Next week I’ll be posting an update on several Al‑Anon guidelines that have been revised this year. However while I was researching those, it led me to this guideline for The Forum that was very recently updated – just last month, in October 2021, in fact! It got me wondering, 🤔 “What changed exactly?” See below for the journey & detailed discovery of what I uncovered…
***Caution: serious Al‑Anon nerd alert ahead! 🤓 No TLDR. 🤷♀️***
WHAT I LEARNED: Even though this is a guideline, it doesn’t have an item # that starts with “G-” like other guidelines. Because this guideline is specific to The Forum magazine, it starts with an “F-” (similar to item # F-2 for “Tips for GR’s as Forum Representatives” & item # F-4 for the “Forum Humor Sharing Sheet” – both of which I’ll be reviewing in upcoming posts). (FYI – I could not locate any item # F-3.) I’ve seen 6 incarnations of this F-1 guideline which I’ve broken down chronologically below:
1998 Version: While earlier renditions might have been around, this 1998 version was the first time I saw this writing guideline. I can’t quite make out the dates of the 2 editions pictured of The Forum, however the printing code for this guideline is “2-2m-98-0” which confirms the 1998 printing date (thanks “Ordering Literature” guideline (item # G-31))! The majority of the second page is made up of ruled lines for the “Sharing Sheet” portion so a member could fill out this backside & just mail the completed guideline to the World Service Office (WSO). Click here to see the 1998 Version of F-1.
2001 Version: Both of the 2 images of The Forum magazine now come from Al-Anon’s 50th anniversary in 2001. My copy of this guideline was a 10th or 11th generation copy so the 2 black & white images of The Forum are a bit blurry. I can only identify the September 2001 issue (I’ve included a thumbnail image so you can see the cover of this September 2001 edition in color), but I’m not sure the month of the other one. The text is an exact word-for-word match to the 1998 version & it has a new printing code: “3-5m-01.” Click here to see the 2001 Version of F-1.
2012 (or 2013) Version: Technically, I don’t know when this version came out. (If you happen to know, please leave a comment!) I’m just guessing it had to be after December 2012 because pics of the November 2012 & December 2012 issues are featured on the first page. Instead of being a copy of a copy, this is a cleaner PDF version with bright full-color images of The Forum on it. The text is an exact word-for-word match to the 2001 version. Even though The Forum pics have been updated with 2012 images, it still has the same printing code from 2001 for some reason: “3-5m-01,” so now I’m confused about printing codes again. 😕 Click here to see the 2012/2013 Version of F-1.
2016 Version: Time for a major re-design & update! There’s no longer a printing code on this guideline, so I’m guessing it came out after October 2016 because pics of the March 2016 & October 2016 issues are now featured on the first page. Listed below are a few examples of additional updates:
- It went from 2 pages down to only 1 page. (The “Sharing Sheet” was removed.)
- A whole new intro paragraph appears that expands on the benefits of submitting a sharing.
- The fax number changed by one digit. (This number seems to now match the WSO’s main fax number. However, the previous fax number still appears on the current 2021 version of the subscription order form for The Forum (item # S-41), so maybe that previous fax number is just for handling orders… if anyone is still faxing nowadays! 📠 😜)
- There are 3 entirely new sections:
- Word count…
- Topics ideas…
- Here are some suggestions…
- There’s now a reference to “electronic literature” & an option for a member to include their email address has been added.
- The WSO’s “Members website” address (al-anon.org/members/the-forum) – without the “www” prefix oh by the way – shows up for the first time on this guideline at the bottom of the page.
If you’d like to see all the changes that were made, I’ve highlighted them on this 2016 Version of F-1.
2018 Version: Pics of the June 2018 & July 2018 issues are now featured on the first page. Per page 95 of the “2018 World Service Conference (WSC) Summary” (item # P-46), this guideline “was included as an insert in the November issue of The Forum” & per page 96, the update placed “more emphasis on the need for sharings about the Steps, Traditions and Concepts of Service.” But this description seems to fit better for the changes that were made to the 2016 version because, with the exception of the updated Forum pics, I only saw 2 new changes which are listed below:
- The reference to the “Members website” address has been replaced with al-anon.org/forumshare.
- The hyphenated word “E-mail” now appears as one lowercase condensed word “email” but only in the footer section. It still appears as “E‑mail” in the contact details section directly above the footer. …Maybe this will changed on a future update so that both words are spelled the same way, but I digress & I’m still learning to let go…
If you’d like to see all the changes that were made, I’ve highlighted them on this 2018 Version of F-1.
2021 Version: I can definitely say this version came out just last month, October 2021, because the images of The Forum are from the August 2021, September 2021, & October 2021 issues. The updates seem mainly for clarification & some of the language sounds more suggestive rather than directive. Listed below are some of the changes:
- Pics of 3 issues of The Forum are shown instead of just 2.
- Under the “Word Count” section, the Department “Zip 23454” has been removed & “CAL Corner” & “Short Sharing” have been added.
SIDENOTE QUESTION: What the heck was “Zip 23454” in The Forum?
ANSWER: 23454 is the zip code of Al‑Anon’s headquarters in Virginia Beach & per page 67 of the “1997 World Service Conference (WSC) Summary” (P-46), the May 1996 edition of The Forum debuted “a new member’s letter section called ‘Zip 23454’ and ‘Talk to Each Other,’ a page providing a forum for members to share their questions, concerns, problems and successes with other readers.” The most recent printing of the “Talk to Each Other” Department was re-introduced in the August 2018 issue (see page 14) with a member’s question about the principles of Al‑Anon. The follow-up responses from other members were published in the December 2018 issue (see page 27). I haven’t read anything about these 2 Departments being retired, so keep a lookout in case they return! 👀
If you’d like to see all the changes that were made, I’ve highlighted them on this 2021 Version of F-1. And a clean, unmarked electronic copy of this new 2021 version can be downloaded directly from the World Service Office website by clicking this link: F-1 Forum Guideline
**BONUS CAL QUESTION #1 of 2: Did you know the WSO has a guideline for submitting photographs to The Forum? Click here to see this Photos Guideline.
***BONUS CAL QUESTION #2 of 2: What brand new Department appeared for the very first time in this month’s Forum issue (November 2021) & features a paragraph quoted from a popular Al-Anon book? (Hint: See page 22 or click here to scroll down the preview sample of the electronic November 2021 issue to see the list of Departments. Can you find it? Happy hunting! 🕵️)