Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. (CoDA)
approved by the 2003 CSC
*& Proposed 2009 Changes
Guidelines for CoDA service committees, communities, groups, or meetings (groups) desiring to establish a web presence with a web site to carry the message of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc.
A CoDA group may decide what information they want to provide and the level of complexity they wish to maintain on a web site.
A typical web site might include the following:
Home page – general information about the group and CoDA.
Preamble, Welcome, Twelve Steps, Twelve Traditions, Twelve Promises.
List of local CoDA events
Contact phone numbers
*Meeting information / list (with CoDA meeting registration number)
Literature information, and how to order
Links to other CoDA web sites
The possibilities to “carry the message” are endless. There are potential problems to be avoided. These can fall into two general categories: those concerning the Twelve Traditions and those concerning technology.
How Do the Traditions Affect What We Put on a Web Site?
The Twelve Traditions of Co-Dependents Anonymous are the guiding spiritual principles our Fellowship. (For additional information about the appropriateness of applying our Traditions, please refer to the CoDA pamphlet, “Using the Twelve Traditions.”)
No matter how modest the web site, it is available to a large, diverse and growing audience. If a web site is linked to the CoDA site (www.coda.org), that link represents an endorsement by CoDA. Possible Tradition issues are:
Our primary purpose - carrying the CoDA message of recovery from codependency
Endorsement - avoiding endorsement of related facilities or outside enterprises.
Outside issues - avoiding opinions on outside issues
Self-support - costs of development and maintenance
Autonomy - responsibility for web site content and copyright acknowledgment
Anonymity - the Internet as an extension of press, radio and films.
Unity - deciding what goes into a web site
It is important to remember that “our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon CoDA unity” (Tradition One). Keeping the information presented general allows us to reach as many codependents as possible, many of whom will be newcomers who know little about Co-Dependents Anonymous. Please be clear that information regarding any special focus meetings on your pages are a small part of CoDA.
A group conscience of the sponsoring group is the basis for deciding what goes into the website. Before putting up a website, the content should be thoroughly reviewed by the membership of the group sponsoring the site.
Placing information about the site’s sponsoring group, on each page of the site, makes the message clear to the reader. As a design consideration, having a consistent “look and feel” on each page makes reading the material easier for the user.
Our primary purpose - carrying the CoDA message of recovery from codependency
The purpose for the web site should be to carry the CoDA message. Our Step 12 reads, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other codependents, and to practice these principles in all our affairs. A website can be a great tool in carrying the message of recovery to codependents who still suffer, by employing modern technology to implement our primary spiritual aim. Our websites rely on attraction, not promotion.
Avoiding endorsement - avoiding endorsement of related facilities or outside enterprises as stated in Tradition 6.
A link to another web site, is saying, “This is a site that we think well of. It is an unspoken but very real endorsement of the linked-to site. Some web sites are hosted by facilities such as hospitals or rehabilitation centers. These facilities may provide CoDA meetings on-premises and include CoDA information on their web site as a service. This is fine. Although we may not endorse a related facility or outside enterprise, a facility or outside enterprise may endorse us. Their sites may provide information about CoDA and/or link to CoDA developed/maintained sites.
An exception to this policy is when a CoDA event (Convention, Conference, retreat) is held at a location that has a web site. A reference to the facility web site may be included in the announcement of the event. It is appropriate for the CoDA Fellowship to obtain information about the place were the event will be held.
It is impossible to know which web sites have linked to your site. If asked, it would be acceptable for a site to link to a CoDA sponsored site. However, in order to maintain the spirit of the Traditions, it is a good practice to request that the linking site makes it clear that they are linking to your site for information purposes and not as an affiliation.
Linking to sites that have been developed and sponsored by CoDA service bodies or communities is the safest choice. The CoDA web site does not link to web sites outside of CoDA. Many web sites that include CoDA information may also include information and links that have nothing to do with codependency. CoDA linked sites should not endorse, link or reference related facilities or outside enterprises. CoDA does not endorse sites developed and maintained by non-CoDA organizations, so we don’t link to sites that are not affiliated with a CoDA group.
Outside issues - avoiding opinions on outside issues
The Tenth Tradition says “CoDA has no opinion on outside issues.” We need to consider the good of CoDA as a whole, which may be affected if a CoDA web site links to a site that has opinions on outside issues
Another problem that may be encountered on a web site is provider-included advertising. If a small flashing picture appears saying “If you’d like to see more about this, press here - it’s an ad. These advertisers pay site providers to place their ads that allow you link to sites to download free software. Providing information like this violates both Traditions Six and Ten. (“A CoDA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the CoDA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim.” And, “CoDA has no opinions on outside issues; hence, the CoDA name should never be drawn into public controversy.”)
Some Internet providers insert their own addresses at the bottom of a web page to encourage viewers to contact them. Closely associated with this problem is that some of the code generators insert messages such as, “This web site was developed using XYZ Tool.” These, are also advertisements and break CoDA’s Tradition of non-endorsement.
Use of credit card or financial trademarks is acceptable in the normal course of financial transactions.
Setting up a site on the Internet has recurring costs. Many Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) make space available for clients as part of their monthly fees for a “personal” web site. A member may want to donate their personal web site space as a service to the sponsoring service body. But what happens if the individual decides to change ISP’s? What if they move? What if they decide that CoDA isn’t for them anymore?
Tradition Seven says “every CoDA group ought to be fully self-supporting.” So it’s best that the group provide its own Internet presence. The important issue is that the group be responsible for the site, not an individual.
Responsibility for Page Content
No one may publish CoDA copyrighted material without the express written permission of Co-Dependents Anonymous, Inc. board. Copyright infringement is one of the most common problems that have occurred with the explosion of the Internet. Using copyrighted material without permission has the potential of deeply affecting CoDA as a whole. The only CoDA materials that may be reproduced on a web site are those items on the CoDA web site and the appropriate Copyright notice must be included. Excerpted material must also be acknowledged.
Responsibility also extends to the accuracy and timeliness of information. Meeting lists should always be kept current and up to date. Sorry, CoDA cannot give websites direct access to update/download meeting information. Those creating websites have two choices for meeting lists: (1) self-maintained meeting list and (2) link to CoDA website meeting list.
(1) self-maintained meeting list:
They are many advantages to a self-maintained meeting list. It is short and contains just those meetings in your area. You can also decide on the content and way to display this list of meetings: alphabetical by group name, in order by meeting day or by some breakout of your local area.
Be careful to put this on your site in a format that everybody can read. HTML can be read by everybody or else they would not be looking at your site. However, HTML does not lend itself to printing in a specific format nor downloading for future reference. PDF is a better choice for printing format and downloading.
Also, it is highly recommended that any self-maintained list contain the official meeting number assigned by CoDA. By doing this, world-wide updates will be easier for CoDA. In the past, some local meeting lists have taken precedent over the main list maintained by CoDA. When the group contact updates the information locally, they do not follow-through with updating the information at the CoDA site. As long as newcomers visit the local site to obtain information, they will find the proper meeting information. But, if they view the CoDA site and search for meetings, they may find outdated information and sometimes no information because the new meeting has not been added to the list.
*Dangers to avoid
Closing down the intergroup or group without closing the site down.
Creating a local list and then loosing manpower to keep it updated.
Creating the sense that web updaters will forward the related meeting information updates to CoDA for the meeting's contacts (Meeting contacts are responsible for updating their meeting information in the CoDA database.)
CoDA invites everyone to link to our meeting search at www.coda.org/meeting-locator.php. Unfortunately, this list is much larger and takes a little while to load. CoDA also has search capabilities in Spanish from the Spanish side of our website. CoDA offers a variety of ways to search for meetings including location by distance from your zip code (only in the U.S.).
We've also created links so that, as you search for and view your meeting's data, you can edit that data and forward it to CoDA for correction.
CoDA Service Items/Literature
CoDA's service items include the Meeting Starter Packet, the Fellowship Service Manual, the Steps, Promises, Traditions, & meeting format. All service items appear on the coda.org website. They may be photo-copied for use in CoDA meetings or posted on CoDA community websites. *These items should have the disclaimer and the copyright notice at the bottom of the page.
CoDA does not allow quotations from our literature on any website, nor does CoDA allow photo-copying of literature. Literature includes but is not limited to:
The CoDA Book, the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions Workbook, the Newcomer's Handbook and other items which we sell through CoRe. Although text of CoDA's literature is not posted on the CoDA.org website, short descriptions of literature (blurbs) and ordering information are available online.
We, as a Fellowship, own the literature, develop it, approve it and maintain it. We have entrusted the Board of Trustees of Co-Dependents Anonymous the legal responsibility to protect our property. That includes rigorous protection of our copyrights from use without permission. If copyright infringement is found to exist, the following steps should be taken:
Bring it to the attention of the Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees will take appropriate action to preserve CoDA rights and resolve the violation, up to and including notification of the Internet Service Provider, and legal action.
An Extension of Press, Radio and Films
Tradition Eleven, which calls for maintaining “personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, film,” also applies to the Internet.
*Deciding what goes on the site
Create a Web Site Maintenance Committee within the group to make ongoing revisions to your web site.
Sponsoring groups should approve all revisions to their web site.
Have fun considering the possibilities and the creativity to accomplish what you want.
A web site is an incredible tool to help carry information to people who suffer from codependency. It just takes thought and effort to maintain our adherence to the principles that we have incorporated into our everyday lives.
- The Internet is a great way to bring more hands and hearts into our CoDA Fellowship
Technical issues that may arise during the development of web sites. Detailed questions about coding, page structure, and other issues cannot be covered in this general overview. Your Internet Service Provider may be able to provide you *with technical assistance. Web Coordinator may be contacted via e-mail, the CoDA web site, www.coda.org, or by postal mail (PO Box 33577, Phoenix, AZ 85067).
The general things to remember are:
Design the site with newcomers in mind.
Do not use CoDA copyrighted material beyond those items found on the coda.org web site. Be sure to include *disclaimer and a copyright notice on each page indicating that it contains copyrighted material.
No other CoDA literature may be copied or posted on any website.
Take a careful look at any site that you consider linking to, so Traditions related problems can be avoided. CoDA strongly suggests that you only link to sites sponsored by other Co-Dependents Anonymous groups, including the CoDA web site, www.coda.org.