It’s been a few weeks since WAIA posted a blog and some information about how to avoid or diminish Zoom-bombing. Since then, many groups have reported that the suggestions made in the blogs, video tutorials, and in the open forum (held in March) were helpful. In many cases, the information has quickly resolved groups’ issues and/or concerns. What seems to have worked best is the sharing of experience, strength, and hope in the context of keeping Zoom-bombers away. In light of this, WAIA is sharing a follow-up blog which will outline what is working and what still isn’t, from some of our trusted servants found in groups in our area. Below you will find a few brief testimonials from groups who wished to share their Zoom experience with you:
“Things that are working well: Having a person to do tech support who is a Zoom expert from their job. Having a meeting with the tech chair weekly, 30 mins prior to the meeting. Having the host call on people to share, as opposed to the speaker. Muting all participants except the person speaking/sharing and putting the chat on “host only” during the meeting. Having newcomer callers elected by the group so that new people don’t have to share their number with the entire meeting, although the chat is open after the meeting, so people can share their numbers with the full group or message people individually, if they like.
What isn’t working: We have opted not to use a password, but have a link that has a password embedded because the password seems to cause a lot of confusion. Having a group Zoom and group Venmo account wasn’t working for autonomy and being self-supporting, so we checked with our treasurer and then got our own.
We did not hold a group conscience about security issues. The chair spoke to several members of the group and other groups and made changes necessary in accordance with guidance available.” -Anonymous Contributor
“For security, we keep screen sharing and recording disabled, all participants muted during the meeting (without the option to unmute themselves) and the chat function set so that messages can only be sent directly to the chair. We also have three appointed security service positions dedicated to keeping an eye out for disruptive behavior. They are set as co-hosts and have the power to turn off participants’ video and/or audio or remove them from the meeting entirely if need be. To keep the meeting as accessible as possible, we do not use a password or waiting room.
We have had one instance of a group of trolls joining the meeting but with these settings the meeting was able to proceed without disruption as the designated security personnel removed them.
The trusted servants of the meeting also elected to create four appointed service positions (two men and two women) dedicated to reaching out to newcomers. During the meeting, anyone new is encouraged to privately share their contact info with the chair, who then passes it off to the designated outreach group, who can in turn introduce them to other members of the fellowship. This is a relatively new initiative but has so far had success with ensuring newcomers have a safe and private way to reach out for help. Additionally, once the meeting is over, the chair turns the public chat feature on so that anyone who wishes may share their contact info with the group at large if they are comfortable doing so.” -Trusted servant from Up the Tubes (meets Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m.)
“My biggest challenge in moving meetings online has been that many of our less tech-savvy members are wary. Many will only dial in, foregoing video. I have set up two meetings without passwords but used a waiting room and have to admit people manually. I prefer not using a password because that creates yet another bit of information folks need to punch into their phone, and adds another barrier for the tech-wary. I feel like we want to make this process as painless as possible, because isolation kills. Along these lines I am very interested in hearing about other platforms folks may have used that could make things easier and more secure for the nervous.
On Friday, my home group (which I did not host) got bombed. We did not have a waiting room or a password, but afterwards we held a group conscience and implemented both. We also formalized the online meeting host as a service position, making me the co-host. At the other two meetings I host, we have had a couple of brief group conscience meetings about minor points like whether we list on the WAIA website, but have never formally made the host a recognized position. Being a host requires you pay attention to administration during the meeting and distracts from listening to the message. On the other hand, rotating positions usually last at least six months, and since this is all so new, I don’t feel like this is an urgent need just yet (despite my occasional grousing). I think it is more important we find stable, secure, easy ways to connect that will get as many drunks online as possible. And in order to do that, we probably need tech savvy folks in a more prominent role until we get this sorted out. I would also note that I am paying for the Zoom account used for the two meetings I host.” -Anonymous Contributor
We received these testimonials, along with some more valuable feedback and suggestions. One trusted servant suggested that we hold another open forum where experience, strength, and hope about online meetings can be shared now that we have had more time to make adjustments. Please know that this input is valued, and WAIA is working to make this happen soon.
In addition to seeking feedback directly from groups, The WAIA Techcomm Committee has also created an Online Meeting Service Request Form, where groups in need of tech support can connect with any AA volunteers who are tech savvy and available to help. If you are a group in need of tech support, or an AA member seeking to be of service for this, please visit our AA-DC Tech Connect page.