This site was archived on 24 April 2012. No new content can be posted. The mailing list remains online and the site will stay in this archived state for the forseeable future. If you find any technical errors on the site, please contact Callum.

Ambassadors Support Team Leader: Warning: 3 out of 101 references are negative

WARNING: Unpleasant Explicit Imagery Following.
Be careful if you have heart problems and don’t watch before, during or after meals.

Have you been wondering why so many Global Ambassadors left CouchSurfing the past months? Did you think people were making a fuss about nothing? Well, check for yourself, and realize that Gadget has enjoyed a promotion to the Leadership Team after the events described below, of which CS management must have clearly been aware.

Naked Gadget Showing The Finger

“Gadget has a gadget for anything and everything that your little heart could possibly desire – he was a real lifesaver for some of us Burning Man virgins!
UPDATE: This was a hard reference to update because I always considered Gadget to be my friend. While I appreciate him, he overstepped my boundaries on several occasions by touching me inappropriately and ignored my requests for him to stop, especially when he was drinking.”

“I first met Gadget at Burning man two years ago, but it was my experience with him at Vienna calling in June of this year that made it clear to me that he has no respect for me, as a person. At Vienna calling when we were all on a train headed from a picnic to a dance club, he pulled down his pants baring his buttocks to everyone in the train car behind him, which I was personally offended by. When we were in the dance club he came up to me and put his face between my breasts while at the same time grabbing my crotch. I never want to be alone in a room where Gadget is.”

“I have met Jonathan several times at a gathering and it was generally fine. However, a few incidents happened. He told me private information about other volunteers while we were not in a private setting. I witnessed him misbehaving in public transportation. At the final party, he danced very close to me and did not seem to hear me when I was telling him to back off. Later, he lost his balance and fell on me as I was crouching, grabbing my body. I was shocked and told him sharply that he was going too far. When I discussed this with Jonathan via email, he admitted he behaved poorly, had a few drinks too many, could not remember these incidents and apologized. I would not be in a setting involving alcohol again with him.”

Mooning in Vienna public transport

Note how TTT (General Manager) and Weston (Tech Team Leader) were right next to the Ambassadors Support Team Leader when he was showing off his bottom in Vienna’s public transport.

Getting ready for mooning, witnessed by Two Other Leaders.

28 Responses to “Ambassadors Support Team Leader: Warning: 3 out of 101 references are negative”

  • very classy, guys. you guys should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • And this guy is still on CouchSurfing, creating a better world “one crotch at a time”.

    • This must be the same Mr. Nice Guy Gadget who removed me from being an ambassador for the Malta Group. All because he did not want me to name and shame the people that where up to no good, mainly a lady from Ukraine living in Malta, whom most likely accepts his crotch game. He told me that as an ambassador I have to set examples. Doesn’t sound like Gadget is giving us good lessons as how to behave with the ladies.
      I’m afraid CS is full of people that are out for a free ride, something for nothing. I have a few friends that I’ve made through CS that I’m still intouch with and who still visits, but the bad ones outweigh the good ones by a long margin, and that’s the reason I left CS, and went back to the safety of the hotel room.

  • This is the “incriminating evidence”? How disappointing. For the first photo, that kind of nudity would be common at Burning Man, a world which we know many of the Leadership Team and core volunteers admire. There are even CS hosts who prefer nudity in their own flat and are appreciated members of the community. The problem with Gadget seems to be that he repeatedly touches people even after they protest, where are the incriminating photos of that?

    As for exposing his buttocks on Vienna public transport, “mooning someone” is pretty immature behavior, but nowhere close to “OMG, that’s so outrageous we must shake the very foundations of the site itself.”

  • Christopher is right. Just when I had the feeling this site was going somewhere.

    Soon this site will become the same cesspit of un-nuanced kritique it used to be 2 years ago.

    Maybe I should track down your stupid drunk party photo’s mr anonymous-”former-global” and put them here too! Don’t post shit like this without showing your face.
    And the negative reference of Gadget is old news.

    Maybe we should make “” for all the crap and keep this one for the real stuff that matters.

  • I agree with Douglas and Christopher,

    I think these photos were merely meant to embarrass Jonathan rather than move the CS organization forward in any way.

    I also think it discredits the author to post any information, but especially sensitive information, under a pseudonynm…please own up to whatever bombs you intend to drop in the future and take responsibility for the consequences of your actions.

  • Agreed with Margaret, Douglas, Christopher.

    While there are definitely legitimate causes for concern with Gadget’s leadership role, this poorly thought-out post only discredits that as well as the entire OpenCouchsurfing website.

  • 1. I agree that it’s pretty irrelevant to show these pictures here and I don’t see a good purpose to it. The only real “news” worthwhile in the post is the fact that Gadget now has 3 negative references.
    2. It’s also regrettable that the author chose to remain anonymous. This to me says that at some level he/she knows that what their posting won’t stand up to public scrutiny.

    1. OCS is not an organization. It is a place to talk about CS, nothing more, nothing less. I never understand the comments about discrediting, because I don’t feel affiliated at all with the poster, even if I’m quite strongly connected to OCS. Let me put this in another way: just like you shouldn’t assume everyone on OCS agrees with “CS bashers”, don’t assume everyone disagrees with “OCS bashers” either. It just doesn’t make sense to assume there is such a thing as “OCS” that automatically approves of anything. That’s silly.
    2. We don’t censor or moderate AND we allow anonymity. Period. This has huge disadvantages, which everyone witnesses everyday (this post and Matrixpoints climate change references). Get used to it, because it’s the price we pay for allowing people to publish what they feel is necessary to publish. Keep in mind that this is HUGELY different from what CS is like, so it requires a switch in the readers eye, not the poster!

    So. The poster chose to remain anonymous and chose to go for quite an aggressive post. Please don’t generalize this to anyone as we don’t with your posts.

  • picture 3 probably is “news”! or did you know that other CS LT statesmen were directly involved in that situation in Vienna’s public transport.

  • “Sorry, this member has selected to have their profile hidden.”

    • Well, THAT is strange. Like: he *HAD* a public profile yesterday?

      • He’ll have to mention the time he worked for CS in any job application, and prospective employers might look at his profile. Maybe hiding those references is a good idea while he’s looking for a new job?

  • “picture 3 probably is “news”! or did you know that other CS LT statesmen were directly involved in that situation in Vienna’s public transport.”

    Indeed. The General Manager and the Head of IT, both right next to him, apparently did nothing to prevent the Ambassador Management Coordinator from making an ass of himself and of CouchSurfing while wearing a CS-branded T-Shirt.

  • Since this will come up eventually: the original author contacted me today about this post. While it’s the authors choice to remain anonymous, we agreed after chatting a bit that – especially in light of Gadgets resignation – the more graphic pictures weren’t necessary to make the basic point. The last picture is still pretty relevant, to be honest I hadn’t noticed TTT and Weston in there, which is relevant enough information to publish.

    So, to be clear: the post was edited (toned down) by the original author (with no coercion from me or anyone else).

  • Did he resign or he was kicked from CS?

  • I’m just amazed to get a mass email from Casey ‘himself’, on the matter – how many people got that email? I would have never known, otherwise, honestly.

    I would prefer a few less ‘famous’ people making things better over all the above drama, for sure… clarity between the personal and the professional. I liked Gadget when I met him a few years ago, but the cult of admirers and contrasting possibility of crest-fall in these public positions really can be difficult for people – anyone – to manage. Add alcohol to the mix and the magnification of character flaws is bound to be tremendous. This seems to be a bit flaw in ‘the system’. Sort of like having a college freshman also serve as dean of students.

    On a personal note, this sort of reminds/confirms for me how much happier I am as a getting slower, harder-to-impress, and getting-older (yawn) person. I still love couchsurfing but try to rise above the rif-raff…

  • I’m disgusted. And probably not for the reasons you think I am.
    I’m disgusted by THIS “OpenCouchSurfing” and the flinging of shit and of the half-truths/lies you print here. The spreading of rumors you cannot support, and the twisting of subject matter to make it seem more than what it is.

    Why don’t you people go and start living your own lives instead of wasting so much time and energy on what someone else is doing? If you’re so concerned by how (you perceive) the CouchSurfing organization is being mismanaged why don’t you quit and begin something similar that has the degree of transparency you’re demanding?

    This blog appears to be written by a bunch of whining, conspiracy theorists who have absolutely no idea first hand what is happening within the CouchSurfing Organization. And no, forum posts by bitter, over-reactive, former volunteers do not qualify as first hand information. Why? Because they are written to be damning whether or not all the information is accurate or only partially accurate and then dressed up so as to be more horrifying.
    Why don’t you send an actual message to Mr. Fenton requesting to see with your own eyes how the organization is run before you pass judgment based on second hand information? Wait. I can answer that. You don’t because you’d rather believe the worst than find out that the people on the other side of this website you claim you “love” so much are actually human beings trying to make it work the best way they can. Did you ever stop to think that they’re learning and growing? And maybe a website run by volunteers isn’t going to have the same level of professionalism as say, Google. Give your heads a shake and grow up, people. Go out and do something constructive with yourselves. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that living with so much negativity in your life can have an adverse effect on your health?

  • thanks for your input Jim,

    I appreciate hearing your thoughts. There’s no need to contribute under a pseudonym since your, and Casey Ann’s, voice is quite recognizable, however indistinct from each other.

    I think many people who lend their thoughts here would indeed like to start an alternate traveler’s site with, as you say, the enhanced degree of transparency we would like to see on CS, but we do not possess the technical skills to do so. I, for example, wasn’t trained as a programmer…so I cannot start an alternative site…but I and others have worked professionally in areas that could be useful to CS, if our skills were valued: volunteer coordination, non-profit management, business consulting, tax law. These skills would be very applicable to CS in resolving issues it now faces, but professional people who are trained in these fields are not sought for their professional advice by the CS management. Our advice has been historically unwelcome. It’s difficult for us, who have experience in these areas, to witness CS being mismanaged as a public charity…it’s like watching a slow, and easily preventable, train wreck.

    I don’t have any criticism of the volunteers who freely donate their labor to CS. I especially commend Meredith as the communication coordinator for her fine writing skills, and the tech team, for working under stressful conditions with, apparently, outdated and buggy code. I do indeed offer constructive criticism of the *paid* staff of CS, such as yourself.

    First, I find it unprofessional, and evidence of poor business judgment, to scold skeptical CS members who offer critique of CS, as you do here. Effective managers learn to accept constructive, and also actually destructive, criticism gracefully…and to discern the lessons contained therein. Criticism may be hurtful to you personally, but if you edit out the emotion you feel reactively and analyze what is being offered…there is a goldmine of information that is useful here, and in all constructive feedback. I understand that its frustrating to read the opinions of dissenters that you cannot control, but that is part of being a leader: handling and redirecting criticism. As it is Jim, your post reads as an expression of desperate impotence.

    Second, as a leader with the directive to preserve the mission and value of CS, you could implement a few changes which would allow CS to operate with integrity and full legal compliance. These are not negotiable, since they are legally mandated, yet are not currently in place:

    1. The establishment of a professional, involved, independent Board of Directors who meet quarterly and post the minutes of their meetings. CS needs, and is required legally to have, oversight of its policies, governance, hiring, and spending.

    2. Register the collectives with host countries so that CS is known to the local tax authorities in Turkey and beyond.

    3. Change the verification procedures so that members cannot become verified on another person’s credit card.

    4. Stop fraudulent spending. For example, the use of donation money to pay for employee airfare to Burning Man is inappropriate and evidence of charity’s fraud.

    5. Change the verbiage currently found on the secure donation page to reflect the requirement of all non-501c3 orgs to clearly state on solicitation materials that donations are not tax exempt. The language contained in the statement now is meant to be convoluted and deliberately misleading.

    Additionally, I look forward to seeing posted the independent audit which is required for the 2009 tax year. I assume that CS management will comply with this requirement.

    Enhanced professionalism in management is in CS’ best interest and is evidence of integrity in business-judgment and self. If you need guidance in how to properly run a non-profit organization, I suggest this excellent publication as a start:

  • Margaret, “I think many people who lend their thoughts here would indeed like to start an alternate traveler’s site with, as you say, the enhanced degree of transparency we would like to see on CS.”

    There’s no need to start one. BeWelcome already exists! I know you think it’s a ghost town, but I think someone with as many CS connections as you have could start pushing people to that network, and you could at least share your thoughts on BW’s flaws on the forums there.

  • yo it’s a good point Christopher,

    but I still have faith that CS can pull it out…I wish that they could team up with the BW folk and put CS fun with BW governance…hmmm? who wants to bury hatchets here?

  • Why on earth do people assume that it’s necessary to choose between CS and BW???

    Of course it’s not!

  • Well, Niall, some people feel it’s not ethical to pitch CS when it is a closed organization that has done some questionable things. It’s been a couple of years now that I’ve seen profiles on CS that say things like “If you want to be hosted, contact me through BW instead.”

  • I’ve seen those profiles too, Chris, but really very few of them.
    For myself, i still tell people about CS and encourage them to join, but warn against getting verified or donating money. I just don’t think it’s necessary to insist that people have to choose between unquestioningly accepting everything that goes on in CS or leaving it, as Jim does earlier in this thread, and as you have done elsewhere.

  • “Note how TTT (General Manager) and Weston (Tech Team Leader) were right next to the Ambassadors Support Team Leader when he was showing off his bottom in Vienna’s public transport.”

    Where ?? All I can see is purely american puritanism,
    nothing more ! Number one saling porno in South california, let me laugh…
    Sure u can blabalblalbalbala, sure u can.

  • 2005-2010 member, 2006-2010 volunteer

    Because I do not wish to make myself a target of any more hateful attention than I have already received, I am not including which former volunteer I am… but Christopher Culver will know who I am and can attest to at least some of the truth here since he can see much more as an MDSTer than other readers of this here site and also as he wrote me with a WTF message as did over a dozen long term (we’re talking the ones Gadget violated in Vienna long term) volunteers and at least a few dozen city ambassadors–some I asked to apply back when I was naive and held hope, two I was the mentor to… And more local members than not…

    I thought– and still mull over the idea– of making a blog post thing. Having joined in the early days of the site, having used HC for most of my own travel as it was just after the crash and I scrambled to find backup… I served as a host, supporter of local members and often the ONLY one helping travelers posting to groups (my local group has become two core things: a pursuit-through-offered-couch/company/coffee tool and a flaky fake friendship filler for so many who are rejected as weird, creepy, or just dull… Oh and those who are burned all their real friendship bridges as well… The help I gave earned me a pseudo celeb status, further proving the myspace/facebook/youtube nature of it that is NOT what I signed up for. I also didn’t sign up to host freeloaders which became what many requests amounted to. BTW verification can, if you were unaware, be attained by violent criminals. Locally, at a transit station waiting in line, I learned many criminals have spread the buzz from their cells and get hosts when they otherwise have nothing coming out from incarceration. Just who you wanna host right?)

    So there is a global reason the popularity made this unsuitable for me. Those legitimately traveling have the $$ for such a luxury that I don’t need to make more alcohol indulgent. Those not wealthy enough to hit the road are often joining to abuse hospitality or make friends because the site is full of socially awkward folks–particularly 25-35yr old singles who want dates or as close as they’ll get (insert generally sweet and generically cute single female like me; granted, as one 32 he old and another 28 yr old female–both of whom focus on image SO MUCH!– confirmed, plenty of wanting-love girls regret giving sex only to be disposable 2 months layer by the sex seeking generally confident and acting sweet or smart or whatever they think will get the biological clock’s pendulum to swing their way a while. That’s just as bad.)

    My reason for leaving when I did I will keep brief and nameless. You’ll find out somehow, crafty kids, but not likely via Chris. Gadget got his strikes AFTER being put under a radar as leader. Someone VERY popular is at BaseCamp and details are being sorted from all I was informed (by those 1st generation volunteers) to likely hire the person however legally or illegally. Thing is, negative refs including MY OWN were removed. I hate to think it, but this particularly manipulative jerk, who said upfront that many ppl have had extremely negative times with him, makes Gadget “merely” look like a liar and bad drunk. What may be his replacement… But who in any case was promoted against the will of a few old timers at only ONE person’s wishes… managed to be the LEAST humane, most selfishly motivated and most severely “just messed up,” the way you think terrorists are just messed up to do what they do (in this being of terror, under guises of entirely false flattery) I have ever run into, well save one client who was also moderately attractive and seemingly full of love, too (until he sliced his just turned fiancée up and tossed her off the side of a bridge). Maybe being clinically unwell makes–as so many are attreactes to the ill–is a non-expressed, subconscious plus for basecamp. I am starting to recognize it actually passed the cult status eons ago and is a kind of sick religion anymore.

    I liken CS NOW to Westboro Baptist Church (which is denounced by all organized Baptist sectors FYI). A veil of good honest appearance (even the outside and inside of the church building look fine) cover something a bit grim that hides raps and fraudulent spending and a lot of other things that make me hope, in this recession, are forced into the actual state of BW that, while I haven’t been active in, I joined with hopes that a legit org will emerge from SO MUCH utter crap. 4 guys, 12 cups (of booze), and it is all shit at this point. Not all its MEMBERS just… I am disgusted that giving an honestly negative and “disappointed” reference for a future paid leader as I edited duties I am somewhat saddened didn’t go to Servas or Red Cross etc… Well… It was removed cause hey he can’t become leader if he has blaring negative commentary from someone who was a hard core CS volunteer!

    The LT know who this is about and by, I am sure, though I never mattered when I was doing their jobs for them a long as I let them go yap about how to prolong vacation while site kept running with no help from them save a fe times Jim took over as people quit (I didn’t get replaced per say–they just dropped the efforts I as part of for the most part). Oh, and Ulf isn’t the only detail-obtuse writer. This is proof.

  • 2005-2010 member, 2006-2010 volunteer

    (Apologies for the probable many errors above. iPod touch… Auto correct on tiny devices. ‘Nuf said.)

  • Chris Culver a member of the MDST Team?


Comments are currently closed.