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More CouchSurfing BS

The latest email from comrade Casey uses the word volunteer no less than 4 times, the only mention of the word employ is referring to Weston Hankins leaving his previous hot-shot employers. Would it be fair to say that Casey is misleading CouchSurfing members by not mentioning that staff now receive salaries from their donations? The email also asks for more volunteers, should those people be told some of their “colleagues” will be “more equal” than others?

The full email follows…

Dear Sucker,

This message is to give you an update about the technology behind the CouchSurfing website. We’re making exciting improvements to our website hardware, software, and volunteer Tech Team that we want to make you aware of.

On Thursday, November 9th, at 1:00am in New York, 6:00am in Paris, 10:30am in Delhi, and 4:00pm in Sydney, the CS website will be unavailable for a brief period of up to 4 hours while we install new hardware that runs the website software. This necessary downtime will replace some outdated hardware and improve the site’s speed and reliability in order to keep pace with our growing membership. To prepare for this down time, please make sure you write down or print out any important information you may need during the outage.

Thanks to your support and enthusiasm, CouchSurfing is now the largest website of its kind, with over 60,000 people using the site each week and over 10,000 members meeting each other face-to-face each week! We’re taking action in advance to prepare for the needs of our growing community. As we make these upgrades during November, you may experience other unannounced website outages, but we expect these to be few and brief.

CouchSurfing’s volunteer Tech Team has been acting literally around the clock from several time zones to fix the issues effecting our email delivery system. For several days scattered over the past few weeks, emails were delivered up to a day late, and we understand the frustration that can cause. We’re happy to report that the Tech Team now has the issue under control, and we thank them for their determined efforts.

Thanks also goes to our new Tech Team Coordinator, Weston Hankins. Bringing Weston on board has been a huge score for CS. Weston has previously worked for automaker, Daimler Chrysler, and he co-developed core aspects of the Microsoft Windows operating system. He was willing to leave his high-profile employers and volunteer for CS because he shares our mission and love of travel.

Providing CouchSurfing’s free service depends on the amazing output of our dedicated volunteers including Weston, the Tech Team, and many others. We’re always seeking more help to continue to provide members with excellent service.

If you are a professional Linux system administrator with several years experience and knowledge of distributed file systems, load balancing, or database replication, please contact us.

We look forward to providing all members with improved website performance and reliable email delivery in the next month and into the future.

Happy CouchSurfing,

–Casey Fenton

24 Responses to “More CouchSurfing BS”

  • Whoa, reading the letter carefully now, yes indeed it fails to mention the fact that Weston IS getting paid for his “volunteering”.

    Disclaimer for the LT possibly reading this and thinking who else to label as a pirate for betraying their trust: regardless of whether I’ve been sourced of his employment status being as good as official, it’s been clear to me he was the one they were posting the job application for back in late July.

    But I guess the word volunteer is a bit ambiguous – volunteering seems to fall under these: getting paid (nominal amounts, sometimes enough to cover living costs), other compensation (such as room & board), no compensation whatsoever, or sometimes you even have to pay to volunteer (!) (just google “volunteering” and see the text-ads ;)

    CS seems to have taken the first one of those approaches with what they consider appropriate perks. Some Rotterdam attitudes about volunteers, respect and money were a bit weird: basically volunteers who work for free don’t necessarily deserve respect for that alone, and the “doing good” feeling working for a project you adore alone can NOT be enough for a volunteer – since money is the currency already used in the society, why not just use that as a form of respect towards volunteers? (which to me translates that the Americans in the LT have very different views than I do of volunteering and how volunteers should be treated.)

    I have nothing against Weston as a person, he’s a sweet dude and can do good stuff for CS I believe, but the LT should really really start thinking how the constant hiding of information (nastier expressions would be lying and bullshitting) is starting to look more and more shady (not that it was ever good to start with).

    (oh, and I guess I’d change the title of this blog post as it “might” be considered hostile ;) but not really my call)

  • @Anu: I realise the title is hostile, I think it’s time we started calling this what it is. This is f***ing BS.

  • @Callum – no prob on my account, really, I guess the readers do know we are not known for blind adoration of the LT anyway ;)

    Considering the LT seems to be doing a pretty good job with piling up the untruths & degrading whatever respect they might have enjoyed at some point all on their own, it’s only a matter of time it’s gonna bite them in the ass regardless of what the bloggers here write or do.

    Happy I’m outta there, have enough venues to do things that matter, and that some people at least have had a chance to see them emperor’s new clothes as they really are.

  • continually disgusted

    @Anu: “I guess the readers do know we are not known for blind adoration of the LT anyway ;)

    That’s putting it mildly. More accurate would have been “I guess the readers do know we are not open whatsoever to any sort of positive change ever coming out of CouchSurfing or the LT’s involvement in it and look to discredit anything and everything the comes up immediately with absolutely no hint of an opinion that could be considered unbiased or encouraging a reasonable discussion on it that might actually get somewhere because then what social injustice would we would spend all of our time and energy complaining about, world hunger?”

    Change your website name to and get it over with. You’re obviously not trying to open CS anymore or do anything actually constructive, just bitching about anything and everyone involved and preaching to your choir. When someone comes in with a differing opinion you trash them immediately and fail to consider a perspective that you didn’t already have. Is that really open? No, of course not. It’s a bitchfest. If you’re not going to be honest with us at least be so with yourselves!

    Or maybe OCSOOOT is kind of cool if you think about it :

  • Finally casey has admitted who the paid dev is on the team . After Mattthew denied it for months. But their lies were know a long time ago please see the thread how-many-employees.

    Well It was pretty obvious when you have groupies living in the same house as casey and his broads and jim stone.(please check out for all the photos of the groupies).

    @continually disgusted I guess the new brainstorm group set up by ulf failed? That’s why you spend all your time on the really exciting site (read opencouchsurfing) :) and with the cool guys who really made it happen.

    continually disgusted at the way ulf and donna killed the brainstorm group we already have one of the outcast’s on this site trying to fit in here :) .Newbies like Donna who dont know how to run group caused the groups to fail. Funny thing about the new brainstorm group all the ideas there are OLD and have never been implemented in years even though they have been brought up again and again so many times. Funny to see ex communications members trying to figure ways to get those posts noticed by the LT.

    @continually disgusted is you don’t have any burning man orgies to attend please go and do some FREE work for couchsurfing your work would be so appreciated there. (IF you are LT stop outsourcing your work so you can come here to bitch).

  • Amazingly, Weston denied it personally to me in a mail as well. I guess he fits right in.

  • Also, I personally wouldn’t mind having “bitchfest” in our subtitle. Whatever can make us distinct from the chumminess and passive-agressive behaviour in CS is good in my book ;-)

  • How about adding a category, or tag for those posts that even we admit are a bit less non-violent ;) (that way the unsuspecting readers would at least be less clueless about the intended tone of the post).

    I’m also wondering if there’s a WordPress plugin (found this) for tagging/categorizing/”digging” post comments, might give an idea of what value is actually placed on anonymous contributions (plus the rest too, of course)

  • Second Thomas on “fitting in” – sadly, I’ve observed this with a number of good people, I guess it’s too hard to maintain your personal ethics after getting exposed to the inner core of CS for some time.

    This is also my personal experience, I for one could not have stayed as a CS volunteer for any longer without sacrificing my personal integrity; it became a matter of choice of staying and shutting up or leaving and living up to my principles. I guess for some the former is the only way to go, either because they never had ethics in the first place, or thought the benefits would far outweigh the cost of letting go of one’s principles.

  • One last thing to add: I once posted to OCS (about a month ago) and my post was not approved straightaway – said something about “awaiting moderation”. I thought it was weird because 1) I already have an account and 2) I do not support censorship, esp. from a body that is pro-openness. I contacted Callum directly about it and was satisfied that it was just a bug.

    After all, it’s not like there’s some conspiracy to redirect “anti-OCS” posts to an obscure new group like “opencouchsurfing-politics & policies” or something.

    Actually, maybe this website *should* be renamed. It’s evident now that you will never have a truly open Couchsurfing – this website merely serves as a venting ground. So how about rebranding to to be a watchdog over all the hospitality sites – especially BeWelcome, which shows the most promise in achieving OCS’ goals.

    Just a thought, for what it’s worth. Have a nice weekend…

  • azarethroy” So how about rebranding to to be a watchdog over all the hospitality sites ”

    Sounds like a good idea . Though used to do a pretty good impartial job at .Keeping track of all the pros and cons on all the hospitality networks.Though there hasn’t been any activity on that site for quite a while . And also we have LT promi/konstantinos on the team

  • @Anu: You can’t really digg a single comment because it doesn’t exist on it’s own url.

    @azarethroy: Comments get held for moderation if they contain links, I think that’s why your comment was held. It is weird though, because you’re an author on the blog, so you should be able to publish comments right away. If you notice any other problems give me a shout and I’ll look into it further.

  • Hi all,

    [quote]Actually, maybe this website *should* be renamed. It’s evident now that you will never have a truly open Couchsurfing – this website merely serves as a venting ground. So how about rebranding to to be a watchdog over all the hospitality sites – especially BeWelcome, which shows the most promise in achieving OCS’ goals.[/quote]
    But why should all hospitality-websites be like the wishes of OCS?

    Openness with financials, ok, agree. But like: LT (Managementteam or whatever), is how the founder of that particular hospitality-site wants to have it?

    Also: OSS, some sites (CS) don’t want that for reasons, others have an other opinion. Some site’s advantage is others disadvantage right? So there should only be one taste: OpenHospitality’s, or bash until death?

    Have a great weekend (for the few hours remaining)


  • I don’t think CS denied the existence of Weston’s paid position to be sneaky – after all they did not try very had to cover their tracks. I suspect they had to do it because of work visa issues – as a company they need to make sure their paperwork is in place before making official announcements…lest they face the wrath of Pickwick ;)

    Fair point. I was just brainstorming :)

  • Weston denied it in a personal email to thomas that he was not the permanent developer. At that time (and now ?) was living with casey ,jelena,jim stone around (Tuesday 2 October) and he had not idea he was going to be hired? :) (check fliptophead .com).Wonder is there is a big difference between covering tracks, mis-information,denials (when knowing the truth) .So much for the trust network .

    Diedrik “But like: LT (Management team or whatever), is how the founder of that particular hospitality-site wants to have it?”
    This is where it shows you are a newbie to the working of couchsurfing and its history.
    Please check what happened in the past year. From the collective at new zealand onwards.Maybe you need to check from the fake crash last year when the founder said he is not going to make decisions and it would be done by volunteers. Many organisations teams were made by volunteers working “free”.Have you heard words like DO-O-cracy on couchsurfing?
    The founder gave the wrong impression that the LT (Management team or whatever)would be democratically elected. What happens ? All his friends are made management. This was a huge huge surprise most people on couchsurfing. The LT then copies the NDA draft from an online site made for a pharma company. And says it would be discussed they then invite only people who they know will not speak out against their decisions.Jim stone then kills the wiki by thrown out the creator and all the sysops who were the main contributers and people who really cleaned up the wiki.Having your girl friend on the management team is not a good idea.

    I guess you do not know about hospitality club and its founders.Maybe when you know more we will talk about that.

    “how the founder of that particular hospitality-site wants to have it?”

    This would have been ok if heather(caseys ex-girlfriend?) has not sent out the sad letter signed by casey which caused many people to contribute for a project they loved. Also when they made cs 2.0 the emphasis was on this site is going to be run by volunteers not by the founder(who crashed the site 1.0?).If it was very clear couchsurfing would be run only on the decisions made by casey no one would really mind. They did mind because of the mis-information (again had to explain a lot for people who do not know the past) .But I think you are a good genuine guy so i dont mind doing that.

  • I have CS newsletters turned off, I have the “interested in volunteering for CS” turned off, and I still have to put up with Casey’s BS in my inbox.

  • ahahhahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahah ok! i read that email aswell, the first thing that came to my mind, a claimed critial component o/s developer from microsoft goes to work for cs for chump change. now, not even getting into the whole disparity of working on, say o/s kernels versus the things required to work on a webpage like cs, which he might have experience with or not at all, it just strikes me as odd that all these super hyper skilled workers go work for cs for about no money.
    he might be a very able developer, even able to work in a field that he seems to be new to, according to the cs advertisement for him, even if it was trying to get the opposite across, but its yet another huge pile of bullshit blabla.

    they must have the “either retarded or stupidly idealistic” disease that seems to be widespread in cs.

  • Or perhaps the plan to sell CS when it hits 500K or a million members for a bundle of $$$, was also passed on to Weston and he was cut in to the deal. That would make many actions appear more .. well.. rational.

  • Talking about, I invite everybody to give a helping hand there. It is even possible to put up a new team, as the old one is intactive.
    The idea behind is to function as a watching eye over ALL hospitality exchange networks, but also to bring them closer together… I am happy when there are now more people interested in this.

  • adia, if you open up the forum to everyone I might be tempted.

    But even without an open forum, it would be cool to move Planet Hospitality to or something.

  • continually disgusted

    @Adia: “function as a watching eye over ALL hospitality exchange networks, but also to bring them closer together…”

    I applaud your mission but I’m convinced you’re looking in the place for objective opinions. The “O” in OCS is far from standing for objectivity.

  • In case you’re reading this Weston – I do consider you (still) as one of the good guys (as I also said above), I was simply attempting to point out that CS puts its volunteers on a tough spot the more “in” you get in the name of keeping its organizational face intact.

    Apologies if you felt personally assaulted (I can’t say I did not mean so, but apologies nevertheless. Hope this comment will make it easier to understand my reasons of saying so).

    Simply saying things as they really are – especially since you know that we know the situation all too well to your liking – would be better than hiding behind the no comment facade. If there are conflicting stories, surely one or the other must be wrong, so on the outside it really does appear like the leadership team is not being totally honest! Just let us know which one it is, and back it up with some real evidence, I think a bunch of less “bad shit” would be written here and on the CS groups.

  • I would like to open the forum on I do not like that it will be indexed by search machine bots for the rest of our time and even longer. I did not manage to install a bot trap for some reason some month ago, but I might give it another try…

    continually disgusted, yes. I would like to have objective opinions, the objective comes when there are many subjective ones. Therefore there should be a neutral place to make this happen. HospeEx Ne>>t is build up in a way that there can be a lot of bottom up things happen (Forum, Wiki), but it also has an editorial part. I would like that people from all the different networks would join in a team to fill this part and keep it up to date.

  • About the letter sent by Casey: on the positive side, it’s good to finally have advance notice of scheduled downtime…

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