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.

Archive for the 'general director' Category

Casey Fenton needs to go.

Disclaimer: I am not OCS, if the OCS doesn’t like me utilizing their venue, I can perfectly understand them removing this, so go ahead Callum or whoever runs this site ;)

That title works to grab everyones attention. Hello there lazy bums in Thailand, celebrating ineptitude under the sun!

I was thinking how all the work of the motivated volunteers full of ideals and good intention can be saved. The title was my only answer. One thing i have learned is that people dont really change, i dont expect Casey or the majority of his buddies to be different, despite all the visionary leadership.

Why do I point out that people don’t change? Because I am convinced that they would have to change if Couchsurfing is supposed to progress. Couchsurfing as a website and Organization has grown beyond the size that is governable with the attitude and management employed by Casey and his appointed BurningManBeer Buddies. We are dealing with an Organization that is crooked and mismanaged from the Top. Casey might be a nice guy, he might be a good coder, he might even have that MC1R sexyness to get all the good bitches in the pack, but he is about as good as a manager as Paris Hilton is an expert on Quantum Mechanics.

From the Top down, it was all about happiness and fun, NEVER about accountability and results. Casey initially, when first launching public, already made a claim on how cs is a 501c3 non profit. He either made a false claim, which would make him a liar and crooked person, possibly a felon, since he collected the donations, or an amazingly inept manager. You don’t run an Organization without knowing its legal status, dot! I tend to go with a third option though. He is a hopeless dreamer, who wants to make a 501c3 and heal the world, but gets ahead of reality way too much. This pattern was followed in the whole CS team and Spirit of Organization. Sure, it would be great to have a good manager, but lets settle for someone who COULD be a good manager, such as TTT, but who actually sucks ass since he settles for having a manager title, rather than doing the job, just like Casey and 501c3. On CS, the culture of Vaporware needs to go. The people will not change, so unless they go, Cs will never proceed beyond the Fratboys who would LOVE to be cool, but end up being drunk failures.

They ALL lack the self confidence to critically reflect upon their managerial skills or the apparent lack of. The root of all this is of course, Casey. He appointed Managers who lack the wit and gut to debate with a dissenting community. A dissenting community that actually argues constructively and is kind enough to share all the solutions.

CS, thanks to the pressure built up by Pickwick, is about to arrive in the cloud of Accountability that is the real world. I hereby Claim that there will be no milestone accomplishment at the Thai Collective, which will make it nothing more than an expensive party for Casey and his equally inept cronies.

You run an Organization and fail to deliver, you go. If is all about buying Caseys’ Burning Man crew 4 Months of sponsored Holidays on the beach along with pussy that would not be available to this elusive group of mediocre men, then is indeed a brilliant success for aforementioned visionary leader and his associates. It would of course make it a racket and scam, morally at least, regardless of how it would be judged by a legal professional.

If Couchsurfing is not a racket and scam but instead an organization with genuinely good intentions, then it is a failure on all accounts. Absolute top-performing professionals in their respective field get alienated or sacked by a management that has possibly not even learned how to spell (project) management. The Couchsurfing Management in its current incarnation is a direct result of Casey Fentons inability to accept superior skill from employees and volunteers. The current management has a track record of rejecting highly skilled employees and outside advice, lacks skill and self confidence along with the inability to accomplish anything themselves.

You guys all need to go. I am glad CS is in the Real World SOON, legally speaking. Casey and friends, you guys talk all the talk, all the time. I have yet to see anyone walk the walk. I invite you to prove me wrong, but you and me, we both know, you fail.

p.s. i invite everyone to personally attack me on my position, preferably somewhere in real life

p.p.s please, since i am so full of shit, be so kind and make a list of all the accomplished managerial successes of the current leadership team, since thats all that it takes to turn my whole posting into a pile of shit. hint: most mangers work 45-50h a week and deliver results correlating to this

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 is Hiring

It was announced yesterday that CouchSurfing is seeking to hire a full time developer. They’ve just hired two core volunteers (Jim Stone and Mattthew Brauer). Where are they getting all this cash from? If they’re each paid $2’000 USD a month, between those three and Casey, that makes $96’000 a year.

So the CouchSurfing Corporation is finally starting to pay off…

Why a non-compete clause will be very harmful to CouchSurfing

Mattthew Brauer is one of the people who is involved in the creation of a new Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for CouchSurfing. The current NDA is simply ridiculous, it transfers all trade secrets from the volunteer to CouchSurfing. A trade secret is a very ill-defined term that literally can include anything you can think of, such as “programming techniques” and “software patents”. The NDA should be limited to giving CouchSurfing a license to use the work of the volunteer, it should not try to transfer copyrights or just ideas.

My main concern for the new NDA used to be this part. A secondary concern is the non-compete clause, which forbids the signee from working for related organizations or companies, which is, again a bit vague. It could mean that if you sign the NDA, you can’t work for any other website. Or you can’t work for a travel agency.

When I signed the NDA in August 2006, Casey told me the NDA would be changed. This year I found out Casey Fenton had already been promising a new NDA in June 2006. It’s nearly one year later and no draft has been shown to people outside the Leadership Circle. Mattthew, one of the people who was working on this wrote yesterday:

I support a reasonable non-compete clause. The non-compete clause will apply only to other travel related social networks and will last for one year. It’s good for CS to require a commitment from volunteers. They have to make the choice to work for CS over competitors, and if they make that commitment, they are likely to be dedicated and motivated. It’s also safest for CS to ask that volunteers don’t immediately go work for competitors with the knowledge they’ve gained from CS.

…and I am deeply shocked. I know that many CS volunteers are also volunteers for Hospitality Club. I know that most people don’t give a damn about whether it’s called CouchSurfing, Servas, HomeStay, WWOOFing, WarmShowersList, BeWelcome, or WhatEver, as long as they meet interesting people. Most volunteers care about the mission of all these organization a lot more than that they care about the individual organizations.

And what about Hitchwiki, Wikitravel and other websites created by travelers. Add “friend links” and voila, suddenly it’s a travel related network, and anyone who has signed the NDA for CouchSurfing can’t work on these projects anymore.

from feeling part of something bigger, from responsibility. Someone who takes the step to find out how to volunteer is already motivated, and in CS, if they actually get to do something they must have been truly very dedicated, going through mires of information, contacting many people without getting replies. Commitment doesn’t come through the force of law.

If there will be any non-compete clause in the new NDA, I will stop doing any work for CouchSurfing and demand that the NDA I signed in August is declared void. I am sure that other technically inclined people will do the same. Since the NDA is also supposed to be signed by many more people CouchSurfing will loose a lot of its core volunteers, the people who have been struggling for more transparency, who have been working off their asses for free, and who have been able to keep the site running. If they leave, CS will be left amputated and there will just be a core of people who highly value secrecy and prefer to work with people who think the same as they do and with whom they have been close friends with for a long time.


P.S. If there will be a non-compete clause the OpenCS project could be terminated very soon: Yesterday I heard it’s likely that BeWelcome will soon release their code under the GNU General Public License.

News item: not allowed!

It seems obvious that it is important to reach as many Couchsurfers as possible with Open Couchsurfing. If nothing else, it allows us to see the community’s thoughts and opinions on the topic.

For this exact reason, we have proposed a news item on

Mattthew Brauer posted the following in reply: “Constructive criticism is great and needed, but the purpose of the news is to inspire people and promote CouchSurfing, not to highlight the things that may or may not need improving.”

There are couple of things wrong with this attitude:

  1. There is no good way for the community at large to understand what’s going on if this kind of news is effectively shielded from them. While not every discussion is worthy of news, this surely is it seems.
  2. Quite often in Couchsurfing we hear the argument to “not be so negative”. This is certainly one form of that. And certainly, if there were channels where we could get answers to some pressing questions, we would take it there. However “don’t be negative” often just means “shut up”.

Help us publish this news item. Write Mattthew Brauer to show your support.