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 Info' Category

Changes for new users

We had our first spam post on OpenCS today. Our WordPress settings allowed anyone to register and immediately publish posts. Until now, it was never abused (at least not that I noticed). Today it was. In response, I’ve switched all new users to have only “Subscriber” level permissions on the blog. I’ve also deleted the offending user and the post.

There’s no easy way to combat this type of spam. New user signups are pretty constant. We have a great deal of “spam” users already on the database who have not yet posted anything. Let’s hope they remain dormant.

If you have other ideas about how we can respond to the spamming, please contribute in the comments here. I’m happy to change the settings back if that’s the consensus. My feeling is that because this site is so quiet now, it’s ok that new users need to ask on the mailing list before they can write posts here. What do you think?

There is no change to comment settings. Comments work just as they did before.

Alaska blog archived

Just over 2 years after the last post, I’ve archived the Alaska blog. It’s now a static HTML site. No WordPress to update, no more comments or trackbacks. I’ve left the content for posterity. Oh, and this is post id 666, freaky! :-) Stats

If you’re interested, you can see some overview visitor statistics for on quantcast.

Why CouchSurfing is enabling QuantCast to measure visitors is an interesting question. No doubt this will spark lots of “theories”.

Personally, I think it’s interesting to note that the weekly reach of is circa 300k people, nothing like the 1m “members” that CS Inc claims (at best their are 1m profiles).

Quo vadis hospex?

Short and cynical comments on some could-be-existing networks:

  • * – Easygoing consumerfriendly network run by a bunchfull of burning men buddies with no strategy for the future at all. As they eat up an amazing amount of donations and the market for virtual social networks collapses with the international cashflow a simple sellout isn’t an option anymore. When the fun is over, I won’t share the hangover.
  • * – The google-ad homebase of a single men gathering people who don’t mind censorship in communication. If the communication system is working at all. Estimated 2 years behind reality. Hard to signup for newbies and without technical improvements a living dead.
  • * – Surviving from the stoneage of postwar hospitality exchange still not yet at home in the digital age but muddling through anyway.
  • * – Some core volunteers still suffer from restrictive mindsets (courtesy of, so progress in really opening up the network is small. Restrictions are still restrictions even if the code is GPL. The open source rebuilt of a common hospex-software is probably to slow to really suffer in the decline of big hospexnetworks, but may offer some software for other experiments (still a shitload of work).

Short but nevertheless also cynical theses for the future of hospex:

The hospitality exchange scene is and always was diverse. This won’t change, no, in the future the number of networks will probably rise and the importance of each one for the whole scene will shrink. I see two main future options / possibilities:

  • * Hospex as a gadget/plugin in other (commercial) networks like f**kbook, MyShit, soon T-Couch, iHospex, MacSleep, Sleepbucks and others – nothing I’d really care for, but something that would definetly keep some idiots out of things I like. There’s nothing wrong with it, but please leave me alone.
  • * Hospexnetworks with very specialized communities like gay boyscouts, polite gamblers, frustrated florists … A disadvantage of this kind of networks is the absence of bigger diffences within them, as there is always a common interest / category. So somehow it’s a bit limiting and cultural exchange simply fails with out differences. A solution could be megasearches between open parts of these networks, profile transfers and easy access. Besides smelling like violating privacy all over the place, it’s all theory right now.

And why this ranting?

I’ve spent and still spend some of my free time to volunteer for hospex networks, but from time to time it’s good to reconsider engagement. Right now it feels like being stucked between something halfdead, that is still working from an user-only point of view, and a luck of ideas/projects to improve/develop things.

So maybe it’s time to look for something useful to do in other areas? – the real background!

This blog is mostly run by BW-lovers with a clear agenda (make CS and HC look bad so their “oh-so-moral” alternative looks attractive). For all others, who still have a somewhat open mind and don’t fall so easily for Kasper & Co’s constant propaganda, here a link to our side of the story:

The real background about this “democratic, transparent, legal” (sic) network.

Communications deception or concealment

MANDIE M May 24th, 2008 – 5:17 am on this thread

The blog is on its way.
This is my second day at the Collective and
I have to admit that I dropped the ball on getting the blog set up before my arrival.

MANDIE M posts again on May 28th, 2008 – 1:52 am but makes no mention of the blog.

Walter Heck 28th, 2008 – 3:11 pm The blog is here:

Taking a look at the blog shows the thread
Welcome to the Collective! May 25th, 2008

Now was this a intentional or was Mandie concealing the blog till she got an ‘official’ response from her boss ?

Mandie reminds me of Dana Perino the current White House Press Secretary for President George W. Bush [1]

Also reminds me of the White House Press policy

“No one charged with keeping the press and the public informed about the workings of the government should have to play such frustrating games,” McClellan writes.

But “it was clear,” he writes, that the president’s definition of necessary would “keep the press secretary on a pretty short leash.” This included being barred from key internal decision-making discussions,

“The more filtered information is, the less accurate it’s likely to be,” said Hess, a presidential scholar at the Brookings Institution.

“The more typical press secretary spends a good deal of his or her time trying to find out what’s going on,” he said. “They’re up against a lot of people who are busy and who don’t really trust the press. … You’ve got to be pretty insistent.”

SHE & you for Sustainable Hospitality Exchange

Yeah! by robokow.netYeah! What about a conference on hospitality exchange, could we bring that about? A conference to share our experiences as volunteers, facilitators, organizers, hosts and guests? Let’s say a conference where we can create new concepts of sustainable hospitality exchange (SHE) and to discuss how hospitality networks currently interact with their users and members, how this could be improved and link this with sustainable forms of traveling, art, volunteer empowerment, cultural exchange, trust metrics, gift-economy and pre-modern roots of hospitality exchange? Wow, wouldn’t that be just awesome?!

So you’re interested? Great! Initiative has taken place to start facilitating this process and to pull the first things together. A small group of active participants within the networks are securing a location in Amsterdam on behalf of SHE as we write and they invite you to help organising this event, scheduled for a weekend in June. Your input is essential and you are invited to constructively help facilitating it.

SHE wants to be a tool of knowledge about sustainable hospitality exchange mechanisms and networks. SHE also claims that “though this is not a party-event, we do aim to walk all naked in the park, to exchange local practices and to increase trust.” All sorts of help is needed to bring the conference about as a dynamic flow of excellence and experience. Be warned though as SHE “will be potentially the most pretentious social networking event of 2008!

You know what? SHE already exists in wiki-space. Check her out and be creative!

What is OpenCouchSurfing

There seems to be some confusion around what exactly this thing called OpenCouchSurfing is. I thought now would be a good time to remind people of what OpenCS is and what it is not.

Let’s start with what it is:

  • It is a label, a title, a word, a term
  • It is a web site, a blog, a mailing list, a wiki
  • It is a loosely (dis)organised campaign
  • It is related to CouchSurfing and hospitality networks
  • It is a movement, a meme, an idea of loosely shared values

Now what it is not:

  • It is not an organisation, it has no offices, no officers, no constitution
  • It has no members, there is no list of “OpenCSers”
  • It is not “official”, nobody can speak on behalf of it, nobody can say they represent it

OpenCouchSurfing cannot agree or disagree with statements. It’s simply a means to communicate. As one can’t say “I am not E=MC2“, so one cannot really say “I am or am not OpenCS”. OpenCS is an idea, a campaign, at the very most, a petition.

Of course, all of this is simply my own opinion, because OpenCS cannot express an opinion or describe itself. So I speak on my own behalf, not in any official capacity on behalf of OpenCS. :)

Rewriting history – Replacing “us vs. them” with “those, who hate CS”?

When the OpenCS campaigns were published, the Leadership Circle had to face the fact, that ignorance wasn’t working this time. While some “followers of the true Couchsurfing spirit” (i. e. Mikky, Donna, Naz) were doing the dirt work of insulting the main protagonist of OpenCS in public, the Leadership Circle constructed an “us vs. them” legend, give some marketing bloats to the users and tried to avoid every real communication. The result was the resign of many volunteers. Surprisingly more than the Leadership Circle expected.

OpenCS became a lost cause and as a result the campaigners themselves failt to fullfill their own requirements. It was never meant as a clear frontline against someone, but more or less the “discussions” end up in the “us vs. them” logic. The Leadership Circle strategy of keeping more or less quiet and as a result lacking a place for a discussion makes it worse: users at brainstorm began to feel annoyed about the same issues again and again in nearly every thread. In the meantime, forced by deeply personal disappointments, injuries and feeling betrayed, the reference war started. But leaving each other negative references not only symbolized the edge between “us” and “them” very well, it was also bad PR for OpenCS at all, even if the Leadership Circle answered in the same way (and Casey himself started to remove friendlinks).

Then things began to change again: Kasper – listening to the advice of others – made the brave step to remove the bad references (something I could not appreciate enough). This – supported by some apologies – changed the situation at brainstorm a bit. Additionally some new people at brainstorm have begun to ask questions. With the same result as ever: not much answers, even if this is from time to time hidden behind a lot of words. But the tone is different this time:
no more “us vs. them”, what means at least a form of dispute, no, now some people are adressed as “those few who hate CS”.

Who is that? A small group planning to destroy CS out of pure hate against CS as such? More conspiracy theories, please! Do I hate CS? Don’t expect me to answer this question, but maybe I should create a group “those who _really_ hate CS” (no worries: I won’t do it really. Like the “Goovy is an arsehole and we know it”-group). Seems all in all more a reason to laugh out loud than to worry. But the problem is: The Leadership is rewriting history here. If there are no answers or alternatives, the ideas of OpenCS will disappear more or less completely. The “usual supects” will end up as couchterrorists, who tried to destroy the happyhappy couchsurfing family, but failed thanks to the good and visionary leaders.

I claim the right of my own history. Remember, this is the digital age: history written on paper rolls by winners only is history itself.

PS: Didn’t I mention “The little leninist’s cookbook” before? One very important task is to define the own opinion as a majority and every critics as a small minority. Don’t worry about real numbers, it’s just important to say so. A perfect historical example about this can be found with the keywords Menshevik (from russian the Russian word for minority) and Bolshevik (from russian the Russian word for majority).
PPS: Nonviolent communication is not a good concept for people who don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that non-communication is probably one of the most violent forms of communication at all.

Constructive process / intentional destruction?

Hi, (in reply to [0],… for “proper threading”)

guess what, I was one of those people only wanting to discuss ideas for a long time [1]. At some point of a full year of volunteering as a coder[2] and trying to make sure the very ideas from this group actually got somewhere [3], it became evident that in order to get those constructive ideas heard and implemented, improvements would need to be made. So I and others whose input you’re so willing to discard tried our best, sadly many of our suggestions and constructive efforts often went ignored by the LT [3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. Also, the “critical” tone is all too easy to obtain when valid questions and due criticism [8] repeatedly go unanswered.

I feel it’s important to let others here know what exactly they are dealing with. I feel it’s a bit silly being all positive and hoping ideas somehow will get heard, when there are still no decent mechanisms to make that happen and no apparent willingness (historically) to actually listen to people who provide ideas to deal with the situation EVEN when they are the ones actively working on the improvements.

Besides, I feel the not-so-gentle wish of yours of all of “us” to take a hike with all the criticism based on EXPERIENCE (the case for me, Kasper, and the ones who already moved on) of dealing with the CS organization is just another form of censorship, albeit softer than simple deletion all of the “negative” posts. If asking questions and telling the truth is deemed as unconstructive and evil, I sincerely think CS is headed the wrong way.

FYI: the leadership team is far more willing to bring in “fresh” people than to keep around the old ones (who were actually doing a sizeable chunk of the actual work [9, 10, see especially contributions by Kasper and Matrixpoint] instead of just talking, and were respected by their volunteer-peers if not by the admins/leaders), once they start getting “difficult” – so beware, a year from now the situation for many of the new enthusiasts could well best be described as “told you so”. An actual quote from some leaders: “The coders are just whiners, so let’s just get new ones” – culture of appreciation [11], anyone?

Actually, there’s nothing new under the sun, has anyone ever wondered what happened to COSMIC GIRL, DANI! (former admins), CAIRONA (European Collective 2006 co-organizer) or Aparna (Former CS Country Ambassador for India)?

FYI 2: Blast from the past [12], many issues were questioned more than a year ago, yet we STILL don’t have all the answers. Make your own conclusions?


[1] (list of my public, CS-related group posts)

[12] Money and Such:

how many %why?:

2,450 (!) words about: MONEY, MONEY, MONEY…

Financial transparency

Where is CS going?