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Archive for the 'networks' Category

Hospitality Club and Airbnb Partnership

Veit, the hospitality club founder, comes with a nice surprise: using Airbnb to generate money for himself.

Hospitality Club and Airbnb have partnered to support one another in our shared vision to bring people together. We are very excited about this partnership since it allows us as a community to further spread the idea of hospitality exchange and at the same time raise much-needed funds by doing something we love anyway – hosting!


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

Is CouchSurfing sustainable???

Hello guys!

There is a concept that twirls in my mind since some months: the SUSTAINABILITY of CS and other hospitality exchange communities.

I thought about that again because I saw some profiles stating that they are hosting people because they like to do an anarchist action, against hotels and capitalistic economy/consumerism.

I generally agree, in my point of view food should come from Nature (that doesn’t know what to do with those papers we call “money”) and not from the supermarket, shelter and Home when we are not in out town should theoretically come from networks of friends and not from business activities who provide this for money.
The same for medical services, care, massage, friendly advice,  … all these things strictly connected with the life of a Human are, in my opinion, much better if they come without involvement of dirty money.

But, money is one thing, SUSTAINABILITY is another.

So far hotels and hostels were a economical model that worked well for centuries, not just because there is money involved, but also because there is something in exchange, and this makes it sustainable.

I tell you how: the exchange (in this case services/money) makes a market between offers and request and the presence of a market guarantees that no one of the parts involved got taken advantage of.

The same we can’t unfortunately say in CS and in the other hospex communities!
Did you ever feel “used” as a host?
Did you ever see that if you host too much you don’t have time for your own life?

Yes, sustainability is mostly a problem when hosting.
As a guest, you can travel for several years passing from one city to another, from one host to another, without ever using ho(s)tels at all, without any big problem.
Try to do the same as a host, to have guests every single day!

We can’t deny that the guest is the party in the host-guest relationship who gets more immediate benefit. I am not just talking of free accommodation but also of a more generic concept as everything is actioned by the guest, the request, the dates…
The host (mostly) can just accept or deny. If he accepts, he promises to provide accommodation, infos, care, shelter, Home…. to the guest, when the guest needed it.

There are of course lots of intrinsic costs in having guests, let’s say:
- more cleaning of the house, floors, kitchen and bathroom especially
- cleaning of bedsheets, etc..
- more consumption of electricity, water, gas etc..
- tea, coffee, food to offer..
- personal time and attention
- changing of plans sometimes to adapt to the guest’s schedule (late or early arrivals, ..)
- expenses to go out (bars, food, clubs, transport) while you wouldn’t have stayed home if you didn’t have guests
- time to reply to emails and requests, time to get to know more potential guests on IM, …
- cost of phone calls and text messages to keep in touch with the guest
- risk of problems with guests who take things with them, don’t give back keys, leave a mess, …

(Guest would have also some costs in terms of time and money, but they are directly connected with his travel, that’s the reason why he is there and he is meeting up the host, instead for the host they are connected to the guest’s travel!)

If you think well, on the host part there are really many costs in terms of money and time.
And of course of personal freedom!
What if when I am out with my guest I meet a guy/girl that I would like to take back home, especially if I don’t have a separate room for guests?
What if I change my plans during the day but I don’t have spare keys for the guest (or I don’t want to give him/her)?

People are active as hosts because they have the opportunity to meet cool people.
Mmmh… that doesn’t convince me!
Actually this “benefit” is of both parties, host and guest, isn’t it?

There are situations in life when something is valuable or not just because of the market, the exchange between offer and request. (I don’t think we should support these artifacts…)

Like the cultures where guys always pay when they invite out a girl for dinner.
Shouldn’t be the pleasure to go out together mutual?
Or people who pay for sex… should we tell them that it’s normal to do that for free, just for mutual pleasure?

Anyhow, going back to hospex, the benefit to meet a new cool person should be mutual, so why the host has to sustain more costs in terms of time and money?

I think that a normal person with a full life, work/study, friends, boy/girlfriend/husband/wife, doing some sports and hobbies, maybe volunteering, … can’t find time for hosting people.
Of course, the same person, when traveling, is free from work and many of these things of his normal life, so he has way more time to dedicate to talk with his CS host, meetup with him and his friends, … so he would be a terrific guest but a bad host!

Now I understand why the most active CS in my area says “don’t worry, I have a lot of free time, nobody waits me at home, just 3 cats…”

That’s why CS hosts are more single than in a couple.
That’s why the cool people I know very rarely would have guests.

And what, hosts are losers and guests are cool dudes traveling the world spicing up the life of those poor losers? :) ) Is this how things work, on a large scale?

And what about those members who joined CS just before a big trip, mostly to save money in accommodation, they payed without problem the verification because it was a little money compared to all the money potentially saved in hotels, they never hosted anyone when at home and they are not planning to host people when back home, despite how great was their experience as guest, usually they arrive to the host place empty handed, they care just of the free couch and maybe other free benefits, they behave very politely till the last night of their stay and after they show their real being, of course they don’t even think for a moment to become friends with their host and to keep in touch… Are these members SUSTAINABLE for the community?

That’s where I think come those ideas of points, karmas, etc… things to see if you are a good member that gives benefit to the worldwide community or just a member who is taking advantage of the community for your own benefit.

Nowadays is cool to talk about externalization of costs. It’s when you don’t pay for all the costs that incurs in your life, your activity, your production, but there is someone else that pays for that, usually not being asked to. It refers usually to industries, the client buys the products for so cheap that all the costs for quality prime materials, the energies consumes, the fair salaries, the correct disposal of wastes, are evidently not included in the price but all the society tips in for us to have a cheap industrial product (see
In this model, don’t you think that being guest is somehow externalizing the cost of living?

Somebody else is going to pay our bills, we don’t have to think about it.
It’s like living all life at parent’s place, never being an independent self sustaining individual.

Have you ever saw those travelers who are traveling since years without stop and they even dare to tell you, who are working to make this society works, that they are living on 200 $ a month or less?
Of course, because they are externalizing the costs, they are using water, energy, food, resources, space, … that they are not paying for.

Yes, living permanently CouchSurfing is cheaper that living at your own home!

And what I really don’t like is that now there is people who plan travels just counting the transfer costs, souvenirs and eating out/bars but they don’t take into account accommodation.

The effect of CouchSurfing and other hospex community on these people is very bad, it gives them a fake feeling of confidence in finding a couch everywhere, but maybe getting in unpleasant situations because they don’t have second options, as they don’t even have money for a hostel (see here for more details:

How can I explain to some students who are doing their best to pay the rent and share bills, that they have to host someone for few days who will use the place and the utilities but won’t contribute?
Oh yes, it will be few days, just few days, not a big deal…. a pity that after there can/will be an other guest and so on…

If it sustainable, it is sustainable is a small or big scale. If it’s not, it’s not.

I heard also of some other kind of agreements for accommodation, that sound a bit more fair to me.

One is called COOKSURFING, I come with food at your place, I cook for you, you let me stay overnight. Sounds more fair for me, even if usually the host feels offering something too and maybe ends up spending more money because of the guests.

An other is the old good AU PAIR. You come and help me some hours a day with the home/babies, you have some hours free to visit the city or whatever you like, I offer you food and accommodation and sometimes some pocket money.

But there is more. Have you ever heard of those hostels where you can stay some days longer if you work in cleaning and making beds?

Also in the CouchSurfing world there were some hosts (especially in Japan) who asked some few bucks every day to contribute to the bills and/or the rent. Very controversial topic, but I can’t honestly say that’s all wrong.

Now it’s time for you guys’ to say your opinions! I am really interested!

A good day!


Hospitality Club Dictatorship

Seriously, since the beginning this is one of my most important dogmas for the HC: no official structure for decision taking. I will always discuss issues openly with the people involved and with knowledge to come to good decisions that are the best for the network. But the final decision will always be with me.

This excerpt is from an e-mail by Veit Kühne (dated, 19 Jan 2005) as an answer to a Hospitality Club volunteer discussion. It has now been published on Wikileaks. According to Wikileaks’ “Latest Leaks and Censored Media”, Hospitality Club founder Veit Kühne planned organizational dictatorship for life and the e-mail “describes his plans for the power structure of the club: a benevolent dictatorship for life”.

Three and a half years after writing this e-mail, Veit also publicly gave away his strategy for taking over BeWelcome, the democratic hospitality exchange network that was started as a result of Veit’s ignorance towards members and volunteers of Hospitality Club.

Read the full e-mail “HC democracy and strategy” at Wikileaks.

Development as SPOF

I’m wondering what happened with me that I am actually writing an article on Reason for this wondering is that I wish the users, AND OWNERS the best of


Unfortunately, this seems not to be the case. In my short time as System Administrator at Couchsurfing, I’ve seem it happening more than often that the website was suddenly down. In 99% of the cases there was a change in the code, causing the downtime of one part (or even worse: the whole website). The second cause was MySQL, which just is crappy with the setup of Couchsurfing. In this case, the NDA caused good people to leave.


Lately, I’ve heared more moaning of the website being suddenly down. From my place (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), nothing seems to be wrong. Until lately. My mailbox is lately flooded of the loadbalancers that Couchsurfing use, and are no longer accepting connections. With the processing-power that couchsurfing does have (more than 7 webservers *AT LEAST!*), several database-servers, I unfortunately must conclude that the only reason why couchsurfing currently *FAILS* is the IT-management team of couchsurfing, especially the development-team.


So, can we conclude that the development-team fails? Unfortunately, this question must be answered as a no. Unfortunately, because otherwise the Couchsurfing Corpganization would be able to ditch the programmers, and get new, well payed, other guys willing to work their asses off.
The problem is deeper: CS is build in a iterative way: once build by Casey, extended by several guys. Unfortunately, the CS-MT is unable to get a firm grasp at the whole, is not willing to make it open-source, and is not able to program it the right way.


Even worse, the management has desided that *THE WAY* to program couchsurfing is to have several programmers in several timezones, programming at different (or the same?) things at the same time. In development-land (for what I have heard), a socalled OTAP-Street (Ontwikkeling, Testen, Acceptatie, Productie), meaning a line of Development, Testing, Acceptation and production, is *THE* way to develop things. I must say that I have said this several times to Casey and Weston and they claimed “it was to difficult”. With that decision they also chose a method that gave the following results:

Downtime May 5th 2009Now, would this above error be there when a decent method of development had been chosen? I sincerely doubt it.


This makes me conclude that Couchsurfing is *DEAD*. Yes, indeed, I must say this with pain in my heart, the current way CS works (ignoring willing programmers, DBA’s etc) is not the way CS will reach the 2 million people (?) they wish to reach. I sincerely hope that will not have the same problem.


Walter said it right: 1 million (?) people can’t be ignored. From my stance, we will have a favour of people applying for our couch via BeWelcome. I must conclude that my eyes are (unfortunately) opened. And that my English is worse than that I have hoped :)

Some feedback on HC via comic – laugh will cure us all

When one takes a look on HC/BW/CS from a distance, it can result in one’s smile: so many battles have already happened between these ideological networks – networks with pretty much the same goals. Most of my hospex communication went through HC, I know it, grew up with it – so this comic (click on a picture below) is mostly about HC. One can find it critical, but for me this is just…  mostly some ironical notes about common issues one has to take into consideration when working within any of these networks. Enjoy it, and please give me a feedback!

(part III)

Death of Hospitality Club

You could pretty much figure out by Veit’s unguided flame against BeWelcome last year, that his income through adds on Hospitality Club was already dropping. But now it appears that there are hardly any volunteers left at HC: these days it takes more than 4 months to get your profile approved after you sign up to become a new member. Nice one if you plan to travel the next day and just found out about hospitality exchange.

Greetings new member. We have just accepted you as a new member of Veit’s Club. It took us more than 4 months to have you approved but finally you (if you still remember us?) can connect with Hostility Club, one of the most friendly clubs on the internet and in the real world. – Slighly adapted welcome message that new members receive.

It might be sad to see Hospitality Club, the first online hospitality exchange service that we shared but also the one that is well known for its censorship-issues, ceased to exist beyond a plane website. But such is life if the so-called leaders simply don’t respect their members and volunteers.

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?

Future of Hospex in Couple Wang’s eyes

Future of Hospex in Couple Wang’s eys

What would you like to see the future of Hospitality Exchange Network ?

Scenerio 1.
CS have a lion’s share,say take 70% market
BW,HC,GF,SERVAS, and others have the rest 30%
CS do what ever they want
members without verifed and donation can’t
a. see the whole group members,(you want to do something else beside couchsurfing eh)
b. have unlimited email
c. have unimited search

Scenrio 2
Casey Fenton act as Frederik Willem de Klerk, give out some his power, and CS become ‘user/volunteers/members-driven’ organisation.

and everything is transparent
CS take 45% market share
BW,HC,GF,SERVAS, consolidated take 45% market share
the rest take 10% market share

Scenrio 3
CS take 30% market share
BW,HC consolidated take 30% market share
GF,SERVAS, consolidated take 30% market share
the rest take 10% market share

if you like to see the Scenrio 2, 3 let me know, and tell me how much you need to develope a website like CS,
2. convert some Xinger to Hcer
Xing have 6 million member now, 30% are freelancer, if we can convert 30% Xing freelcaner to Hcer, blah blah….
there should no conflict of interest,
some of 70% biz Xinger will use best offfer

70% of the 30% freelacne will user their own network, friends, realtives.
3. bring/match elderly/physically-challenged and EMIGRANT, Working holiday visa holder, Students from the Second/Third World to small/medium cities

for time being, my suggestions are
1.Set “ net watch” with you friends, if you find someone profile deleted,
please record and repor at
Member’s profile issue(deleted, missing,dead etc) forum;id=244416

Thailand ,
Alaska(Participant list gone, I saw once,but unfortuneately not saved you can find some clue here
and SF Boot camp participant list,
and tell us how many Americans and White male there.

No later than Apr 2009, CS will reach it 1 million members
what you would like to see
A .CS 1 million members celebration
I created on Sep 22, 2008

B. CS is the only hospex website reach a million member historical with volunteesr(“treat your volunteers as shit”)

Casey sell CS
or start treat members differently , see Scenerio 1
Is Casey qualifed to be a House of Representatives that time?
and what Veit will think?

If you like Scenerio 2, 3 happen, let me know
I can be reached at

Internet belong to everybody, but no body can control it
the only 2 ways on Internet are
1. justice,transparent
2. if do something wrong, apologize and correct immidiatedly
But, Casey and CS would like to demonstrate the third way like delete members profiles without warning, and dare to delete my wife’s(onlinezhao),
ok, dude, let see what will happen then

this article I am going to send on Oct 31 in newsletter
I will be appeciate If you can polish my English and send back to me
stay tuned.


couple wang

History replaying in;id=14603632;articleid=14603632#14603632

“It has to be made clear that all power eventually resides with Casey, and none other. It has to be made clear that volunteering and donating money are most welcome, but don’t entitle you to any influence, irrespective of one’s importance for the organisation.”;id=14603624

“If you don’t want democracy, you can’t build on volunteers, and you must run the organisation as a business, non-profit or not. You need to have a business plan that says where money is going, and coming from. You have to pay for most labour, and create the necessary revenue by either charging for services, or by using the worth of the community to get commercial sponsors, who expect to profit from members. You may still have some volunteers, or internships, or other low or unpaid labour, but you can’t expect highly qualified work to be done by two people sitting next to each other, where one is paid a market wage, and the other nothing.”

“this group of coordinators would be part of a structure that is organised bottom-up, in a way that the group of coordinators (not leaders!) would be rotating every 1 or 2 years, where no-one can tell others what to do, where there is no such thing as “diplomatic” internal politics (“if you say something I don’t like, I consider that as flaming and you’re out of the group”)

“Although incorporated as a not-for-profit, CouchSurfing International inc. is not a charitable organisation. Not-for-profit status only means that the company cannot pay dividend to its owners (i.e. Casey); the company and its assets still are his, and his alone. Casey can do with it whatever he wants, whenever he wants it”

Project “Reuniting the Community”

A lot of the stuff BW is based on (money, texts, layout – see above) was taken away from HC and HC volunteers who worked on it for a long time without their permission. We will try to bring this stuff home and reunite the community. Since BW advertises having a “democratic” setup we will happily work together with them using this framework for the best of the community in our reunification efforts. And you can help us! Here’s how Project “Reuniting the Community” works:

Texts and code are copied, not taken away.    And above all, they should be copied if people want to copy them.
Money can’t be taken away from a non-existing organization.
I love the idea of reuniting the Community.

Phase 1: Right now, we are encouraging active HC volunteers to join BeVolunteer as “members”. BV currently has 45 members (see the irony of calling a network run by 45 people “democratic”?), a few of them are absolutely dedicated to HC. You have to jump through a few loops to be accepted by their “Board of directors” as a member, but the fun should be worth it. Basically, you just have to be an “active volunteer”, so just edit around the wiki a bit, join some of the many many discussions in their Forums, or translate a few sentences. Once you are a member, just let us know. We will reimburse you for any “membership fees” you have to pay to BV once the project has succeeded.

There are no membership fees, not even to become a member of the BoD.
Democracy is not a black and white question, but to me it’s a network ran by a single person is the least ideal form (i.e. HC).

Phase 2: We will make sure that HC-friendly people are elected to BV’s “Board of Directors” – the 9 people running the show (kind of interesting model of democracy). They could start making sure that links back to HC are added, and BW as organization stops its aggressive attacks on HC.

People’s profiles (like mine) are deleted for links from HC to BW…

Phase 3: The final step will be to reintegrate BW into HC, a simple “General Assembly” decision will be enough for that. Since both will be based on open-source software then, it won’t be too big of a problem. We might even continue to use their officially registered French NGO as the HC-NGO in France. And all will be good :-)
Sounds like fun? Then help us, or get in touch if you need more info and encouragement!

Great, finally an official organization for Hospitality Club!

See for a 1 page overview of the issues with HC.