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So What?

When discussing the reasons behind OpenCouchSurfing with people, I’m regularly faced with the reply “So what?” I’d like to use this blog post and this wiki page to compile some answers to that response.

Personally, the campaign for a more open and accountable CouchSurfing organisation makes perfect sense. But to many members, it seems irrelevant. I think if we can find ways to relate the message to the average CouchSurfer, we’ll be able to take the campaign to the next level.

I warmly invite you to share your suggestions here or on the wiki.

10 Responses to “So What?”

  • My personal so what response: to make sure volunteers know what they are getting themselves into – it’s a very attractive/addictive setup, and feels so warmly welcoming and pleasantly buzzing you are hooked.

    Personal experience: the deeper you get into volunteering and the more you see, the less comfortable it becomes to move onwards with eyes closed. Of course you want to hold on to the feeling of doing something great, and don’t want to believe there’s anything wrong even when the warning signs are becoming clearer and clearer.

    When you know waking up from the dream will probably jet you right out of the comfort of The Matrix into harsh reality where you’re just means for those in power to sustain their own goals, you do want try to hold on to the illusion by whichever means possible for as long as your conscience can handle it.

    So my “So what”? It’s about offering the red pill to someone else before they need to learn the lessons the hard way.

  • Callum poster “I’m regularly faced with the reply “So what?”
    I say “why not?”

    The strength of lies in its ability to dramatically reduce the moral legitimacy of those who persist in using command and control strategies
    This loss of legitimacy can, in turn, contribute to coalition-building efforts leading to widespread condemnation of parties using command and control strategies .

    Key to the success of ocs approaches is the willingness of the parties to base their resistance upon broadly supported moral principles and a communication strategy which publicizes for all the world to see the immoral and manipulative behavior of their LT. People can’t be expected to condemn things that they do not know about.

    PS:- the above text has been modified with principles from

  • I think a lot of members feel unaffected by the CS leadership and their policies. I get the impression members who have not volunteered or only volunteer peripherally (as local ambassadors for example) feel that it’s not related to them.

    I often hear replies like “So what if CS is not a democracy, I can still surf and host”. While that’s true, the average member can continue in blissful ignorance of the LT’s practices, I feel if we can show how those practices do or might in the future affect members, people will become more motivated to take action.

    For example, I think “verification” is a good area. It’s quite feasible that “verified” members would be given greater priority in the future. This effectively forces members to pay up or move on. I think this argument speaks to the average member moreso than political ideals.

  • Also, there’s a quote that says:
    “I don’t care about the neighbour’s burning roof as long as it doesn’t reach my roof!”
    Many people don’t give a damn if Kasper, Anu and the others have been mistreated by the LT. They WILL give a damn as soon as one of their interests are threatened.
    Issues like: where do their money actually go? (are they used on servers or on “Burning man” tickets and airplane tickets?)
    Security and privacy issues: who can read their mail, why, can this be harmful for them? Personnal data issues etc.
    Problems with the service itself: what if pretty soon only “verified members” get access to certain cs- services?
    What if soon enough they won’t be able to host and surf like they used to? Won’t that attract their attention?

  • Maria, I love your take on this, you’ve really brought forward some excellent arguments that speak to the average user. Thank you. I will use these tomorrow evening at a CS meeting to spread the word! :)

  • Let’s not forget a point that has been raised before, one that is very relevant to typical users of the

    When I first arrived at the Montreal Collective, within minutes I became aware of a phenomenon which accounted for many of the problems occurring there and since. I mentioned to an influential and active volunteer that the biggest problem I could see in the Collective was that there was a bottleneck. His response was: “Big time”. This bottleneck was referred to months later, by one of the founders, no less, as something like “the famous Casey Fenton bottleneck”.

    This bottleneck was caused by, in the one hand, Casey’s policy of personally controlling so much that was going on in the organization, particularly in the technical area, combined with, in the other hand, his frequent unresponsiveness in communicating and the sheer incapacity of any one person to manage a large organization without sufficient delegation of responsibility.

    I feel this situation, more than any technical reason per se, was responsible for the termination of the project in Montreal. That could be discounted as an aberration, a one-time exception, except for the chronic problems in the organization in the areas of:

    1. Poor server performance (downtime, sluggishness, lost e-mails)
    2. Slow or non-existent response to bug reports.
    3. Slow or non-existent response to new feature requests.
    4. Vulnerability to security breeches.

    In another organization, I would not be very concerned about the consequences of these problems. But in CS, the consequence of the Casey Fenton bottleneck has been hundreds, if not thousands of people relying on the CS website suddenly at a disadvantage while traveling in a foreign country (often on a low budget and so with limited alternatives) because of server problems. This is a very serious safety concern.

    There has also been much organizational inefficiency and poor management. Vast amounts of potential volunteer contributions were lost (not in small part due to the NDA, which is virtually entirely due to the Casey Fenton bottleneck, but also due to unresponsiveness and mismanagement). Facilities generously contributed to host Collectives were misused, tarnishing the organization’s image.

    Now, some of these areas have been more or less addressed over time. For example, Casey has delegated some responsibility to the Leadership Team. But interestingly and not too surprisingly, this group reflects many of Casey’s personal attributes and management style such as secrecy, unresponsiveness, excessive central control and inadequate delegation of responsibility.

  • matrixpoint “But interestingly and not too surprisingly, this group reflects many of Casey’s personal attributes and management style such as secrecy, unresponsiveness, excessive central control and inadequate delegation of responsibility.”

    This clearly shows who is still charge. People in the LT are not mirroring his character. It is just that they have to get their orders from the top .So till they know what to do from casey they have to be secretive and unresponsive to buy time to get an answer from the ever busy casey.

  • I’ve read the article, but not to enough detail to comment on more specifics than an error I don’t find at all that amusing.

    CS claims there they have three paid employees. Yet the developer position was announced, and I have received a confirmation in personal communication from Mattthew that it has in fact been filled. So clearly one or the other statement is an outright lie. (or they did “hire” the developer, who then doesn’t get paid, after all – a shame for the dev in this case!). Mattthew also denies any straight answers when directly asked on this matter in this thread.

    (But to focus on the positive: thanks again to the Leadership Team for making it easier for me to not feel all that bad about not applying for the position myself in time – there’s no way I would work for people who take the path of no integrity whenever they have a chance, even if I was paid for it.)

    Another possibility that might explain this though: in case a Green Card is required if they hired a non-American developer (the most likely hire is Weston Hankins, a Mexican) they might have to go through some formalities, maybe even ship them to the States (Weston’s last location on CS: on US soil).

    But this doesn’t change the fact the Leadership Team is withholding information that more than three people ARE officially employed by CS now, or in the very near future.

  • I am just waiting for the day when casey sends a sad goodbye letter

    It’s time.

    Yes, it’s finally happened, after — years almost to the month, we’re moving on from couchsurfing . We could say it’s so we have more time for travel, but the reality is we’ve known for some time that couchsurfing has to make a big step into the future.

    It’s global, it has a wonderful reputation and as of today it’s the new majority owner of couchsurfing.

    What changes is this going to mean? Only positive ones we believe.

    And what will we do? Well we’re still going to have a substantial stake in And what will we do? Well we’re still going to have a substantial stake in couchsurfing – 25% ownership – and xxx have asked us to stay on board and work with them. We think we’re going to be involved in some exciting new projects. And we might get more time to travel.

    The above text has been Modified from the link below

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