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Archive for the 'ambassadors' Category

Some more blurbs, from BSR and some funny/sad negative references

So blurbs will be opt-in rather than opt-out. But what I read today deserves another post: A Global Ambassador left 5 negative references for people he never met, they all look like this:

Never met him. From his posts (mainly Brainstorm group) got the impression, that he has problems for not being as important as he was (he often “mentions”, how he used to be “big”). Looks like he’s trying to regain importance with his “watch group activities”. His arrogant self-righteousness sticks out even among his fellow BS’ers. His urge to lecture others on moral behavior & to express disdain for what- or whomever he thinks “below him” is sickening – as are his lies, as documented in my “Lies” threads in BS group. Sad thing is: he’s obviously smart, very educated & even witty sometimes – yet none of that helps:( When I had to ask his permission to KEEP him in my “Devil’s Black Box” #1 after gotten anonymously ratted to the MDST & being told then, that I had to ask these guys first, his curt reply showed his disdain for me: “Please remove my name from your profile. I do not wish to be linked to you in any way.” ALSO draw your own conclusions from his REPLY REF, IF he gives me one!

None of these 5 people have any other negative references…


I think it’s a shame to lose Henk as such an active and generous host in, perhaps, the most difficult city to find a couch…but I don’t blame you a bit, for removing yourself from the search feature. I would feel equally sad if I was condemned unfairly by a representative of CS, after having offered my home to travelers in support of the organization and its ideals. (I understand that Ulf does not feel as though Ambassadors represent CS, but most other members, myself included, consider them to be so)

Somehow these references remind me of the references that I left to Casey and some other Admins, with the difference that I actually met the people I left a reference for, and I don’t think Ulf could seriously be as upset about the BSR gang as I was about Casey&Co’s behavior in 2007.

(I removed or adapted these negative references of mine.)

Ambassadors Support Team Leader: Warning: 3 out of 101 references are negative

WARNING: Unpleasant Explicit Imagery Following.
Be careful if you have heart problems and don’t watch before, during or after meals.

Have you been wondering why so many Global Ambassadors left CouchSurfing the past months? Did you think people were making a fuss about nothing? Well, check for yourself, and realize that Gadget has enjoyed a promotion to the Leadership Team after the events described below, of which CS management must have clearly been aware.

Naked Gadget Showing The Finger

“Gadget has a gadget for anything and everything that your little heart could possibly desire – he was a real lifesaver for some of us Burning Man virgins!
UPDATE: This was a hard reference to update because I always considered Gadget to be my friend. While I appreciate him, he overstepped my boundaries on several occasions by touching me inappropriately and ignored my requests for him to stop, especially when he was drinking.”

“I first met Gadget at Burning man two years ago, but it was my experience with him at Vienna calling in June of this year that made it clear to me that he has no respect for me, as a person. At Vienna calling when we were all on a train headed from a picnic to a dance club, he pulled down his pants baring his buttocks to everyone in the train car behind him, which I was personally offended by. When we were in the dance club he came up to me and put his face between my breasts while at the same time grabbing my crotch. I never want to be alone in a room where Gadget is.”

“I have met Jonathan several times at a gathering and it was generally fine. However, a few incidents happened. He told me private information about other volunteers while we were not in a private setting. I witnessed him misbehaving in public transportation. At the final party, he danced very close to me and did not seem to hear me when I was telling him to back off. Later, he lost his balance and fell on me as I was crouching, grabbing my body. I was shocked and told him sharply that he was going too far. When I discussed this with Jonathan via email, he admitted he behaved poorly, had a few drinks too many, could not remember these incidents and apologized. I would not be in a setting involving alcohol again with him.”

Mooning in Vienna public transport

Note how TTT (General Manager) and Weston (Tech Team Leader) were right next to the Ambassadors Support Team Leader when he was showing off his bottom in Vienna’s public transport.

Getting ready for mooning, witnessed by Two Other Leaders.

some thoughts about positive action

I’ve been a couchsurfing volunteer for about 9 months, in which I started the couchsurfing wiki, did tons of work on the code, and much more. I was trying to open the organization in a radical way, pushing for a free software license of the code and creating a bit of chaos here and there.

The day I quit 3 other coders who had contributed considerable work to the CS code base quit as well. It was a sad day. However, we thought that would be able to put pressure on the organization to open up. We thought wrong, obviously.

Now and then I’ve seen people quit volunteering for CS, for reasons uncommon to most organization. Still, I thought couchsurfing would continue, and people would be reasonably happy to volunteer within the framework provided.

Currently, with so many long-term volunteers quitting in such a short time span I’m wondering: what can we do to really open up couchsurfing – even if just a tiny wee bit? (And I prefer to wonder openly.) And is it possible to do this all together? Apparently the people who were against opencouchsurfing in the past seem to be sharing several goals. Is there another way to peacefully make a positive difference?

All the long-term volunteers are or have been friends with members of the leadership team, can we do something with that?

Or can a consensus be found to start something new or revive BeWelcome?

(Feel free to contact me by email if you prefer, firstname dot lastname at gmail dot com – I’ll keep things private if you prefer so.)

“Mark in the verification icons going away”

A good day for CouchSurfing! Leadership is still listening to members. Gadget made the announcement Ambassador’s Public:

Yes, true! We have listened to your comments on the ? Mark that was in the new verification iconography. We agree that it is not the best way to represent a persons image or character, so we are removing it Monday. We ‘reload’ the site with all the weeks updates every Monday, so you will notice the change then.

And the winner is…

To many people’s surprise – especially supporters of the OpenCS campaign  – CS appeared on the list of nominees for the Open Web Awards. CS was nominated mostly because of the efforts of Ambassadors. In the end -after a voting round of 4 weeks – CS didn’t win at all though. Out of the three finalists CS ended up… last.

For those who feel disappointed now, don’t worry… there might be another chance coming up soon for a another award. Some people even want to get CS nominated for the Nobel Price of Peace….

International Casey day

Ever wondered what the ambassadors are upto?

Making the world a better place?


They are busy creating A Casey day oops i mean International Couchsurfing Day

This is the brainchild of DJ AJAM from Manchester, United Kingdom

They first planned to hold it on 2nd March which happened to be Caseys birthday.

But then they realised it would be too cultist.
The LT loves meaning less publicity like the T-mobile advert.
Promitheus(LT?) from Norwich, United Kingdom
That’s a fun idea!
Hopefully there will be some LT communication soon ;)
stay tuned!

Mattthew Brauer
General Manager

Next year we can all plan ahead more and perhaps try to throw really large events in some big cities, or create a publicity stunt for the press, or who knows what else.

Here’s what I recommend: First, we need to quickly get the word out to the Ambs. . Hopefully they are all reading here, but we should cross post to the other Amb groups (global, country, city, and regional groups). Anyone who’s reading this: please post to whatever group you are in (first check that no one else has already done it).

Please tell the Ambs in these groups to consider throwing an event in their area on June 12th. Or, if they are unable to throw an event themselves, try to find a local member who can do it. Then send out an invitation to the event using this modified version of Derek’s text as an introduction:

Does it make an sense ?

YEah Let’s make a big party !

Reading about the petrock fad

It gives people a few moments of absolutely meaningless pleasure in a troubled world – no small accomplishment.

oh well! Another day of the year with some wierd celebration

February 27 International Polar Bear Day
June 30 Superman’s birthday, Meteor Day
December 27 National Fruitcake Day

Did anyone know that gas prices are up 137$ ? :)

Global warming?

Save the children?


The trouble with the ambassadors

We’re doing a little experiment in Antwerp, called elections. Once in a while, somebody makes the simple observation that it might better to base any kind of hierarchy in a community on representation instead of appointment. This is one of the core problems as well in CS and something we’ve been tackling in our “Open Organisation” campaign for a long time now. I think it would be very much worth it to see if the Antwerp CS community would support this or not. So, the best way to find out is to actually call for community elections. We could have gone straight after the city ambassador positions, but since that’s practically uninforcable, we made up our own title: “community elected CS city ambassador”. Sounds cool huh?

What’s the major difference between the CS ambassadors and what we propose?

  1. CS ambassadors are appointed from “above”. Depending on the level you wish to attain, the group that decided changes to higher levels, so it might be other ambassadors, up to LT. Community ambassadors would be elected from the local community.
  2. CS ambassadors have to follow a “code of ethics”, which ironically includes accepting the legally dubious terms of use. Not only is protesting any of that de-facto not allowed (you can only accept or you don’t get to be ambassador), it may require you to agree to semi-legal and ethically dubious rules and systems. Community ambassadors do not have such a code, but would be judged for their behaviour, which obviously includes real ethics.
  3. CS ambassadors get a “job” description, like organizing meetings, etc. Community ambassadors would be required to outline a program before their elections.

In general, I would say the official CS ambassadorship looks much more like a corporate job than anything else. There is a job description, an appointment process (including fairly subjective selections) and even a contract (“code of ethics” – cough). Or, in other words, a CS ambassador is representative of the Couchsurfing corpganization. By contrast, a community ambassador would be much more about being a representative of the local community instead.

The resulting proverbial shitstorm that resulted from the announcement was both predictable and suprising. Predictable because it obviously threatens some people’s positions (even indirectly). Suprising because so many of the LT cliché’s popped up in the discussion. Arguments and techniques that seemed to come straight from the LT playbook. Let me give you some examples:

  1. “It is really easy to participate, just apply! Why are you complaining?”
    It’s easy to participate as long as you agree to everyting yes. Groupthink example nr 1.
  2. ” We are just doing the best we can here! Why are you complaining?”
    The sympathy card. Avoidance tactic nr 1.
  3. “We’re not a closed group (the ambs), we just didn’t make an agenda because it was a private meeting/we didn’t have time/…”
    This wouldn’t be accepted in any other non-profit. Meetings behind closed doors? Please. Groupthink nr 2.
  4. “Democracy is a wonderful thing but it is not applicable to all organisational structures.”
    The poster did apologize for this, but still one of the major points seems to be that democracy for some weird reason can’t work in CS, the evidence of countless democratic non-profits being discarded in one swift stroke. Avoidance tactic nr 2.
  5. “Please give us feedback instead of complaining.”
    This basically is the brainstorming red herring: allow people to “provide input” to be able to ignore what you don’t like while still looking like you “care”. Whatever. I disagree with the way ambs are choosen, period. That means I don’t want to provide legitimacy to what you’re doing by giving you suggestions. Although, I do have one suggestion: resign and participate in the election instead of clinging to your current position. Avoidance tactic nr 3.
  6. “I don’t support the whole election but I will not block it in any way.”
    This is basically claiming ownership over something you don’t have. Elections don’t need amb support, it needs people support. Groupthink nr 3.
  7. ” You will always get a quick and honest reply for us, as we are the CS freaks.”
    How this can be claimed in any serious way is beyond me. You’re probably not even allowed to talk about certain things.
  8. “You’re just being paranoid.”
    Thanks buddy, but I don’t think you’ve met a real paranoid person in your life – I have. Personal attack, yay!
  9. And then came the stuff that really reminded me of the LT:
    “Would you please stop this discussion? It damages the CS project a lot. [...] for us, CS-members, it seems a lot of bullshit! and a lot of spam too !!!!!”
    immediatly followed by:
    “I’ll create a group within the antwerp group about the election so we can have our discussions over there without bothering the people too much…”
    This made me so angry, to see that same argument “you’re all a bunch of haters, go away!” followed up by the same kind of censorship “please step over here sir, so the good people can’t hear your complaints”.

The only tactics that haven’t been tried (yet):

  1. Permanent silencing. (Deleting posts and or manually moving threads.)
  2. Discredit the people/movement behind this. (Although point 9 is pretty close to that.)
  3. Direct threats (remember the “your account will be closed if you make vague legal threats thing?”)

Shameful. Shameful and painful.