Some FAQs About A.A. Web Sites
Q. How do we start to set up a local A.A. Web site?
A. Decisions in the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous are usually made through an informed group conscience and the decision to post a web page is no different. Whether area or district, central office or intergroup – A.A. experience suggests forming a committee to discuss all aspects of setting up a web site, including all possible concerns about the Traditions.
Q. Who is responsible for a web site?
A. A thoughtful and informed group conscience is encouraged to be responsible for deciding the contents, policy and procedures involved in setting up and maintaining a web site. It has been suggested that a web master (web manager) be appointed or elected to serve as a trusted servant, responsible to the committee or groups served. This can be an arduous task if the web master is responsible for updating local meeting information.
Q. How do we select a domain name for our web site?
A. What you choose for your domain name should, again, be determined by the group conscience. To preserve Alcoholics Anonymous’ trademarks and service marks, individuals and A.A. groups are asked to avoid using these marks (“A.A.”; “Alcoholics Anonymous”; “The Big Book”) in their domain names. It has been our experience that many service entities have integrated lower case “aa” into their domain name along with other identifying information (e.g. www.aacentraloffice.org or www.area999aa.org).
Q. What A.A. information is suitable for a web site?
A. Again, the group conscience will determine the contents. Copyright restrictions apply to material displayed on the web site – just as copyrights protect A.A. literature. Permission must be obtained from G.S.O. prior to including A.A.W.S. material on your web site. However, web sites created by A.A. areas, districts and central/intergroup offices are permitted to quote a phrase, sentence or brief paragraph excerpted from A.A. literature – such as the Big Book (Alcoholics Anonymous), Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, The A.A. Service Manual, and Conference-approved pamphlets – without a prior, written request to do so. When this occurs, the proper credit line should be included to ensure that the copyrights of A.A. literature are protected. After a quotation from a book or pamphlet, the credit line should read: “Reprinted from (name of publication, page number), with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.”
Q. What about linking to other sites?
A. Linking to other A.A. web sites will often have the positive effect of significantly broadening the scope of your site. Information contained on these sites becomes instantly available to those visiting your site. However, since each A.A. entity is autonomous and has its own group conscience, a site to which you have linked may start to display information which your group conscience finds objectionable; and there is no way to know when this might occur, or to prevent it from happening.
Q. What about anonymity?
A. We observe all A.A.’s principles and Traditions on our web sites. As anonymity is the “spiritual foundation of all our Traditions,” we practice anonymity on A.A. web sites at all times. An A.A. web site is a public medium which has the potential for reaching the broadest possible audience and, therefore, requires the same safeguards that we use at the level of press, radio and film.
Q. Will the General Service Office of A.A. act as a “clearinghouse” for local web sites?
A. There is no central authority in Alcoholics Anonymous, hence, the General Service Office of A.A. is not a “clearinghouse” for local web sites. Questions regarding the Traditions, contents, linking, etc. are determined by a local group conscience. G.S.O. is available to share collected experience on any subject, including web sites. At this point, though, G.S.O. has only limited sharing from local web site committees regarding their experience with matters which are unique to web site creation.
Q. What can be found on G.S.O.’s A.A. Web site (www.aa.org)?
A. In keeping with our Twelve Traditions and viewing the Internet as a form of public and electronic media, G.S.O’s A.A. Web site was originally set up as a public information tool. It has been broadened to include material that are more directed to members of our Fellowship. The site provides accurate and consistent information about Alcoholics Anonymous to the general public, media and professionals in English, French and Spanish.
Q. Is this promotion rather than attraction?
A. As our co-founder, Bill W., wrote: “Public information takes many forms – the simple sign outside a meeting place that says ‘A.A. meeting tonight’; listing in local phone directories; distribution of A.A. literature; and radio and television shows using sophisticated media techniques. Whatever the form, it comes down to ‘one drunk carrying the message to another drunk,’ whether through personal contact or through the use of third parties and the media.”
“Reprinted from aa.org, with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc.”