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Archive for the 'Leadership Circle' Category

A plan for dramitic change and its already started.

Hi people.

I have not come here to talk about CS history and its negativity, this site stands as testimony to that and needs little added to it. I have come here to talk about a plan for the future and its abundant potential positivity for the community. If you are interested in the community and finding solutions to the problems it faces, then this project is for you.

Most of us are naturally positive, altruistic and open, it is our nature as humans. Many of us normally chilled people have become incensed and even outraged, at the state of the organisation at the heart of our community, its actions or lack of them and the dubious legal positions that leaves them and us in. This is a bad situation that we have all been painfully aware for far too long and that must change. Now is the time to make that change! Are you ready?

The plan is to create a new site and organisation (Couch Surfing Community org) that will initially supplement and CSI, filling their numerous gaps. Our belief, is that we have many times more resources, than is needed, within the community, to form a totally fresh organisation, owned and run by the community and for the community, open and accountable to the community. With the establishment of this additional organisation for the community, we expect it to grow and move forward, benefiting the community in countless positive ways, with the desired outcome of advancing way beyond CSI, making it mostly irrelevant or even taking it to the point of replacing CSI entirely.

The key is this plan is in its community ownership and community involvement. We are currently investigating how best to legally bind this project, it’s organisation, website(s), etc to the member base. (If you can assist with this then please get involved now) We feel that from this base we can build an organisation and website, that dose the community justice and facilitates the community to do the many good and positive things, that have long been desired.

A few of us techies have made a start. This is a quick and effective, off-the-shelf environment. It provides a free forum to collect, associate, focus, discuss and decide, the form of the project and the site it will create, the structure of the organisation and the projects it will work on.

We have successfully collectively collaborated to produce a great deal of talk on this site and elsewhere, this has taken a great deal of our time and energy. You are being asked now to spend a little time and energy to at least join this site and support the project and its mission, which you will shape. If you still have any passion for the community or a subset of it or even individual members, who have enriched your life, please join

If you have any skills or knowledge that you would like to contribute to this project then please email us

We are currently particularly looking for legal and organisational skills and knowledge to prevent the same legal and organisational bungles that the original bunch of techies made. Contributions made now to a successful project will probably be the most beneficial act you will ever make to help and support the cs community.

We are also calling on the wealth of technical skill out there, we know that there are numerous highly skilled individuals in our community, who have excellent skills and or ideas. If you are one of them and have a desire to help CSC move on from this technical and organisational hell, then please spare a few moment to join this project and any groups that take your fancy. There is a fair amount of work to do, building a new site and making the temporary site more useful, your community needs you now! Join Now! If you would like a free linux or windows server and sub domain for your country/city to get a local tech group going and work directly for your local community, as well as for the global one, then contact us, with a phone number and we can get you going in minutes.

Legal, organisational and technical are not the only skills we need. Communication is an important part of any endeavor. As the current members are techies, who are not built to produce nice texts, we could do with a copy editor or two. If you have a passion for communicating and CS then again please email us

If you are willing to actively contribute to any area of this project, then please email us directly Large and small contributions are all valid. Even if you only have a little time to spare, you contribution will still be valuable.

I’m known for using music to reinforce my posts. On this occasion i feel that there is only one song needed for this project…
Bob Marley – Rastaman Vibration(Positive Vibration)


Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors

Last night I was skimming through a book about fundraising. I was surprised to see that members of the Board of Directors are tacitly supposed to give to the charity. So I googled a bit and found this Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors (courtesy of Greater Twin Cities United Way).

It’s hard to assess in how far the CouchSurfing Board is meeting these requirements, apart from 4 (recommended) and 15 (essential): all 5 members of the board have American citizenship, are living in California, are in their thirties, there is one female member and 3 out of 5 are receiving a salary.

Most of the other points don’t seem to be available for public scrutiny (at this point it’s even unclear to me if there are any bylaws).  It would be nice if there were a bit more clarity about this charity.

Indicator Met Needs
E 1. The roles of the Board and the Executive Director are defined and respected, with the Executive Director delegated as the manager of the organization’s operations and the board focused on policy and planning
R 2. The Executive Director is recruited, selected, and employed by the Board of Directors. The board provide clearly written expectations and qualifications for the position, as well as reasonable compensation.
R 3. The Board of Directors acts a governing trustees of the organization on behalf of the community at large and contributors while carrying out the organization’s mission and goals. To fully meet this goal, the Board of Directors must actively participate in the planning process as outlined in planning sections of this checklist.
R 4. The board’s nominating process ensures that the board remains appropriately diverse with respect to gender, ethnicity, culture, economic status, disabilities, and skills and/or expertise. NO
E 5. The board members receive regular training and information about their responsibilities.
E 6. New board members are oriented to the organization, including the organization’s mission, bylaws, policies, and programs, as well as their roles and responsibilities as board members.
A 7. Board organization is documented with a description of the board and board committee responsibilities.
A 8. Each board has a board operations manual.
E 9. If the organization has any related party transactions between board members or their family, they are disclosed to the board of directors, the Internal Revenue Service and the auditor.
E 10. The organization has at least the minimum number of members on the Board of Directors as required by their bylaws or state statute.
R 11. If the organization has adopted bylaws, they conform to state statute and have been reviewed by legal counsel.
R 12. The bylaws should include: a) how and when notices for board meetings are made; b) how members are elected/appointed by the board; c) what the terms of office are for officers/members; d) how board members are rotated; e) how ineffective board members are removed from the board; f) a stated number of board members to make up a quorum which is required for all policy decisions.
R 13. The board of directors reviews the bylaws.
A 14. The board has a process for handling urgent matters between meetings.
E 15. Board members serve without payment unless the agency has a policy identifying reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses. NO
R 16. The organization maintains a conflict-of-interest policy and all board members and executive staff review and/or sign to acknowledge and comply with the policy.
R 17. The board has an annual calendar of meetings. The board also has an attendance policy such that a quorum of the organization’s board meets at least quarterly.
A 18. Meetings have written agendas and materials relating to significant decisions are given to the board in advance of the meeting.
A 19. The board has a written policy prohibiting employees and members of employees’ immediate families from serving as board chair or treasurer.
Indicators ratings: E=essential; R=recommended; A=additional to strengthen organizational activities

Couchsurfing Base Camp

“I live at the CouchSurfing Base Camp with 14 other people in the heart of downtown Berkeley. It’s close to lot’s of great food, shopping, entertainment, and student life. I’m still just learning about Berkeley myself. Base Camp is busy day and night as the home and office for much of CS’s full-time staff. It’s fun to see how CouchSurfing is run, but not a good place to hang out during the day”, says Matthew Brauer on his CS profile.

The base-camp was already announced in the latest post of the CS Alaska Collective. “Currently, our very talented scout, Pinkfish, who found our dream location in Pai, Thailand, as well as this amazing house in Homer, Alaska, is searching for a living and office space to house fifteen full-time volunteers and staff for the next 12 months in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.”

What a surprise to read though that the Base Camp is already there, while it was clearly communicated on August the 20th that “before we move in, we’ll post the available volunteer roles at Base Camp and at the next Collective that will most likely begin in November. Maybe one of these roles has your name on it!”

- No.

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).

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 !!

Managing Corporate Sponsorships

Why would CS need someone able “to raise funds of more than $100.000″? Why was Matthew looking for someone with “demonstrated success in negotiating and managing corporate sponsorships” to participate with the collective in Alaska?

The person who got the job, the new Fundraising Guru, wants “to engineer and implement a comprehensive, sustainable fundraising and PR strategy which will enable the CS team to maintain, develop and promote CS, and its services, well into the future, in the most economical and efficient way possible.” Uhm, will CS be sponsored by a travel company soon, or is it just a solo idea that came out of the hood of Matthew? Why would a CS fund-raiser need that specific skill-set?

Parrallels between CouchSurfing and Scientology

I’ve been reading a (one-sided) article on Scientology. It struck me that there are some similarities between the methods employed by L Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, and Casey Fenton, co-founder of CouchSurfing. This might sound a little far fetched. I’d urge you to read the article and consider the suggestion before making up your own mind.

Firstly, I don’t think CouchSurfing is nearly as dangerous / mind controlling / cultish as Scientology. I’m highlighting similarities, not suggesting they are the same.

For example, Jon Atack states that Scientology orders followers to “disconnect” from “Suppressive Persons”. Disconnect means to break all contact with a person. “Suppressive Persons” are anyone critical of Scientology or L Ron Hubbard. It seems like there is a similar practice going on at collectives. Members who speak publicly about CouchSurfing seem to go quiet very quickly.

Other similarities might include:

  • Very long working hours
  • Closely confined working conditions
  • Limited contact with the outside world
  • Attacking of anyone critical of the organisation or its “leader”

This ties into Thomas’s earlier post “Is the Couchsurfing collective a cult?”.

From Atack’s article, I then read about Deprogramming and Exit Counselling. It struck me that perhaps we could learn from these techniques in dealing with current CS “volunteers”. Just to be clear, I’m not proposing that we start kidnapping people!

I think it would be useful to learn from the practice of Exit Counselling. I think it would also be useful to learn about how to approach cult members to discuss their situation. I think these techniques could help greatly in dealing with core CouchSurfing “volunteers”.

This might sound like crazy talk. It seems logical to me, but I’d welcome any comments / criticism / feedback. I will do my best to ignore inflammatory comments or trolling.

Trust circles, reputation and the perception of trust.

Studying trust and perceived trust I came across this excerpt in the brainstorm group

the only reason i am waiting, is because i see certain things which these people are planning to do half done technically and i know how easily they can be undone by people who know how to buck the system…and we do know of people who are VERY GOOD at bucking the system

i hate cloak and dagger myself, and to be fair, the information has been liberally shared with all the people who were there in the meet over a phone call, so i do not really think it is only being given to a few privileged members….

but i do understand that some information on a forum like brainstorm might defeat the purpose…i myself am cagey about spelling out some of the stuff i would be involved in (when they are of the sensitive nature) on this forum as i know who are the people watching this group…

A couple of keywords caught my attention “Cloak and dagger” “Bucking the system”

What does bucking the system mean? And how does Cloak and dagger come into the couchsurfing equation.

Cloak and dagger is a term sometimes used to refer to situations involving espionage, mystery, or even assassination. The
phrase dates from the early 19th century.
cloak-and-dagger cloak-and-dagger – conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods; “clandestine intelligence operations”; “cloak-and-dagger activities behind enemy lines”; “hole-and-corner intrigue”; “secret missions”; “a secret agent”; “secret sales of arms”; “surreptitious mobilization of troops”; “an undercover investigation”; “underground resistance”
Some of reference I found about “Bucking the system“. So I am not sure what cryptic message where hidden in those words.

Bucking the system: Andrew Wilkie and the difficult task of the whistleblower

Buck the System, Cosby Tells Teachers — nytimes
I want you to realize who you are and stop these people from grading you until they grade the system,” he said. ”How can you teach if you have no books? The system ties their legs and says, ‘Run.’ It ties their arms and says, ‘Defend yourself.’ ”

The post was very interesting because of the trust matrices involved and a the different in the perception of trust on a global scale.

Effect of Culture, Medium, and Task on Trust Perception Qiping Zhang

Most of hypotheses were confirmed except that the interaction effect of culture and media on trust perception.
The results of higher level of trust perceived by Americans than by Chinese actually contradicted with our hypothesis.
The theory of nationality trust and social distance provide a possible explanation. In our study, AA pairs seemed more willing to treat each other as a temporary in-group member instead of a “real stranger”, while CC pairs seemed treating the partner as an out-group relationship due to lack of longterm relationship.

The ambassador system is placed on the two factors perceived trust and reputation .It is perceived and not real trust as you can see the scales fluctuating so wildly. People going from best friend to no friend to being deleted from the friends list. A trust metric is a technique for predicting how much a certain user can be trusted by the other users of the community.

But by the above interactions you can see the perception of trust.

A recent definition of trust has been put forth by Grandison and Sloman [Grandison and Sloman, 2000] who define trust as – the firm belief in the competence of an entity to act dependably, securely, and reliably within a specified context.

Related to trust is the concept of reputation. Abdul-Rehman and Hailes define reputation as an expectation about an individual’s behavior based on information about or observations of its past behavior

The cloak-and-daggercloak-and-dagger – conducted with or marked by hidden aims or methods; “clandestine intelligence operations“; “cloak-and-dagger activities behind enemy lines“; “hole-and-corner intrigue”; “secret missions”; “a secret agent”; “secret sales of arms”; “surreptitious mobilization of troops”; “an undercover investigation”; “underground resistance

Got me thinking on trying to see if Kerckhoff’s Principle can be applied to member safety and perceived trust.

The following article relate to cryptography and they have been used before by kasper to highlight security concerns. In the code. I feel these laws are universal and can be used to highlight global social networking trust perceptions as related to global member security.

Kerckhoff’s Principle states.
“a cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge”

The team moves on trust and this perceived trust fluctuates wildly as shown above. The weakest link needs to be located to gain trust.

Social engineering reloaded
Kevin Mitnick,in his book The Art of Deception, goes further to explain that people inherently want to be helpful and therefore are easily duped. They assume a level of trust in order to avoid conflict.

“anyone who thinks that security products alone offer true security is settling for the illusion of security.”

Risky business: Keeping security a secret —
If you depend on a secret for your security, what do you do when the secret is discovered? If it is easy to change, like a cryptographic key, you do so. If it’s hard to change, like a cryptographic system or an operating system, you’re stuck. You will be vulnerable until you invest the time and money to design another system.

How to use cryptography in computer security –
Myth 3: Secrecy is important for security.
The prevalence of this myth may be attributed to the historical confusion between keeping your data secret and keeping your security algorithms themselves secret. On the contrary, the only worthwhile insurance of security comes from having your algorithm published and well analyzed by as many cryptographers as possible. The principle that security should not rely on algorithms being secret has been well-established for over a century, and various pithy restatements of it are often cited:
“Security should reside only in the key” (Kerckhoff), “The enemy knows the system” (Shannon), and “Anyone can design a cryptosystem which he himself cannot break” (Schneier).’_principle

At this juncture, we need to move forward in one of two directions. One path that has been advocated by a number of researchers is to work toward increasing public trust in risk management. While it is much too soon to express either optimism or pessimism about the likely success of this strategy, it is a significantly challenging problem that at the moment appears to have no easy answers.

Now what we need to find out is, does it help making the system public knowledge .Or does it help having a system which is continuously leaking information due to the perception of trust.

Would a system be more secure with the system being public knowledge (only the system not the cases)?

A call for disclosure

I would like to warmly invite anyone who has copies of any of the CS mailing lists, or has access to any of the “closed” groups to publish these copies here, on this site.

I feel that it’s time we started to take direct action to open up these channels of communication. I’m not suggesting we publish the information on this blog, I don’t think it’s the correct vehicle. I’ve started a discussion on how we might publish this information on the Google Groups mailing list. Please join the conversation.

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