need to approach difficult issues with non-judgment, calm, and understanding. A sense of humor can help, if coming from a genuinely loving place. Any judgmental or harsh speech in addressing a problem is likely to be more disruptive and harmful than the original problem. Try to frame your response in terms of meeting etiquette to make it less personal. Whenever possible, message or talk to the person privately, as a public correction can feel humiliating.

If you have experience in other groups or fellowships, please remember that what might be considered appropriate elsewhere may not be appropriate here, or vice versa. We follow our only authority, the group conscience as guided by power greater than ourselves.

When to NOT address a seeming disruption
  • Allow the meeting leader to address issues. If necessary, send a private message to the leader. 
  • If upset or aggravated or resentful, a leader should pause and wait, putting principles first. When addressing a problem, we should come from a place of calm and clarity. If necessary, ask another experienced leader to handle an issue or take over leading the meeting. 
  • When the person straying from etiquette is a newcomer still learning the ropes, it is usually best to not interrupt and not address it in the meeting. You could mention the etiquette after the meeting. 
  • Whenever it is at all unclear that a behavior is actually disrupting people's ability to benefit from the meeting, we should refrain from interruption.
When to consider talking with someone after the meeting
  • If someone was ranting at length, you might ask the person to talk privately after the meeting and help him or her focus on solutions. You could suggest use of a sponsor to get feedback and suggestions. 
  • If someone has been frequently straying from etiquette, it may help to talk to him or her about etiquette after the meeting.
When to address a disruption during the meeting
  • If someone has noise coming through their microphone, the leader should mute their connection or ask them to mute themselves. 
  • If someone speaks (or messages at length) over the person who is sharing, the leader should speak up and explain the meeting etiquette of one person sharing at a time. 
  • If the person continues the interruption, he or she can be muted to stop voice interruption. If the interruption is by text and the person doesn’t stop after repeated warnings, the leader can disable chat to everyone, or boot the person. The person can return as long as the interruptions stop.
  • If someone states controversial opinions on outside issues such as those involving political parties, government, or religion, the leader should speak up to address it immediately. 
  • While it's fine if a newcomer mentions that he or she wants to moderate or is trying to do so, we don't want to hear details about it. The leader should interrupt a detailed share about moderation and clarify that GAA's purpose is abstinence.
  • If a person who has previously ranted at length about outside issues in meetings is starting up another rant, it is appropriate to gently interrupt the rant and keep the meeting on track. Sometimes it might make sense to talk with the person outside the meeting, either immediately in a private room or after the meeting is over. 
  • If someone seems intoxicated or otherwise not in their right mind and has talked incoherently at length, ask the person to wrap up the share or consider asking an experienced member to invite the person for private conversation in another room so that the meeting can continue.
One last reminder on gentle compassion
We speak gently and with compassion for the individual and his or her situation. It is not uncommon for us to come into the fellowship with our self-esteem or our sense of personal security severely damaged by the illness of addiction, if not by many other issues besides. For many of us, recovery began with the loving, warm welcome we received from the other members in the fellowship. Let’s extend this welcome to newcomers and remember that the addict brain is seeking any little excuse to run away. How we respond to individuals in the meeting can not only affect their recovery, but also impact the sense of security that other members in the meeting feel. If one of us sees a clear need to address a disruption, he or she needs to be able to speak with calm and empathy or ask for the help of someone who can.