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.

Sunsetting OpenCS

Friends, it’s time to move on.

CouchSurfing International Inc is now a for-profit business. It’s a shame, it had such incredible potential to become a truly democratic, inclusive, open platform. But it’s not. It’s a venture capital funded business. We all know how it got there, but that’s where it is. The dreams of an open and free CouchSurfing are now dead.

Let’s recognise that and move on with our lives. BeWelcome is the only viable alternative. So I say we archive the OpenCS site with a message telling freedom lovers to visit BeWelcome for open-source, democratic hospitality exchange.

In the spirit of do-ocracy, I will action this after 1 March unless I hear strong objections before then. That gives us a month to say our goodbyes, write our memoirs, and so on.

CouchSurfing has always been, and is now honest about being, a corporation.

12 Responses to “Sunsetting OpenCS”

  • I would suggest also another open-publishing news-site for anything related to the hospitality-community.

  • no one cares about couchsurfing anymore…at least no one I know….it’s become uninteresting without the community values. thanks Callum!!

  • Have any of you seen the movie “Social Network”? I know, it’s a dramatized version of Facebook’s history, but there are some things I thought this group can glean from their story nonetheless.

    It all happened at Harvard. Brazilian student Eduardo Saverin collaborated with Mark Zuckerberg in founding FB while still in college.

    Mark originally got the idea of a social network for college students from the rich and bratty twin brothers, Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss, who hired the talented Mark to code the twins’ brainchild for them.

    Eventually, Mark bailed out on all of them, including his business partner and best friend Eduardo. Much like Casey Fenton seems to have done so on all you former volunteer programmers.

    Anyway, years later, after FB gained significant success, Mark found himself embroiled in two separate lawsuits, one with each of the plaintiff parties. Eduardo had more of a case than the Winkelvoss twins (who probably didn’t really have any IP rights, at all, unlike Eduardo) — but whatever the case, the plaintiffs’ lawyers won out-of-court settlements for their clients.

    The Winkelvosses won a $65 billion settlement; and Eduardo, for an undisclosed amount.

    MY POINT in mentioning this is to suggest that you guys might have a much more legitimate case that’s worth considering, in light of the recent development going on over at CS. Very many people are unhappy with CS becoming for-profit, and a class-action lawsuit may be appropriate to hold CS’s leadership accountable. I’d really like for you all to not give up. I’ve supported your cause all this time, and it would be really sad to see it ended.

    (sidenote: interestingly, the twins were also picked for the US Olympic team in Beijing 2008).

  • Former couchsurfer

    The goal of this site was to coordinate a push for an open CS. It was not to group together and file a lawsuit, which might get some people settlement money but not result in an open CS. Tim’s post is therefore irrelevant. An open is no longer a possibility. I support Callum’s idea of closing down this site, but agree with Robino that a general site on the hospitality exchange world could be set up, and I hope that people will channel more energy into Bewelcome.

  • what do you mean by “closing”
    are you gonna mirror this website somewhere ?
    could you publish an archive ?
    this may be usefull for Tim’s class action… (ps: nice movie!)

  • Hey!
    I think you should keep the website going…there is just too many people out there (like me or heaps of people I spoke too) that just *have* to use still CS because in some areas there is no BeWelcome members…
    So if one has to use this shitty website one should have at least one place where one can discuss opinions about it openly without cencorship.
    This website has become a place like this for…so please keep on going!
    (ie post sth about this new “Share your ideas with the CouchSurfing team” email…


  • I also think this site should be maintained, but do understand that most new signups are spammers, which wastes your time. Could you delegate this task to someone, if a willing party can be found?

    CS is not what we thought we signed up to, for most, who know it, the CSI story is a criminal enterprise and its effects on the community and the mission, a tragedy. This is increasingly the world we live in. For me the real tragedy is the deeply shallow nature of the majority of members who have selfishly ignored the issues, even when personal suffering of others is involved. For me, over an above the individual issues in CS, the real tragedy is that CS has reinforced the general apathy that exists in the world, by doing the same or worse that our many dysfunctional governments and greedy corporates, when it could have easily gone a diffrent route. Almost playing on this existing apathy to spin and curve its way to royally ripping everyone off.

    This shallow apathy and wilful ignorance of too many good people, including the New Hampshire State Justice Department, made me realise a long time ago that CS will not be made to behave or act ethically. Casey is a fraudulent toerag, with the morals of a sewer rat(apologies to any upstanding sewer rats that may be reading), CSers who have done nothing, put themselves in a similar position to Casey and are just as culpable, although through their silence inaction, rather than their actions. Especially those who argued against the truth in the face of the blatant facts.

    My only real issue, these days, is that there is currently no suitable hospex site in existence. still has the potential to fill this space and even become the dominant player, but has a long way to go to self organise itself, set up clear decision making mechanisms and get the site and organisation fully equipped with everything it needs. I strongly doubt that this will ever happen, under current management, because achieving consensus on anything is a long process, even with consensus, actioning anything takes even longer, sometimes an eternity.

    Whilst the size of the member base has almost doubled in the last year, to 18,000 and the activity behind the scenes has increased, without someone taking and being allowed to take, a position of leadership, bW will never amount to much. But, as this hasn’t happened amongst the people who hold the keys and they are unlikely to give up those keys to anyone else, the status quo will be maintained for the foreseeable future.

    bW was my last hope for a decent online hospex presence. I stopped hoping at the end of last year and have seen nothing to give me further hope since. Maybe the drupal rebuild, will see much needed technical improvements, but without a suitable organisation with an inclusive decision making mechanism, the relatively small number of people on the site and even smaller number who actually login are going nowhere fast, as I found out last year. Unless you are going to Lyon, Toulouse or Berlin, you will find few members in your destination and even fewer who have logged in in the last month or so.

    Its not all as bad as it seems. Humankind have been exchanging hospitality and friendship with travellers, long before the internet. Last year i travelled on five continents, over five months. A basic nice personality, conversation, a smile and a sense of humour, are often all you need to beWelcomed almost anywhere.

    Until a site can get it together enough to be usable, without having to worry about what is going on behind the scenes, just get out there and travel. For safety, stay in contact with someone back home and let them know where you are, where you’re going, who you’re with and where you are staying.

    Good luck, happy travels and most importantly beHappy!!



  • Thank you tim for the details analysis of the online hospex sites. Never thought there would come a day where we agreed with each other. I guess we do now ,when osc is almost closed.

  • Hi Daz

    Agreement is good. I’m glad you agree with me. Where do you see the path forward for the hospex community? What are you optimistic about, if anything? Are you active and happy in CS?

    I’m not aware of us having disagreed in the past, can you refresh my memory?

    I do disagree that OCS is almost closed. I think it should be preserved as long as it is relevant, ie while the problem is still there, even if it is beyond a solution within CS. This site is part of Casey’s legacy. Its a horror story in technicolor. What Casey and friends have done over the years, should never be brushed under the carpet, rubbed out, etc. If needed I’d host and maintain the domain registration, to see that this side of the CS history remains available. I think a place for people to say what they want to about CS and CSI off site is still very useful, even if the name is just historical and a reminder about how long this bullshit has been going on for. The current waves of users, have got on with their lives, leaving CS behind. I am sure there will be disgruntled ‘customers’, for whom this site will be ideal, tragic as that thought is.

    Like most people who have written on this site, I have left CS behind or put up with the corporate makeover. I look in every few months to see what people are bitching about now. It was clear from an early stage of the take over, that the community was out gunned and the only routes to revert the illegal actions, was mass community opinion or through the courts. It was amazing how long it took some fairly intelligent people to realise that just talking about it was getting them nowhere, in small numbers.

    I do agree with comments about a more general hospex site and have advocated a hospex association. Such a site, could provide reviews, comparable stats, etc, As well as forums like this for each network and a digest news channel to keep you up to date, but not over load your inbox.

    An association, ideally would also be able to introduce more cooperation and interoperability, between the various networks. This site would prominently link to the new site. If anyone would like to get involved in setting up or running something like this, I’d provide a webserver, domain fees and technical assistance.

    I can also provide webservers for anyone to have a go at developing their own hospex site. It really isn’t that difficult! ;)

  • +1 to archive and keep all the information, and link to other resources

  • i enjoyed reading this site as sort of a “couchsurfing watch” and news (gossip? hehe) source for the hospitality exchange scene in general. it would be nice if this type of platform could be maintained. maybe under a different name?

  • Maybe the new focus of this group can be taking BeWelcome to the next level. I’ve always been curious, why didn’t BW take off?? What happened to all the upset CSers??

    Could it be that self-organizing and consensus isn’t the best way for a hospex and that you need a form of “dictator” in order to succeed??

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