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Tag Archive for 'Communication'

Couchrequests Issues

Recently the couchsurfing organisation changed the couchrequest system. For some this might be an improvement but in my experience it just creates problems. For starters one has to respond in time, before the date that the person requests for. This might be good for the guest requesting hospitality but for the potential host this means you have to reply sometimes instantly, if the date is for tomorrow for example. Otherwise the system doesn’t even allow you to respond!

A related issue is that my percentage of “CouchSurf requests replied to” dropped from one moment to another from 100% to 80%. And going back into my archive I seem to have only missed three requests that were send to me while I was traveling and that were short notice. This obviously doesn’t explain the sudden drop, since I have received hundreds if not a thousand requests over the past 4 1/2 years. And responding to the last one pending only made the percentage increase with 1 percent…

Weird, especially since again there is so little communication about the changes made in the system (this news-item of June 2010 seems to be the only communication). And this is not the only issue, as suddenly I seem to have a bunch of “neutral references” which before used to be positive. Or maybe the explanation is that the amount of bugs is increasing, as in my history of couchrequests there seem to be only a hundred e-mails. Of which the latest dates back to 07/11/2008 (obviously missing a couple of years).

Couchsurfing down

Seems that Couchsurfing is down:

I’m wondering whether we get a update on what happened….

Uncoordinated Couchsurfing

We are just fresh in 2009 and CS finally launched its new feature: ‘News Channels’, one overview for all organizational communication towards all CS-member. It not only features the latest news from the organization and tech-news, it even hosts the earlier announced member-stories about hospitality experiences and also the news-letters that are supposed to arrive in your inbox soon again.

But what a completely uncoordinated launch this is. We’ve been anticipating this new features since a long while, and now that it is finally ready, you just have the feeling something is still not going right at the CS Basecamp. The only launch-news shown, dates back to news which is 4 months old, August and September 2008, and the thread on the communications channel that catches my eye the most is still the infamous ‘do we have a team?‘.

It could be just a simple lack of coordination but the impression you get from this launch is that volunteers are still not supported in the work they do. Imagine: you work hard on implementing a new system – or enthousiastic about writing news for the CS-members – but somehow you just don’t get the feeling you are receiving support from some key people to get this launched professionally. At the same time, while older volunteers are tired from their effort, there is a lack of empowerment of new volunteers, no news has been written, or the editors didn’t have access to the tools. Really, sometimes you just feel pity for the people that still work for Casey Couchsurfing Inc.

Anyway, let’s see how quickly this new feature will be used and how it will run. I just hope that somehow, the first news item will be a BIG apology from Casey himself about the 14,000 e-mails that got deleted corrupted while upgrading the messaging system last month, and an honest explanation why this took 3 days instead of an hour. Followed the next day by news about the 501c3 status, news about BaseCamp on the third day, new hires on the fourth, expenses and income of the past quarters on the fifth, and support for the OCS-campaigns on the sixth. Now that would be communication.

Communications deception or concealment

MANDIE M May 24th, 2008 – 5:17 am on this thread

The blog is on its way.
This is my second day at the Collective and
I have to admit that I dropped the ball on getting the blog set up before my arrival.

MANDIE M posts again on May 28th, 2008 – 1:52 am but makes no mention of the blog.

Walter Heck 28th, 2008 – 3:11 pm The blog is here:

Taking a look at the blog shows the thread
Welcome to the Collective! May 25th, 2008

Now was this a intentional or was Mandie concealing the blog till she got an ‘official’ response from her boss ?

Mandie reminds me of Dana Perino the current White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush [1]

Also reminds me of the White House Press policy

“No one charged with keeping the press and the public informed about the workings of the government should have to play such frustrating games,” McClellan writes.

But “it was clear,” he writes, that the president’s definition of necessary would “keep the press secretary on a pretty short leash.” This included being barred from key internal decision-making discussions,

“The more filtered information is, the less accurate it’s likely to be,” said Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution.

“The more typical press secretary spends a good deal of his or her time trying to find out what’s going on,” he said. “They’re up against a lot of people who are busy and who don’t really trust the press. … You’ve got to be pretty insistent.”

Casey Love

Damn Kasper, how do you do those quotes?

Thanks ;)

For your information: this is an extract of the original post by Kasper (

Thomas said:

It would be nice if Diederik could speak up about his experience and his own evaluation of the CS organisation.

A (small) word of warning: Speaking out against CS will almost automatically get you lumped in with the “OCSers”, even if you specifically state that you aren’t.

Well, to be honest, I probably already am. Some months ago, I had some posts, also on my own website. Seems that the communication went dead afterwards.

Let’s start at the beginning. I think this gives a better insight in my current feelings towards the Techteam, and in general: the leader of it, and Casey (ok, here comes my ban…)

My CS experience started at my former employer. Walter was a programmer then. I and Walter could (and still can) get along quite well, and I was invited in his house.
There were several great people, which had the same “frequency” (another word of saying we could get along, but that sentence would became corny ;) ). I met Duke, Aldo, Tiina, Paul and some others I forgot due to the use of ethanol ) My current position then was system engineer, and I was asked for that position at couchsurfing.

That would become handy, because of the start of the Rotterdam Tech Collective. Some several others were there too. Anu* (love!), Weston, Naz (great friend), Chris where several of them.
I got introduced with Nicco and we had great chats about the code (I’m not a programmer, so having some insight is perfect for me), system engineering, the couchsurfing system etc, etc. At that time, there were several things an issue. Nicco and I (as the only admins, besides some Indian people) started to work.

We had an agenda, and could start.

Several issues were addressed quite quick. Most of them are not-to-be-disclosed, but several were visible from the outside:

That time, the collective was already 3 months (or something like that) in the past. Several people came to become “sysadmin”, Nicco was degraded as leader, while Weston became TT-Leader (managing dev and sysadmin). Communication became less and less. From some times, we couldn’t reach Casey, which was our first contact for the code. At that time, my irritation began (my irritation towards the OCS was already there ;) ). Could some parts from OCS be *INDEED* true?

(Anu isn’t really stupid, you know, and Daz is just Daz and should drop dead, etc etc ;) ) At that time, it seemed to *ME* that some people were only busy programming, and not with management.

We had a great CSInterklaas weekend, and the Thai-collective started. We had several “incidents” before and after that (not-to-be-disclosed), and my irritation was at top. When I decided to resign (1 week ago) at the same time the poweroutage at the datacenter happened. Bad timing… Or probably not, because there were some more “incidents”.

This morning, I pulled the plugs from cs-sysadmins, cs-erc, cs-devel(|public). At my desktop is a Freemind scheme (, go get it) with my thoughts, idea’s and remedies. I had the idea to post it in the CS-Sysadmin group for learning. If only someone would not only *READ* it, but also *REPLY* to it. Therefor, I decided not to do so. I have the feeling that I’m being ignored, so why should I put more energy in it?

From my opinion (an censored version of the mindmap):

  • Where’s the communication?
    We are having more and more people, which asks more communcation to happen. The group only has 3 or 4 skype-meetings, and no real agenda. LT has, I believe that dev has. Why doens’t sysadmin have one?Miscommunications happen too often. Get a good IRC channel, AND STICK WITH IT. Use it like SVN, and make sure that you are the only one working on one problem.
  • Weston should resign from being a techteam-leader.
    Weston is a great guy (as well as Casey btw), but he is a programmer (as well as Casey). I believe that Casey and Weston should either resign from sysadminning and start programming OR do resign from both, and become a real manager (that is: delegate and check).
  • Get things prioritized
    Sticks with the communication part. Changing passwords is not an problem, but if changing OSes is having an higher priority, get that done.
  • Have more communication between CS-Sysadmin and development
    Commit often
    Commit the build to the webservers *NOT* often, but on an weekly base, and *COMMUNICATE* what the differences are. This ensures that everyone knows what is going on, and can act upon unexpected behaviour…
  • Learn from mistakes
    D’oh ;)

Let’s end with some positive notes:

  • I met all those great people. Some of those I want to mention: Nicco (thanks mate), Anu, Naz, Aldo (thanks a lot with the thinking), Martine (hug), Stijn, and all those others. Not to mention all those people that we hosted, will host, and I blatantly forgot.
  • I still believe that CS works. It needs to change. An negative one here is that I don’t believe that that will happen in the near future.
  • I still will be hosting with my girlfriend. We have a lively community in Rotterdam, which I love.
  • I seem to understand better and better where this OCS is all about. I only hope that I won’t reach the cynical level of communication that some of OCS have. At the same moment I feel that I will become only more bitter.

I guess that the post shuld be called “Casey Love”, the feeling that you were loved, but the other end just decides to move on to the next one.

Love from Rotterdam!

Diederik (And Frank Sinatra… “The best is yet to come”)

p.s. When resigning from cs-sysadmins this morning, I saw the description of the group. Guess that this one is not NDA bound:

“Description: This group is free from political agendas and personal ideologies. It is a place to serve the one of the core needs(server administration) of the CS Organization in order to make sure that the members have access to the site at all times so that they can experience inter cultural understanding.”

Valeri on Project Management Improvement and Communication

Valeri on Project Management Improvement and Communication.

I’m removing this text, since it’s slightly out of context. You can find it through clicking on the link though. — Kasper, September 13th 2007

Rewriting history – Replacing “us vs. them” with “those, who hate CS”?

When the OpenCS campaigns were published, the Leadership Circle had to face the fact, that ignorance wasn’t working this time. While some “followers of the true Couchsurfing spirit” (i. e. Mikky, Donna, Naz) were doing the dirt work of insulting the main protagonist of OpenCS in public, the Leadership Circle constructed an “us vs. them” legend, give some marketing bloats to the users and tried to avoid every real communication. The result was the resign of many volunteers. Surprisingly more than the Leadership Circle expected.

OpenCS became a lost cause and as a result the campaigners themselves failt to fullfill their own requirements. It was never meant as a clear frontline against someone, but more or less the “discussions” end up in the “us vs. them” logic. The Leadership Circle strategy of keeping more or less quiet and as a result lacking a place for a discussion makes it worse: users at brainstorm began to feel annoyed about the same issues again and again in nearly every thread. In the meantime, forced by deeply personal disappointments, injuries and feeling betrayed, the reference war started. But leaving each other negative references not only symbolized the edge between “us” and “them” very well, it was also bad PR for OpenCS at all, even if the Leadership Circle answered in the same way (and Casey himself started to remove friendlinks).

Then things began to change again: Kasper – listening to the advice of others – made the brave step to remove the bad references (something I could not appreciate enough). This – supported by some apologies – changed the situation at brainstorm a bit. Additionally some new people at brainstorm have begun to ask questions. With the same result as ever: not much answers, even if this is from time to time hidden behind a lot of words. But the tone is different this time:
no more “us vs. them”, what means at least a form of dispute, no, now some people are adressed as “those few who hate CS”.

Who is that? A small group planning to destroy CS out of pure hate against CS as such? More conspiracy theories, please! Do I hate CS? Don’t expect me to answer this question, but maybe I should create a group “those who _really_ hate CS” (no worries: I won’t do it really. Like the “Goovy is an arsehole and we know it”-group). Seems all in all more a reason to laugh out loud than to worry. But the problem is: The Leadership is rewriting history here. If there are no answers or alternatives, the ideas of OpenCS will disappear more or less completely. The “usual supects” will end up as couchterrorists, who tried to destroy the happyhappy couchsurfing family, but failed thanks to the good and visionary leaders.

I claim the right of my own history. Remember, this is the digital age: history written on paper rolls by winners only is history itself.

PS: Didn’t I mention “The little leninist’s cookbook” before? One very important task is to define the own opinion as a majority and every critics as a small minority. Don’t worry about real numbers, it’s just important to say so. A perfect historical example about this can be found with the keywords Menshevik (from russian the Russian word for minority) and Bolshevik (from russian the Russian word for majority).
PPS: Nonviolent communication is not a good concept for people who don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that non-communication is probably one of the most violent forms of communication at all.