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Archive for the 'Jim Stone' Category

Blurb from the COO: “very few resources to dedicate full-time attention to every program that we offer.”

Apparently news of the translation team strike has reached up to the CS COO:

Hello translation team members!

First, I want to thank you all for your dedication to this team and for wanting to help make CouchSurfing available to more members around the world. Translations is important to us and we couldn’t do it without you.

I understand from Benjamin that this team is on strike and no longer actively translating the site. He has brought up several issues with us that we are trying to better figure out. This area is important to us and we want to be sure that we have thoroughly researched the issues before we proceed with a larger scale solution and possibly make it worse. I apologize if this process is taking longer than some of you may like. As you know, CouchSurfing is a non-profit organization. With very limited funding we, in turn, have very few resources to dedicate full-time attention to every program that we offer. Our tech team alone has hundreds of priorities listed and are working around the clock to get to everything as quick as possible.

We have certainly not given up on our Translations area and are working to correct the issues as soon as possible. Many of these issues are complex and difficult to understand exactly what is wrong with them but the tech team has been steadily resolving the reported bugs concerning it. For example, this weeks’ updated code release included some fixes to some backend functions that should help. It was reported that some updated translations were overwritten whenever our website code was updated. This should now be fixed. If you see this still happening please report it to the SBOT team, through your designated coordinator, or directly to us at and choose the Translations option in the dropdown menu at the bottom of the page.

Also, our WebOps coordinator has asked Benjamin to step down from leading this team. In the coming weeks we’ll be talking to some team leaders about forming a new overall leadership post.

We understand that the translation system is not optimal and some of you may choose to remain on strike. But if you’d like to continue translating please do. It’s completely up to you. If you no longer wish to remain on the translations team we ask that you kindly remove yourself from the translation groups and let us know in the future if you’d like to come back. Again, this is completely up to you. We appreciate and value your help and want to help you help the organization for as long as you’d like to contribute.

Thanks for your help, everyone. We couldn’t do what we all do together if it wasn’t for team members like yourself. You rock!

Happy Surfing and translating!

Jim Stone
Chief Operations Officer
CouchSurfing International

I couldn’t have written a better analysis than Margaret’s:

…has the CS management never heard of working together to reach a compromise? What about ‘negotiation’…does that word ring a bell?

I find Jim Stone’s answer to the Translations Team to be both disrespectful and disingenuous. If I had to devise an approach to the management of volunteer groups which would definitely *not work*, and would alienate and anger any competent volunteer, I could not have come up with a better example than this post from the COO.

I cannot imagine why any sane person, excepting those with pathologically low levels of self-esteem, would continue to volunteer for this organization.

This post is an example of exceptionally incompetent volunteer management because:

1. Jim says that his team must more thoroughly research the areas of concern, that Ben and this same team have already clearly and concretely outlined, before making any changes…why? Because (in classic arrogant disregard of volunteers by paid staff…) to follow the advice outlined by Ben, the team leader, would “…possibly make it worse” (“it” being the situation…please see paragraph 1 in the link Kasper provides). This is administrative double-speak at it’s most irritating….and is a thinly veiled excuse to buy time.

2. Jim excuses his own management incompetence by saying this: “As you know, CouchSurfing is a non-profit organization. With very limited funding we, in turn, have very few resources to dedicate full-time attention to every program that we offer.”

NO! I have never, ever, in my 5 years of reviewing non-profits, seen any organization excuse unprofessional behavior by saying, well…ya know…we’re *just* a non-profit.

Non-profits are held to even GREATER standards of professionalism than for-profits; they have to be, because they rely upon the public trust for funding. You never, ever, ever, want to betray this public trust…so to say that you cannot run or fund your programs appropriately because you are too poor is admitting your own inability to run the org….every non-profit is in this same situation…other managers just manage it better!

Jim Stone suggests that CS can’t do its job because it does not have the riches of a for-profit company; this excuse is simply insulting to the literally millions of non-profits which perform miracles, daily, on shoestring budgets: providing food, housing, jobs, hope and life to humanity, simply because this is their charitable mission. This can-do spirit is INSPIRING to volunteers…people want to join an org that puts it out there, for the universal good, despite having limited funding. Limited funding is not an excuse in the non-profit world. NO ONE wants to pitch in and help an organization which excuses its own management incompetence by saying they dont’ have enough money!! Do these guys want to drive away their own staff? good lord, it’s astonishing.

(the poverty plea is actually a lie: CS has tons of money…more than enough…to fund its programming. They simply *choose* to not put this money toward programming. What do they spend it on? Cohabitation bonuses, airfare, rent for luxurious spaces on the beach, and that nebulous catch-all category: Talent

Jim has shown, in this post, a distressing lack of talent. If you add the entire expenditures from the Talent portion of the financial pie, you’ll see that CS spent (I’m assuming this past year, since this info is not dated…incompetence again) $1,590,172 on “Talent” alone…and for what? We get a reference counter that is far inferior to one developed, for free, by Dan?

Jim is the head of Operations. According to the pie chart linked above, CS spent $169, 032 on operations during whatever fiscal time frame this webpage documents. What has that money purchased?? Jill Kohlberg, the PAID volunteer coordinator-type person is unresponsive and evidently AWOL (despite her LinkedIn profile saying that she’s still getting a CS paycheck (source: ) ….while the competent Translations Team leader, Benjamin, who has diligently worked for free, is *fired*.)

…and “operations” is spelled “opperations”!

Well… I have one thing to add, it’s the first public post of someone in the higher spheres of CS in a while. One has to have respect for that!

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.

Verification ticks on images

Today I noticed that a green tick now appears on the images of CouchSurfing members who have paid for verification. I notice these ticks on groups, I assume they’re all over the site. Wherever you see a thumbnail picture of a person, it marks who have paid and who have not.

This continues what Jim Stone started back in New Zealand all those years ago. A campaign to drive verification revenues ever higher. Given that you only need to pay once to become “verified”, CouchSurfing International Inc rely only on a continual stream of new members to make “donations”. If they can increase the percentage of people “donating”, more money for the coffers.

Perhaps we can subvert this new feature by framing our own profile pictures and adding a different symbol to donate that we opt out of the so-called “verification” system. We could even combine that with a real verification system based on the verification of actual identity and physical location. Food for thought… :-)

The games people play

The Crossman game on the brainstorm group

Patrick Ralph Crossman April 22nd, 2008

I just want to let you know that I have just made a substantial and detailed post in the global ambassador group (which includes the LT) in an effort to start a discussion on the member and volunteer issues we have, and the serious discontent going on within our community and hopefully to determine what we can do to move forward together.

I spoke with Casey for an hour today. Rest assured that steps are being taken in the right direction. I am doing my best. Stay tuned.

Patrick Ralph Crossman April 24th, 2008

Working on it. Trust me We are moving forward one step at a time.

The simple answer: he(Casey Fenton) is very busy with his responsibilities. It’s not about being above communicating with ordinary users. It’s about focusing

Patrick Ralph Crossman on 22 June 2008

Casey actually just emailed me a few days ago to arrange a chat about something in particular. But I don’t know exactly what it is yet. Us connecting is a little difficult because we have to work around a seventeen-hour time difference as well as my 9-5 work schedule and tendency to travel on the weekends! I was at a CS rafting get together in the north this past weekend. That was a blast!

For simplicity purposes, could you please clarify specifically which question you are referring to: “can you answer okijibawa’s question as promised”…?

I really wonder what Patrick was talking to casey about or what his post was in the global ambassadors group.When he does not even know why he posted on that thread !!

Impressions of the CS Thailand achievements

To be honest, the list of CSCT achievements confused the hell out of me. Instead of a report on which objectives were achieved through which actions, it’s a huge list of “stuff that we’ve done”. How does all this relate to any kind of overall plan? Was there even a plan?

This is not a report, this is a “shut the fuck up” list. What this list tells me is: “LOOK! We’ve done A LOT! Leave us alone!” Doogies (a CSCT participant) sums it up best in one of his comments on this site:

You wanted to know everything we did in Thailand so you get a document with more than 500 achievements we accomplished there for couchsurfing.

More than 500 achievements! Wow! Unfortunately, I find it clearly symptomatic of a miserable professional result. I’ve seen this approach before: Whenever a large project failure had to be covered up. Been there, done that myself. It’s a sleight of hand technique: By pointing at a huge, unreadable and almost entirely unverifiable list of statements, they are hoping to hoodwink the CS donation base that all that money is serving a purpose and probably to fool themselves in the process. The person responsible for this style of writing is Mandie, showing us again how incompetent she is at what she does. Hold this report up to the standard of any serious non-profit organization and it just becomes sad. This is not a report, it’s a hastily thrown together list of things people could still remember doing.

There is plenty to learn from the report though. In general, it appears that the largest part of the participants has been busy analyzing and communicating. Also, tech has been very busy, probably the most productive team overall (this has always been the case in CS). If anyone seems to have done anything, it’s clearly the programmers. We’ll see how well it all holds up in the summer.

Things that I noticed right away:

  • Jim Stone is a scary control freak, which we already knew from the way he bullied everyone in the CS Wiki. Look at what occupies him:
    • ” A reminder system to let people know they should update any reference that has been identified as violating our terms of use.”
    • “References are no longer completely deleted when removed, just hidden for safety concerns. We also know who deleted it, what the reference said, and when it was deleted.”
    • “Deleted Images: The safety team can easily delete images from accounts that are deemed inappropriate. The member is also emailed to let them know with instructions on what they can do next.”
    • “Refined a tool that more easily identifies real spammers and harmful users and doesn’t temporarily falsely identify members as being spammers as often now.”
    • “Deleted posts: every post that’s been deleted, why it was deleted, who did it, when, and ability to reactivate it with one click.” (I’d love to see this list of “whys” sometime.)
  • Rachel is a one-stop CS police force: “Directly handled several member disputes.” She obviously doesn’t need to report to anyone, because obviously every communication is an achievement and a report of Rachel’s activities simply isn’t listed.
  • Speaking of communication, Mandie thinks this is an achievement: “Email to ambassadors explaining website downtime.” My god. An email. The “report” is full of nonsense entries like that.

But all that is just fun and games. It clearly wasn’t edited anymore than the average OCS post (this says enough), providing hours of entertainment. Meetings are NOT achievements, neither are writing emails, calling people or “Finding a suitable caterer and arranging for daily delivery of food.” (Obviously nobody felt like cooking in a country with such a low wage scale.) Who cares about the “bi-weekly shopping trip”? Or what about ” Administered half-way point evaluation meeting with House Manger.”? That one was from Matthew Brauer, who has a truly sad list of achievements and still can’t spell his name right. (What the hell is it with using nicknames in an “official” report anyway?)

But what is really interesting is what is missing:

  • Where is all this generated material being kept? Things like “plan for Alaska Collective including budget, roles, objective and location”, “desired skills sets for volunteers in team”, “‘Core concepts’ to help uncover and articulate what CouchSurfing is about, not about, what its mission is.”, etc etc. The server team doesn’t mention installing a document repository and the Wiki has been shot down Jim Stone style. So, unless I’m mistaken (no way to verify unless Doogie could come out his tower to enlighten us), all these wonderful documents either don’t exist or are sitting in someones harddrive or mailbox. Either way, that will mean 90% of “work done” will be tossed away again for the next collective, like it has happened 2 times already. Remember the huge “organizational chart” that was created before CSCNZ? Exactly. CS management = the way of the Dodo.
  • There is absolutely NO mention of 501c3 status. None. Let me repeat that: the entire 501c3 process is completely absent from this report, even though it was in quite a few announcements. What happened guys? Didn’t you work on it or is it not an achievement? Or maybe, perhaps, it was a miserable failure?
  • There is not one mention of drafting contracts and exactly one reference to legal work:
    “Phased out one-on-one verification on the advice of our legal team: verification now only available through credit card or a verified PayPal account.”
    Right, so all those expenses towards the CS lawyer(s), 14,234$ in 2007, have only resulted in another way to increase profits? It appears nobody had a contract or even insurance (only travel insurance is mentioned), since none of that is mentioned. (Search for: “legal”, “contract” and “insurance”.)
  • What the hell is going on with Casey Fenton (who also doesn’t need a last name)? Why doesn’t he have his own personal achievements, like his buddies Matthew or Jim? Why is he mentioned in second place of a team twice? My guess is that they are trying to shield Casey from direct comments on his behind-the-scenes style of control. Who are they kidding? Where has the “leadership team” gone? Where are the board meetings? Who is on the board anyway? Of course, it’s also possible Casey couldn’t be bothered to write down his list of “achievements” and/or Mandie didn’t dare to ask him.
  • Did you know CS has a new team in charge? Neither did I. This time, it’s simply called “CouchSurfing Management” and guess who’s in it? Matthew, Casey, Jim and Weston (member since April 15th, 2007). Congratulations guys, you have finally managed to create your little Northern American boys club.

What else do you see missing from the report? What do you think is the funniest “achievement”?

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

More of the same

Things will get worse until they get better?

I got a message from the all-seeing eye of CS, informing me that the reference that has been there for Kasper for, oh, say, half a year now is suddenly inappropriate. It doesn’t say who deems it inappropriate, but I can take a guess. Here’s what it said:

I met Kasper in the NZ collective where he was one of the most active and valuable volunteers there by far. He helped me get started volunteering myself and we’ve kept in touch ever since. Kasper is an upstanding guy, as honest and fair as they come. He does what he says and is morally head-and-shoulders above the people that are running this site (like Jim Stone). He’s an independent thinker and does what he can to make this world a nicer and more free place to live in, even when that goes against “those in power”. I’m lucky to count him as one of my friends.

Now, I’ll leave you two seconds to think about what made this reference “inappropriate”, possibly, perhaps. Ok, kidding, I marked it already. Interestingly, they never tell you exactly what the problem is, you can only change it and then ask: “Is it ok now, please?”

So, I’ll come forward and say this: Jim Stone, if you have anything to do with this, you have just proved my point. Kasper (and pretty much most people I know) are morally head-and-shoulders above the way you handle your affairs. You abuse you idiotic self-appointed powers whenever you feel threatened and think your title entitles you to act in ways that simply nauseate me. I wish I believed in karma.

Welcome to the Couchsurfing police state.

Jim sets an good example

“For an good example check out the guide for Birmingham.” (sic!) Jim is still happily keeping up with the volunteer coordination (for 2000 US$/month). Unfortunately, doing this, he is encouraging volunteers to break copyright law. The text at the article on the CouchSurfing wiki about Birmingham looks a bit too similar to the article at Wikitravel.

My original intentions for the CS Guide were to make it into an alternative of Wikitravel, not a lower-quality spin-off. But if this is the direction chosen for the CS Guide I suggest using a Creative Commons ShareAlike Attribution license for the entire wiki (or at least for the Guide) instead waiting for legal action.

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? ;-)

Jim Stone on the CouchSurfing Wiki

I just found this gem of a quote from Jim Stone on Wikis:

The Wiki is meant for EVERYONE to edit and not a place where permission is needed. I loved this kind of info and was glad to see more discussion about what needs to be understood by more people and then actually seeing it going somewhere. The Wiki is the end-all destination but it certainly is a step in the right direction.