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Post Info TOPIC: WSO registration procedure - Group Liaison's findings


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WSO registration procedure - Group Liaison's findings
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Hi everyone,
 
It was proposed and agreed at April's (last night) business meeting to post on this board the following info about registering with the Al-Anon World Service Office (plus literature info). I've exchanged several communications by phone and email with WSO and below is a summary of procedure and the implications. It has also been proposed that as a group we use this thread to put forward up any ideas, questions or concerns that this info flags up. If you could phrase things in a format we can email WSO for them to provide clarification on any points raised.  
 
 
- multiple separate electronic meeting registration form must be filled out, one for each of our 14 meetings. WSO will consider each individual meeting and each will go thru a review process.
 
- the forms must be sent physically to the al-anon WSO address.
 
- it takes just a few weeks from receiving the forms for the registrations to be approved, however the electronic meeting list (http://www.al-anon.org/pdf/ENGLISHforWEB.pdf) may take longer to appear on as it is only updated sporadically.
 
- on the form each meeting needs to have a name or title that does not reflect affiliation with an outside entity. 
 
- each meeting must be able to be accessed independently, entered completely separately from a general 12 step meeting lobby that might be shared with other groups like AA etc. 
 
- registered meetings, like all al-anon meetings must agree to abide by the spirit of the twelve traditions. 
 
- they insist that meetings will be open to any al-anon member and that the meeting will be open to anyone who is affected by someone else’s drinking.
 
- they state that each al-anon member is responsible for keeping the electronic meeting focused on al-anon recovery and discussion of al-anon related topics. 
 
- all electronic meetings must have a postal mailing address and may have up to two telephone contacts. All current mailing address and contact information is confidential, for WSO use only. the addressee is the trusted servant who shares WSO mailings with members at the meeting.
 
- it is not permitted for al-anon conference approved literature to be sold online on our website, but a link to the official al-anon CAL store could be put on the website. The only sanctioned outlet for purchasing CAL is from the al-anon literature store on their website.
 
- link to the official CAL store: http://ecomm.al-anon.org/shop
 
- once we are registered, it may be possible to gain permission from WSO to quote Conference Approved Literature on-line. some groups already have this permission.
 
- it is forbidden under the traditions to have external links of any kind to outside entities, including amazon for the purpose of buying literature etc 
 
- link to registration form: http://www.northfloridaal-anondistrict6.org/Forms/AlAnon_Family_Groups_Electronic_Meeting_Registration_and_Update_Form.pdf
 
- address for returning completed form: 
Al-Anon Family Group Headquarters, Inc., 1600 Corporate Landing Pkwy, 
Virginia Beach, VA 23454, Fax: (757) 563-1655
 



-- Edited by Tigger on Sunday 6th of April 2014 10:21:16 PM



-- Edited by Tigger on Monday 7th of April 2014 10:40:46 AM

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Hi everyone,

First and foremost, I want to send out a huge Thank You to Tigger for following through with gathering this information for us.  I believe it is to the groups benefit to be informed of the procedure and policies set forth by WSO to become a "Registered"group with AFG World Service Office, as well as its pro's and con's.

While it was stated in the Group Business meeting that I have too much control over this site, and that being the case, I would never allow our group to be registered with WSO, I would like to address that statement or issue first.  As an Al-Anon member I started this group in 1998.  Before WSO even saw a need or was taking any position regarding online groups.  At that time, there was not one other online resource for Al-Anon members to gather at, hold meetings and offer each other general support in an online chat room environment.  In 2003, when the WSO first announced it's desire to become cyber friendly, and register groups, I was the first one to step up and got our group "Registered" with the WSO.  And yes, at that time it was registered as "Miracles In Progress Al-Anon Family Group".  We had 14 scheduled meetings a week back then with 15 - 20 members showing up for morning meetings and 20 -30 members showing up for night meetings.  We also had a relatively active Alateen meeting in place, monitored/moderated by adult members of our Al-Anon group twice a week.  During this time, I was in ongoing, constant contact with WSO.  They, (WSO) were regularly visiting our site, seeing how we were conducting meetings, the format, how organized we were, etc.  They even implemented several of our procedures into their suggested meeting format, such as using the exclamation mark (!) to raise your hand and indicate you would like to share, and stating "done" when finished sharing.  They also suggested to new groups seeking guidance, utilizing a meeting opening and closing script such as ours, which today can be seen being used all over the internet by a variety of other Al-Anon groups, both registered and non registered.  So, in short, we were at the forefront of internet based online Al-Anon meetings, and the forefront of being REGISTERED with WSO.

WSO_MIP_Registration.jpg

(Registered Group Booklet with Group ID# and Guidelines sent by WSO after I, the person that would never allow us to be a registered group, registered our group, for two years in a row)

Keeping in mind that WSO's registration of a group is only good for one year, a lot of WSO policies regarding registered online groups came into play during our first year.  By the end of the second year, I went before the group as the Group Business meeting chairperson and put a few things before the group that had soured my desire to continue our registration with WSO upon its expiration date.  A motion was put on the floor for yah's and nah's for continued registration and the group collectively voted to discontinue our registration with WSO.

These were my points at that time and are still today points of discord for me personally.  Additionally, having read Tigger's recent findings, I can add another one or two to the list.

1.  I had three graphics on the Al-Anon portion of the MIP site of Al-Anon Conference Approved Literature (CAL)
Courage to Change, Al-Anon's 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, and One Day At A Time in Al-Anon.

These books were directly linked to an Amazon.com affiliate account I opened for Miracles In Progress' web site book store.  Al-Anon's WSO office emailed me and demanded that I remove the graphics from the site completely because the graphics were copyright material and I was not an authorized vendor/distributor of their books.  I wrote back and stated that the books are linked to Amazon.com.  I was not personally selling the books, but only directing members to a site that was selling them.  I was then informed that even Amazon.com was not a authorized book distributor for Al-Anon CAL literature, and that if members wanted to purchase books "they could contact Al-Anon directly by phone to order their books from them".  This was before Al-Anon was selling their own books online through their own site!  The close of their letter stated that if I refused to remove them immediately, their lawyer would be seeking a "Cease and Desist Order" against MIP for the removal of the books!  I sent a reply stating that I didn't understand their reasoning but would comply to their terms.  So, ease of access to both read reviews, see a preview of the books on Amazon.com, and purchase Al-Anon CAL was removed from our site.  Now, during telephone conversations and email exchanges about this issue with WSO, they inquired about how much money I had made off of book sells as a affiliate of Amazon.com.  I was forthright and told them that Amazon pays a affiliate 2.3% of the total sell of a book directly linked to our site, and 1.5% if our site link resulted in the purchaser buying other books not linked.  That to make 20.00 the site had to sell hundreds of books per month and the most that I was ever paid in a quarter (three months) was 33.00.  Through these communications I discovered that 70% of Al-Anon's WSO funding came from direct book sells and they had a real fear that allowing me to utilize Amazon.com, Books-A-Million, or Barnes & Noble would somehow cut into their profit base, and since we were the largest and most often utilized online Al-Anon site our lead would set the stage for other groups to do the same, and thus collectively put a big dent in their direct book sells.  I dug a little deeper, and found that Amazon.com, buys books in bulk from the WSO publisher/distributor at a discounted price due the high number of books they purchase at one time, same for Books-A-Million, and Barnes & Noble.  So, these books purchased at the online stores and local retail outlets are already paid for by the distributor/purchasing agent of these online book stores & local retailers, and WSO was  the payee at the end of the day.  The real issue seems to be that WSO does not want Al-Anon members to use these resources to purchase their books because they were sold at such a discounted rate, and if WSO can't tap into the online community for direct sells they would loss the revenue of direct sells to offset the cost of providing these other outlets with bulk purchase discounts.  Now, the math tells the truth.  Was MIP cutting into WSO revenue by selling books via Amazon?.  WSO charges 14.00 for a new copy of Courage to Change, plus shipping (approximately 4.00 inside the USA).  Amazon.com sells it for 17.97, free shipping.  So, either way, the book ends up costing about 19.00.  2.3% of 19.97 = 0.45931. So, the .46 cents this book would generate for MIP would NOT reduce its cost to less than the 14.00 WSO sells it for, to the public from its own site with the shipping charge attached to their cost.  So, to sum this up, I strongly felt they (WSO) were attempting to hold this book hostage, in the name of 46 cents by not letting it be readily available and easily purchased by members of MIP through regular, frequently used internet mediums, when they at the time did not offer it without having to make a direct phone call to their office by the purchaser.  Also, I will add here that I personally called WSO to order a book back then and felt like I was speaking to a sells person.  They attempted to promote/recommend other books, and stated that a Al-Anon member should have at least 3 specific books.  At full cost.  Amazon.com sells Al-Anon literature in compatible sets, such as Courage to Change and One Day At A Time in Al-Anon at a discounted price. So, I found no benefit to do my shopping with WSO.  Even on their site today, where they sell books they do not offer any discount for multiple book purchases.  When the few cents we are talking about becomes the hindrance to making WSO literature easily available to newcomers at a fair market price and that few cents becomes more important then making sure that Al-Anon's message is being carried to the newcomer via its literature, it has become a money issue.  Not a copyright issue, not a authorized vendor issue.  Lastly, as many of our old timers know, this small generated income for the site, and for its first 10 years, I never had to ask for assistance to pay it's dues.  It wasn't until 2009 before I was first put in a position economically to solicit funds from site members to cover its expenses.  This is true even in the face of my having had back, lung and brain surgeries in three consecutive years, (1999, 2000, 2001).  So, any one who so much as suggest I have control issues and won't "allow" the group to seek WSO registration, or that its about money for me should have stood in my shoes since 1998.  If they haven't, they don't have a clue what they are talking about.

2. So, our CAL literature is removed from the site and then.... WSO sends out a notice that CAL cannot be quoted in any Al-Anon group meetings!!  Prior to this we were allowed to use CAL freely and use it to do full step and tradition readings from the literature during our scheduled step/tradition meetings.  When the notice came out, that CAL cannot be quoted, even in registered online groups, there were no exceptions, not even exerts from it allowed to be used in a printable format and since the meetings can be logged and printed out, and the message board material can be printed out it was not allowed to be on either without being in "copyright" violation.  We were a REGISTERED group at this time!  So, even being registered didn't afford us any benefit related to using the literature for Step or Tradition meetings that we were holding on a scheduled basis.  So, we were left with dispensing our personal versions of steps and traditions instead of being allowed to lean on Al-Anon's literature for the reading of everyone in the meetings.  Finally, in approximately 2005 Al-Anon WSO sent out a notice that all "Registered" online groups could quote exerts from the CAL literature in meetings, but it was very restrictive and limited as it still is today.  What they approve of for registered groups even to this day is "exerts".  Then they define an exert as not more than one paragraph per meeting.  Nor can a paragraph, follow the previously used paragraph be used in the next meeting, so we are left to random exert quotes so as to avoid the literature being used in a manner that allows it to be collected in order it is written in and printed out.  So, imagine our having a Step One meeting, quoting the first paragraph from Al-Anon's 12 x !2, and then the next meeting,  not be able to continue with that reading in the order it is written but have to select a different paragraph from the reading, out of order, to utilize the CAL literature in the meetings.  In short, we couldn't just follow one paragraph with the next, but were expected to use a salad bar type of format for these meetings.   

3. Later that same year, Al-Anon WSO sent a notice out that the word "Alateen" was copyrighted and it would no longer be allowed to be used in conjunction with Al-Anon meeting groups, registered or not.  They would not endorse any group having a Alateen group.  They stated they had concerns for the safety of teenagers online.  I called and spoke to two people at WSO, as did two female adult Al-Anon members who were monitoring the room, its meetings, and their message board, regarding this issue at that time.  Our Alateen meeting chatroom was closed and locked between meetings.  My point was merely that a teenager with access to the internet is going to go somewhere online when the alcoholic insanity is taking place under their roof, or in a effort to find a way and means of coping with the chaos and crisis it creates in their lives.  This living environment can create vulnerability in a teenager, and leaving them "homeless" in the online recovery community seemed as detrimental to their safety as the risk WSO was trying to avoid.  Yahoo, MSN, LIVE, IRC, ICQ, and many other major search engines and directories host chat room environments for young people.  They are not monitored/moderated.  And they are full of predators posing as teens and tapping on the vulnerabilities of the teenagers in those rooms.  There is even a TV show called Predators that shows how they are operating online, in non moderated/monitored teen chat rooms and encouraging children to run away, to meet them, to have sex with them and so forth.  And yet, this is what WSO felt was "in their best interest"?  Just throwing our young ones to the four winds to fend for themselves, without any guidance or direction.  It wasn't until 2011 that WSO opened a meeting room for alateen's on their site!  Literally 6 years later.  Again, we complied, removed the name Alateen from the site and changed our teen group name to Family Teens and thus removed its affiliation to the Al-Anon group.  Lastly, if you view the teens site (under How/can  Miracles In Progress Family Teens Group help me?)  and  its message boards top sticky post, our concern for teen safety was at the forefront of the decision making process to provide an online safe haven for teens whose life's were being adversely effected by a friends or family members alcoholism.

4.  From 1998 - 2004 the WSO would respond to group related assistance or support with a statement along the lines of "Each group is autonomous except in how their issue affects other groups or Al-Anon as a whole, so we can only provide suggestions for the group to consider".  Or they would state the sediment of the 2nd Tradition, ..." there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern."   In late 2003, early 2004 this changed to the WSO, giving specific directives to the online groups and to gain compliance to "their authority", they were threatening to remove the various groups registration status.  "You can't use Al-Anon literature graphics, link to any resource for it outside of Al-Anon WSO, you can't use CAL literature in your meetings, you can use CAL literature within these limitations, You can not use the name Alateen without being in violation of copyright laws, Al-Anon groups cannot sponsor and moderate Alateen groups online"... etc, etc.  We COMPLIED and COMPLIED, over and over... to the point that we did not feel we were able to function as a autonomous group in most areas of importance to us as a group!  WSO was dictating what we could and couldn't do, not making suggestions.

5. A respected member of the group, who had volunteered to take positions of leadership within the group and really put on the spiritual talk in open chat and during meetings, was doing something completely different in the background. Several older group members came to me in private to inform me that this person was whispering "sweet nothings" in PM's to a number of newcomers and hitting on them so bluntly that they were not feeling comfortable or safe in the room with this person in it.  I took that information and confronted the member.  Who denied that any such thing was going on, and stated that what he was saying to them was being misunderstood, or twisted.  I let this person know their activity with group members was now under a microscope and if there was any further complaints from group members there would be very real consequences. Within a month, I was informed that this person had gotten a new 90 day member of Al-Anon and our group, who was recently separated from their spouse to fly to their home at their expense and when this new member would not concede to a sexual relationship, the older member told them to leave their home and would not cover the expense of the return trip home as originally agreed.  Several members of the group came together, put 280.00 together to pay for this members return trip home.  As this was happening in the back ground, the group on the front lines didn't have a clue what was transpiring in the background.  When I was given the full account of information from several newer members this person tried to hit on, and spoke directly with the one left states away from home by this member, I immediately pulled all positions of leadership in the group out from under them and put a permanent ban in place.  This situation caused quite a bit of division between those who knew what was happening and why and those that didn't.  This perp called Al-Anon WSO to complain that they had been banned from our group and that they had been in Al-Anon as a active member for x number of years.  Also, they were sneaking into the chatroom, bashing me as a control freak, blah, blah, blah, (never addressing the issue that got them banned) and a good number of group members left the group in support of this member without adequate information.  WSO notified me that no one person could ban another group member from attending the meetings or being a participating member of our chat room.  That this needed to be decided by the group as a whole.  At this point, I called an emergency group conscious meeting, brought forward the members that this person was tapping on the vulnerabilities of, those who brought it to my attention, and those who put together the funding to pay a members way back home from this person home, approximately 1700 miles away.  I had tried to avoid, at tremendous cost to myself and possibly the groups well being letting personalities proceed spiritual principles.  I tried to avoid bringing this person's activity to the forefront, to avoid shaming them or the new members this person was doing this to. But at this point, I felt compiled to openly bring the whole situation to the forefront, and then asked the group to make their own decision... did they want some one like this, doing this sort of stuff in our room, to our newer members, utilizing their position of trust and respect to carry it out and were they willing to risk it continuing by removing the ban I placed on this person.  By yah's and nah's the group voted in favor of supporting the ban as a permanent one.  However, unfortunately the damages that the group as a whole suffered due to this situation was already in play.  It took the group a good while to rebound from it.  This happened in 2006, and in just the past 2-3 years have we seen some of the members that left the group back then, due to a lack of information, misinformation, and outright deception finally return.  Upon any inquiry I have made of any of them, it has been revealed that their return is the direct result of communicating with current group members who were present during the situation and stayed for the duration and gained the information revealed in the GC meeting.  I have control issues?  No.  I have a deep desire to protect this group at all cost, including to my own reputation as a member.  

Again, a member kept coming into the room telling a story of woe, stating a church had loaned them the desktop computer they were using to get support from Al-Anon members and the church had asked for the computer back, so they would no longer be able to get the support they so desperately needed from the group.  Then it was a story about their phone getting turned off,which connected them to the internet,  then it was a story about their electric being turned off.  Group members felt for this member and responded with heart, funds and several computers.  Members started talking in private, and discovered this member was sent a second hand computer from another member who had bought a new one.  Nothing was said to inform other group members.  Two other group members bought this person two new desktop computers. A group member sensed that something was amiss and instead of sending funds directly to this member, got the general information for where they lived, what utility companies they had in that area, called to inquire how much would be needed to pay the over due bills to avoid termination of services and discovered that this members account(s) had already been paid in full by MIP members a number of times, and that because of this the member had credit on their accounts that would cover the cost of those utilities for several months!  Yet, there they were in the room that very night, saying they still weren't sure how they would keep connected to the support of our Al-Anon group.  After a short while it was determined by our group members that this person was sent over 400.00 in actual funds as well, which was never mentioned by this person, and those who made the contributions didn't want to toot their own horns, so they didn't mention it either.  Just the funds sent would have paid both bills in full.  Another member recalled this person bashing another online Al-Anon group, and found out from some of its leadership members in private that this person was banned from their group for doing exactly the same thing two months before in their group.  All of this was brought to me, and yes, I made the decision to ban this person from the room, pending a group conscious meeting to discuss this situation with all group members, and again, I was thought of as the bad guy that banned this needy, suffering Al-Anon member for no good reason at all.  During our GC meeting I invited two elder members from the other group to join us, and share their groups experience related to this individual, those who had sent computers from our group, and those who revealed that they had paid the utility bills directly to the utility company's, as well as those who sent actual funds to this person.  The group was amazed that they had been taken and deceived by this person to such an extent.  A motion was put on the floor to permanently ban this person from our group meetings and our room, and by yah's and nah's the vote to support the ban in place, and make it permanent was unanimous.  

This is merely two examples of people who have been banned from the group.  Many initiated by a chairperson, or room moderator, brought to me as a compliant by the offender, and before making any decision, I communicated with the chairperson or moderator, got more information and as a result took the ban from a 24 hour status, as that is all a AOP can put a ban in place for, and made it permanent pending further group discussion.  Only in one case since 1998 has the group voted on a motion to send the member a letter stating its finding, and placing the member on a probationary status, I.E. should such conduct continue the ban would be put back in place and made permanent.   All other bans were supported by the group by vote, when it had enough knowledge of what was or had happened in the background, which allowed it to make an "informed decision".  

And as Tigger's finding states: "- they (WSO) insist that meetings will be open to any al-anon member and that the meeting will be open to anyone who is affected by someone else’s drinking."  No bans allowed, on any one for any reason, just because they state they are a Al-Anon member who is affected by someone else's drinking?  Sorry folks, this is where I will exercise my control as the founder and webmaster of Miracles In Progress 12 Step Recovery Forums.  I state this clearly, firmly and without hesitation; when I cannot step in and protect our groups, any of them on the forum from predators, people users, leadership abusers, money seekers. ongoing meeting disruptions by rude,  obnoxious, disrespectful persons, who show no sign of amending their behaviors the site or the meeting has lost is primary purpose and I will shut it down.  I started this forum with a vision, all of it, not just one group and that vision includes but is not limited to providing a safe, healthy, mature 12 step environment for people to seek and find recovery in.  When I am forced by any source to sit on the sidelines and ignore or accept this behavior as tolerable and acceptable it stops being what it was created for.  

Lastly, (I thank my HP I have finally gotten to this point)... We hold 14 meetings.  We are UNIFIED as a group.  Our group is as solid as they come in any form, online or face to face.  When each of the 14 meetings is required to adopt it's own name and apply for its own registration, this is in direct contradiction of the First Tradition which states that "our common welfare comes first, our personal progress for the greater number depends upon our UNITY."  WSO would have us divide ourselves and create an environment of separation.  I try to look through the looking glass from the other side to find reason and rational behind such a policy.  What I find is rather disturbing. 1.) When WSO is suppose to provide services to and adhere to the dictates of its groups, not dictate to them and they see a group that by our numbers has over 11,000 registered members on our message board, both active and inactive, that represents a  source of influence upon them.  Now image approximately 10 other online groups with those kind of numbers.  They exist.  The online Al-Anon community is strong enough to turn the tide of many old, outdated policies and procedures if it is allowed to function at such large unchecked numbers.  It is also much, much easier to quell a small movement from a group of 30 or so members, and keep things under wraps, than it is to quell a large movement that these kind of numbers could represent. So, dividing us is a method to maintain a level of control that they have not had to contend with in the face to face Al-Anon community.  Rarely do they see a group that exceeds 50 Al-Anon home group members in the face to face world.  Thereby, keeping us divided is a method to maintain the status quo.  2.) The WSO is a IRS registered Non Profit Organization.  In this arena numbers play a big role.  While I will tread here softly, its a fact that numbers do equal economic adjustments by IRS as a Non Profit.  There are more beneficial economic allowances when providing services to 14 groups, opposed to providing services to one group.i  Numbers also tend to speak to a success ratio when audits are performed.  So, it has a economic benefit, whether WSO owns it as a reason or not for trying to divide our group by 14.  And 3rd, not only does having each meeting independently registered and named create the complications of having 14 Group business meetings, 14 GSR's, 14 Treasures, etc... it sets the stage for 14 7th Tradition basket's being pulled from by WSO, opposed to just one.  That equals 14 opportunities to obtain a donation from you, opposed to one.

Now, what is the benefit of being registered with WSO.  We get a link on their outreach/online chat meeting site page.  Do we need it?  No, not at all.  I did a Google search today for "online Al-Anon meeting"... this is where our site stands out of 364,000 possible results.... First page, link# 4, 5, and 6.  Directly under the WSO paid positions on Google promoting their site.  I can't afford to pay for such a high rank on Search engines, I have to do a great amount of work to get and keep us in this position.

Image 4.jpg

 

 

In closing, I will state here and now that I am adamantly opposed to registering with the WSO given the implications and complications that doing so would create.  Just based on the creation of DIVISION within our group as a whole it instigates and/or encourages, is enough for me to stand by that opposition to it.  However, I want to also clearly and firmly state here, that I lean on the groups wisdom as a whole and trust it's decision, and will honor and respect it in regards to this issue.  Nothing we do now, can't be changed later if we so choose to do so as a group.  I remember years back opposing the group leaving text chat and going to voice chat on paltalk.  I expressed that my concern was  privacy that a Al-Anon member would lose as they listened or shared with us verbally in a home with a active alcoholic, or around their children.  The group voted, all excited about it and yah'd in voice chat over continuing text chat.  The meetings went from having 20-30 participating regular members to 5 or less in the voice chat environment in less than a week!  Within 2 weeks they saw the error in their decision and asked that the text chat be reopened on MIP and shut down the voice chat meetings completely, never to be brought up again.  Experience is often the very best teacher.  As is stated as a famous quote from some  unknown source, (at least by me) "The smart will learn from their own experiences, the wise will learn from the experiences of others."  

I do not expect perfection from WSO, from the group, it's members or even myself.  My greatest hope is that we all thrive for spiritual growth as time unfolds and we bring ourselves to our highest good as a group and individuals, meeting the challenges we face from time to time that we don't all agree on, and that our example as a group and as individuals is one that a newcomer can see and view with respect and admiration.  This is the basis of attraction.  I pray that we will continue to be a bekin of hope and light to the newcomer stepping over the threshold into our group as their first experience with Al-Anon.  Everything else comes secondary to that in importance, to me.  Registered or not.

((((GroupHug))))

Yours in the Spirit of Recovery and Understanding

John (aka OP_Present)

PS. Okay, I'm going to say it... I think it is pretty shady for Al-Anon WSO to directly or indirectly allow its publisher and/or book distributor to sell thousands of books at bulk prices to both online and f2f retail outlets, and then do all they can to interfere with those books being bought through those venues by the online Al-Anon community.  What if I sold you something in bulk that was intended for a specific population, and then stood in the way of your reselling it to that population?  Do you truly believe that would be a honest or spiritual business practice?  As the buyer, would you not feel truly cheated by the seller who knew what your intentions were? To me personally, it appears that "money, property and prestige" (tradition 6) is getting in the way of WSO's primary purpose and spiritual aim.  On several levels.  



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Thank you Tigger for all of your hard work in getting us this info!

Thank you John for you past ESH! This cleared up many things for me John

Thanks again to you both!

Cindy

 

Hi Cindy, Thank you for responding to my and Tiggers post above.  Any time you feel confused or a bit baffled about something, it's okay to ask questions.  The only wrong question is the one that you don't ask and seek a true, honest and direct answer to.

John



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I am confused.  Oh dear.  John, please forgive me if I am mistaken, wasn't it you who suggested that Tigger look into the

WSO accreditation?  How come you instigated this given the history?  I guess, I'll assume some members were wanting you

to put it to the group to "re-visit".  Pretty brave of you (lol). 

 

In any case, thank you Tigger for the huge effort you have put into getting us information so that we can be informed and

prepared to address the issues at the next business meeting.  And thank you, John, for catching us all up to speed on the

history and concerns there so that we might integrate that into our consideration.  I am extremely appreciative of the time,

effort and, frankly, candidness of your post.  I also appreciate the historic features of MIP, many which I imagined, but, it 

 feels good to "know" them and, speaking personally, "celebrate" them.  

 

As a personal statement, I so enjoy the step and tradition presentations, about which Edna is so clear and creative.  They are

both a joy and challenge for me.  And I respect and support the importance of WSO priorities of face to face, sponsorship, 

 etc. I think the recovery community has room and need of both WSO and MIP on-line.  To do away with either, for me, would 

 be throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  And, also, I can see no benefit into trying to fit a round MIP peg into a square

WSO hole.  

 

Thank you for making this thread available for all of us who care so that we can make our thoughts shared and give ourselves 

time to reflect before our next group business meeting. Jolly good idea Tigger!

 

Winnie

 

Hi Winnie, 

Yes, I did and still encourage the group to explore its own options regarding the issue of Registration with WSO.  The #1 reason I would initiate and support this endeavor while I am personally opposed to it, is to make a demonstration based in action that the group stands on its own merits.   My personal opinion does not equal the groups decision on such important and valuable issues such as this.  The only role I should play in it is as just another Al-Anon member, and a elder within the MIP group  with much hard earned experience to share with the group that I have personally witnessed or been exposed to over the many years.  Secondly, yes, a small group of members have been inquiring about why we are not registered with WSO for some time.  Several times my only reply to them was "I have already done that, and am not willing to do it again, if its such an important issue to you as a member, you should bring it up to the group and then possibly volunteer to act in a service capacity to help bring it about if the group supports the idea."  It seemed to be a issue sitting in the background with no action being taken on it due to the opposition some group members felt it would be met with by me.  My bringing it to the table and nominating Tigger to act as the groups liaison with WSO, met two purposes.  One was so that "someone", even if it had to be me, was willing to say in action "screw this walking on tip toes with or around John!  We as a group have a right and a obligation as a group to act accordingly as such, and sail our own boat across the sea in the manner we decide as a group".  Secondly, I chose Tigger to nominate as the Liaison because I have personally witnessed her stand toe to toe with me on several issues that we failed to agree on, she has demonstrated herself as someone who was willing to take the high road, go the extra mile, and stay committed to the group even when some around her were dropping like flies.  They were operating from personalities, and Tigger has shown me that she will stand solidly on the ground based in principles.

Lastly, while in absolute opposition to our being registered with WSO, chiefly because it provides us no real tangible benefit, and in fact truly diminishes our ability to function as an autonomous group, making its own decisions of what it will and won't do as such (Provided it does not adversely effect another group or Al-Anon as a whole), I strongly feel the real issue that needs to be addressed is our understanding and application of the spirit of the 12 Traditions as a group.

Merely a suggestion: What I think the group should consider as a alternative to WSO registration is this:  I believe we would be better served to established a Traditions Panel of 3-5 elder group members who would keep a finger on the heart beat of the group and its members, including myself in relation to our adherence to the Traditions.  While perfection of adherence will likely never be achieved this panel would function to keep us within the spirit of the Traditions and be able to bring to the group business meeting any "red flags" it was seeing that created a concern or it felt needed to be addressed at the group level, or with individuals in repetitious violation of them.  It would be to this panel the group would seek information from when making any decision that brought the Traditions into question.  The group would be able to lean heavily on the wisdom of this group of elders for direction and guidance.  Thus we establish a "Steering Committee" of sorts that helps the group continue to move forward, grow, and learn.  This is only my suggestion of a viable method of providing optimum oversight to the group without having to jump through the loops registration with WSO would create that brings little true benefit to us.

Thank you for your reply to my post, it means a lot to me.

John



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Thanks to Tigger also.

That requirement of having to register each individual meeting as a separate group is new. How new I don't know since I haven't looked at that information for a really long time LOL, but anyway, that's the one thing I thought was rather ridiculous. This Al-Anon site with all its meetings is ONE group. We are MIP. I can imagine the trouble it would cause to name each meeting group, cause boy, you know MY group would be the MIP one! ahahahahahahaha

I stated in meeting and I'll state again here, coming into compliance would mean so many changes to the site. Removing outside links and so on. A lot of work for John. Basically it would mean a whole new site build just about! I think the question of what would the benefits be (that John brought up in his letter above) is a good question.

If the only benefit is what John mentioned above, a link on google??? really? well How Important Is It? especially when MIP is already there.

As long as MIP continues to honor and abide by the three legs of Al-Anon: Steps, Traditions and Concepts, I am all for leaving things as they are. Been through this whole "let's register!" stuff before years ago and boy what a mess that was! I'm all for Keeping It Simple.

Kis/Susan

 

Thank you Susan for your input and taking the time to read my post.

I have reviewed the site very closely and don't feel it would take so much to modify.  We already meet several of the WSO's guidelines.  Like having an independent entrance to our room, message board and web page from the general lobby of 12stepforums.net, we do have a separate url address that leads directly into our chatroom/meeting room (http://www.12stepforums.net/chatroom2.html), I don't see the Beer Gardens Amusement Park banner that some one mentioned seeing above the chatroom window in the mibbit java chat space on my end.  That would have to be a group decision, living with it cost the group nothing, but to have the mibbit java chat without their advertising on it, requires a usage license fee and it is not cheap.  The more users in the chat per month the more it cost, so since we appear to be averaging approximately 30 a day, we'd X that by 30 for the month and that would equal 900 users.  The price for their premium java chat without the ad for that many users is outrageous.  999.00 per year!

adfreewidgetfrommibbit.png

 

There are likely other java script chat clients that we could consider using but anything for free is going to have ads attached to it unless the group buys a license for its upgrade and thus do away with their advertisers.

Other than this issue, and having to make a meeting schedule page with each groups new name, meeting time and meeting legend showing it to be a open topic discussion, step/tradition meeting, scheduled chairperson for 14 groups would require a great amount of updating for any of the 14 groups that want to change meeting times or what the meeting is holding as a topic or its chairperson.  I can't say I wouldn't do this for the gruops, but I don't think I would be doing it without a tinge of resentment building in the absence of some real compensation for it each month.  I like the idea that people take advantage of our site, I don't like the idea that people would be willing to take advantage of me like that.  Again the group would need to find a ways and means to pay the expense of setting up a java chat entrance with no ads attached to it as is the case with free java chat clients.  Right now, we are falling short of even gaining the 40.00 per month I would set as rental each month, if the group wanted to change the donation method as currently in place on MIP to using its own method of collecting and utilizing a treasure to pay its monthly dues.  If the group isn't submitting enough voluntary to cover 40.00 a month, I would have to question how it would be able to consistently pay an additional 999.00 per year to cover the premium chat client license.  This is a issue the group would have to discuss and decide on.  Personally, as I stated I don't see the ad that was spoken of, but if I did, I don't think it would bother my sensibilities at all.   Now, I must admit if it was a alcohol advertisement, a escort service, porn hotline, or a gambling ad, that would probably get my undivided attention as something absolutely unacceptable on our site, no matter which room on the site it was over.  LOL

I think this whole situation goes to the issue of fixing what isn't broke and has actually thus far for years now been a non issue.  I feel our trying to fix or make adjustments by aligning our group(s) with WSO will result in far more being broken than that which is getting fixed.

Again, thanks for your input and taking the time to read my and Tiggers post.

John



-- Edited by John on Wednesday 9th of April 2014 08:37:37 PM

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"knock knock"
"who's there"
"control freak-now you say control freak who"





Boy John all I can say is WOW! Sounds like it's been an long and twisted road. I am currently 'recovering' from the controlling nature of my alanon group, of course, what else could be expected of a group of people with these symptoms of dysfunction... all put in a room together, and then compile an entire entity... so... for me, I have to just take a little breather once and a while, before I jump back into the chaos, and the people telling me where to set my chair and where to put the kleenex box... lol and offer gratitude for the good it still accomplishes - but from afar, with love for myself, I detach with a deep love for, and from alanon periodically.


Some where along the line, I was offered the gift of being able to see the fear and scared inner child beneath all the chaotic diversions and desperate need to control surroundings in order to feel safe. Letting go is so so so hard... I know... because I didn't and don't always want to either. To truly turn it over doesn't mean I just set back and do nothing... I still need to move my feet along side my God.


I think what you said on the phone this morning, in your calm, cool and collected tone was perfect: Take it just one day at a time. It says a lot to the relaxed nature you truly have... and need for an endeavor such as the one you've orchestrated, envisioned and continue to feel out with MIP. We are so truly blessed...

On a bad day, I could see myself taking all of this crazy - and re traumatizing myself with it to the point of saying 'the heck with it'. But somehow you managed to come this far, and well... I know how now. You have a gift here - the perseverance and the willingness to never give up on YOU and over come struggles and obstacles that would bring many to their knee's. And all of this... with humility and grace, as you describe your diligence to working for your HP and doing His will when societies would draw you into believing it is no longer the easier softer way. I hope you feel pride in your ability to stand strong through all of this. I know you feel gratitude for the place that brought you to knowing deep in your heart that your virtues and integrity and love ARE, and always will be, the true easier softer way. What an honor to be a part of a group with a devoted to spirituality - leader like you. It inspires me to never give up on me either - in spite of the backlash, the nay sayers, the ones who try to cut you down and control you... somewhere in that quiet place in your heart - a miracle happened, and no one can ever take it away from you unless you let them.


For every day I hold my miracle in my heart, and treasure it and honor the gift it is - I will remember that none of it would have been possible had you not paved the way for it... and that only tells me you are a true worker for the God who was trying to reach me for so long, and chose you as the presenter of my gift. Thank you John... xoxoxxoxoxxooxoo

Love to all (((alanon))) ((((family of choice))) ((((John)))

Thank you Tasha, I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond to this post.  I truly have went through times when I wanted to just pull my hair out, shut the whole show down and walk away from it.  I haven't' because somewhere in this journey of life, I discovered that giving up, throwing in the towel and walking away from that which I truly valued never brought the solution I was seeking.  It only created a new problem and a mess that I was later responsible for cleaning up.  I was never a kid that said, "I don't want to play with you any more, I'm taking my marbles and going home!"  You are so right.  As a direct result of doing the work of this program and understanding that most of the work was an "inside job" between me and my HP, although the ocean surface can get pretty choppy at times, I did find that when I allow myself to move below it, just a few feet away from the waves on top, there is a calm, a place of peace where I can rest and gain the restoration that Step Two speaks of.  Its here that I am granted that moment of serenity that allows me to move towards acceptance of the things I cannot change, gain the courage to change what I can and develop the wisdom to know the difference.

I was told very early on in my journey of recovery that my job was to do the foot work, and leave the results of it in my HP's hands.  We are on a two seater bicycle... I peddle and He steers, if I don't do any peddling, we don't go any where because He don't peddle,... He only steers.  I have learned how to peddle sometimes with my eyes closed because i have gained trust and faith that He will get me where I need to be.

John



-- Edited by John on Wednesday 9th of April 2014 09:27:39 PM

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I love the idea of a panel of elders, those who have been on this site a long time, those who really know the traditions, to be a panel with some

oversight input.  We had such an example of the usefulness lately on the traditions, Thursday night.  Edna lead us through an issue, voting,

a process which clarified group conscience, as an example.  As a result, for me as a newbe, it was great to not only learn the tradition but also

live it's application.  

I hope you bring this up as a motion in the next business meeting JOhn.  I would welcome the opportunity to second it.

 

Winnie

 Hi Winnie, 

I just threw that about the Traditions Panel in the air as an idea for us to consider.  I think it would be a very useful alternative, and I believe it would encourage all members to learn more about the Traditions and watch themselves a little closer.  Now, I am going to take a back seat on it and see, and just watch how the group responds to this issue and then I may or may not decide to bring it to the table as a motion.  I would surely support any one else who wanted to do something along the same lines and brought it to the floor.  I just don't want to be trying to push it on the group myself before we see where the group stands on the issue of registration.

John 



-- Edited by John on Friday 11th of April 2014 12:00:07 AM

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Thank You John! You have operated with great wisdom to keep a most valuable site and service up and available to those who need it most. I also Thank all who have contributed their time to the rooms, board and the site as well. You are so appreciated! Since I lived rurally when I first started Al Anon, it was sporadic at best to get to a meeting. There are

I agree with John whole heartedly. It is necessary to have consequences to negative and harmful behaviours directed towards vulnerable persons. Keeping the "dirt" behind the scenes is best whenever possible. Rules and regulations must govern any group of people, and this site is no exception. The vulnerable must be protected, exploitation must be dealt with swiftly and prevented above all. Discretionary actions are vital.

Gossip, must be kept to a minimum. This is a part of our own programs as well.

Other "step work" is available, effective and changing lives as well. All were born from AA and AlAnon servicing many and changing lives. Let us not pigeon hole ourselves into "one road only" to reach the destination.

How I Thank God for this site and all who make it possible!.............

Fondly,
Grace aka Grace7 aka Navygrace

Hi Grace and thank you for your input.  I agree, rumor and gossip is done for one purpose, to create division, instead of harmony.  If a person is so much as listening to it, they are participating in it.  When I hear it, I will simply say .."isn't it great that God isn't finished with any of us yet?"..and then I leave.   I have a writing a few feet from me that says... "What someone is saying about someone else, does not really tell you a thing about the other person's character, but it does tell you a lot of about the person who is taking about them."

John



-- Edited by John on Thursday 10th of April 2014 11:35:49 PM

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PS.....far from a newbie!:)



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There have been questions regarding the usage of CAL. With registration, the group is granted permission of certain usage. Then the question of Fair Use with copyrighted material came up. I personally just don't know enough about the whole legalities of that, if our usage of CAL is opening us (MIP) up to litigation? Perhaps you, John, have already had to address this before or have some further insight for us?

It's a shame we can't use mIRC as the chat client, but I understand requiring someone to download an application just to get into chat would definitely NOT work. Some have trouble just changing to a nickname! lol I for one would not feel it fair on you, John, to have to rework the whole site on your own. Site upkeep is a lot of work for just one person. Perhaps some kind of chat client without all the ads will be available in future, or maybe someone will know of another one we're just not familiar with at this time.

One last thing, I sure miss "Announcements" - being able to hear what conferences/special events are happening in each district/state. Have we ever had a place to post that sort of thing for all members?

Thanks for listening!

You are bringing up some good questions.  I would assume that someone brought up the Fair Use Act, related to copyright laws because there is a question or concern as to why would we be denied the exact same privileges to use CAL literature in our meetings that is allowed in F2F meetings, in the same manner it is used f2f.  This would set the stage of possible litigation because Fair Use online mean's WSO would have to overlook that first, the CAL material is being "printed"... in the room.  And then it is accessible to be copied and reprinted, which would pretty much take from WSO the ability to regulate who is using the material, how its being used, and the purpose of it being re-copied and reprinted.   This would truly diminish the weight of their copyrights, and honestly if I was in WSO shoes, and someone tried to enact the Fair Use, under these conditions, I would be filling a suit immediately to stop it.  This is the only way I would be able to adequate protect my material and its copyright, and I would not ever want to jeapardize that for any reason if it could be avoided.

As for an "Event Announcements" thread on the main MIP AFG message board, I think that is a very good idea.  It would be really nice for people in the fellowship world wide to share with us, what Al-Anon related events are happening in their community or region.  Conferences, Conventions, etc, as well as local events, such as other Al-Anon related celebrations, Holiday events, etc.  Let's see if the members who use the board would support our using a sticky for this, and if so, we'll put on up.  If not, we could put up a board, specifically for Announcements with a link in the menu board that connects board users to the Announcement board.  I don't honestly think any one would have a problem with our doing either, and would probably like that extra little feature on the site.

Thanks, 

John



-- Edited by John on Thursday 10th of April 2014 10:38:26 PM

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Dear John and Tigger

 Thank you so very much for your dedicated service and superb explanations.

I do agree with you John and appreciated  the following quote from your response to  a member:

I think this whole situation goes to the issue of fixing what isn't broke and has actually thus far for years now been a non issue.  I feel our trying to fix or make adjustments by aligning our group(s) with WSO will result in far more being broken than that which is getting fixed.

Again, thanks for your input and taking the time to read my and Tiggers post.

John

 



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Wow, its a lot to take in, well done and thanks for the hard work. My question is, is it the same for aa and alateen or are there less rules? I dont have much of a view yet but I will give it some thought and get back to you. I did feel that surely the wso are interested in sales in order to keep the fellowship alive and kicking. Alanon is self supporting and I would think that money made on books is used for further improvement and promotion of the program. I understand it must be frustrating dealing with red tape and the traditions and concepts were not written for todays technology so I feel for the wso too. Its probably best we dont have a them and us view of it. I quite like feeling like part of a worldwide fellowship and I enjoy this forum as kind of an extension of that. I also believe in unity. I think the answers are in the principles.thanks again.x

Hi and thank you for your input.  As stated above in the very long post I put up under the original post, Al-Anon WSO does not allow any online AFG group to sponsor and moderate a online Alatten group, so we no longer have an Alateen group on our site.  As for the process related to being registered by AA's WSO, it does not require that each group be independently named and registered.  An AA group can hold as many meetings as it wants under one name with one registration.  Also, while AA is a bit more lax on the issue of what literature can be used, and how it can be used, it is still copyrighted literature, that needs to be respected as such, unless the group is willing to utilize an older edition of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.  AA didn't protect their 2nd edition of the Big Book, and failed to meet copyright deadlines prior to its being distributed.  So, while the stories in the back of the book has been changed since then, the first 164 pages where the AA program is outlined is still the same in all editions, but the 2nd edition didn't fall under copyright protection.  I think that Al-Anon took a good lesson from this piece of AA history and is now doing everything it can to make sure that it's copyrights are never jeopardized in any way, such as AA's was, making its main piece of literature, as well as it's biggest bread winner from sells take such a big hit from not guarding its copyright properly.   

I agree that knowing that I am a part of a world wide organization is comforting.  When I see the "AFG" or "Al-Anon Family Group" and even the Al-Anon symbol displayed any where, it is a wonderful reminder for me that it is so much more than one group, and has groups all over the world.  We are but one of many.  I love knowing that I can travel and never have to be far away from a meeting, no matter where I am.  I agree, there is no need to do a "them" vs. "us" thing here.  We are a part of, not a part from.  As soon as two or more people gather to help friends and families of alcoholics recover, and try to maintain themselves in the spirit of the Traditions, they can call themselves a AFG group.  Being registered is not a requirement for AFG membership as a group.

John



-- Edited by John on Thursday 10th of April 2014 11:07:30 PM

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Question: The proposal to register goes to the various and numerous [14] chat meetings.

Would a registration extend to the message board itself?

Thanks,

thanks for service all round...aww

DavidG.

Hi David,

Yes, it would extend to the message board as well.  Since the message board is a part of the Al-Anon portion of the MIP site, it would fall under the same registration and guidelines.  However, I will say here, that while a few small things would need to be changed on the board, that I don't think very many would even notice, it would predominately be our willingness to adhere to the spirit of the Traditions on the board, and how it is used that would be the big qualifier, and I think we already meet that standard for the most part.  I know the older board users and our moderators are very aware of the Traditions and try to keep the board Al-Anon focused and abide by the Traditions on it.

John

 



-- Edited by John on Thursday 10th of April 2014 11:13:49 PM

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I've read the posts, Tigger and John. Thank you for the information presented. Throughout the entire read, the question that kept coming up for me was "What is the benefit to being registered with WSO?" When I got to the one benefit that was listed the next thought I had was "That's it?" Seems like a lot of work and hoops to jump through to me just to show up as a blip on the website if I read the benefit correctly? Keep it simple comes to mind for me.

As far as somebody being banned from the rooms, I'm okay with it if the matter is presented in a group conscience meeting with all interested MIP members and the offending member included. I know this might fly in the face of the way we've done things and I still want to say what I think about it.

As a member of Al-Anon for 35 years, I do have reservations about having a group of elders and/or a steering committee for this board if they are are handpicked but don't regularly attend Al-Anon meetings, don't have a working knowledge of the traditions that they have successfully employed in Al-Anon meetings and dealings, haven't regularly sponsored others, aren't sponsored themselves and haven't demonstrated long-term commitment to this program and aren't nominated from the board by MIP members in a business meeting.

I may have misinterpreted what you are asking us to respond to in this post? If I have missed the point of this, I'd be glad to respond to that which is actually being asked of me?

Hi G2B!  I fully agree that any one nominated to be on a panel or committee we would consider  putting together would have to meet certain criteria's to be qualified to be on that Panel or Committee.  I don't think it would be a good idea that they are "handpicked" but instead possibly nominated and/or volunteer, then after determining their qualifications meet our criteria, put to a group vote. If they didn't we would have to decline the nomination or volunteer for the position.  It might take a little time and effort on the groups part, but I strongly feel we have many that would qualify to the criteria that you eluded to, and should we get to this stage, I think the group would select a very good group of people to hold that position.

As for ban's, I venture to say that a 24 hour ban can and should be allowed for immediate purposes, to keep the room and its members well being safe, as is now the case.  But to extend it past that should entail the groups support by majority (based on those who are present to vote at the time of the extension) and any permanent ban should be handled along the lines that you mention.  With all interested MIP members present, as well as the offending member who would have the opportunity to speak in their own behalf to the group.  I think this would give the group a bit of discretion in its decision, and could result in a more suitable alternative to a permanent ban being put in place.  I personally think a permanent ban should be the very last resort when ever possible.

John



-- Edited by John on Thursday 10th of April 2014 11:30:06 PM



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Thank you for the feedback, John. I do like the 24 hour ban idea, too, since there have been times since I've been a member here that I've felt the poster wasn't here for reasons having to do with recovery in Al-Anon or learning more about the program. I really like what you've written here and appreciate the way you handle our responses to your questions and your multiple attempts to work with WSO. (((J)))

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i have not been here in a few years.  I use to be here every day and did for about 4 years.  The life that Al-Anon gave me, got so good it took Al-Anon away from me, ( I got too well) and now I am back.

I only want to say that this group has been the Miracles In Progress Group for so long, that under any other name it would not be the same.  I agree that each meeting having to be named separately, or even to have to undergo a name change as a whole to meet WSO criteria is ridiculous.  Miracles In Progress is not just a group name but what we actually are, miracles in progress.  I know I am.   WSO making us change that name to something else for each meeting held is too drastic of a change for us to have to undergo and I don't think it is necessary at all or serves a greater purpose.  It just let's someone outside our group dictate to us.  Our autonomy as a group is as important a Tradition as any other!

Keep the name the same and find another way to meet the needs of the group.  That's my vote.

Rob

 Hi and welcome back Rob!  All I can say to your post is..."I agree".

John



-- Edited by John on Tuesday 15th of April 2014 07:44:44 AM

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Hi folks,

I'm really pleased we are having this open dialogue and embracing the spirit of the 2nd tradition. Finding out all this info is proving to be an interesting journey of discovery! I think this kind of arena for everyone's view point is great. For newbies..Tradition 2 is: "For our group purpose there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern." 

I rather like the idea of further developing the use of this board as a way for open discussion to take place. Winnie suggested announcing in meetings that this thread was here for those that don't know.

I've spoken further with WSO by phone and email in light of questions that have come up at the last biz meeting and in this thread. 

They told me that they are currently in the process of an ongoing look at reviewing their process in regard to electronic meetings. They are in the middle of a bigger conversation about chatroom meetings, they said, and to wait for further feedback from them by email once they have done that, before submitting any registration we may or may not wish to make. This suggests that this is something evolving and dynamic happening as they catch up with the times.

They did affirm that not being registered doesn't take away legitimacy from us being a true Al-anon group, as long as we are guided by the spirit of the traditions. 

I got some info also about treasurers, group reps etc, They said that it's not a fixed requirement to have those service positions, and that it is up to the individual group. Regarding business meetings, that is a grey area as we are not "part of a service structure in a geographical location" (sic). We may well be able to meet for biz jointly though; (the new 2014 Service Manual mentions "groups with multiple meetings" holding "group business meetings"). It also states that "groups are within their autonomy to determine how to conduct their group business". More info needed on that front. TBC pending further enquiries.

While on the phone I got the lady to physically look at the meeting entrance page! She clarified that this entrance link to the Al-anon meeting has to be the Al-anon meeting only, without links to (affiliation with) anything not officially Al-anon specific and not linking to other areas of the website.

I got the impression that registering each group individually is more about the practicality of it being clear what day and time each meeting is scheduled to take place. And what special focus if any each meeting has (eg steps, beginners, sunday spiritual etc). In terms of names, I imagine Miracles In Progress Monday Morning Meeting etc would be ok rather than fancy names. I don't think we would need to be updating the schedule regularly John. I looked at the main English speaking chat group on the registered WSO list, and their meetings are named and listed in a simple static way. What also struck me is that they have a single listing with WSO but are a multi meeting outfit like MIP, providing a precedent, and perhaps an example? They are at this link: http://www.but1purpose.org/meetings.php

-

My own thoughts are that I agree with John that whatever the group decides on regarding registration, that we work to align ourselves more fully with the spirit of the traditions. We are Al-anon, and that is what provides the solid foundation and guidance that makes us Al-anon. This journey has already begun, and much good can be achieved. I envisage it needing to be a very open group process. I like John's idea of a group voted in panel to guide us in this journey and assess what needs to be addressed both in terms of the group and the role of a webmaster. 

I like what was said in previous posts that all matters should be brought to the group conscience. I agree that everything, including bans and service positions should be dealt with by group consensus, not any one (or two) individual(s). That would help us manage those covert communications and actions that can undermine unity. In the Service Manual on p.24 it speaks of the "Three Obstacles to Success in Al-anon", which are "discussion of religion; gossip; and dominance". http://www.al-anon.dk/UserFiles/al-anon.dk/file/Servicemanual2014-2017.pdf

The traditions teach us so much about letting go and letting God. To me the steps are like the path but the traditions are the moonlight that illuminates the way. No matter how much experience individuals have, we can bring that wisdom to the group but cannot control the consensus decision or the outcome. When I was business chair I had to learn that the hard way LOL. Our principles dictate that we cannot shield others from the mistakes they need to learn and grow in their own way. Service officers cannot and should not be an authority. That is down to trust that the HP is working in ways we can't always fathom, and that the way God's authority finds expression is through our group conscience. 

Anyway...the lady at WSO asked us to be patient with them while they get to the nitty gritty of the issues that need to evolve for them around online meetings, and wait for a fuller response about their explorations. Tricia's proposal of a committee to assess the changes needed in order to meet registration criteria would need to wait for consideration until we know more fully what their criteria will be once their new picture has formulated. I'm going to ask them if during this review process they will consider discussing extending the limitations on quoting CAL. I will ask for clarification on biz meeting protocol, and about how the 7th tradition would work as a group. In short, find out more of just how potentially divisive or unifying registering might be so we can make the best informed decision. 

Tigger x



-- Edited by Tigger on Wednesday 16th of April 2014 11:42:08 AM



-- Edited by Tigger on Wednesday 16th of April 2014 02:58:45 PM



-- Edited by Tigger on Wednesday 16th of April 2014 05:45:33 PM

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Tigger, well done.  Thank you for your commitment to this process.



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Hi folks,

I'm really pleased we are having this open dialogue and embracing the spirit of the 2nd tradition. Finding out all this info is proving to be an interesting journey of discovery! I think this kind of arena for everyone's view point is great. For newbies..Tradition 2 is: "For our group purpose there is but one authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants—they do not govern." 

I rather like the idea of further developing the use of this board as a way for open discussion to take place. Winnie suggested announcing in meetings that this thread was here for those that don't know.

I agree that having a method to dispense adequate information and hold some level of discussion prior to a motion being put on the floor and voted on, allows the group to make healthier decisions because it is then making "informed" group conscious decisions, that allows everyone to get a bigger picture than what might be revealed to those outside the loop when they enter a GC meeting.  This gives them a way to keep themselves up to date prior to the GC meetings, so they are not just randomly voting without much information.  And yes, why wouldn't we have a link to this thread or even to this board with information about this thread sent into the room at the opening or close of our meetings?  It's on the main board, so the same information should surely be dispensed in the room itself.


I've spoken further with WSO by phone and email in light of questions that have come up at the last biz meeting and in this thread. 

They told me that they are currently in the process of an ongoing look at reviewing their process in regard to electronic meetings. They are in the middle of a bigger conversation about chatroom meetings, they said, and to wait for further feedback from them by email once they have done that, before submitting any registration we may or may not wish to make. This suggests that this is something evolving and dynamic happening as they catch up with the times.

"They".. "Their"... Are they letting the online community have input as to the decisions they are making in our behalf?  Or are only those who are Reps from the f2f Al-Anon, making these decisions?  Seems to me that since "they" are making these decisions, they should have members of the online groups, representing their group and a part of this process.  


They did affirm that not being registered doesn't take away legitimacy from us being a true Al-anon group, as long as we are guided by the spirit of the traditions. 

As stated above, our legitimacy as a Al-Anon group is already in place, being registered is not a requirement for any group, f2f or online provided we are working as a group in the spirit of the Traditions.  So, could it be that "we" the online Al-Anon community should be guiding WSO in this process instead of it guiding us?  Who are they serving in this endeavor?  The online community should have a strong input in the process, just as each district/regional rep takes information to them and is active in the f2f process.  

I got some info also about treasurers, group reps etc, They said that it's not a fixed requirement to have those service positions, and that it is up to the individual group. Regarding business meetings, that is a grey area as we are not "part of a service structure in a geographical location" (sic). We may well be able to meet for biz jointly though; (the new 2014 Service Manual mentions "groups with multiple meetings" holding "group business meetings"). It also states that "groups are within their autonomy to determine how to conduct their group business". More info needed on that front. TBC pending further enquiries.

Seems we, the online Al-Anon community is being held to a different standard.  A registered f2f Al-Anon group here has 3 meetings a week at 3 different locations.  They all have the same name.  They have one registration.  As such they hold one GC meeting, once a month. Yet, "they" are saying we need 14 different names and 14 different registrations?  And we meet every day, twice a day at the same place!  The idea that they are requiring this from us, as "practical, as stated below, would actually be served and is, by having our meeting schedule and it's special focus information for each meeting on a general schedule that is view-able on the chat room entrance page and/or the main Al-Anon page.  That would equal practical. 14 different names and 14 different registrations does not seem to have a practical purpose that serves the better good of the group.

While on the phone I got the lady to physically look at the meeting entrance page! She clarified that this entrance link to the Al-anon meeting has to be the Al-anon meeting only, without links to (affiliation with) anything not officially Al-anon specific and not linking to other areas of the website.

So, we would have to remove it from the message board menu as well as from the navigation portion of the site's main page?  Step Work page, which Hotrod has been doing in behalf of our group for years, its link would have to be removed?  And any thing related to MIP?  Wouldn't that be like WSO saying groups couldn't hold meetings in churches where a picture of Jesus or the cross is displayed (or other facility based information is on the walls, because its outside the scope of Al-Anon?  Again, it really feels like we are being held to a completely different standard than groups in the F2F communities are held when we shouldn't be held to anything that is not a policy for f2f groups.  

I got the impression that registering each group individually is more about the practicality of it being clear what day and time each meeting is scheduled to take place. And what special focus if any each meeting has (eg steps, beginners, sunday spiritual etc). In terms of names, I imagine Miracles In Progress Monday Morning Meeting etc would be ok rather than fancy names. I don't think we would need to be updating the schedule regularly John. I looked at the main English speaking chat group on the registered WSO list, and their meetings are named and listed in a simple static way. What also struck me is that they have a single listing with WSO but are a multi meeting outfit like MIP, providing a precedent, and perhaps an example? They are at this link: http://www.but1purpose.org/meetings.php

The group you are eluding to is a off-spring group from MIP.  Their registration is several years old (approximately 7), prior to any changes by WSO, just as we were registered as reflected above.  One name, one registration.  If the older groups don't have to meet the new policies, then it is not a common policy for the whole of Al-Anon online.  I looked at the groups on About.com, and they do have different names and each group on that site determines for itself if it wants to pursue registration.  Some did, others didn't.  Prior to this, they fell under one name and one registration.  On a personal note, members of the group you point to has spent years, soliciting members from our group to join theirs.  I support any one starting their own group, but I strongly feel they should be doing the same work to build it that was done with MIP, instead of trying to recruit its members from our group.  We have never went into another group and promoted ours, in private or otherwise as a means to build its attendance/membership.  I don't think we should be allowing it to happen in our room either.  Let them get their group listed on the search engines and what not, so they are building their own group, instead of trying to pull people from ours, when we did the work.

My own thoughts are that I agree with John that whatever the group decides on regarding registration, that we work to align ourselves more fully with the spirit of the traditions. We are Al-anon, and that is what provides the solid foundation and guidance that makes us Al-anon. This journey has already begun, and much good can be achieved. I envisage it needing to be a very open group process. I like John's idea of a group voted in panel to guide us in this journey and assess what needs to be addressed both in terms of the group and the role of a webmaster. 

I believe the issue of Webmaster would fall under Tradition 8. "Al-Anon Twelfth Step work should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.  And this would be separate from space allocations to the group meeting place made available by the Webmaster. Either would fall under the 7th Tradition of being full self supporting declining outside contributions.

As for the panel I mentioned, I think its a good idea to utilize something along these lines, but I also think we need to have a procedure and policy in place as to how and who, and then be cautious and careful as we nominate people to this position.

I like what was said in previous posts that all matters should be brought to the group conscience. I agree that everything, including bans and service positions should be dealt with by group consensus, not any one (or two) individual(s). That would help us manage those covert communications and actions that can undermine unity. In the Service Manual on p.24 it speaks of the "Three Obstacles to Success in Al-anon", which are "discussion of religion; gossip; and dominance". http://www.al-anon.dk/UserFiles/al-anon.dk/file/Servicemanual2014-2017.pdf

As I have already stated, its my belief that bans should be the very last resort we move to, especially any ban that has more attached to it than the 24 hours that all aops can invoke, especially for the purpose of keeping outside intruders from disrupting the meetings at the time they are being held.  Keep in mind our room is on an open server, and unless we password protect it which would further complicate a newcomers entering it, we are susceptible to server "roamers" who tend to just go from room to room on the server until they find one that they can stir up some drama in.  One way to help determine a "roamer" is to do a "whois" on their nick and you will see they are likely sitting in several rooms at a time.  This isn't always the case however.  Another indicator is merely kicking them from the room doesn't stop them from immediately returning to it, as they will often have their "auto return" on their IRC client, active so they are immediately back in the room within 5 secs. or less.  Over the years on IRC I have found that a strong presents of Ops in the room will deter them from wanting to stick around because they know that a aop or sop can go to the server's channel admin and get them banned from the server completely.  Just sharing this little info so we all are aware that sometimes a immediate ban is needed without GC, but if it is to be extended, it can be put in place pending the GC meeting that addresses it.


The traditions teach us so much about letting go and letting God. To me the steps are like the path but the traditions are the moonlight that illuminates the way. No matter how much experience individuals have, we can bring that wisdom to the group but cannot control the consensus decision or the outcome. When I was business chair I had to learn that the hard way LOL. Our principles dictate that we cannot shield others from the mistakes they need to learn and grow in their own way. Service officers cannot and should not be an authority. That is down to trust that the HP is working in ways we can't always fathom, and that the way God's authority finds expression is through our group conscience. 

"The traditions teach us so much about letting go and letting God. To me the steps are like the path but the traditions are the moonlight that illuminates the way."  I absolutely love this visual. that brings them together and says they work in unity.  I got a laugh out of my sponsor in early recovery who said... The steps help us keep from killing ourselves and the traditions keep us from killing each other." smile

Anyway...the lady at WSO asked us to be patient with them while they get to the nitty gritty of the issues that need to evolve for them around online meetings, and wait for a fuller response about their explorations. Tricia's proposal of a committee to assess the changes needed in order to meet registration criteria would need to wait for consideration until we know more fully what their criteria will be once their new picture has formulated. I'm going to ask them if during this review process they will consider discussing extending the limitations on quoting CAL. I will ask for clarification on biz meeting protocol, and about how the 7th tradition would work as a group. In short, find out more of just how potentially divisive or unifying registering might be so we can make the best informed decision. 

Tigger x

Tigger, as I said in a reply to Winnie, there was a reason you were asked to accept the nomination of Liaison to WSO for the group.  You are surely making a demonstration that you were an excellent choice for the group.  Thank you for all you are doing in our behalf.

John



-- Edited by Tigger on Wednesday 16th of April 2014 11:42:08 AM



-- Edited by Tigger on Wednesday 16th of April 2014 02:58:45 PM



-- Edited by Tigger on Wednesday 16th of April 2014 05:45:33 PM



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Jolly good point about who at WSO is making these decisions that affect us John.

Maybe that should be flagged up. I will contact them to ask how their review is being carried out and by whom, point out the incongruity between electronic and f2f policies (plus existing / new registrations), and suggest that they liaise with members of the online Al-anon community during their "bigger conversation" if they are not already doing so

Tigger x

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Hi everyone,

Thank you for providing this forum for everyone to be able to voice their opinion on the benefits of being registered with the WSO. I'm so happy to see all of the participation and read about the reasons why or why not the Miracles In Progress needs to be registered. My personal opinion is that the forum offers valuable recovery and the more people that use it the better it is. 

Glad to see this ongoing discussion about WSO and online chat meetings.

"They told me that they are currently in the process of an ongoing look at reviewing their process in regard to electronic meetings. They are in the middle of a bigger conversation about chatroom meetings, they said, and to wait for further feedback from them by email once they have done that, before submitting any registration we may or may not wish to make. This suggests that this is something evolving and dynamic happening as they catch up with the times."

At this point, my opinion about registering with WSO is that they are simply not acknowledging the chat meetings as "Groups", and continue to view them as "supplemental". I find it similar to the discussion about online education because there is some disagreement as to whether a degree earned online has the same weight and merit and a degree earned on a campus. It is still a fairly new format. In the olden times of Lois Wilson there were letter writing meetings and telephone meetings and I doubt if they were discounted as supplemental or not a part of the Al-anon Family Groups.  

The WSO policy also seems to be changing as more and more people accept an online format. I would find value in registering simply because it is in keeping with the traditional format of meetings. I know that there is already mutual respect between MIP and WSO. MIP is a wonderful stand alone recovery resource, and it's accepted as Al-Anon. I feel that it would enhance and strengthen MIP to be registered rather than detract from the Group's ability to be there for people in recovery.

To require each meeting a group holds to be individually registered and have its own name, group elected service workers and hold its own group business/conscious meeting is not traditional format of registered groups in the face to face meeting environment.  If all of our MIP AFG meetings could fall under one registration for the group as a whole, as was the case in the beginning of WSC's involvement in online registration  I would support it 100%, but when WSC's current method proposes to divide us up into "sub compartments" of one another and create a environment of division I cannot support it.  

As Tigger so well pointed out to WSC in her most recent email correspondence, online meetings are not merely a supplemental resource to the many who are disabled or have no other resource for Al-Anon support.  "This position is non-inclusive and dismissive of the role e-meetings play in the lives of many of our housebound members with disabilities, a minority for whom these groups are the only viable access to Al-anon fellowship, support, recovery and service. For these members, e-meetings are absolutely not supplemental. Our online groups have strong core membership and community in exactly the same way f2f groups do, and are home group to many that fit the above minority profile."  She then goes into some very good points about how this group or population of people are being denied inclusion in representation at the WSC level.  In short, because online e-meetings are not considered "groups" but only a supplemental resource, registered or not, the decisions WSC makes in our behalf is without our being properly allowed to represent ourselves as such.  

Again, based on all communication thus far with WSC, the only benefit of being registered is we get a link on the WSO outreach site, when in fact our own site is so well placed on search engines, we are the ranking in the first 5 search results.  Not one time, but 5 times at the top of search results.  Also, I might point out that MIP AFG as a whole doesn't get a link on WSC's outreach site, but only the meetings that are registered individually.  So, again, I submit that the price we pay for registering with WSC as a group, that they don't really acknowledge as such, is not worth what we get in any form of benefit.  We do not get to utilize CAL literature as f2f groups do, we do not get any say or vote related to WSC online policy decision making, and thus far, we are for the most part even denied the spiritual application of the 4th Tradition. 

  1. Each group should be autonomous, except in matters affecting another group or Al-Anon or AA as a whole.

What we are trying to do, be registered as a group, as a whole that holds 14 online meetings does not adversely affect any other group, online or f2f, the WSC or AA's WSO in any way.  And yet we are not able to even make this simple decision on our own.  Autonomous?  I think not.

Thank you for allowing me to voice my opinion. I do agree with having a group of people who built up the website and have participated for many years looking into the Traditions. All of the time and effort they put into helping people over the years is greatly appreciated. Thank you also to the people who are devoting their time and effort to the discussion of registering MIP with the WSO.

Yours in Recovery,

Courage/Smileyface/Della

 

 



-- Edited by John on Sunday 22nd of June 2014 08:14:09 PM

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I will add my 2 cents on this discussion if that's okay! Frankly, I had no clue about this discussion or this page was available until it was posted in the closing script of I think Courage this past weekend & this morning. So maybe more people need to know about this and comment if they wish.
1st I have no interest in gossip or speaking of what people believe John is or is not doing to their satisfaction. . . John I hope you are remembering one of our sayings " What others think of me is none of my business" Because it is an impossible task to keep everybody happy no matter what you do.
Now in regards to becoming affiliated with WSO, I admit I haven't attended a business meeting in a couple years so what ever decisions that are made and I have chosen not to attend and vote on I must live with the majority decision and accept it. There was since I have been here on this site a whole year we went without a business meetings at all. But I can say it seemed that every business meeting I ever attended the subject of becoming affiliated with WSO was a constant issue brought up time after time after time. It had always been voted down. I personally would vote against it.
Here is my reasoning in voting against it. I came here from a site that was WSO approved. I give that site much credit for starting me on my recovery journey but it became an extremely toxic place for myself and at least 10 other members I had become close to. The OP's were given an incredible amount of power over the members. If they liked you, you were safe, if they took a disliking to you then the OP and those who thought they needed to back up the abuse of power in order to stay safe in the room would gang up during chat on whatever person they took a disliking too and bait that person with so much verbal abuse, when that person would finally break and fight back for themselves the OP would immediately ban them. This was a "Game" that played out almost daily. I happened to be liked along with most of the people I became close to, we tried to notify the owner of the site only to find he too liked playing that game. So as I said it became extremely toxic place where it should have been a place of healing. I along with several others left to seek a place where there was no fear of being abused or banned and I landed here . I am grateful for that everyday !
Now WSO has very strict rules on just exactly what can be shared as well of the verbiage used. As so many of us could easily fit into several 12 step groups Alanon, ACOA, ACA, AA, NA etc etc. When a new person would share on this other site should they bring up an ACOA issue weighing on their hearts, or used incorrect or unacceptable wording ( Codependent, inner child etc) the sharer was stopped and told to reword what they were trying to share, or at the end of their share advised by the Chair Person if they needed to share on and ACOA issue or any issue that wasn't pure Alanon then they needed to do it in the appropriate meeting room. Now, I can't speak for everyone, only myself. But if I look at every 12 Step Program that fits my needs, I'd have to be going to at least 3 or 4 different meetings for Recovery !
I am disabled and home most of the time, I have 1 Face to Face Alanon meeting in my area. I happen to live in a State where the majority of people in the State belongs to a Religion that demands outside appearance must always reflect very positively and if it doesn't the members of that religion must answer to the Church Elders. Not disrespecting anyone's belief system, but I have to live in a society where heads are in the sand in regards to addiction. They recognize "Alcoholism" but most AA meetings are held in these Churches and they very very loosely follow the Steps or Trads. NA meetings here are almost impossible to find. Frankly my State ( although they have jails full of addicts) refuses to accept there might be addiction problems. And No Way anyone admits having a child who suffers from addiction. So when I went to my 1st f2f Alanon, 1st of all no one took the time to even welcome me, it was a very tight knit group. They weren't interested in a new member. But I went my 6 times to give them a chance. They spoke only of alcoholism (not drugs and yes I know Narcanon is out there but not by me) of their spouses or boy friends. I had to ask out loud if anyone had an addicted child. They all looked at each other for permission maybe to speak the truth. But one by one every hand went up. At the end of that, my 6th meeting they also at the end of the meeting one by one stood and turned their backs to me. It was clear I was not wanted there and that was okay by me because clearly I wasn't going to get recovery there. So I like many others have done all my recovery online. I work the steps, have a sponsor all the things Alanon suggests. It works perfectly for me.
I can come here everyday to meetings and share exactly what I need to, give my personal ESH on not just pure alanon but the other 12step groups that pertain to me. I also listen gladly to other shares that are not pure Alanon but I can relate to and learn from everyday. Aligning with WSO would take much of my recovery from me, or make me attend more meetings that even online than I have the energy (as a person of disability) for.
Also I'd like to comment on compiling a group of "Elders", "Long time" or "Veteran members" to somehow guide us in our recovery, or on Steps and Traditions ( I am trying to very very cautious with my wording here), may need further thought. While it sounds great especially to new people, lets remember we are first and foremost humans with human flaws. I have found out the hard way just because a person has been in Alanon or any other group for many years does not mean they have the most ESH, ability to lead or be a decision maker. We know many people have their "Own" agenda and would like people to follow "Their" agenda sometimes at the expense of a person's recovery. I think (and i'm not taking anyone's inventory here) that people especially in an online group where we can't see a person in recovery day to day choices or experiences, there are many people who are quite gifted in "Talking the Talk but not Walking the Walk". If there is to be a panel of members to guide us, that is very tricky in an online site. There could be great people who have embraced, worked and continue to work their recovery daily that are short timers. Basically setting aside years people have been in the program, what criteria would you use to hand pick people to be Good Examples, Good Role Models in taking a position of leadership or helping in the recovery of others? I see that as a slippery slope there. I say this going by the experience in the f2f meetings I attended where I was the newbie among people with 10-25 years in the program yet wouldn't accept a new member because it was to uncomfortable for them. Not saying the idea is bad, several of us here know one another outside these rooms and we have more information on them because we interact with them on a regular basis, not just at meeting time. I am not meaning to offend anyone with my own opinions on these issues, I am purely stating my own thoughts and questions and throwing them out there.
As they say "Take what you like and leave the rest"
I would offer this suggestion because I am sure many people would like to comment on this thread, as I said I only saw this link in the closing scripts this weekend and then again this morning both times by the same chair. I see this has been being discussed and commented on since April, so if I am out of the loop I am wondering how many more of our members don't know this discussion is going on. I certainly wanted to throw my 2 cents in when I saw it, now I have.
Thank you John !






















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 Hi folks,  

I have an update from my communication with the WSO. I wrote to them to let them know that some of our group members have asked how decisions are being made by WSO during the process of their ongoing discussions on electronic meetings. I asked how their review of electronic meetings is being carried out and by whom, and how that is being informed (and whether and how members of online meetings were involved in the process).  

The lady I’ve been speaking to told me that at the Al-anon annual business meeting (WSC), delegates (representatives elected by the members in their areas) gather to provide guidance to the WSO in service matters brought to its attention. Al-Anon members in face to face groups are represented by a delegate from their geographical location. Electronic meetings do not occur in any specific geographic location, therefore they are not considered officially to be “groups”, and therefore not eligible within the prevailing structure to have a delegate at the WSC.    

In my response, I remarked that if online members are not able to represent themselves at WSC, how can online members contribute effectively to policy making regarding online meetings (decisions that affect them directly), or represent their unique position?  She said that electronic meetings are considered to be “supplemental” meetings, while members are encouraged to attend f2f Al-Anon group meetings whenever possible.   

I pointed out the role electronic meetings play in the lives of many of our housebound members with disabilities, and that for these members online meetings are absolutely not supplemental. I remarked that concept 5 speaks of the protection of minorities and insuring that they be heard, and that this position was non-inclusive.  

In the Al-anon service manual it says that if structural change seems advisable, its advocates need only present a strong case for such a change to both the Trustees and the World Service Conference (WSC) for consideration. We can’t have a delegate attend the WSC to put forward a case for reasons mentioned above, so as group liaison I made the following suggestions:  

- for online meetings to be redefined as “groups”, so they are integrated into the “structure” and thereby not placed at a disadvantage;   

- that online meetings be re-imaged as crucial, first line support for minorities with disabilities rather than “supplemental”;

– that a method be introduced that allows representatives from online meetings to participate in WSC discussions and decision making (especially as some decisions affect them uniquely).   

 

The WSO lady also reiterated their policy on the use of CAL in online meetings as being considered as “publishing” copyrighted material, and that with a license registered online meetings can quote brief excerpts.   

She asked for our continued patience and said that change takes time.  

Tig x

*****

Thank you Tigger (Helen).  I believe you have represent what has be revealed to you by WSO to be accurate and in line with their intended meaning.  However, I find it very strange that WSO would be opposed to your sharing their emails verbatim with the group you are acting as a liaison for.  They email you, but then don't want you to share what they have actually written with us?  The group you represent?  Now if that isn't strange, if not somewhat al-asick I don't know what is.  Just my thoughts on it.

John

 



-- Edited by Tigger on Monday 21st of July 2014 10:23:44 PM



-- Edited by John on Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 07:09:27 PM

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Once again I am disappointed in the WSO response.

Thank you Tigger for following up and for such concise presentation of the concerns many of us have. I think you have done, continue to do a remarkable job
in representing the concerns of MIP, WSO and members of our Al-anon group. Thank you so much for the QUALITY as well as quantity of your service.

As everyone knows, I am a computer dummy, further complicated by operating old Apple products. Could
the chairs and participants post a notice at every group at the start and end of the meeting about "noting a link", perhaps which John could get put up for the duration of the board and WSO considerations at the same place where we all type in "nickname"...the Mib place.....where this discussion is taking place. And,
could each chair at the beginning and end of each group also make a statement about the up coming business meeting? I am asking for an- interim policy
decision by you and/or JOhn so that when our business happens we all have some reliance that as many members as possible have been given the choice
to participate...in the discussions at hand and the up coming business meeting voting as well. As it stands now, this particular forum/the issues and meeting
at hand shortly, are just not accessible or known.

I take every post so far on the current issues to heart and have them all, and the responses to the posts, very informative. I am grateful to you, and to JOhn
for the the MIP and the way everything is being conducted to date. So safe, so democratic, very open. Thank you JOhn, thank you Tigger and thank you
all my friends in this fellowship of MIP Al-anon.

Winnie

*************

Hi Winnie!  I posted some information about our next business meeting and put a link to this thread on it, on our main message board and also put a paragraph about it all on the chat room entrance page, just above where the chat room loads.  I hope this will encourage more people to find their way here and be informed before putting their vote regarding registration on the table during our next business meeting.  

John



-- Edited by John on Wednesday 23rd of July 2014 07:35:49 PM

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wow that's a lot to read at six o'clock in the morning!

I'm a member of a volunteer group that provides emergency services to the small town I live in. The guy in charge is a control freak extraordinaire and his minions are offshoots of him so nothing changes - he lays down the law, his minions support him and quash anyone who wants to voice an opinion differing from them. I am considering throwing in the towel and stop wasting my time training, throwing away seven years of training and license renewals and being done with them because it's gotten so unpleasant to be around them.

Control is an interesting thing - reading the above, I sense the control the WSC would demand to have over us should we decide to join them and I echo the question: what's the benefit?

I applaud John's continued dedication to the site he founded; while I am sure not everyone has always agreed with everything he has done as founder (and because he's human I'm sure there are issues HE thinks, strike that, KNOWS he made mistakes about), I am 100% sure that his motives were the preservation of the site and the good of its members. I'm not so sure the WSC's motives are as pure.

Refusal to acknowledge online chat groups as valid groups and therefore not allowing them a chair at the decision making table doesn't sound like something I would choose to participate in. After all, doesn't Al-anon and AA's success rate depend on the fact that we are sufferers helping sufferers? We've been there and done that. My family loves me but has no clue what I went through to get here; without someone at the table whose only means of finding help is via online chat, any decision the WSC makes about online chat would be based on opinion, not fact.

As far as John having too much control over the site, well, it IS his site first of all. I have no problem with people in control, someone has to be in control, sometimes something needs an executive decision made. I will follow others if the person in charge has proven their ability to govern wisely and govern well. In my opinion, John does that - governs wisely and well; would I agree with every decision he's ever made here? Probably not, but he has earned my respect and I would rather he remain in control because I know and trust his motives.

If it ain't broke, why fix it?

I vote against joining.
******

Thank you so much Ann for taking the time to read this thread (at six AM? lol) Yes, there is a lot of history after MIP AFG being online for over 16 years now.  As a group we have went through many learning curves, and myself as a dedicated and devoted person to this group and the MIP site as a whole has also went through many learning curves.  Some changes happened gracefully with simply the movement of time with the changing of personalities, some came with excitement and enthusiasm, and some came as a by product of great pain and emotional upset.  Many, even some elder members don't know what I have seen transpire and experienced in the background, or how it was handled to bring resolution to.  Why these situations or events were and are sometimes handled in privacy with only related parties involved is simple.  I guard, to the best of my ability to keep things from finding a place that creates division, controversy, disharmony or conflict at the group level so as to avoid it being what a newcomer gets exposed to when they step over the threshold and have their first exposure to what Al-Anon is or isn't suppose to be presenting.  And, based on our board stats we have an average of 5,543 people viewing our message board each day and first time visitors equal approximately 1/2 of that number.  So, if (hypothetically) half of them have been in Al-Anon and are familiar with it, that would mean that we have at least 1000 visitors who are being exposed to Al-Anon for the first time entering our site every day.  My personal experience has been that "Control" has two meanings, depending on what one's experience with it has been.  To some it means not much more than someone who tries to obtain and maintain a level of "power" over others that is self serving.  Most often through ill, deceptive, and manipulative means.  For others, myself included, it is not about "power" at all, its about someone who takes on the task that others won't or can't, then holds themselves to a high level of responsibility and accountability, for the benefit of others as a whole.  This position can and does require a great investment of ones self, which may and often does include sacrifice.  As it is said in the cooperate world, "those that sit at the top of the totem poll are easy targets for others to shoot at."  Which causes many who do not have the needed fortitude to endure attacks against their character, to resign, and in worse case senario, committee suicide.  This is a position of control, that most would run from if they knew what was awaiting them in the winds of the future ahead.  I have put my running shoes on a time or two, since starting MIP, but I never laced them up, and bolted as my insides were trying to get me to do.  Not because there is a great prize at the end of the journey for me, but simply because I know what is about to walk through our doors so to speak.  A frightened, lost, hurting, confused, angry soul that needs what Al-Anon has to offer, that their lives, and surely the quality of their lives may absolutely depend on.  So, my job is to keep the door open and Al-Anon focused to the best of my ability and take the hits that are thrown my way when needed, for the sake of another, who has likely taken too many hits of their own in the world of loving an alcoholic.  

John



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I can actually see and understand a number of the points WSO is making here.

  • Fair use is a complicated subject, in the internet age Fair Use is a hot mess that is still in legal play.  Entities have to protect their copyrights, or the power of them gets washed away over the years and they are effectively lost.
  • If somebody mentions non-CAL literature at a F2F meeting, there isn't any recording going on, as opposed to it all being out there and recorded any time it is mentioned in electronic media.
  • It would be an exception to their policies for us not to have separate names.  After all, I believe that if there are separate groups at the same facility, they probably have to have separate names

 

Having said all that, I think that it isn't in MIPs best interest to accept the above.  Catherine mentioned on the main board that this is more of a meeting-after-the-meeting place, at least the forums are, and I would hate to have to police them for non-AlAnon talk, literature, etc.  I think the mods do a great job of keeping the board civil and reasonable while respecting the principle of "If in doubt, don't".  Plus keeping us out of legal trouble for the copyright material that sometimes has to be taken out.

To have separate names for all the meetings, I don't think would help at all.  In this case, I think WSO needs to be more flexible.

Lastly, I'm somewhat appalled on the catch22 where we can't be part of WSC where we would represent our own views and get changes made.  If we can't be on WSC, then to me we really aren't part of Al Anon anyway.

So I would vote to not have MIP join WSO.

*****

Hi and Thank you Kenny! I understand that WSO does have to protect their copyright. I also know for a fact that with a IRC program such as I use, everything that is shared in a chat room can be logged, (recorded) and printed. If that is the case it can be distributed and thus, the copyright is violated. If they were to allow this, they would literally be waiving their right to protect the CAL they produce, publish and distribute. In this case, any litigation they would pursue in the future, would not have a leg to stand on, related to their copyrights. They have to regulate and control what they allow to happen with the literature, both online and in the face to face world. I guess my real issue is that they can (legally) and should be providing registered online groups with a waiver of sorts, so the whole of CAL can be shared by us, read from, sent into the room for group reading and then openly discussed, just as is done in f2f meetings. This would protect the copyright, and from its use from any outside source, they have not approved from utilizing this means (online meeting rooms) of gaining it for illegitimate purposes. They would still be able to protect it from such violations as needed. Also, I think it is very disturbing that they would actually "register" a online group, and then tie it's hands and say in essence you can't share the full thrust of Al-Anon with newcomers by sharing or providing our literature to them, by any means but "short" exerts, and pointing them to directly to us for the purchase of this material." Amazon sells "used" books, including Al-Anon's CAL for 2.00 - 5.00 a book, (WSO has already made its money off the original distribution and sell of it new). For many in our population that 5.00 - 7.00 dollar difference between buying new or used can make a difference in their ability to purchase the literature. 

Lastly, the literature that WSO sent to me when I first registered our group, states clearly, "a gathering of 3 or more people who are friends and families of alcoholics are a accepted Al-Anon "group" when they try to adhere to the Traditions as a group." So, with this as the perimeter of what a Al-Anon "group" is, we qualify as such with or without being registered. I like what I heard a elder speaker with 53 years sobriety say in a AA meeting recently. Two people can have a discussion as did Bill W and Dr. Bob did, 3 people create a group as happened when Bill D, joined them (alcoholic #3). So, are we a Al-Anon group? I say we are, by both Al-Anon's and AA's standard, and Al-Anon did adopt a lot of its policy from the predecessors of AA.

John

 P.S. I agree "separate groups" should have different names and registrations, but I don't agree that "a group" that holds a variety of meetings at different times, days or places should have to come under a different name or require each meeting be registered separately. It's one group, with several meetings, nothing more or less.

 



-- Edited by John on Monday 28th of July 2014 09:33:14 AM

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On August 3rd 2014, by majority vote in the MIP AFG business meeting we voted against pursuing registration with WSO.  This topic is now closed.  However, this post and thread of replies will remain in place on the board for members to read.  

Should WSO, at some point in time determine to allow us to register all our meetings as one group, with one registration this topic can be re-opened for further consideration.  

Thank you to everyone who took the time to be informed and read this material prior to voting on this issue.

Thank you Helen (Tigger) for acting as our group liaison with WSO and providing us with WSO's current policies and procedures related online group registration.



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