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Making a better community site

Isn’t this, what all this boils down to?

Isn’t this what has already been done or at least had a good stab at?: BeWelcome, Tripping. So everything has been done.

I don’t think the issue is that is shit and CSI is incompetent, its that the bulk of the hospex community only really use People like popular and in hospex it is better to use a network that has more people on it. I’m at the end of a 3 week trip round Taiwan, i had to sign up on CS again, because both BW and T only have one member here, CS has 6000+. The BW member hadn’t loged in for two years and didn’t reply and i don;t think i contacted the tripping member. The CS account was deleted BTW, some how they worked out it was me. Leaving two members with positive references from a deleted account. One who i was their first guest and the other who i was their second guest, both very happy to know and host me. That pissed be off for a while, but when surrounded by so many beautiful, wonderful people, with a medium sweet hot milk tea, ordered in perfect international sign language, with lots of laughing and bowing and shear delight, WTF is CS to me anyway?

Great question. As i’ve said many times, to me CS is the community, with a big side order of Cow Shit International. We all know that. We all also know that Casey ain’t gona let anyone play with his toys. It has also been said many times, go get some of your own toys. And we have, BW, T and even Servas. So the solution is already there. The only problem is, is that people aren’t coming across from CS. Maybe it the designs, but i think its simpler than that. Sheeple(sheep like people. follow the herd).

I thought that could be got round by creating something from within. But the community is like any large or small group of surfers. To move a group, even across the street, you need to get part of the group to start moving, and the other notice and move to be with the others, if the lead members move too fast, they’ll generally find themselves having to wait or even go back for the others.

I think that we need to think about how we can get more drift going from CS to the others, maybe we just moved too fast. We can’t do much online on CS.O, but offline i think has a lot of potential, through traveling interaction and local meets there is lots of scope to attract more members across. I think that it probably comes down to a marketing pitch, essentially. That how most people think these days: Why should I? Whats in it for me? So if were serious about hospex, we should be able to offer advantage and sing it from the roof tops. If we want to shift the hospex focus more on to the alternatives, then we need to offer some big carrots. Tripping had a nice one with its competition for the round the world tickets, but is just empty promotion really. I know the person who won it and how they won it and that makes me even more cynical to the idea of this form of promotion. The carrots need to be in advantage of moving, feature and function benefits, safety, help, discounts even, but not a one off firework show.

There are a huge range of additional directions that a global, mobile and talented hospex community can go in, which can add value in many ways. Like not just assuming that someone only wants to stay for 2 nights and move on. I was toying with the idea of staying here in Taiwan for 3, 6, 12 months or more, why limit a hospex site to short term. I feel like a host to all visitors to london and feel like a guest where ever i go. Flat sharing, home swaps, home and pet sitting, camping. Shower surfing, would have been great a few days ago when i was host’s sofa was on the terrace above his bar, with only a cold tap to wash with. Structured language exchange. Suitcase hosting. Someone has been hosting my case for three weeks while i cut loose with just a rucksack. All these things could probably be arranged through CS messaging, but if they were thought about and catered for and promoted they, with other carrots, could be able to start the drift away from CS, as well as, attracting fresh hospex members .

I would have liked to have expanded on some of these points more, but i have a flight to catch in 7 hours and won’t have internet in the sky, sadly. Some of you, most of you are probably grateful for this fact. But i hope this stimulates some productive discussions and even action, to make some big improvements in a tolerant, open, expressive, positive, hospitable community.

Love and Peace from Taipai to one and all that comes from it.

11 Responses to “Making a better community site”

  • Couchsurfing has become a verb. It is a unique verb.
    People can’t say, I’m going “tripping”. I’m going to “bewelcomed”. They could have several other meanings.

    But if you say I’m going “couchsurfing”, there are only one or two meanings.

    Here’re site statistics for various sites, in the graphs change it from “3 months” to something bigger.

    Hospitalityclub is dying
    Couchsurfing has grown 3x in the past 2 years.
    Tripping is doing ok. The website is loading up twice as slowly as couchsurfing.

    • niknah

      Thanks for your view on the distribution wider hospex community. I’m not surprised by the trend. Popular is popular. Does that qualify anything though, about the organisation or the site, as competent or fit for purpose?

      Is this growth, in ‘CS’ also reflected in the output of the organisation(CSI), especially as resources are no longer merger, by any stretch of the imagination? Was the rate of accumulating passport stamps and air miles, for a select few, all that increased from the CSI end?

      BTW i’ve just been tripping round taiwan and was bewelcomed everywhere i went. Also i’ve been full time couch surfing for 6 months and it had nothing to do with a web site. The term is far older than CaSey Inc. Although ‘couch’ surfing, sounds more like doing the rounds of the local shrinks and quacks. As a name and as a verb i thought and think it’s a bit lame really. You get some odd looks, when you ask someone who is not, if they are a couchsurfer.

      CouchSurfing, as one word, no space, would normally be shortened to surfing, ‘i going surfing round korea’, in most CS conversation. Most people outside of hospex community have no clue what a couchsurfer is.

  • So the CS Safety Team takes months to act on complaints about a couchsurfer who eventually ended up raping (at least one of) his surfers but are able to find the time to identify the account of someone who is critical of their behaviour and deletes it straight away. Seems consistent of the Safety Team; After all, this is the same safety team that happily discourages members who have been sexually assaulted from lodging negative references if it is their friends who were the perpetrators of the assault.

    • Yea It shocked me too. I didn’t expect it, but it doesn’t surprise me.

      However, although i frequently talk about my experiences in my posts, if any of this writing here is for anything, it needs to progress the topic.

      What are your thoughts on the topic?

      Lets solve this problem and move on!

      I got places to go, people to meet, foods to taste, beers to drink, hills to walk, beaches to swim, sunsets to see, languages to learn and dances to dance. I can’t sit around here bitching about this shit forever! :D C’mon!! Just do it! ;)

  • Tim, I feel like you’re being unfairly singled-out as some kind of “enemy” of CS, and I don’t know what the solution is.

    Regardless, I still feel like CS is starting to lose ground to other tools, like even Facebook. Keep the faith, and give it time. And keep traveling with joy in your heart, in the meantime!

    • reader

      I agree i’m being singled out and yes very unfairly, but at the same time, i have been a pain in the butt to these guys, so i do understand why. That doesn’t make it any more fair though.

      I think the proxy i set up scared the shit out of them, because it could have potentially reduce CSI to a database server and allowed the community to develop a better interface for itself. But i won’t get too in to that, it gets technical. has the potential to make CSI only a minor player in the CS Community. Which it is now, but the community would be enabled to do all the things it wants to.

      I’m not an enemy of CS, but yes i am seen as a threat by CaSey Inc. I am not a threat to CaSey Inc if their mission is to do the best for the couch surfing community that they can. I am only a threat to them if they have another agenda and or if CS is simply in a power strangle hold of a shy nervous country boy, who thinks he is a software genius and visionary and doesn’t want anyone else to touch his baby. I let you make up your own mind on how much of a threat i am to CaSey Inc and why and on the product of the genius, vision and effort of that small shy country boy.

      Facebook. Aghh. I’m even less happy being a member of that network, but its like needing a credit card these days. I think hospex deserves a decent dedicated site or family of sites that live up to the skills and philosophies of the community. Que a push of willing members to get involved with BW and T and even CSC or to build something new from scratch, a fresh start. There are enough knowledgeable people in this community who have spelt out how to get it right in these pages here and groups there. But i sometimes think that people prefer the situation that we are currently stuck with.

      Got the faith a gazillion percent brother! ;D Funnily this CS BS keeps making it stronger.

      Joy is an expression of our natural state and that’s a destination i’m always traveling to or relaxing in.

      Love and Peace :)

  • Tim's not a victim

    Reader wrote “Tim, I feel like you’re being unfairly singled-out as some kind of “enemy” of CS.”

    Tim was banned from CS after posts on the Brainstorming Redefined group where he attacked other members with profanity and made some bizarre posts e.g. claiming CS made him homeless. The reason that he continues to get attention from CS is because he creates new profiles against the rules. That same group has a lot of critics of CS, some of which have done more to antagonize the leadership than Tim, but they haven’t been banned because they write profanity-free, coherent posts.

    • Tim’s not a victim(I feel like calling you Danny for some reason or has Chris grown up a little ;)

      Man you like an opinion, which is good, its just a shame you don’t base them on anything in reality, more than just your own supposings.

      Do you think that a few posts, starting with and the winner is, was the reason they deleted me? I thought so too, but it seems freedom of speech was not the threat, it was the proxy. Threatening enough for them to not only delete me but threaten me with the FBI, Interpol and the International Courts. Boy oh boy was that a funny email!

      I have been singled out because i took positive ‘action’ and haven’t been intimidated by the resulting juvenile actions and threats.

      I am a huge victim of CSI, but i am not a victim. I have had a huge amount of positivity and love from the community which far outweighs the pitiful darkness that CSI sprays around.

      In the last year or so it has been a huge source of amusement, the CSI story is hilarious, when you can take a few steps back from it! Really. Chili popcorn anyone?

      But i’m not just here for amusement, this shit is fairly serious. You think profanity and tou breaking is more worthy of action, than sexual abuse, theft and rape or fraud, criminalisation of volunteers and corporate(charitable) theft? Please get your arse back to reality, before posting again. Maybe post on topic and even stand by your words by putting your name to them.

  • Ok I’m going to try to drag this thread back to topic.

    For me the problem has evolved from CSI is internationally a pile of cow shit and an embarrassment to decent south north americans and residents of new hampshire to the wider issue of the hospex community being generally under served organisationally and technically. Despite travelling and hosting being often most attractive to intelligent individuals, with great skills. One of this things that i often find delightful in the CS community, is meeting highly intelligent and interesting people. CSI serves as the dark line on the silver cloud to taint these meaningful experiences, with its insane presence.

    Anyway fuck CSI. In 20 years of being a problem solver, i have found that doing a postmortem of the problem, often only serves to waste time in looking for the solution.

    The solution seems clear, to make a better community site. To be blunt, i don’t personally think BW or T or Servas offer this. I see this as a bigger problem than the CS issues and Jen, Thomas these projects are projects we can get involved in and make a difference in right? What do you currently need to make it better? Lets get some conversation going. I’ve talked about a hospex association. In the absence of anything formal, lets get some conversation going here open, in public, inclusive and free.

    If you want to link this to relevant areas of your sites, where you discussing this or are applying imagination and intelligence to make travel and hosting as easy, fun and safe as possible, then we can get A to B and make it happen.

    We owe it to every generation of travellers. The human animal is naturally nomadic, fixed countries and boarders are a relatively new evolution on flexible tribes and territories. Use your passport freely! :)

    Really for me this is so serious, because i think that travel is probably the best thing that anyone can do. The internet is a great tool for hospex communities, but the benefit of that tool is not being actualised, which is lazy and when the window of opportunity for these types of network is just a memory in the .org graveyard, will be criminal.

    I have watched this happen over the last 10 years in the music industry. Where the grass roots music community had an opportunity to organise themselves and dominate their own space. They didn’t take the opportunity and now the major players are back in control in the digital market.

    Do you want facebook or google to own a big chunk of the hospex scene? Seriously. I’m sure google could rattle up ‘Google Sofa’ in an afternoon. Gets 26 million members and bye bye CS, bye bye T bye bye BW and even bye bye Servas.

    Then how hard will everyone be bitching if it is still not good!?!

    Really everyone, Its time to collectively shit or get of the pot.

    Love and Peace

  • I thought about these topics long time ago.

    I agree that Google Sofa could sweep away CS in few months, as well as Google Plus will probably sweep away Facebook in few months/years.

    In my opinion for instance an open marketplace like ebay is always more powerful than a single closed ecommerce site.

    So afterall all sites who will use OpenID or at least will be strongly connected with Facebook and Google+ will have a place in the future “market”, all sites that are closed in the user authenthication and user data will have hard time.
    This is a big problem especially with references, who would most probably need to be well structured and slander/troll proof.

    And making very simple but effective safety and policy systems, like the “block” feature and the “spam report”, but first of all the “delete” feature that prevent problems and the need of a big (sometimes just impossible) work for the Safety Team and still gives space for everyone to find their way.

    Nowadays even a facebook application with correct advertising would get quickly better hits than CS.
    Furthermore CS is mostly about the couch (saving hotel money and sleeping around couches) while there is still a big market in matching activity partners between citizens and travelers.

    The biggest issue for me is defining a fair business model, where CS in this is so so so so bad (not sustaibnable and not fair to users).
    The huge amount of money that CS management got in these years (after CS became a donation-suggested site after the big crash/suicide of the database) was just a clever way to take advantage of travelers and the benefits that member-to-member the hospex system gives to them.
    “I paid happily the CS verification fee because I will save so many money in hostels…”

    In my opinion the only way out is a Faebook/Google Sofa application with a fair business model that will be evetually bought one day by a big company.
    For some time I thought also to lead that process myself, but than I found out so many faults on the hospex systems that I changed my mind about it.
    I’ll probably write them, if you like to read, on a new post.

    Per aspera ad astra,

  • Is this post really about making a better community? It looks like a frustrated rant.

    I just saw Margaret’s post
    on moving a single group Brainstorm ~ Redefined to bewelcome .

    Does it really matter?

    bewelcome 699,720 Global Rank
    couchsurfing 1,685 Global Rank

    the decision has been made by a user who has not used both sites and has not yet experiences the tech support on the other site.

    What makes a great site ?
    1) a site where the owner does not interfere with the site
    2) good UI with continuous improvements
    3) dedicated developers or a good/popular Opensource underlying framework

    HC fails on 1 ,2, 3
    CS fails on 3
    BW fails on 2,3 and a bit on 1(BOD members)

    VC money may allow CS to improve on 3 and become the best (it could have become the best in 200). now with mobile apps and facebook and twitter (with their own super strong communities this is going to be very very tough).

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