Click on a question to see the response. [Show / Hide all responses]
References are one of Couchsurfing's key safety features. They are feedback you write that appears on other people's profile that describes the interaction you have had with them. References are for the benefit of other members: in a reference, you communicate information about a member to rest of the Couchsurfing community. Other people can read this information and make an informed decision about who they wish to host, surf with, or meet.
You can write a reference whenever you have learned something about a Couchsurfer that will be informative to the community. Were they a tidy guest? A great storyteller? A thoughtful host?
Please do not leave references for people if you don't yet have useful information to share with the community. If you met a member only briefly, have only spoken online, or know the person in a very unique way (such as a family member), consider first whether what you write will be helpful to other members in their decision-making process.
Finally, remember that references are for sharing information with the community, not for making contact with the member you are leaving the reference for.
There are three types of references: positive, neutral, and negative. Each Couchsurfer must use their own discretion to decide which category of reference they'd like to leave.
The most important thing to remember is that your reference should be clear, descriptive, and informative to the community. Here are some ideas for topics that are of interest to other Couchsurfers:
Just like the other Couchsurfing safety features, a negative reference is information that members can use to help make an informed decision. It's up to you to evaluate the information and decide how important you feel it is for your decision. A negative reference isn't a simple sign that a member is not a good Couchsurfer -- it's information about a specific situation that should be evaluated carefully.
Context is very important to evaluating the information. If the surfer and the host both left references for each other, do they share the same opinion about the experience? Do they describe the same events? Could the disagreement have been a clash of culture or identity? Do you think that the behavior described would bother you if you met this person?
The vast majority of Couchsurfing experiences are positive. However, negative experiences do happen. Couchsurfing's vision is to bring together people with different perspectives and ideologies, which sometimes leads to disagreements. If at all possible, Couchsurfing encourages its members to evaluate negative encounters and see if any understanding can be reached.
In most situations, we encourage you to begin by contacting the other member privately to discuss the issue. Explain your perspective, listen to theirs, and work towards an understanding. By using clear and honest and empathetic communication, it may be possible to come to a resolution. Be open to the idea that subtle cultural or ideological differences could be the root of your disagreement. Who knows -- if you're able to discuss it and learn about the cause of the conflict, it may end up being a positive or neutral experience after all! We all prefer to learn about cultural differences through friendship, but sometimes even disputes can lead to understanding.
If you feel that the disagreement can't be worked out through discussion -- especially if you felt unsafe -- then leaving a negative reference is the next step. Think first about what you feel the community needs to know. Remember that information in a reference must be descriptive and relevant to a Couchsurfing experience. Do not use abusive or emotional language, and stick to a specific account of your experience. The reference that you leave will reflect on you as well as on the person you're writing about. It's helpful for other members to see that you've considered your opinion carefully and can present it in a level-headed way.
Finally, please remember that Couchsurfing supports the right of all members to tell their side of the story. Be prepared for the other member to leave you a reference describing their version of events. All members will be able to read both accounts and make their own informed judgment of the situation. By leaving an honest reference, you show the community that you care about safety and trust.
If you've gotten to know a friend better after you left them a reference, you can always go back and add more information! Find the reference either on your profile or theirs, and click the small link that says 'Edit.' You can also find the person on your friend list and click 'Update.'
You can also use this feature to delete a reference that you've left. Just set the experience to 'Neutral,' delete the text you've written, and save.
Please remember that editing a reference should not be used as a way of sending a message to another member! References are intended to be informative for the community, not a way of communicating between members.
Reference are almost never removed by Couchsurfing. Instead, when Couchsurfing considers a reference inappropriate, it will be temporarily hidden from view pending review. The member who left the reference will have the option to update it to meet Couchsurfing's reference guidelines. Once it meets these guidelines, the updated reference will be redisplayed.
References are considered inappropriate by Couchsurfing if they:
In very rare circumstances, a reference will be removed all together by Couchsurfing. Examples include:
If you've received a reference that you believe is inappropriate in one of the ways explained above, please contact us (when submitting your question, select the category 'Problem with another member' from the drop-down box).
References that are reported as inappropriate are reviewed by Couchsurfing's Member Disputes and Safety Team. This team is trained, objective, and neutral towards all parties involved in the situation. Unless the situation involves data from our system that can clearly prove one version of events, our team is not able to declare information true or false. Instead, it ensures that references are as fair as possible to both members involved. Couchsurfing retains the right to decide whether or not any reference is considered inappropriate.
Please note that you can only report inappropriate references left on your own profile.
For more information about how disputes are handled by the Member Disputes and Safety Team, please have a look at the Member Disputes FAQ.