I am reaching out on behalf of my local meeting. At a recent business meeting there was discussion of the chat function in our videoconferencing platform, and we were wondering if there are any guidelines for use of the chat feature in online meetings. Some members have privately reached out to others who do not wish to be contacted or who have found some of the conversation to be uncomfortable. Any guidance or suggestions would be welcome.

There aren’t any specific guidelines for the use of the chat feature in online meetings. Different meetings have made different decisions: for some, only hosts can chat and participants can’t send messages; for others, participants can send messages to everyone; and still other meetings have decided that participants can send messages only to hosts.

It is up to your meeting to decide how you want to work on this. Personally, I don’t utilize the free chat at my meeting, but my virtual meeting allows it, and we need to remember Tradition Two (group conscience) and Tradition Four (group autonomy).
I suggest a discussion and decision at a business meeting. Remember, the most important thing is carrying the message.