Guidance on online meeting etiquette (originally written by the Original Online Meeting Group)
The purpose of this guide is to give guidance to meeting leaders on how to support a safe, respectful environment conducive to open sharing and healing and how to handle the rare disruption or occasional straying from etiquette. The guide can be downloaded as a PDF file from the end of this post.
Don’t worry about remembering all of this information. Please read the first section General etiquette for leading meetings and refer to the remaining sections when necessary.
Table of contents
Our general aim
What is "cross-talk"?
Modeling helpful sharing
Who can be a meeting leader
Applying the traditions
Using outside literature as part of the meeting format
Dealing with Trolls
How to recognize that a troll pack has arrived
How to deal with disruption
Dealing with lesser disruptions
When to NOT address a seeming disruption
When to consider talking with someone after the meeting
When to address a disruption during the meeting
One last reminder on gentle compassion
This guidance and our etiquette are not intended as rules. We are sharing our combined experience of what has worked in our meetings. Most of these things are probably obvious to you already, as they are part of the unspoken culture of our meetings. Most newcomers figure them out quickly on their own. We include them here to be clear on the group's chosen approach to hosting helpful, safe, open, and respectful meetings.
If you attend meetings of other groups and fellowships, you likely have noticed that different meetings have different norms and expectations on everything from how long to share, what to share about, how to talk about outside help, appropriate language, and so on. This guide reflects the etiquette as decided by group conscience for online CGAA meetings.
Our general aim
The organization of our meetings is fairly relaxed. One person volunteers to lead the meeting by reading certain material at the beginning and end of the meeting, greeting people, asking those with unfamiliar names if they're at their first CGAA meeting, picking a topic, and sometimes filling in a bit of the silence between shares (mostly by asking, "Who would like to share next?"). We call this person the meeting leader or chair.
Next, people take turns sharing their personal experience of recovery from gaming addiction. During discussion, one person shares at a time without interruption or comment. Our aim is to have a supportive atmosphere where it is easy to participate, easy to listen, and helpful in learning to live well without video games.
- We want to allow enough discussion time for all who wish to share. Sometimes the meeting leader will write a private message to someone who has been talking quite a while, asking them to please wrap up soon, so everyone has a chance to share. Detailed guidance about time limits are given below.
- We avoid controversial opinions on outside issues such as those involving political parties, government, or religion. People sometimes share about their own spiritual views and how that helps them in recovery, which is always fine.
- We try to minimize profanity out of respect for others, but do not prohibit it.
- While someone is sharing, we often make brief one-word written acknowledgements, like "nod", "relates", "hugs", or "congrats", but we avoid interrupting with cross-talk.
- While people very commonly mention recovery from other addictions briefly in ways that are quite helpful and relevant to their share, extensive sharing about problems with other addictions (rather than recovery) can detract from the purpose of the meeting. The leader may privately message someone and ask to please bring it back to gaming addiction, or may talk to the person about meeting etiquette after the meeting.
- We ask those who do not have a problem with gaming (typically a family member of a compulsive gamer) to wait until after the meeting to ask questions or talk with others.
- Interrupting by voice or text is considered cross-talk (other than brief one-word written acknowledgements like "nods".) Generally we refrain from interrupting or interjecting commentary, even when well intentioned.
- Evaluating or commenting about another person's share is cross talk. A brief mention about how you related to something in someone else’s share is common, but we don’t go beyond that.
- Directly advising another person is considered cross talk. We generally share personal experience with the whole room and refrain from advice. It's fine to share experience that seems relevant to a particular person and it's fine to give brief encouragement, appreciation, or empathy.
- Back-and-forth commentary between people is cross talk. In meetings, we each take a turn sharing from personal experience and find it disruptive when two people get into a back-and-forth exchange.
People usually notice etiquette on their own. These suggestions are not meant to be advocated as part of leading a meeting, but are helpful to model when sharing.
- We focus on overcoming video gaming addiction and learning to live life in all its many aspects and deal with difficulties without video games.
- We generally avoid mentioning the names or detailed game-play of specific video games.
- We often make mention of problems in our personal lives, but when we need to talk at length about a personal problem, we find it far more helpful to have a back-and-forth conversation with a recovery friend or sponsor outside of meetings.