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The nature of the beast

This post from the private ambassadors list was forwarded to me from at least 3 separate channels (2 of whom I never heard from before), so I guess it’s a public secret anyway.

I am just popping in here with a small but very important

Recently we had two Ambs posting information from this group
at the Brainstorm. While no serious harm has been caused I
think that it is crucial that we have a common ground about
privacy issues.

Please, do not under any circumstances re-post, in public
groups information that is posted in the Ambs private. It
does not matter if you in person think it is fair or nice
or informative for the community. Let the person who has
done the original post decide if he/she wants it in a
public or in a private group (like this one).

If for any reason you think that a post should appear
somewhere else as well let the moderators and author of the
original post know and ask their permission and help (to
move a whole thread for example).

Please respect the privacy policy of this group. It’s an
essential requirement of your Ambassadorship.


This is how the party is run. It shows a few things very clearly:

  1. Couchsurfing as an organisation (assuming Promitheus is representative) is not interested in transparancy whatsoever.
  2. This message implies that they have something to hide. While I don’t think there are that many interesting things being talked about in the private ambassador group, the idea of a secret club, strongly reminiscent of little boys clubs, is definitely there.
  3. It shows how clueless Couchsurfing is about running an international, largely online/virtual organisation. The very idea that it would be possible to hide certain aspects of your organisation is simply naive. It’s counterproductive and it’s the nature of such a community to unravel this kind of secrecy. Translated: It just gives people the incentive to want to find out, and they do.


1 Response to “The nature of the beast”

  • Well, this non-transparency tendency of the admins has been very obvious ever since I’ve been around – everything literally has to be dragged out of them, and if you for one reason or another lose their “trust” nothing more drips through. To get a clear view of how the general manager feels about this, see the suggested privacy policy (should be on the OCS wiki?). From what I remember:

    * everything is private unless there’s reason for it not to be

    * an explicit permission from the group moderator / work group coordinator is needed to publish any information

    * in case of uncertainty, do not go public

    So apparently now that there’s no-one left caring enough about keeping the rest of the community informed they have implemented this scheme (which I for one opposed but never got any feedback on the criticism) to the letter. That’s extremely sad, and combined with known efforts for censorship, demeaning any expression of disagreement and discrediting those who did tells more than anything about the current state of affairs in CS.

    Some more background of the chosen organizational model: I recently participated into a lecture outlining research on international non-governmental organizations / non-profits (INGOs), one of which CS would like to be soon. At every given point the reasons for the top-down & behind-closed doors management style of LT were justified by “this is how most successful non-profits operate”. Guess what: not so, rather, INGOs tend to be transparent and democratic in their operations. (to be fair, Greenpeace was quoted as the one of the noteworthy exceptions, where there’s a corporate-like governing entity with little or no emphasis on community-originated action – probably making them a bit more agile with their campaigns).

    This was simply to show that the style CS chose is NOT universal and NOT the status quo for “most non-profits”. Of course I’m no expert but wouldn’t mind researching further or have someone more experienced in this field to state the facts as they know them.

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