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Tag Archive for 'couchsurfing'

Casey attempts to sell Groups posts to Google, members protest en masse

If he was any more blatantly deceitful, we’d have to call him Zuckerberg! Step right up trusting travelers, and watch how Casey Fenton attempts to sell all your old (and current, and future) Groups posts for profit!

And if not for cash, then surely for the added marketing value (worth real money, and lots of it), to allow Google and every other web site and search engine to add what you thought you were sharing with only fellow CS-members, to their fully public, permanent record that is the global internet.

All the personal trip and traveler feedback you thought you were sharing only with other CS members? Sorry, surprise, now everything you posted on CS is part of the public record, forever. And, perfectly searchable.

I realize Casey’s announcement(s) have mostly to do with Groups posts, but isn’t he trying to put into place the exact same kind of exposure and sale of all your information, including your profile? Your profile picture? Isn’t he playing the exact same kind of despicable game that Zuckerberg plays?

Make no mistake about what Casey is attempting to do, exactly like Zuckerberg/Facebook – blatantly deceive you, to gain your trust and persuade you to add to his mountainous pile of traveler feedback, then once he has your trust (and your posts and personal information) he sells everyone’s posted information to enrich himself, personally.

This has been his goal since the inception of the entire CS project, he just didn’t have any buyers yet. Until now. Until Facebook became the story to copy. Until he invested considerable effort in building the largest list of users he could accumulate, to ensure the biggest pay-day he could arrange for himself.

I’ve noticed that despite several fundamental issues which members have complained about for literally years, that are never even acknowledged… in all this time, the most visible efforts seen from the inner circle and their hiring decisions, seemed to always be about PR (public relations), suppressing the publication of complaints, outright denial of reality, and spreading the gospel. To grow the list of users. To fatten the calf before the slaughter.

In classic Cult-of-Casey style, he sells you out without a warning or your consent, but when the backlash proves substantial and it turns out that people don’t want any part of what Casey’s selling, he tries to spin his scheme as something that he only intended in the best of ways, something to help you!

I don’t know which kind of people I despise more strongly – users, or liars. Let alone a career scam-artist highly skilled in both exploiting and lying to people. But the recent investors want the maximum return on their investment, so just as others have predicted… let the sale (of information you donated in good faith) begin!
Fresh email from HQ, just received, sent to all CS “members.” Stare into the face of pure exploitation and bald-faced lies:

“We’ve heard you: Change to plans regarding groups”
Dear CouchSurfers,

Last week, we sent an email in which we announced our plan to make CS groups available to search. We made this decision because the team had received member complaints that some newer members of the site didn’t seem to be joining for the right reasons. We thought that allowing people to see more of what CS is about before they join might help address this problem.

The members disagreed! We’ve heard from hundreds of people who are very opposed to this approach. I’m very sorry to have caused so much distress. It’s clear that this is something that members care deeply about, and I respect the need to approach it differently.

We have made two major changes to our plan:

Group posts created in the past will not be available to search. The only posts that will be visible to search engines will be those created after February 15, 2012. This will protect the privacy of any members who no longer use the site and may not be aware of the changes.

All members will have the option to keep all of their posts hidden from search and from non-members. Just as we currently allow you to keep your profile hidden from anyone who is not logged in, we are now building another privacy option that will allow you to easily specify that your group posts should not be visible to search engines or people who are not logged in. This privacy option will apply to all of your posts, both past and future.

These two factors combined mean that the only posts that will be visible to search will be those made in the future by people who choose not to make their participation in groups private.

I sincerely hope that this approach will protect the privacy needs of all CouchSurfing members while also giving people who are considering joining CS an accurate impression of who we are – a community, not a place to find a free place to crash.

If you still have concerns about this, I invite you to email me at and share your thoughts. The team makes all of its decisions with the intention of making CS better for its members. It seems that this time the change we wanted to make would actually have made it worse, and for that I’m sincerely sorry. I’m glad that you responded with your concerns: your reactions helped us see various sides of the issue that we had not considered. I know that CS groups are considered to be a safe and comfortable place to express yourself fully, and I would never want that to change.

Thank you for your patience and for your passion,

Casey Fenton
Co-Founder, CouchSurfing International

CS becoming a for-profit business: A message from Hospitality Club Founder Veit

After the shocking news of Couchsurfing accepting a $7.6 million investment and becoming a for-profit company, I just wrote a message to the hospitality exchange community. Most important: Hospitality Club will never be a for-profit business, we are currently developing an open-source site for HC and some behind-the-scenes info on CS. Please read the statement here:

Oh, and a special shoutout to my haters here :-D

Free software inspires changes on

DAN° released a script for Gresaemonkey that improves the profile page by adding statistics about references and other information. A key part of that, numbers of references, has now been included on

Thanks DAN° for your contribution. Maybe in time, CS Inc will include more changes inspired by external agitators.

CouchSurfing password security vulnerability

Warning: If you get a username / password pop up on, click cancel, do not enter your username and password except on the CouchSurfing login page.

As of right now, I’m seeing this CSS file included on all pages. That file links to this image. That image returns a 401 authorisation denied error. That in turn causes the browser to request a username and password, the realm is given as “CS”. If a user enters their CouchSurfing username and password, that data will be submitted to

This is a serious security issues as many users are likely to enter their passwords without realising what’s going on.

As far as I can tell from a scan of the whois data and dns records, there is no connection between and It seems likely to me that this is a hack of some sort, either deliberate or accidental. I hope accidental. Either way, this is a significant issue and needs immediate resolution by CS Inc. I have notified Casey Fenton, Jim Stone and Chris Burley directly of this issue.


It’s been in the pipeline for a while. In fact, I should have done this in 2006 ;) Still, now it’s 2009 and I’m happy to hereby announce

“WikiCouch is open to anyone and everyone. It is in keeping with the philosophy of inclusion and open hospitality. We believe in decentralized control, self-moderation and that everyone has something valuable to contribute.”

* Available under the Creative Commons ShareAlike Attribution license.
* Open for editing to anyone. You don’t have to log in – but it’s appreciated if you do – you can also log in with OpenID.
* Independent from the official CouchSurfing organization, but supportive the CouchSurfing community.
* Very soon: a version in French and in other languages if requested by the community.
* We have registered several domains, and there will be a discussion about the domain name where all participants are welcome to join.
* Several nice extensions are installed, and if needed I’ll be happy to install more.
* The costs of running a wiki are very low – to me. No worries about that, I’m happy to take care of the technical and financial aspects of the server.
* In the future we’ll have XML dumps for downloading.

Let me know if there are any issues. And… Enjoy!

Alleged rape through CouchSurfing

I just read this article on the British Dailiy Mail web site.

Terrible, terrible news. I only hope this leads to CouchSurfing improving the trust systems. I hope they don’t use it to promote verification even more, or make verification compulsory.


The latest high season welcome message on CouchSurfing… I get it about 70% of the time I try to log on… hm… scalability problems? Let`s hope it is easy to solve!

Verification ticks on images

Today I noticed that a green tick now appears on the images of CouchSurfing members who have paid for verification. I notice these ticks on groups, I assume they’re all over the site. Wherever you see a thumbnail picture of a person, it marks who have paid and who have not.

This continues what Jim Stone started back in New Zealand all those years ago. A campaign to drive verification revenues ever higher. Given that you only need to pay once to become “verified”, CouchSurfing International Inc rely only on a continual stream of new members to make “donations”. If they can increase the percentage of people “donating”, more money for the coffers.

Perhaps we can subvert this new feature by framing our own profile pictures and adding a different symbol to donate that we opt out of the so-called “verification” system. We could even combine that with a real verification system based on the verification of actual identity and physical location. Food for thought… :-)

CS uses SphinxSearch

I read that CouchSurfing uses SphinxSearch to improve member search. The software is available under the GPL or a commercial license.

I mention this here in the interests of collating technical data on how CS is built.

CS blocks Wayback Machine

Check here and here. You’ll see “Blocked Site Error.”

The site used to be available in the wayback machine, so it would seem that somebody at CouchSurfing International Inc has specifically requested that the site be removed from the archive. Is there any legitimate reason why such a request would have been made? Personally, I can’t think of any.