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Archive for the 'NDA' Category

California Supreme Court rejects noncompete clauses

Good news for all CouchSurfing volunteers who signed the non-disclosure agreement: the California Supreme Court rejects noncompete clauses.  Since it seems as if the organization has moved on to San Francisco it would be even harder to enforce anyone breaking the non-compete clause, although Matt Whatley seems to have been aware of issues with the non-compete clause in California.

Gods in the Vitrual world ,losers in the real world

Virtual Communities with virtual badges .

It sounds like the game of army which kids play .

“We are the general’s (LT) you are the soldiers(ambassadors) you need to protect the our turf (the world).”

Ambassadors are CouchSurfing members who have applied for a special role within our community. The role of the Ambassadors is to be of service to CouchSurfing members and to be of service to the global community.

These are individuals to whom you wont n give a second glance . Either they are normal noobs or low down losers who have messed up lives.

So what we have is a game of army .Where the kids form virtual hierarchies LT, Global ambassador,Country ambassadors,United Nations , President of the US of A.

The games is still not old as people still love those virtual badges. Though we see the playground fist fights all the time . The supporters of the generals ie the playground bullies ULF and the new kids on the block trent collins (stating those mark his turf).And the other kids who still want to play the game and some calling out “NO FAIR !”

But this game is taken to another level .Where the kids who play General take away the lunch money of the other kids and have fun with it. The bullies show the other kids they cant get their money back and have to still play ball.

Now the kids playing general need to justify to the other kids why they are eating ice cream with the other kids money.The kids on top have to be smarter than the other kids and think fast. So they come up with “we are holding a collective to make the world a better place for you and me “. The other kids buy the story .

The lunch money is gone!! The local communities are poorer with out those funds which could have set up local center all over the world. But as control of turf is essential to the well-being of the gang this will never happen.

Researchers agree that most gangs share certain characteristics. Although there are exceptions, gangs tend to develop along racial and ethnic lines, and are typically 90 percent male . Gang members often display

their membership through distinctive styles of dress ,symbols –their “colors”–and through specific activities and patterns of behavior. In addition, gangs almost universally show strong loyalty to their neighborhood, but the primary attraction of gangs is their ability to respond to needs that are not otherwise being met gang membership gives youth a sense of belonging and becomes a major source of identity for its members. In turn,gang membership affords youth a sense of power and control, and gang activities become an outlet the control of turf is essential to the well-being of the gang, which often will use pressure tactice to control both its territory and members (NDA).

2008 Q1 finances

“I hear servers and domain names are really expensive to maintain, and that some of the ones working on it, especially the full-time employees, are really hard-working, so deserve to be on a payroll. That fact is hard to disagree.. But at the same time, i wasn’t happy to hear that some especially coveted members in the core CS circle get their flight costs to get to the collective covered by the money raised from our donations. And that, just to get someone they really like having around to join them and be their private cook!”

Regarding finances, check for yourself, the finances of the first quarter of 2008 are available. Salaries are the biggest post on the expenses side. That doesn’t include flights and other costs of Collectives. Less than 10% of the income is used for servers and there was a surplus of almost 60.000 US$.

7220 • Salaries of Professional Staff
7250 • Payroll Taxes
7260 • Workers Comp
7515 • Bookkeeping Fees
7520 • Accounting Fees
7525 • Bank Service Fees 8,221.52
7530 • Legal Fees 9,867.59
7540 • Web/ Internet/ Host Fees 2,960.59
8110 • Office Expenses/ Supplies 3,195.01
8130 • Telephone & telecommunications 2,208.03
8140 • Postage, shipping, delivery 5,730.80
8160 • Equip rental & maintenance 13,923.46
8170 • Printing and Copying
8210 • Rent, Parking, and other occupancy
8215 • Building Repair and Maintenance
8220 • Utilities
8305 • Auto/ Fuel Expense
8310 • Travel 6,223.67
8320 • Meeting Expenses
8330 • Meals/ Groceries 10,895.37
8520 • Insurance – non employee
8540 • Staff Development 3,589.10

(note: meals and groceries were bought in Thailand!)

“I take it that back when CS was a more grassroots thing (correct me if i am wrong), all collective volunteers had to find their own way of getting to them. And that all the work was done pro-bono, even those who were working on improving CS on a full-time basis. In such a case, i wouldn’t think it’s fair that there are people on the payroll now, but those who helped cs in the initial startup days don’t get shit for all that they have contributed… “

CS never was very grassroots. PEople (like me) just tried to move it there. Casey has received a 2000 US$ per month salary ever since there was money coming in. It’s always been under control of Casey, and later Casey and his close friends.

I think paying some people is fine. Though, only people who are really needed, e.g. system administration to keep the site up 24/7, and further, let the community decide where their money is used. Whenever there’s a donation, add some checkboxes where you can give options where the money can go after the basics (administrative stuff, server costs, basic legal costs) have been covered (e.g. none, publicity, collectives, salaries for casey’s friends, food and lodging for groupies).

And don’t pay 2000 US$ per month plus expenses plus flights plus food and lodging. During a stay at a Collective it’s extremely easy to not spend more than 300 US$ per month…

Apart from the flights to and away from New Zealand (800 US$) I hitchhiked to the three CouchSrufing collectives I worked at. The laptop I bought to work on CS (1000 US$) broke quickly after I stopped volunteering, because of an extremely ridiculous non-disclosure agreement was “leaked” that does not allow working on any similar project (e.g. Wikitravel or other social networks).

BeWelcome will take time to grow. The BeVolunteer organization is already far ahead of anything else in hospex world in terms of flexibility, transparency and democracy. The software is about to follow. 3500 members is already a large pool of active people to connect with.

And note that BeWelcome now has (alpha stage) functionality where all members can verify members, for free. And it’s ID card or passport verification, not just address verification (which can very easily be falsified).

My idea about couchserfing was that it could be used as a vehicle to do much more than just hospitality exchange for college aged low-budget travelers. With so much money coming in and such a huge community behind it it would be extremely simple to set up much more sharing and society enhancing projects. E.g. a good friend of mine who also attended the New Zealand Collective is setting up If it would have been done from the inside of CS it would have been big by now. Though, on the other hand, I’m extremely happy that I didn’t accept Casey’s offer to host with CouchSurfing…

John: “Casey’s style: indirect, manipulative, pulling strings from behind the scenes”

I think almost all of John’s comments deserve to be blog posts on their own. So I’m copying this one over here:


“I think it was Matrixpoint who said that Casey really insists that he is not the true leader of CS…”


Actually, I don’t know that he ever said this. On the contrary, since I first appeared at the Montreal Collective, and during the following year as a volunteer, I found it very difficult to determine the organizational structure of CS and Casey’s role in it.

Everyone knew that the organizational structure was being revamped as part of CS 2.0, but the only public information I could find was an organizational diagram on the website that showed a central box labeled “Admins and Founders” or the like, months after I left Montreal. I was disturbed to see this for two reasons: 1. the complete lack of detail of the internal structure of this box, and 2. it’s central position, which was in conflict with the agreed upon decentralized organizational structure suggested by the tree model (see the logo of this website) that was created during the Montreal Collective.

There was no particular mention anywhere that Casey was the supreme, unaccountable head of CS. He was only included among the list of 4 founders prominently featured on the website. There were no by-laws to be found. The only information available about the Admins was a brief statement that they were volunteers who helped with important administrative duties involved in running the website. No information about how they got their positions or whether there was a term of office, etc. No information about performance reviews, etc.

As someone who had begun volunteering full-time with the intention of working freely on behalf of the hospitality community for years to come, I sought clarification as to who I was actually working for. I made it clear that my intent was to work for the Community, not for Casey and the Admins unless they were in some way accountable to the Community. Why in the world would I (or anyone) work full time so that Casey and his hand-picked buddies could live it up in exotic locations, unless the Community who provided the support for that had some say in it?

I got no meaningful response to two lengthy requests for information from the Admins beginning in December, 2006. That’s when I started reconsidering my commitment to CS and paying attention to such matters as the NDA (another whole story in itself).

It wasn’t until the following year (in the spring I think) that Casey finally revealed to the developers that he was the sole member of the Board of Directors. (According to Pickwick, Casey’s told a different story to NH government officials).

So, you see, Casey’s style was very indirect. CS 2.0 was supposed to be about members participating in the operation and evolution of CS, and the emphasis was **decentralized** participation. It was “The CouchSurfing Project”, not “Couchsurfing International, Inc., Casey Fenton CEO and sole member of the Board of Directors”. “Do-ocracy” was promoted by at least one of the Admins, and another Admin was generating most of the communication which included a call for member involvement.” No where was it mentioned that these Admins derived all their power from Casey and that he quietly controlled everything with absolute authority. He rarely took a public stand one way or the other, but rather allowed people to form impressions, whether they agreed with his personal agenda or not, that he did nothing to correct.

An example of his indirect style was when he made Chris Burley the new Tech Team leader near the end of the New Zealand Collective. Chris obviously was functioning as Casey’s tool, being used by Casey to shake up the development team (probably due to issues with Joe and Kasper). Chris had very little familiarity with the code or with ongoing initiatives. He only had Casey’s authority backing him up and used it to rule with an iron fist, announcing that no “personal ideologies” would be tolerated and all developer-initiated projects would be put on indefinite hold. (Developers were clearly now to be thought of as order-following employees, but without the pay, not co-participants in a project to make the world a better place.) Casey remained quietly in the background while Chris took most of the heat for Casey’s “house-cleaning”. Chris quietly dropped off the radar by the end of last summer, as if his usefulness as a tool had expired.

What was most disturbing to me about this incident was that not long before this Casey had finally talked with me on the phone (after a 3 month wait) for a few hours and we seemed to have reached a meeting of minds. I explained to him that I would begin no new projects until the NDA was fixed (as he had promised some nine months before). I told him that it was outrageous as it stood. He said nothing in response. But he actually invited me to participate in the formulation of the organizational structure that was in its final stages. I said, yes, I would very much like to be involved. The result of this call was that I felt Casey had heard my concerns and that I now was getting some respect as a full-time volunteer (of more than half a year).

So I was very shocked that Casey appointed Chris, without even consulting me or any of the Tech Team about it, especially since he had the opportunity to discuss it with me on the phone and had given me the impression that he wanted me to be in the loop when it came to organizational issues.

I was even more shocked when I sent him an email saying that although Chris might be a good choice based on his past general contributions (this was before his new personality as a “leader” emerged) but that he didn’t have enough technical knowledge to lead the team, and a least another co-leader who did was needed. Casey never responded to my email.

I was even more shocked when the new organizational structure was announced (completely done in secret), and that what little apparent accountability it seemed to include amounted to nothing.

I was ultimately shocked when the proposed NDA came out (after a year) that was supposed to be the “fixed” version, but it was 10 times worse than the original. It had the feel of the Patriot Act to me. I was utterly uppalled by the mindset that produced it, and by the way this whole drawn-out fiasco was conducted by Casey and his appointed elite.

I certainly felt the trust I had put in Casey as a result of the phone call completely betrayed, and I took the NDA as an indirect message to me that I was no longer wanted as a developer, since I had publicly announced I would no longer begin any new projects if the NDA wasn’t sufficiently fixed.

I would have much preferred that Casey had told me this directly, as I would have preferred that he shake-up the Tech Team himself instead of having a henchman do his dirty work for him.

This is Casey’s style: indirect, manipulative, pulling strings from behind the scenes, while giving a casual, no-worries, laid-back, often non-committal impression in public: a fun guy to party with.

In case any one is wondering whether Casey might have been justified in “cleaning house”, I can say that the 4 core developers made a huge contribution to CS, much more so than Casey, at least in the technical area, for most of the year following the Montreal Collective. (I suspect it was our very success that scared Casey, and threatened his absolute control.) Speaking for myself, the greatest problems I encountered as a volunteer developer were all caused either directly or indirectly by Casey or the Admins due to their arbitrary assertions of power without understanding the situation, extremely poor communication, and poor judgment. Working with the Community, on the other hand, was delightful and I still have those good memories.


Finally the new NDA! Beware, it’s very funny!

For your convenience I put it a copy of the new CouchSurfing NDA on the OpenCS wiki.

It’s so beyond anything that it’s very funny, and merely deserves to be laughed at.

The burning question is just: Who will be asked to sign this monstrous document?

What do the LT actually do?

We used to get the excuse “Casey is too busy”. Now we get the excuse “The LT is too busy“. This begs the question, too busy doing what?

CouchSurfing now has 4 full time, paid members of staff. That’s a 300% increase in professional resources within the organisation. What exactly are all these professionals doing?

Here’s a few things they’re not doing which they could be doing.

  • Publishing finances, up to the minute (it’s really not hard)
  • Getting 501(c)(3) status (again, really not hard)
  • Publishing LT meeting minutes (extremely easy)
  • Getting a new NDA sorted (seriously, it doesn’t take 15 months)

Perhaps they’re too busy partying, having threesomes, burning da man, banning people from the wiki, spreading the verification disease, etc. Who knows eh? ;-)

CouchSurfing NDA Lessons

Reading recent posts on this blog I realise that a number of people signed the CouchSurfing NDA under the impression “it was going to be fixed”.

I think there’s an important lesson for volunteers to learn here. Don’t sign unless you’re happy with what you’re signing.

It’s impossible to say how things could have happened if people had made different choices, that’s not my purpose here. I’m looking forward, both to new CouchSurfing volunteers and to other NDAs. If you’re not happy with the terms, don’t sign them. A verbal agreement to change the terms later simply doesn’t cut it.

I held off signing the NDA on the basis that it would interfere with future businesses I might be involved in. Now, I’m glad I made that choice, because it seems clear that CouchSurfing (Casey) have no intention of producing an NDA I would be willing to sign.

“A new discussion about improving the NDA”

Chris Burley announces new possibilities:

We agreed about the following action items
1. Triple T, Casey and I will start a moderated public working group
inside CS groups to invite current and future volunteers to ask for
feedback on the NDA. We will allow feedback and suggestions for
improvement and do our best to include this feedback into a revised
2. I personally will contact two unbiased corporate lawyers who have
experience in international law and have offered assistance to ask for
their help in drafting certain portions of the NDA which are in

I hope this means that the current draft will be scrapped, but anyway,
this message is all very very positive compared to the whole draft itself.


The horror! The horror!

The fun never stops:

  • The proposed Volunteer Agreement in all its paranoid glory. Read it and weep.
  • Appearantly the tax ninja that wrote it* is on the Board of directors! Who knew? (Hint: noone.)
  • We’re also keeping track of everyone that quit or will never start developing for CS because of this fiasco.

That’s all for today.

*: Or copied it from here. CS really seems to have problems writing original text. Maybe they need a copywriter to volunteer for that?

A Sad Day for CouchSurfing

At least three volunteer developers have resigned from the CouchSurfing Tech Team on account of the new NDA that all volunteers will be required to sign.

The new NDA includes a non-compete clause preventing volunteers from working with any other travel or social networks. It also requires that volunteers transfer their Intellectual Property rights to CouchSurfing International Inc.

I heard that somebody describe it perfectly, they said “it’s not volunteering, it’s slavery”.