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During the first week of the CS Collective in New Zealand I heard about the rumors of Hospitality Club volunteers who decided to finally break away from Veit to start a new network. I was very excited about that! I discussed it with Casey. He saw this as an opportunity to attract more volunteers to CS. I uttered my doubts about that. Better let the HCvols continue whatever they were doing, and stick to cooperating and finding ways to communicate. So even though I perceived some sense of bureaucracy, I tried to become a volunteer for BeWelcome.

Unfortunately it took 6 months before I actually was given access to the BeVolunteer wiki and the non-public part of the forum. But considering the hundreds of people who never ever heard back from CouchSurfing after indicating their offer for help right after the CS Crash 1.0, half a year is not that bad for a brand new organization!

On the wiki I saw that 13 out of 14 people had voted to release the software under the GNU General Public License (one undecided). In the forum I saw that people were having meaningful discussions and that everyone is open to ideas. I saw that about half the Board of Directors of the official organization had been replaced by new people. I noticed that releasing more information is mostly hindered by trivial issues – finding and removing personal information on a wiki takes time. The source code is not (yet) as feature rich as CS, but it’s built on a decent framework, and it looks amazingly clean – in comparison.

BeWelcome does not yet have a super nice running system, but everything is in its right place, or Coming Relatively Soon: free software, a fairly representative official power structure, open data, and transparency.

P.S. the founders of OpenCouchSurfing were aware of BW, but remained sceptical. The main goal of OCS is still a more free and open CouchSurfing, but at present volunteering for the newly born BW seems a much more efficient way to achieve a free and open hospitality exchange network.

2 Responses to “BeWelcome”

  • I’m very excited about BeWelcome. I’ve read their statement of values, their tentative constitution and bylaws, etc. I believe that BeWelcome will be the CS that I’ve always wanted: open, transparent, accountable, against competition, pro-volunteer, etc. Lets hope it stays that way once it comes to fruition. But I dont see the OpenCS campaign going anywhere because Casey has issues with trusting people and wants to make CS the biggest hospitality network at the expense of all the other hospitality networks (and their users).

    So I’m headed over to BeWelcome. Hope they’ll be some good/dedicated programmers joining as well.

  • Well, trusting people (especially if you don t know them) is always a challenge and it needs good communication skills to find out about motivations in the first place.

    However, I really thing BeWelcome is the project you describe above, and Kasper, you didn’t apply for a specific team with BeWelcome, that’s why you didn’t get wiki access. Either way, you will understand that 6 months ago (and until recently) the project was in such an early stage that teams first had to be build and goals defined. For example now we have a volunteer management team and they will make sure that you (if you want to be a volunteer for BeWelcome) will find the right team and can join it asap.

    Right now there is A LOT of work done, and the focus is on the practical steps. It just takes time to develop a project like BeWelcome, but apart from all the work it is a lot of fun too :-)

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