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Archive for the 'networks' Category

Page 2 of 4 – 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.

Democracy in action

This weekend the BeVolunteer General Assembly took place in Essen, Germany. Congratulations to the BV volunteers for their diligent efforts toward establishing the principles of openness, fairness and democracy in the hospitality community. The minutes of the Assembly are available here.

Special congratulations to Thomas Goorden for his election to the BV Board of Directors. I was very gratified to have a voice in this democratic process, and happily voted for Thomas.

Among the accomplishments of the assembly was a new wiki page highlighting the differences between BW/BV and other Hospex networks. It’s worth checking out here.

Trust decreasing among CouchSurfers?

Trust metrics are techniques for predicting how much a certain user can be trusted by the other users.CouchSurfing doesn’t really have a prediction mechanism, but trust values are registered for every friendship link.

I never thought the denominators for the trust value made a lot of sense for the friendship links on CS (especially when translated, I don’t really know how to best translate “I somewhat trust this person” into my mother tongue). Still, there seems to be a definite trend of linearly (in time) decreasing trust on the Quality of Service page. It would be interesting to compare this to values from before and do a deeper analysis. The “average quality” doesn’t seem to be changing significantly on the other hand, maybe slightly going up? Possibly because it’s actually visible to the receiver.

Joe Edelman wrote the QoS code, and wrote to me:

Wow, that *is* interesting!

So the avg trust is calculated among introductions added in the last
week that are reported as due to CS and in-person. So it’s not because
of virtual users, and it’s not because CS is accelerating and includes
less pre-existing friends.

The only confounding factor I can think of, is that it doesn’t take the
“date you met this person” field into account — a lot of people don’t
fill it out, or don’t fill it out correctly. So it includes
introductions that are finally being reported from the past, as well as
those that actually occurred that week.

We could be seeing an ever-greater percentage of weirdos from the past.
You know, those random people that blew through a collective, and much
later are friending everyone. And the people they are friending hardly
remember them and so don’t trust them. This would be a result of social
graph “fill-in”, perhaps as a kind of recoil from expansion last summer.

Or, perhaps it’s an accurate result, and as CS grows, people that meet
find they have less in common, since CS includes more demographics.

In that case, it could be interpretted as a *positive* result: perhaps
the ideal would be to take people who DON’T trust each other INITIALLY,
and give them POSITIVE EXPERIENCES such that later they DO trust each
other, or they start to trust other people from a new demographic MORE.

Let’s just hope this trend does not continue. If it would, the average trust would be zero by the end of 2010.

In the meanwhile, some active work can be done on designing and implementing a trust system from scratch on BeWelcome.

The data:

year   week introductions users  quality  trust

2008    16         6625   3890    1.526   0.370

2008    15        14238   7345    1.506   0.377

2008    14        14818   7591    1.490   0.379

2008    13        16520   8201    1.527   0.388

2008    12        13895   6952    1.500   0.387

2008    11        12252   6291    1.479   0.379

2008    10        12303   6490    1.493   0.392

2008    09        12796   6482    1.480   0.382

2008    08        11336   5875    1.483   0.376

2008    07        12484   6408    1.486   0.391

2008    06        11778   6215    1.469   0.409

2008    05        11201   5945    1.453   0.406

2008    04        10570   5998    1.479   0.415

2008    03        10757   5983    1.489   0.410

2008    02         9560   4872    1.503   0.410

2008    01        13972   6425    1.484   0.417

2007    52         7749   4279    1.476   0.414

2007    51         9332   5118    1.467   0.421

2007    50        10975   5500    1.480   0.422

2007    49        10309   5632    1.454   0.415

2007    48        10664   5500    1.454   0.413

2007    47        10335   5734    1.487   0.425

2007    46        10835   5762    1.492   0.429

She’s knocking on your door!

She’s the one that moves me! She is the one that takes me where I want to be! SHE found a church to share thoughts on sustainable hospitality exchange. The space SHE found is just awesome, it provides over 100 chairs, 7 tables, space for plenary sessions, space for workshops, space for art-exhibitions, a bar we can organise ourselves and… four toilets! She moves me alright!

SHE is a conference on Sustainable Hospitality Exchange that takes place during the last weekend of June. It will be based in the center of Amsterdam on a very accessible location. The place is an old and big squat that was recently bought and renovated by the residents. The financial cost for use is 500-750 euro.

She takes me to the place where I long to be! She moves me, does she move you yet? She moves me, yeah, she moves alright, she gonna move me yeah, alright! Check her out at wiki-space and contribute!

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!

Hospitality Exchange Communities and real-life campaigns

This document is created because the discussion about the relation between HospExchNetw and the real-live comes more and more into the focus. The question “So how can we reach the 5 billion people that have no computer?” rose in a discussion on the BeWelcome Forum and a post on the the Open Couchsurfing Blog with the title: “Is travelling noble? Or: “The Emperor´s New Clothers”. The replies/comments to this thread/post motivated me to publish this approach.This document is a proposal for the second General Assemly of BeVolunteer in 2008.

It does only raise one idea of how Hospitality Exchange Networks, in this case BeWelcome, could take a step into the real world. It s not intended to be the only way/step but one of plenty. It brings up reasons why BeVolunteer should be a part of The Other Campaign which is based on the Sexta Declaracion de la Selva Lacandona of the EZLN.

I m posting this on the OpenCouchsurfing Blog because most of the reasons I bring up here could be applied to Couchsurfing as well.

What is the Other Campaign?

The goal of the The Other Campaign is to create a diverse, plural and multiple world-wide network of subjects of social rebellion. The mission of the Network is the creation of another way of organizing our entire world – without exploitation, unequally, oppression or discrimination. It is explicitly anti-capitalistic and anti-systemic. Invited for participation in this network are: Truly left-wing parties without an official register of members, social movements, collectives, cultural groups, independent and critic media, civil organizations and Non Government Organizations. The organization of this network is fundamentally horizontally without any hierarchy or authorities. It refuses all uni-personal leadership. It encourages all members to take there own decisions and use there talents in their own way. The lax network refuse from the beginning all tendencies of homogenization or uniformity. It is intended to be a Network of help, solidarity and mobilization of all the members. This network should be able to create alternative ways of social communication. This is the point where BeVolunteer comes into the game. [1]

Why does BeVolunteer/BeWelcome fit in this description of participants of the other campaign?

The members of BeWelcome and all our Volunteers are creating an alternative way of bringing people together. We offer hospitality, and soon other things like bikes or books to share, without expecting money for it.

Lots of Volunteers working voluntarily for our common dream. It would actually violate statutes of BeVolunteer if any volunteer would receive money for his work. Voluntary work does not fit in the capitalist logic. In the pure capitalism you exchange your work force for other goods or money.
The organization BeVolunteer is a Non Profit Organization. An organization in the capitalistic way has to make profit to be competable with other concurrents.
BeWelcome is not a competitor to other networks. BeWelcome is more likely another option for people who care about democratic way of organizing an organization. (at least thats what I believe)

The members of BeVolunteer have all the power. This makes us, like the the other Campaign slower, weaker and lower but like this we guarantee that BeVolunteer is really driven by its members. The Board of Directors is based on annual elections and the members of BeVolunteer or lets say the General Assembly is the highest power. We refuse uni-personal leadership. Each year there are elections of the Board of Directors who are representing the members of BeVolunteer and managing the daily issues.

One of our goals is the intercultural exchange with people from all over the world. Thanks to that our members are aware of the consequences of the neoliberalistic policy in the world. We meet face to face with people who are suffering in the current system. We are desperate for a high plurality within our members to increase the possibilities of our members to really enter in a intercultural experience. One objective of the Other Campaign is to bring the political discussion into daily life. Democracy is not done with going to vote each 4,5 or 6 years not even with a vote every year at the GA of BeVolunteer. Everyday there are decisions to take. It s not always necessary to organize a huge congress or a manifestation to get people together for a discussion or for protest. That can happen everyday in the decentralized network of BeWelcome.

To be Part of the Other Campaign BeVolunteer has to subscribe the Sixth Declaration of the Selva Lancandonan. I don t know yet how you sign this declaratio but thats just a formality. The question right now is if BeWelcome/BeVolunteer or any other Networj wants to take this step into real life political campaigns or not.

[1] Carlos Antonio Aguirre Rojas, Chiapas, Planeta Tierra, Mexico 2006, S.165ff

PS: I hope it s readable – the Spell Check didn t work …

Actually, do HospEx Networks really facilitate ‘Intercultural Understanding’ successfully?

As it seems interesting to set the things here in a wider frame (see, a.o., “Is travelling noble? Or: “The Emperor’s New Clorths” by PickWick), and some thoughts around this theme come up a couple of times recently (e.g. we vs. them), I would like to continue with this and publish more thoughts in this direction. I hope that this post is appreciated and will, hopefully, function as an opening to an interesting discussion and to new insights. And maybe even more people do so in future. Those lines have been first published, by me, on the HospEx Ne>>t Wiki under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.





Prejudice and Discrimination will always be with us.’
Hospitality Exchange Travel Networks a respond to this?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)


After a short introduction to Hospitality Exchange Networks, prejudice and discrimination and their relationship to each other, this essay will examine two widely known psychological theories that can be relevant in the reduction of prejudice. At the end, the relevance to Hospitality Exchange Networks will be evaluated.


Read the whole essay on HospEx Ne>>t Wiki.




Interesting Further Reading

Hospitality Club: Violent Communication

I’ve been a member of Hospitality Club since April 2004. I had over 100 positive comments and left about the same number of comments. Then I received this, out of the blue, after not even having logged in for about a month:

Hospitality Club: termination of your membership

Hello grappig,

you seriously abused our rules as outlined on, therefore we had to terminate your membership to protect other members and our network.


the Hospitality Club Abuse Team

The Hospitality Club
… bringing people together!

Rock on Veit!

What’s happening in the other networks


I just received a BeWelcome newsletter about what is happening there; main point was that they just had their first conference (where following my knowlegde everybody could participate, not only “approved people”, so if you want to go to the next one keep your eyes open for the dates). I’m not going to post the whole text here, but there were some interesting links in it that I’m pasting in at the end of this post. I want to point out that this is not supposed to be advertisement for BeWelcome, but an insight in other networks and more specifically a network claiming to be transparent and democratic.

I want to draw your attention to this line in their blog, which I found interesting (but make up your own mind!):

“We had 200 € in expenses, which covered all of the food and drinks for the entire weekend, except of course the party on Saturday night. The participants payed 9 € on average (2,2 € minimum, 11 € maximum), no BeVolunteer money was ever used. To put this in perspective, we could (theoretically) do 58 of these weekends with the money that Couchsurfing spends on their collectives and meetings in 3 months (as an example), without spending any of our donation money.”

As said, make up your own mind, here’s the links about the conference which were inside of the message:

(Sorry, I don’t know how to make the direct links on this site, you’ll have to copy-paste them) Update: Links have been added.

The video:

The blog:

The tech blog:

I hope nobody minds me writing this here; I think comparing the networks and their ideas is interesting for all of us. In my opinion the OCS site is not only about Couchsurfing, as the ideals of transparency and democracy (I dare to suggest all people writing here share those) are not about a specific network.

Nevertheless I want to draw special attention to Kaspar’s (in whose critical opinion about the conference I’m interested) stylish hat while he is “Couch-Surfing” (Couch-Relaxing? Being Welcomed on a Couch? Alright, I’m not funny..) in the video. ;)

All the best


10 reasons I use

On this day of celebration for some, I’d like to share with you 10 reasons why I continue to use

  1. I have and continue to meet wonderful, amazing people through CouchSurfing.
  2. CouchSurfing has more members than BeWelcome.
  3. My messages or profile updates are not held for manual approval on CouchSurfing, unlike Hospitality Club.
  4. I can arrive in a new city and be confident there will be some local CouchSurfers to show me round, potentially host me, and so on. I don’t have that confidence with other sites.
  5. Generally, the system works. It has downtime, I would describe it as unreliable, but overall, it works at least 90% of the time for me.
  6. In most major cities, there is an active CouchSurfing group. The groups are a great resource for meeting locals, finding events, and getting to know a city.
  7. Likewise, in most major cities there are regular CS meetings which are generally filled with interesting people. I find the meets a great place to meet locals in new cities, more so than individual emails.
  8. I have built up a reputation and profile on CouchSurfing, it will take time to establish that profile elsewhere, and there are currently no easy means to do that.
  9. I, occasionally, use the related to feature, which shows how you’re connected to other people on the site. (If we could search based on that, it would be a major bonus).
  10. Finally, I continue to use CouchSurfing because it’s become a habit. Habits are notoriously tough to break.

I wanted to share this list to remind people that OpenCouchSurfing is not full of CS haters. In fact, many of the most active openCS supporters are very active CouchSurfers.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a very merry Christmas, if not, have a wonderful day.