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 Public and non-public meetings 

Should the default for the group meetings be Public or Open-to-problem-gamers?
Poll ended at Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:06 pm
Group default remains Open-to-public 81%  81%  [ 13 ]
Group default changes to Open-to-problem-gamers-only 19%  19%  [ 3 ]
Total votes : 16

 Public and non-public meetings 
Author Message

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:06 pm
Posts: 968
Location: Charlottesville
State/Province/Country: Virginia
ADH wrote:
I'd like to request a topic to answer the question whether our meetings are open or closed. A fellow has expressed concerns about the potential of anons visiting (but not sharing at) the meetings.


Our group's default has been Open-to-public and all of our meetings have had that status until now. "Open to public" means that, as well as anyone who thinks they might have a problem with gaming, friends, family and professionals may attend a meeting as observers.

We also have the possibility of having Open-to-problem-gamers-only meetings. "Open to problem gamers" means that anyone who thinks they might have a problem with gaming is welcome. Others (those who are just interested observers without gaming problems) are not invited, and are asked to attend open-to-public meetings instead.

It seems clear that we want individual meetings to decide their own public/not-public status. Each meeting's attendees can decide whether or not that meeting allows non-problem-gamer people like professionals and family to attend.

The question in the above poll is, What should the default be? Should all meetings be public by default, with some individual meetings deciding to be non-public? Or should all meetings by non-public by default, with some individual meetings deciding to welcome family, friends and professionals?

The results of the poll will be used at the next business meeting to decide on a default.

Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:08 pm

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:21 pm
Posts: 140
State/Province/Country: NC, USA
I second that. We covered the issue tangentially in the last meeting but didn't discuss it directly. It came up at 2 points in the last meeting:

Changing the 7th Tradition statement to clarify that non-members sitting in on meetings are not invited to donate.

Setting the format for how individual Online Meetings should do group conscious's.

I recall the general intention being that whether or not a specific meeting is open or closed is up to the individual meeting to decide per the GC guidelines we voted on.

So why is this coming up? Our Monday 130 meeting ran into an issue with a newcomer asking about allowing a parent to listen in on a meeting and a long-time member being concerned about anon's (as in"Al-Anon" or "OLG-Anon") attending the meeting. In the absence of clear guidelines, I told the newcomer that the best thing to do is to check in with the meeting before it starts and if that meeting says "OK," then their parent can sit in but not participate (e.g. share). If not, then not.

This leaves some deeper issues, though, related to folks who are simply not comfortable with being in open meetings. One is that a member might join after the meetings has begun or after the decision about the anon sitting in was made and be uncomfortable with sitting in what is now basically an open meeting for that hour. Or, a formal group conscious may have been had by that group but the "open" status of the meeting not be widely known, again potentially catching a member looking for closed meetings off-guard. Consequently, if we do decide that we are OK with open meetings and some meetings do decide to officially be open, then we will need to update the calendar and the opening to the meetings so that members can be fully informed of whether they are walking into an open or closed meeting.

There is also the issue of how many of the 17 online meetings should be open or closed. If they are all open, that may prove a barrier to some folks seeking recovery- not good for our 12th step work and 5th tradition! Likewise, though, if all 17 are closed, that could prove a barrier to our outreach efforts and conflict with our 12th step work.

A final concern raised on Monday was whether or not having an open meeting is in keeping with our traditions.

Tue Oct 18, 2016 8:57 pm

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 3:06 pm
Posts: 968
Location: Charlottesville
State/Province/Country: Virginia
I'm in favor of having some open, some closed, meetings. The meeting schedule should very clearly say which is which.

I don't have a compelling idea of how to decide when to have open and when to have closed. Maybe most of the meetings should be closed to observers? with just 2 or 4 open ones?

In AA, there's always a lot of resistance to labeling meetings as "Closed" on the meeting schedules, not because people don't want meetings that are closed to family/friends/professionals, but because they don't want newer people to misinterpret "Closed" when reading the schedule. They don't want newer people avoiding closed meetings because of that label or because they're not yet sure if they qualify as an alcoholic, not sure if they have a desire to stop drinking.

So, we should be careful with our wording. "If you think you might have a problem with gaming, you are welcome at all meetings. Some meetings do not invite observers (family, friends, professionals, etc) and are labeled 'Closed to Observers'." But, ugh, then that wording sounds misleading. Someone checking out their first meeting may consider him or herself an "observer".

Maybe it's better to say "Open to public" for open meetings and "Open to problem gamers" for closed ones.

Thu Oct 20, 2016 2:47 pm

Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 5:21 pm
Posts: 140
State/Province/Country: NC, USA
"Open to problem gamers" for closed ones.

"Open to persons who think they might have a problem with gaming"

but for the fact that it is too long for most spaces...

Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:03 pm

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:04 pm
Posts: 323
Location: Detroit, MI
Perhaps another page on the website that explains the difference between open & closed meetings, and in the calendar have "open" (in quotes) or "closed" (in quotes), and have the word be a hyperlink to the page that explains the difference. The quotation marks could invite people who don't know to be curious instead of just speculate, and if they see a hyperlink that takes them to an explanation, we can help both newcomers who need the help and visitors who don't qualify for membership.

Mon Oct 24, 2016 8:31 pm

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 5:11 pm
Posts: 9
Alan here i vote open meeting, in general...or just group conscious for that meeting...if needed

Mon Oct 24, 2016 11:38 pm

Joined: Sun Oct 02, 2016 4:52 am
Posts: 3
State/Province/Country: Queensland, Australia
Personally, I don't have a problem with observers in the meeting. However, I think there's a distinction that needs to be made between observers like family members, people who feel they might have an issue, and friends - and then professionals, reporters, and the general public.

I'm happy with the former but the latter should probably be more restricted, if we're leaning that way.

Tue Oct 25, 2016 10:37 pm

Joined: Mon Oct 19, 2015 4:13 pm
Posts: 16
State/Province/Country: ......
I think open-to-public remains as default is good so that new comers can easily access meetings. however, i prefer to know if there is a journalist or doctor is in that room too!

Wed Oct 26, 2016 8:21 am
User avatar

Joined: Sat May 17, 2014 4:59 pm
Posts: 680
Location: Colorado (Front Range Urban Corridor)
State/Province/Country: Colorado, USA
There's something missing here, and that's the difficulty of determining who is who in an online environment.

If we were one of the face-to-face groups, it would be pretty easy to determine if someone who shows up may have a gaming problem--simply ask. It's very difficult for most people to lie face-to-face.

On the other hand, anyone can create a username and come to a meeting. They can text without talking, they can say what they want about who they are, etc. Sometimes I'm in meetings where ikn ow everyone, sometimes not. We shouldn't assume we can tell. In this sense, it might not even be possible to have a real closed meeting.

I agree that if we have closed meetings, we should not use the word "closed". I think the "danger" of having an anon show up is much smaller than the danger of having people who need help misunderstand and go away. We all know how many excuses we made before finally admitting to our situation. Having exclusionary language makes it easier for a newcomer to think "well, this just isn't for me." They often *want* to think that.

Also, I think there is value to having open meetings, in that it can be helpful for an anon to visit, to get a sense of what we do and don't do, for a variety of reasons (especially if they are the parent of a minor child--they may just want to see that it's a reasonably safe environment).

All that said, I do understand the allure of "closed" meetings. I always feel safer when I know the people in the room, or I at least know that they potentially have a similar problem, rather than being someone who will judge or criticize. I just think that if we are going to limit attendance in some meetings, we should be careful about how we communicate it, and also be aware that anyone who really wants to get around it can easily do so in an online environment.

These are my thoughts so far; I'll want to hear more from others before deciding how to vote.

You have to go the way the way your blood beats:
If you don't live the only life you have,
You won't live some other life,
You just won't live any life at all.

I was dan1 in a former life.

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Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:00 am

Joined: Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:05 am
Posts: 53
State/Province/Country: Sydney, Australia
I have voted and have voted for the default to be open. The reason for this is that I do not wish for anyone to feel excluded, I have been excluded from other fellowships before and it really hurts. One of the things I love about CGAA is that we are a group of people who are very open and welcoming. We are so different yet our desire to abstain from gaming unites us and makes us one unit and we are each stronger for it.

I do not feel the need for closed meetings at all, but that is just me personally. Could those of you who would like to have more closed meetings please offer me their reasons as I would like to be more informed on this topic.

I think that it would be fine for anons to attend and just listen in, family members often attend face to face meetings in other anonymous groups but they do not share. They are merely demonstrating their support for their loved one.

Additionally, as we are an online community we need to be considerate of anyone who wishes to protect their personal security and would like support of a friend or family member listening in to be on the lookout for trolls and predators.

Just my 2 cents worth

Thu Oct 27, 2016 6:06 am
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