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Archive for the 'Casey Fenton' Category

Casey attempts to sell Groups posts to Google, members protest en masse

If he was any more blatantly deceitful, we’d have to call him Zuckerberg! Step right up trusting travelers, and watch how Casey Fenton attempts to sell all your old (and current, and future) Groups posts for profit!

And if not for cash, then surely for the added marketing value (worth real money, and lots of it), to allow Google and every other web site and search engine to add what you thought you were sharing with only fellow CS-members, to their fully public, permanent record that is the global internet.

All the personal trip and traveler feedback you thought you were sharing only with other CS members? Sorry, surprise, now everything you posted on CS is part of the public record, forever. And, perfectly searchable.

I realize Casey’s announcement(s) have mostly to do with Groups posts, but isn’t he trying to put into place the exact same kind of exposure and sale of all your information, including your profile? Your profile picture? Isn’t he playing the exact same kind of despicable game that Zuckerberg plays?

Make no mistake about what Casey is attempting to do, exactly like Zuckerberg/Facebook – blatantly deceive you, to gain your trust and persuade you to add to his mountainous pile of traveler feedback, then once he has your trust (and your posts and personal information) he sells everyone’s posted information to enrich himself, personally.

This has been his goal since the inception of the entire CS project, he just didn’t have any buyers yet. Until now. Until Facebook became the story to copy. Until he invested considerable effort in building the largest list of users he could accumulate, to ensure the biggest pay-day he could arrange for himself.

I’ve noticed that despite several fundamental issues which members have complained about for literally years, that are never even acknowledged… in all this time, the most visible efforts seen from the inner circle and their hiring decisions, seemed to always be about PR (public relations), suppressing the publication of complaints, outright denial of reality, and spreading the gospel. To grow the list of users. To fatten the calf before the slaughter.

In classic Cult-of-Casey style, he sells you out without a warning or your consent, but when the backlash proves substantial and it turns out that people don’t want any part of what Casey’s selling, he tries to spin his scheme as something that he only intended in the best of ways, something to help you!

I don’t know which kind of people I despise more strongly – users, or liars. Let alone a career scam-artist highly skilled in both exploiting and lying to people. But the recent investors want the maximum return on their investment, so just as others have predicted… let the sale (of information you donated in good faith) begin!
Fresh email from HQ, just received, sent to all CS “members.” Stare into the face of pure exploitation and bald-faced lies:

“We’ve heard you: Change to plans regarding groups”
Dear CouchSurfers,

Last week, we sent an email in which we announced our plan to make CS groups available to search. We made this decision because the team had received member complaints that some newer members of the site didn’t seem to be joining for the right reasons. We thought that allowing people to see more of what CS is about before they join might help address this problem.

The members disagreed! We’ve heard from hundreds of people who are very opposed to this approach. I’m very sorry to have caused so much distress. It’s clear that this is something that members care deeply about, and I respect the need to approach it differently.

We have made two major changes to our plan:

Group posts created in the past will not be available to search. The only posts that will be visible to search engines will be those created after February 15, 2012. This will protect the privacy of any members who no longer use the site and may not be aware of the changes.

All members will have the option to keep all of their posts hidden from search and from non-members. Just as we currently allow you to keep your profile hidden from anyone who is not logged in, we are now building another privacy option that will allow you to easily specify that your group posts should not be visible to search engines or people who are not logged in. This privacy option will apply to all of your posts, both past and future.

These two factors combined mean that the only posts that will be visible to search will be those made in the future by people who choose not to make their participation in groups private.

I sincerely hope that this approach will protect the privacy needs of all CouchSurfing members while also giving people who are considering joining CS an accurate impression of who we are – a community, not a place to find a free place to crash.

If you still have concerns about this, I invite you to email me at and share your thoughts. The team makes all of its decisions with the intention of making CS better for its members. It seems that this time the change we wanted to make would actually have made it worse, and for that I’m sincerely sorry. I’m glad that you responded with your concerns: your reactions helped us see various sides of the issue that we had not considered. I know that CS groups are considered to be a safe and comfortable place to express yourself fully, and I would never want that to change.

Thank you for your patience and for your passion,

Casey Fenton
Co-Founder, CouchSurfing International

We Love New Couch$urfers!

New to Couch$urfing and you just signed up? And you clicked on the link that says “Continue”? Great! You are now at the page that we call the We-Trap-You-Page or also “Step 2″. This step is to verify that you really are who you say you are. Sounds good, right?

Now you see information about money and how great verification is, and a form that is for you to fill in. “Can I deal with that later maybe?” is probably what you think. But no! You can’t find the next continue button! Help! Where is the “skip this” button? How do I get out of here? I thought C$ was for free?

And what? Oh you live in Denmark? Bad for you, your suggested minimum donation is set to be $69.71 currently. And don’t you even think of paying less than that “recommended” amount because you won’t get through the form!

Ah, you live just across the border in Germany. That’s cool, you then pay $48.37 dollar less ($21.34). That’s 3 times cheaper for 5 kilometer! Hey, didn’t Casey just promise the community: “Just because we’re not a non-profit doesn’t mean we’re actually “for” profit”

Anyway. No worries. If you have no money, you can still become a member. As Casey wrote before, “The CouchSurfing features that you use today will continue to be free”. To help you further, you can apply for free verification through a verification scholarship.

But unfortunately the page doesn’t give you much information, and it still tells you that you have to pay (oh did the tech-team again release something without talking with communication dept? Where is Casey when you need him? Oh wait, he’s partying at Burning Man!)

And in despair you go to the address-bar and type: and pfff, it finally works.

C$ Feature: No Negative References

With C$ going commercial I wouldn’t mind paying for the feature of having my negative references erased immediately. Just like what happens when you leave one for Couch$urfing-founder Casey. This is a message I received from a friend:

If you want to play a funny game, try to leave a negative ref to Casey and its gonna be erased right away! Wow! life is great!

Casey must have been getting a lot of them since the recent announcement of selling our data.

CS becoming a for-profit business: A message from Hospitality Club Founder Veit

After the shocking news of Couchsurfing accepting a $7.6 million investment and becoming a for-profit company, I just wrote a message to the hospitality exchange community. Most important: Hospitality Club will never be a for-profit business, we are currently developing an open-source site for HC and some behind-the-scenes info on CS. Please read the statement here:

Oh, and a special shoutout to my haters here :-D

CouchSurfing is now for profit

It’s been in the air for a while. Finally the announcement came yesterday. 7.6 million US$ of funding. I personally have a big question about how this happened, I have volunteered to a non-profit, what happened to that work? There’s still quite a bit of code that I wrote for a non-profit that is running the for profit company right now…

A reason for me to change my couch status to YES!
And I added the following message…

I host so my status is YES but unfortunately not through the for profit company CouchSurfing. Contact me through a genuine non profit hospitality exchange network instead: BeWelcome.

I also encourage you to copy and adapt this message on to your couchsurfing profile.

describe in three words

It’s A Scam!


Casey speaks out, somewhat

It’s been a while I came across an interview or something related by Casey but here is an interesting interview on, a website devoted to increase sharing.

It contains a lot of general information about trust, history, the mission of CS and community democracy but Casey also speaks about the 2006 crash (“a turning point in the organization”) and how things evolved after that.

There was no infrastructure built for collaboration, but we had a lot of people who wanted to offer their help and energy. So we basically said, “If think you know what to do just get in there and do it.”

We later realized that there were problems with this approach. Specifically, we were not providing a lot of direction, and people had drastically different ideas on how they would like to see CouchSurfing grow. I was sending out the message: “Possibilities are endless and up to you. Whatever you think it can be, it is.” Unfortunately, what this created was a lot of chaos; competing interests and constant disagreement around the direction CouchSurfing should be going.

It took a couple of years to finally work it out and say, this is what our mission and vision are. I would caution people from the outset to clearly articulate what it is they do and where they are going, so that people have a shared understanding upfront. Community democracy offers a lot of opportunities to explore and experiment, but it poses a lot of challenges as well.

CouchSurfing password security vulnerability

Warning: If you get a username / password pop up on, click cancel, do not enter your username and password except on the CouchSurfing login page.

As of right now, I’m seeing this CSS file included on all pages. That file links to this image. That image returns a 401 authorisation denied error. That in turn causes the browser to request a username and password, the realm is given as “CS”. If a user enters their CouchSurfing username and password, that data will be submitted to

This is a serious security issues as many users are likely to enter their passwords without realising what’s going on.

As far as I can tell from a scan of the whois data and dns records, there is no connection between and It seems likely to me that this is a hack of some sort, either deliberate or accidental. I hope accidental. Either way, this is a significant issue and needs immediate resolution by CS Inc. I have notified Casey Fenton, Jim Stone and Chris Burley directly of this issue.

Couchsurfing The Movie

What do you want to do with your life? What is your mission? This is what Casey and Heather ask you in the marketing video “Couchsurfing The Movie”.

We will choose three Missions and CouchSurfers to star as the subjects in our documentary “Couchsurfing: The Movie” (expenses paid! sic). This journey isn’t just about sightseeing, it’s about traveling with a purpose!

Maybe the idea seems good to the regular couchsurfer, but the status and funding of this project is completely unclear. The website is hosted by Entrip while the project is co-produced and created by Alexandra Liss, also the owner of the websites. In her CS-profile she explains it a little bit herself:

I met Casey Fenton, who recently commissioned me to create the feature length documentary “Couchsurfing: The Movie,”– loving life right now and all the possibilities that this journey will lead to…

In her profile she also mentiones that she is busy with raising sponsorships. It is unclear though what type of expenses and funding are related. Casey mentions in the video that flight-tickets are fully paid, but do people also get some pocket-money? And what if you go hitchhiking? It is also pretty insane to see Couchsurfing Inc. promoting unsustainable forms of traveling such as flying – by the way. And how much community money is actually going into this project?

Let’s see when this project is to start though. First deadline was set for December 15th but now it is January the 15th, according to Still, the site is not ready yet and you cannot signin, upload or for example “Rate Missions and Vote”. (See also the beta-site which is a bit further developed).

The video is great though. It makes you laugh, guaranteed.

A Non-Profit Award for Couchsurfing?

Somehow, I always think it is funny when CS defines itself, knowing that whatever it says about being so wonderful and inclusive, doesn’t count for the organisation itself.

By the very definition of our mission, we have a commutation solution that is 100% inclusive. We invite everyone everywhere into the community: old, young, conservative, liberal, east, west, black, white, gregarious, introverted, rich or poor. The beauty of addressing a communications challenge of this nature—bridging cultural differences and building understanding between people around the world—is that the more diverse our membership base is, the more fully we will achieve our communications goals.

This excerpt is from the submission of Couchsurfing Inc. for the Society for New Communications Research (SNCR), where Couchsurfing won the Award “for Excellence in New Communications” for Nonprofits November last year.

We operate on a shoestring budget. This has required us to become experts in distributing our workload to a large, often remote, volunteer work force. We currently only have four paid staff members. We have two approaches to make this happen: sophisticated online volunteering tools that allow hundreds of members to easily perform needed tasks such as individually greeting every new member, and responding to every member inquiry

If you feel like ranting protesting, comments go here.