Tradition Three, online meetings, and trolls

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles that hold our groups and society together.
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Scott711
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Tradition Three, online meetings, and trolls

Post by Scott711 »

Tradition Three: The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Tough traditions question here. Online AA meetings often have something I had never experienced in face-to-face meetings. Trolls. People who show up to disrupt the meeting, and who may return day after day to harass the group if not banned.

My group had always banned Zoom-bombing trolls. No discussion or group conscience needed. Immediately banned, gone. So far so good. No one complained about this.

But now we have a troll who has learned of Tradition Three and says we can't ban him because he wants to not drink. So he keeps coming to meetings and playing manipulative games, being disruptive and abusive. When someone addresses his problem behavior, he focuses his abuse on that person. He has driven several people away from our meeting. And all the while he says he never had many problems with drinking, stopped easily, and isn't an alcoholic. But he says he wants to not drink, so he's a member because Tradition Three says so. As a member, he also attends and disrupts our business meetings.

Bizarre and unlikely situation, but here we are. Half the group wants to ban him and the other half says we can't break Tradition Three.

Which is the more damaging option, to continue allowing this toxic trolling presence, or to decide that someone is not a member and ban him?
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Brock
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Re: Tradition Three, online meetings, and trolls

Post by Brock »

Welcome here Scott, thanks for an interesting question.

A few years ago a group I belonged to had a similar problem, this was a ‘live’ group and the person was an alcoholic, but he was like the fellow in your case ‘disruptive,’ and caused a few female members to cry from time to time, and a few male members to be on the verge of physical confrontation.

In banning him we looked at the first tradition and were confident we were on point with the spirit of the traditions. If someone is endangering our ability to carry the message to suffering alcoholics it’s a simple decision, out he goes.

I will copy part of a reply from a representative of GSO to a group suffering from a similar problem.
Bill Wilson wrote that we are not a "punitive" society. Banning for a certain period of time is not "punitive." It is a group conscience decision based on the First Tradition, "Our common welfare should come first." If the behavior is serious enough, the A.A. member is commonly banned for three months, six months or even one year. It is explained to the A.A. member that, at the end of that time, they are welcome to come back to the business meeting to acknowledge that they understand the disruptive nature of their behavior and that they plan to cooperate with the smooth running of the meeting in the future.


I hope all your members can see this necessary action as what’s best for the group and is still in keeping with our traditions. Right here in this group we have had to ban individuals for disruptive behavior, it’s a decision the moderators don’t like to take but the welfare of the group comes first.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
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PaigeB
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Re: Tradition Three, online meetings, and trolls

Post by PaigeB »

When I was GSR of my f2f Group I had a similar situations - to include violence and property damage. When I called GSO I did not get a yes or no answer - they talked to me through what the book says and through personal experiences (bless the patience!). Here is what my take away was:

We cannot ban you from AA - we can ban you from this meeting the public meeting the closed meeting and the biz meeting.

Asking the police to monitor the parking lot during our meetings is ok too, no need to get specific with names. They can hang out and watch for speeders! It is a good spot - they have caught me coming around that very same corner in excess of the speed limit! :shock: 8) :roll:

Our group discussed who would take this person aside and walk them out the door. Also, who would call the police and under what conditions that might apply. No need to disrupt the meeting further.

It worked for us.
Cling to the thought that, in God's hands, the dark past is the greatest possession you have - the key to life and happiness for others. With it you can avert death and misery for them. page 124 BB
MyNameIsBetsy
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Re: Tradition Three, online meetings, and trolls

Post by MyNameIsBetsy »

Hi Scott, welcome.

The only thing I can add to the replies you have already received is to suggest that the Zoom Host add a waiting room to your Zoom meeting. A waiting room gives the Zoom Host the ability to see who is waiting, and then to permit or deny entry to the meeting.

Betsy
an alcoholic
"Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."
Scott711
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Re: Tradition Three, online meetings, and trolls

Post by Scott711 »

Thanks for your time and your replies! You've given me some things to think about. It makes sense to me that not being punitive does not mean letting abusive people harm us. Setting healthy boundaries is not punitive.

I guess I should have said that our group already has plenty of experience with and methods for handling disruptive members and experience with and methods for handling out-and-out trolls.

This is case is different. It some of both. He's a troll who claims membership and the protection of Tradition Three, not because he has any need for the support that AA offers, but because he feels entitled to use our group for his own purposes.

I think everyone in the group would be happy to never hear from him again. But they're scared of breaking Tradition Three. For good reasons, too! It would seem to set a precedent. Newer members might wonder, Are there members who don't like me and might ban me next? Are they wondering if I'm really an alcoholic who needs AA?

This is not an easy one. It may tear our group apart either way, whether we ban him or not.
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