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Chat Decorum Guidelines and Dealing With Disruptions

The terms "gag," "kick," and "ban" are used in this document. That is the language of the software.

  • "Gagging" means that a person remains in the room and can type, but text does not appear in the chat room itself.
  • "Kicking" means that the person is removed from the room and logged out; he or she can log back in any time.
  • "Banning" means that the person's IP address is blocked; he or she, if using the same IP, cannot log back in.

Decorum in General

Standard Internet decorum applies (see any reputable ISP's "terms of use" policy). The following are not allowed (anywhere on the e-AA web site or email lists -- or within the chatrooms):

  • content that is unlawful, harmful, threatening, abusive, harassing, tortious, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, libelous, invasive of another's privacy, hateful, or racially or ethnically objectionable.
  • content that will harm minors in any way.
  • content that infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright, or other proprietary rights of any party.
  • any unsolicited advertising, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain letters," "pyramid schemes," or any other form of solicitation.
  • Any non AA approved links in chatroom of any kind.

Decorum Guidelines

The following are chatroom-specific examples of inappropriate content.

We neither endorse nor oppose other AA sites.

Please do not provide links to other sites in our Fellowship Room.

The following approved link may be helpful:

  • Extended discussions of non-AA programs (see Note 1 below).
  • Recommendations and discussions of what drugs or medications a chatter should be taking (aka "playing doctor") : " It was realized early on that A.A. could not solve all the problems people have and long ago chose to limit its primary purpose to helping people recover from alcoholism only. Drinking too much is just about the only thing we all have in common and many fear A.A. would lose its identity and effectiveness if it were to address problems other than alcoholism."
  • Quoting, just because he or she can, line after line of religious or other texts, unrelated to any current discussion thread and intended to disrupt (imagine, for example, trying to chat with a newcomer and every other line on the screen is a quote from the Bible).
  • Harassment or "stalking" of any type.
  • "13th Stepping" and extended flirting, or "virtual sex" (see Note 2 below).
  • Sexual innuendo and crude remarks (see Note 3 below).
  • Profanity (see Note 4 below).
  • Personal attacks.
  • Anti-AA (or anti-e-AA Group) remarks and discussions.


  1. The goal is to NOT portray AA (or the e-AA Group) as something it isn't, or to suggest that AA (or the e-AA Group) can help with problems other than alcoholism (see the pamphlet "Problems Other than Alcohol"). Obviously, though, if someone is in the chatrooms who could benefit from Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, etc., the chat folks will encourage them to take advantage of those programs.
  2. "We do not want to be the arbiter of anyone's sex conduct" (p. 69, "Alcoholics Anonymous). Nor do we (or the newcomers) need to witness it -- or pay for it. If two people want to "hook up," that's their business, and they can exchange email addresses or IM names or Skype numbers and take it elsewhere. In addition, there are some who frequent the chatrooms to prey on new people, going so far as to, in the background, call in their buddies to participate as well. And so on.
  3. Actual example: A woman comes in and announces that she is from Georgia. Then a male says, "Hey, Georgia, shake those peaches!"
  4. Profanity has not been a significant problem within the chat meetings, but the main room (aka lounge or Fellowship Hall) has experienced severe and often long-lasting outbursts. We realize that mild profanity isn't unusual in AA meetings. However, the chat folks can and do make use of the chat software's built-in profanity filter, adding to the word list as needed.

Handling Disruptions in the Chat Meetings

Disruptions in chat meetings are rare. The most common type is the person who is there for the first time and "talking over" everyone else, trying to figure out how things work. The chat folks don't even call this a "disruption." This is where the greeter comes in, orienting the new person by use of the "Private Chat" feature.

The few actual disruptions are handled in the manner described in the next section.

Handling Disruptions in the Fellowship Chat Room

Because disruptors are loud and persistent by nature, it is easy to assume that disruptions and inappropriate behavior are frequent or overwhelming. That is not the case. The vast majority of chat users are simply trying to help suffering alcoholics or are themselves suffering alcoholics seeking help.

No one is expected to know all of the decorum guidelines in the beginning. No one gets gagged, kicked, or banned for "first offenses," unless we are talking about an obviously purposeful "attack" on the chat rooms or on an individual. It is the responsibility of the monitors -- along with every member of the e-AA Group who uses the chatrooms -- to help orient new people, whether new to sobriety or to the e-AA chatrooms, to the decorum guidelines.

Usually, guidelines are explained, often more than once. Prior to gagging, kicking, or banning, warnings are given, sometimes one, sometimes many, depending on the situation. At present, monitors have all three options (gagging, kicking, banning) available to them; this can be changed through the configuration file.

Refer to the above guidelines for examples of who might get gagged, kicked, or banned. Such actions are usually taken only after repeated warnings, and they usually are taken against an individual who has been a problem not just for hours but for days or weeks or even months.

Someone who gets gagged or kicked quickly or "on sight" is known to have been disrupting the chatrooms for an extended period of time already.

Banning is, and has always been, the last resort. The normal length of time is a day or two, occasionally longer. There are no permanent bans, at least none approved by the chat folks or the group. In any instance, anyone whose IP address has been blocked is welcome to email the chat folks and say something like, "Hey! I was wrong. I need this AA thing," and be let back in immediately. However, that is not what often happens. Usually, the email is more along the lines of "Hey, creep! I demand that I be let back in immediately! You have no right to tell me what I can and can't do or say!"

There are times when an "abuse report" will arrive at the chat committee address. In those cases, discussions or action notices may occur directly on that list. However, when it can be avoided, we recommend against use of the list to discuss such matters. Most of the people subscribed to the list are people who "didn't sign up for" behavior monitoring or "taking others' inventories"; they are the chairs and greeters. By participating in decorum discussions, it increases the likelihood that they will come under attack in the chatrooms. 

There may be occasions when a monitor does not inform other monitors of actions taken. That should not happen. Often, prior to any serious action, the monitors discuss the situation. Some monitors have been slammed openly, and privately, in the chatrooms and by private emails, or on the group business list. The more a monitor communicates, the less chance of misunderstandings.

Gag, Kick, Ban Policy

All monitors will base actions on the Decorum Guidelines of the chatroom.  Gags and Kicks will be proceeded by a warning and adequate time for the warned person to respond.  If said person does not respond positively and desist with the behaviour, then removal can be used.

After 3 kicks, a 7 day ban can be used and will be backed by the Chat Coordinator. I will leave this to said monitors discretion.

Should said person attempt to reenter the room within this time frame, another 7 days will be added.

All of these actions are to be reported to chatcom, and then Chat Coordinator as soon as they are used. The Chat Coordinator will then review logs and review the situation between chatter and monitor, make sure the above guidelines on out part were met, and assess chatter behaviour based on the Decorum Guidelines voted and approved by the Chat Committee. The above guidelines when done should cover any complaint.

(Developed and approved by the Chat Committee December 17, 2009. Presented to the group members for review and comment December 18, 2009.)

Added: 02/19/10 Modified: 07/12/15


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