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Tony Espinoza (CEO) Discussion - Week 3
Posted March 26th, 2013 - 1:28 am from San Francisco, United States
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 7:18 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 9:21 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 4:30 pm from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 9:56 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 12:14 pm from Breda, Netherlands
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 12:23 pm from Managua, Nicaragua
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Posted March 26th, 2013 - 2:44 pm by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
It is good to see you took the time to answer all those questions. It is first time I read most of a very long post.

I know you will not discuss Justin and Don, but I do not think you can get rid of that suspicion they got deleted from being to outspoken about problems on CS. It is to difficult to see what should make them a safety problem to anything else than the cs-brand.

If there are 1 billions of travellers, there should be enough for both you and BW I think, so why see it as a threat? (Even if you only want the 200 millin young ones, there should be enough for both of you). You will get all the members that do not care about it being a company run by some businessmen, as long as it is good tools for getting around, meeting people and finding what you need for travelling in the world. BW will get the members that wants to join a site where members have the influence and no money interest are mixed up with the idea of travelling. Before cs had both kind of members, but when it changed to a company many people have no other choice than to move on to another place, because of values. And I think, when you have used this site for years, it is quite normal you want to have the people you know from here to also be part of your new community. Not necessarily to change, but to be members of both.

And even though you do not personally care about spirituality, do you have to call it bullshit? I think many people on cs are very involved in spiritual things.

Posted March 26th, 2013 - 5:00 pm from Riga, Latvia
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Posted March 27th, 2013 - 3:59 am from San Francisco, United States
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Posted March 27th, 2013 - 6:22 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted March 27th, 2013 - 9:46 am from Riga, Latvia
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Posted March 27th, 2013 - 12:09 pm by from Copenhagen, Denmark (Permalink)
Great with all this answers, even I do not agree with you, at least it gives an idea of what you want. One day, when you give up working with capital funds and try to make us into money, I could maybe begin to trust you :-) (Sorry, it was a bad joke, I know).

Posted March 27th, 2013 - 7:06 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted March 27th, 2013 - 8:45 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted March 27th, 2013 - 9:14 pm by from Melbourne, Australia (Permalink)
Hey Tony,

a few members were asking me what the new profiles are gonna look like.

When are you going to introduce them?

Will you be still able to use HTML etc?

Hope you are having a great day Tony! Looking forward to your answer!

Josh =)

Posted March 27th, 2013 - 11:33 pm from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 8:16 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 8:20 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 8:30 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 8:44 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 8:55 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 7:51 am by from Lyon, France (Permalink)
For Alfonso asking for a high def logo, it's just a basic usage of the Jena Sue font (which is used as a webfont on thse site) => http://www.dafont.com/jenna-sue.font :)

Posted March 28th, 2013 - 1:41 am by from Madison, United States (Permalink)
Tony,

Thanks for taking the time to address Couchsurfers' questions and concerns directly. While others are pessimistic about the direction Couchsurfing is headed, I remain cautiously optimistic. I think that your team now has the resources to make the needed improvements to the website, but the question remains: Which improvements do Couchsurfers themselves want and which improvements does the CS leadership team (CS HQ) think need to be made? I think the beta panels are a great way of finding out what Couchsurfers want.

However, I wish the findings of these panels were a bit more transparent. Perhaps there could be a webpage with a list of the different beta panels that have been formed, the question/topic at hand for that panel, and the findings of that panel. It would be great if there could also be a place for non-panel members to comment on the particular question/topic discussed by the panel. Even with a panel size of 20-30 people, there should be additional feedback provided by the outside community that the panel may not have considered.

There are a couple other issues I would like to bring to your attention:

1. There isn't a good way to invite an entire community to an event anymore. Sure, you can post a link to the event in a group, advertise it on facebook or invite people individually, but none of these options are conducive to ensuring the entire community is invited to an event. Not everyone checks the group pages on a weekly (or even monthly) basis, and people like that may miss an excellent event.

In the past, when you created an event you could send an invitation to all members in the community based upon geographic range -- for example, send all members within 20 miles an invitation. This was a great feature for organizing community-wide events. I understand that there is the possibility of this feature being misused, which is why it would be great if local ambassadors could be given the responsibility to moderate and approve community-wide invitations. Let me know what you think about this idea.

2. The group pages no longer have an overview of the different topic threads (conversations) like they used to. You have to scroll down to see all of the different conversations instead of just having a list at the top and clicking on the ones you are interested in. The new design is much more aesthetically pleasing (it is nice to be able to see who replied to a conversation without actually clicking on it) but it just isn't a good way to organize a forum. If you look at any major forum online, you'll find that there is always just a list of topic threads (conversations) which you have to click on for more information. I would like to see some kind of list in each group that shows the first 10-20 conversations/topics as a list (so you don't have to scroll for pages and pages to see all of the topics). I'd like to hear your response to this idea.

Thanks again for your time and consideration. I appreciate you reaching out to us and providing such personalized feedback.

Posted March 28th, 2013 - 3:15 am by from Nashville, United States (Permalink)
Hi Tony,

Hope you're doing well.
I posted this message on Ambassadors Public and another fellow Ambassador suggested to send it to you, so here it is:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Hello everybody!!

I wanted to take this opportunity to bring to the table a very important subject:
New Members and the information we're giving them....

NONE!...that's the sad truth, how can we change the overwelming reality of having new members that think they can have an empty profile, no picture with the misinformation that we are just a "FREE" accommodation site??

I'm sure many of you are sharing my daily frustration out there, but I'm also not the kind of person that sits and complains all day, so I found a "small solution", that had helped me and the Nashville Community to deal with this issue....videos!

Please, help me to inform your local new members about them, so they don't post open couch request on our city site with the hope that someone will feel pity on them.

Ignorance is the worst enemy, I'm getting the active members in Nashville together to share the real meaning of CS with the new members in our community, I would like to ask you to be part of the change, we need it...WE are the CS Spirit!!

Please, watch and share them, it had been very helpful to us here in Nashville, TN

They are 5 of them, Welcoming, surfing, hosting, safety and activities. Enjoy!

Welcome to CS:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sSakme86kTo&list=PLDB2594CDEE2D3987&index=1

Be part of a positive change.

Clara
Nashville Ambassador

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Tony,

We know as liders that most of the time evolution takes time and we as humans lack of patients, but we are still here because we believe in Couch Surfing, help us to improved our beloved site that has transformed our lives one couch at a time.

Would you share these videos with our amazing team of geeks at HQ and add these videos as new members sign up, please?

This will help our Community of Surfers to grow stronger instead of frustrated with new members not understanding the "real" meaning of our International Family of Travelers.

Thank you Tony, best regards.

Love, Peace and Bubble Gum!!

Clara

Posted March 28th, 2013 - 9:11 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 11:20 am from Breda, Netherlands
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Posted March 28th, 2013 - 4:54 pm by from Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Permalink)
It's Easter weekend and Prague is being invaded by tourists, literally, even if the weather is terrible.
We will have over 50 people for our weekly CS gathering tonight and most of them will be travellers.

I am doing my best to host as many people I can but it's a mess.
The Prague place page is invaded by couchrequests and the same questions being repeated over and over again.
Out of all my priorities, my number one priority is to get some proper guidelines and moderating tools and security for the place page...any message posted disappears after an hour maximum, it's like far west!

Posted March 28th, 2013 - 10:43 pm by from Darwin, Australia (Permalink)
Tony if you plan to have a worldwide hospitality company you need a 24 hour safety team. 9-5 just won't cut it.

I have no idea what the plans are for this weekend but four days off line is dangerous especially with the crappy membership right now.

Posted March 28th, 2013 - 10:46 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 12:22 am by from Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Permalink)
--Can you email me the messaging you would like on the Place page? We do have some new stuff going up (permanent safety box, sub conversations). I want to make sure your points are covered by the new persistent messaging/sub conversation system.

Tony, as much as I personally do appreciate your personal involvement in listening to what CS active users and Ambassadors have to say about what is going on with the site, I feel that whatever we have been saying till now was not listened to or given any consideration by the people who were/are maybe payed to do it...
https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14168581#gpid14168581

However, it's never too late to repeat.
There was and there still is (on the normal groups, not place pages) the chance for moderators of groups to write the guidelines to the groups.
Whenever some user would ask for something which was already written or stated, all the "regular" users had to do was to redirect them to the guidelines.
Then guidelines where taken away and Community details where introduced where you could put similar information.
Also, for some strategic reason, the community details where eliminated because they were not receiving sufficient clicks.
This was according to me a big mistake. Not sufficient time and not sufficient visibility were the cause of not sufficient clicks/views, surely not because they were not useful.

Before it was possible to flag a post and the flagging automatically took the post away. This was a dangerous but useful tool.
Maybe somebody who knows CS well (an ambassador or a "local recognized representative") could be trusted enough to understand if a post is appropriate or not and his "flag" would have an automatic follow up?
So much is said that us ambassadors are supposed to represent CS and how our behavior should be but there is not enough trust in us to moderate a messy place page?
1) Couchrequests
Although on the place page it's indicated before you start a conversation
"Looking for a place to stay? Search for Hosts or Post an open request."
This doesn't mean they cannot ignore this message and write a request anyway.
It should be clearly stated in bold, large writing: THIS GROUP IS NOT FOR COUCH REQUESTS, PLEASE DO NOT REQUEST A COUCH HERE BUT USE THE APPROPRIATE TOOLS (and a list of tools)
2) Local Information
Create a group or a link to a page where locals can write (as a permanent link and not as a comment on a thread) advise and suggestions for:
- Transport (within the city or to and from the city)
- Useful places/things to see
- Suggested places to eat or go out
- Suggested hostels to sleep in

I know this can be "tricky" because of commercial advertisement but anyway people would post their advise on the thread and it would appear on the group.
one way to solve this could be to allow specifically flagged threads which all the advise written on them and putting them in evidence at the beginning of the group (keeping them "upped" all the time).
Again...somebody you trust is needed (ambs...)

These are just examples but surely improvement can be found to the actual chaotic situation.
I invite you Tony to just read through the place pages groups of the main big cities of CS...you will see for your self that they really don't help the old or new users at all but bring to more confusion.

Believe me... there are moments that as a person who gives heart and soul to anything I do, I often find myself not reading the Place page at all because too disgusted.

Posted March 29th, 2013 - 4:33 am from Auckland, New Zealand
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 6:49 am from Wellington, New Zealand
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 9:08 am from Saint-Brieuc, France
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 9:13 am from Saint-Brieuc, France
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 6:51 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted March 29th, 2013 - 10:15 pm from Perth, Australia
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Posted March 30th, 2013 - 10:06 pm from Auckland, New Zealand
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Posted April 1st, 2013 - 11:30 pm from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted March 30th, 2013 - 9:57 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted April 1st, 2013 - 1:24 am by from Livingston Manor, United States (Permalink)
I know this may seem sacrilegious to ask, but how many of you host on
AirBnB? Do you find connection with the travelers? With the local host
community in your area?


I've been doing hospitality exchange for over 30 years. I have three categories of hosting:
1) Servas - purposeful hosting, with little worry about guest quality because of the application process and renewal requirements.
2) CS hosting - more discrimination required because, although there are plenty of rewarding travelers of all ages in CS, there are also a lot of freeloaders -- many more than when the community aspects were still strong. I expect a good CS guest to hold up their end of the visit -- not in a way that costs them money, but by contributing something that enriches my life and shows that the visit is at least as important as the free bed. I don't host those that are otherwise occupied in my area and appear to mainly want free CS lodging.
3) Airbnb hosting - anyone who doesn't fit the above criteria is directed to my Airbnb listing. Those just looking for free housing drop contact at that point, and those looking for economy lodging can contribute financially instead of socially. However(!!), I unexpectedly found a class of travelers who are just as willing to be involved in a Servas or CS way, but can't get comfortable being hosted for free. Once these people have paid modestly for their bed, they're guilt free and eager to engage me and be great social assets. As a traveler who decades ago learned how to make a visit worthwhile to a host, non-monetarily, I had no idea these "I have to pay something" travelers existed.

Posted April 1st, 2013 - 12:29 pm from Eindhoven, Netherlands
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