Does my meeting need a passcode?

Zoom Passcode options for AA Groups

When setting up and listing our AA Zoom meetings on the Australian AA national website (and other online platforms) members need to be aware of the options available. They can then weigh up the need to be easily accessible to members and newcomers and, at the same time, try to keep Zoom bombers and trolls at bay.

It is, of course, up to each group conscience to decide how they wish to set up their meeting and how they want their meeting to be listed on the National website, other AA websites or other platforms. This information is presented to help each group understand the options.

There are generally three different approaches various groups are taking when setting up Zoom meetings and having them listed on AA websites.

Option 1 – No Passcode

This is the simplest way and provides the fewest barriers for a newcomer to join and attend AA meetings online. This is the preferred method for most AA meetings in Australia and allows websites to set up links where users can join the meeting with one click. 

It also means that access to the meeting can be shared easily – a member can share just the Meeting ID verbally via the phone, or in other ways – Facebook, text, etc. The meeting ID is all that is needed.

The downside is that this option also makes it easy for Zoom Bombers and individual trolls to join the meeting. Trolls have been actively seeking one-click-links to meetings and sharing these links with others.

Groups should be aware of this and well prepared by having at least 1 co-host and following recommended procedures if an attack happens. With a little experience, most groups have become confident this can be handled with little disruption to the meeting.

Also note that Zoom will require you to enable a waiting room if you don’t use a passcode.This helps in identifying zoom bombers before they enter the meeting.

Option 2 – Have a passcode and give it away freely

Some groups are setting up their meetings with a passcode which forces all users to enter a passcode to join the meeting. They then freely distribute the passcode along with the Meeting ID and ask for the passcode to be published on AA websites alongside the zoom ID. Everyone, including newcomers can join the meeting, but they can’t join in one click – they need to pause to enter the passcode.

This method also means that two pieces of information need to be passed on when telling others about the meeting verbally or in other ways. Both the meeting ID plus the passcode need to be passed on.

This of course does not stop the zoom bombers from joining the meeting because everyone has the passcode.

Groups setting up this way should still always be prepared to deal with Zoom bombers.

Option 3 – Have a passcode and a secondary method to distribute the passcode

Some groups are creating Zoom meetings with a passcode, listing the meeting ID on AA websites, along with instructions on how to obtain the passcode elsewhere. Users are instructed to to obtain the passcode prior to the meeting via one or more of these methods:

  • Email
  • Phone
  • Text message
  • Subscription to an email group

And some groups require that users pre-register to attend the meeting using Zoom’s registration system. The user then needs to wait to receive an invitation.

This option has only been adopted by a small number of groups. Usually those groups who are running closed meetings (for alcoholics only) and particularly for gender specific meetings or other special purpose meetings.

The idea is to try to eliminate zoom bombers and trolls as much as possible. This is the highest level of protection against zoom bombers. It is unlikely that a zoom bomber would go to the trouble of requesting the passcode from another source.

This option does, of course, make it much harder for a newcomer to come to the meeting on their own. It presents the greatest barrier for hesitant newcomers.

* Note regarding one-click-join on passcode protected meetings.

It is possible to set up a meeting with a passcode and still allow one click joining. When a meeting is set up with a passcode, Zoom provides a long URL link which includes the passcode in encrypted form. This can be published to make it simple for users to join via one click from an AA website link. But it still means that when details of the meeting are shared verbally members must include both the meeting ID and the passcode (as in option 2 above). Setting up the meeting in this way is generally not preferred – it makes it no harder for Zoom bombers to join, but it does make it harder to share the information with other members and newcomers.