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FYI : Ambassador and Community Builder News
Posted January 18th, 2012 - 9:54 pm by from Gifu, Japan (Permalink)
I was told I'm able to repost this information here.

Ambassador and Community Builder News
January, 2012

Letter from Casey
Recap: The last few months in website updates

Dear Ambassadors and Community Builders,

I bet you've been wondering where on earth I and the newsletter have been. It's been a super interesting autumn for CouchSurfing. Between switching to being a B Corp and launching a whole bunch of new exciting features, there's been a lot going on. So why haven't you been getting updates? Unfortunately, with perfect timing, our email tool broke about 2 months ago.

I'm so sorry about this! It's been frustrating not being able to share any information with you with everything that's been happening. Emailing systems are pretty complex, and the engineers had a lot of work to do to get it running again. It's still not totally done. I've got my fingers crossed that really soon it'll be back to normal, but for now at least they are helping me send this message.

The positive thing to come of this is that the communications team and I have been talking about how to keep all of you more in the loop. We decided that while I should still my letters via email from time to time, that's not really enough.

So the communications team is launching a new blog for Ambassadors and Community Builders, to get you more information, more regularly: http://couchsurfinghq.posterous.com/

If you create a Posterous account (it's free!), you can easily sign up to receive notifications when new posts go up, so that you can continue to read in your email if you prefer.

I think it'll be a great place for all of you to get way more updates, as well as a place to comment and share your ideas with one another.

Thanks for your patience these last few months; I can imagine it was frustrating not to know what's been going on. Hopefully with the new blog, that never needs to happen again!


Casey Fenton
Recap: The last few months in website updates

Many members have been asking us what the value of Activities is. We already have an events system, so why add this new feature?

Simply put, there are a lot of cool new things that we want to add that make it simpler for people to organize and attend meet ups. The events system is old enough that it made more sense, from a tech perspective, to create something new rather than update what we had.

What's good about Activities?

Activities can be anything, no matter how simple. Many members thought of events as only being very organized meet ups with lots of attendees. With our new system, we're hoping to make it clear that it's also OK for CouchSurfers to post quick, less structured types of get togethers.
Better visibility. Nearby Activities show on all CouchSurfers' dashboards, and the Activities search is built into the main CouchSearch page.

Easier to create. Creating an event means filling in a long form, including information that may not apply to every event. Activities give you just one area to include all the information that you like — and none that you don't.
Discussion between attendees. Anyone can post updates or questions right on the Activity page, so that creating a separate group post for conversation isn't necessary.

Quickly message any attendee. You can easily send a message to anyone who is attending the same event as you.

A better designed system for future improvements. From an engineering perspective, Activities are better structured than Events, which will allow us to continue to add new features and functionality, such as mobile.

What are your thoughts? Are there any features from the events system that you just can't live without? Are there things that neither system haves that you'd love to see? Contact us (choose the category "Ambassador") and let us know!
Member Dashboard

The new redesign is cleaner, with easier access to the information you need. The Surf Report lists all of your upcoming hosts, surfers, and activities. You also see a list of activities happening near you.

The search bar allows you to find people or activities quickly.

Coming soon, the dashboard will also include your messages, new posts in your groups, and other useful things.
Open CouchRequests

It's now possible for CouchSurfers who are looking for a host to post an open CouchRequest.

This feature was created by one of CouchSurfing's developers, Hector, who is an active host living in Istanbul. That city is one of the most popular places for CouchSurfing, and he was finding himself overwhelmed by CouchRequests. He began to think: what if hosts had a little bit more control over who and when they hosted? When you know that you'll be able to host next weekend, and you set your couch status to yes, you might receive requests for tomorrow, or for May. So he set out to create a system that would allow hosts to be the ones to reach out to the surfers, instead of passively waiting to be contacted.

Here's how it works: as a surfer, when you are planning a trip, you can go into the CouchRequest section of the site and create an itinerary.

Then, as a host, you can search for people who need a place to stay.

There are still updates to be made to the system: we're currently working on ideas to push surfers towards writing better, more interesting open CouchRequests. But as hosts who are also pretty busy, we're really glad to have more control over when and who we host. What do you think?