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The New Ambassador Program - Discussion
Posted May 24th, 2013 - 3:23 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
Hi everyone,

As you all know, the previous Ambassador Program was long due for a revision. In the past, there was hardly any consensus about how members became Ambassadors, what Ambassadors were expected to do and how they could best serve the community. The purpose of the new Ambassador Program is to create a network of active users that can best support and strengthen their local communities.

In the last couple of weeks, some of you have actively contributed to the discussion with Tony about the future of the Ambassador program. With your suggestions and constructive criticism (thank you for that!) we designed a new Ambassador Program. Some of you may recognize your own ideas or even your own wording in the proposal below.

Please read our proposal for the new Couchsurfing Ambassador Program here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Urn42FATtYr_ey0FD4L7ISGDdFSBtkuvcCjNTD5W9Ic/edit?usp=sharing

Please share your thoughts on the new Ambassador Program with us anonymously through this form:
https://docs.google.com/a/couchsurfing.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dF9BLXdEbDZ1SUFod1pSUlJSNmJkTVE6MQ

If you prefer to discuss your input, then post your feedback in this thread.

Posted May 24th, 2013 - 4:32 am from Pasto, Colombia
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 6:12 am from Paris, France
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 7:14 am from Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 8:08 am by from Guangzhou, China (Permalink)
I agree on the above comments, the only big problem is the categories in this proposal.

Travelling, host, event and place page ambs make no sense. I organised 200+ CS events (mostly the local weekly meeting) and being a moderator of the country and the city groups/place page, even hosting some times and believe or not, I do some traveling as well. But instead of become a place page or event ambassador I do prefer to continue as a city ambassador or might interested if the final decision includes the reinventing of country ambs.

Members looking and contacting, asking Ambassadors by geographical regions. The levels of city, country and global ambassadorship perfectly cover all what we need.

My two cents,
Balazs

Posted May 24th, 2013 - 9:35 am from San Jose, United States
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 9:51 am by from Amsterdam, Netherlands (Permalink)
Just curious will all the old/former Ambassadors get their blue flag? If you are taking my Yellow flag I'd like a blue one.

Posted May 26th, 2013 - 7:23 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted May 26th, 2013 - 9:27 am from Miami, United States
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 9:58 am from Edinburgh, Scotland
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 1:31 pm from Pittsburgh, United States
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 2:13 pm from Dresden, Germany
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 4:16 pm from Athens, Greece
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Posted May 24th, 2013 - 4:31 pm by from Marseille, France (Permalink)
Shiizzle : the old way Ambassador Program was about : Global, Country, City and Nomadic Ambs...

The new program (Draft 1) is better...

Posted May 24th, 2013 - 4:59 pm from Perth, Australia
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Posted May 25th, 2013 - 4:47 am from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted May 25th, 2013 - 5:55 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
ALEXANDER BARRERA

1. The verification through an ID, this is one of the best things in this new program.

We will be testing verification with the new Ambs first. Eventually, we plan to expand it to all members.

2. About the new kinds of ambs, i don't know, surely there are a lot of people who are very active in all topics (host, event, and places pages), so, maybe its a good idea have a "global" category, or let to an amb to have more than one kind, or explain better if one amb could have more than one category.

Ambs can be active in all 4 working groups at the same time.

We wanted to ensure that Ambs are active in their working groups. Some members are active event organizers but cannot hosts (for various reasons: housing situation, location, time constraints). By splitting up the typical Ambs tasks, you can toggle between your fields of activity.

3. Time frame: totally agree with that.

Glad to hear that!

Only one more thing, this is a important step in CS, (i mean the new ambassador program), maybe it's a good idea, translate that document to other languages, like German, French, Spanish, and others. As I know, you have native speakers in your team, they could help to translate the google document. Not all ambassadors speak english.

I am not an English native speaker myself :) and couldn’t agree more. Translations take a lot of time and we decided to postpone them until we reach a final version of the Ambs program.

Thank you for this information.

Cheers,
Alexander.


You’re very welcome. Looking forward to getting it up!

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JO_PARIS

I think it looks pretty good. I'd like to raise a few points though.

1) can an ambassador lose ambassadorship because of negative references? Or just the 2 year term will not be extended ?


Yes, you can lose ambassadorship if the negative reference is valid. However, our Safety Team is aware that Ambs will be more exposed to reference abuse and will pay attention to it.

(E.g. if you are innocent but someone simply doesn’t like you and leaves you a negative reference for it, you will not lose your ambassadorship).

2) At this point, I'm interested in hosting only. In the old days, is get CS requests every day, now months go by without a single request. How can one be an active host of he/she doesn't get requests? Will this be held against the amb?

Thanks.


Good point. In your Hosting Amb example you would be ok, because you are only expected to host more than the average Host in your area. This is very likely as you will be a knowledgeable and engaged member and probably great fun to meet too! (See the Basic Criteria)


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THEMONKWITHOUTAFERRARI


To me, it 's a clear and well-thought out document. In the first reading, nothing seemed to jar - and that's a good thing.

Most, if not all of these things, is being done by the Ambassadors currently anyways, so it's not a shift from the current behaviour, attitude or expectations.

I'm not very sure for the reasons of so many categories of Ambassadors. A simple "Global" and "Travelling" would've sufficed. Event Ambassador and Host Ambassador seem like an overkill. Not a deal-breaker though, and overall the document is fine :)

P.S. - I like the verification idea. It would be good if this could be extended to all member verifications as well. :)


See above on both answers.

The two categories you suggest suffice for Ambs that can be active in all 4 categories at the same time (Surfing, Hosting, Events, Place Pages) but they would have ruled out members who are focused on one category only, e.g. active Event organizers who cannot surf or host for whatever reasons.

Yes, strengthening our verification system is an important safety step.


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BALAZS

I agree on the above comments, the only big problem is the categories in this proposal.

Travelling, host, event and place page ambs make no sense. I organised 200+ CS events (mostly the local weekly meeting) and being a moderator of the country and the city groups/place page, even hosting some times and believe or not, I do some traveling as well. But instead of become a place page or event ambassador I do prefer to continue as a city ambassador or might interested if the final decision includes the reinventing of country ambs.

Members looking and contacting, asking Ambassadors by geographical regions. The levels of city, country and global ambassadorship perfectly cover all what we need.

My two cents,
Balazs


See above as well. Sounds like you might want to look into the Host and Surf Ambs working groups.
The problem with the “country” and “global” Ambs is that it is simply not fair to put one level of Ambs above another one. The purpose of an Amb is not to have power but to help out fellow members living in or visiting the local community.

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KEN NAKAGAMA

So what is actually new here ?

Ideally, the new program will give all members a clear definition, expectation and understanding of what Ambs are and what they do. As you mention, there will be more support from CSHQ regarding training and we do hope to work with Ambs to improve members’ knowledge about how to stay safe.

How are Ambassadors training and certified ?

We’re working on compiling the pieces of Ambs training, especially in Safety matters.

Who evaluates them to continue ?

CSHQ

I am a bit concerned about the new division of classification and how it genuinely improves the Community ?

Please see the replies above on the 4 categories. I am not sure, I fully understood your question, can you specify what your particular concerns are?

A forum moderator isn't really an Ambassador now are they ?

No.
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LEONIE STOPHER

Just curious will all the old/former Ambassadors get their blue flag? If you are taking my Yellow flag I'd like a blue one.

No, there won’t be any flags at all. All former Ambs will receive a special symbol to thank them for their support in the past. Preferences?

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MARTIN LAHIFFE

Hi Martina,
an interesting document and not bad for a first one. A few initial thoughts and points from myself, if I may.
1. translating this document into multiple languages would be a great thing.
2. Are all the 'categories' necessary and how do they help in relation to surfers/ visitors/ new members identifying who is who and what they do, for example someone new to a city wants help and guidance on hosting/ surfing and events and also information about the area (transport, medical, legal, etc). Do they have to search out potentially 3 different ambassadors and send a separate message to each?


Translating makes sense.

The breakdown into four categories allows Ambs to better represent in what ways they are engaged in the community. The advantage of these categories to members is that they will be able to see in what categories you are active and able to help out. Based on this, members can choose for themselves which Amb they wish to contact based on the Ambs’ actual field of activity.

3. How many of each ambassador category will be in each area? I realise that will depend on the size and activity of the area, but MANY of the 'places' still have a large number of towns etc lumped together that are unique places in themselves _ so does each town/ city get it's own 'set' of ambassadors?

Agreed, that will depend heavily on the size and activity of the areas. We will test it out slowly, and start out with some major cities.

4. What is the application process? Invitation only at first should be o.k. but when opened to all members are elections/ interviews expected? How do you deal with multiple applications for the same position?

We’ll post more info on the actual application process soon. There will definitely be Safety checks involved.

5. Will 'Place page' ambassadors have the ability to add and delete sub groups ( e.g. Information on the area- transport, places of interest, rooms to rent etc. the exact questions clogging up the places pages at present). I would expect a level of moderation that would enable the removal of commercial spam/ dating requests etc as well as moving posts to the appropriate sub category.

Place Pages Ambs will have a higher initial flagging weight than regular users.

6. The work in groups element. Does this mean that all event ambassadors, for example, are part of a group dedicated to events only? or is it that each 'set' work together on a local basis? How is that working locally going to be monitored so a consistent standard can be expected on a global scale by all members?

Each working group will have a platform to exchange knowledge and discuss. It should be easy to connect on a local basis on top of that. Part of the challenge for us (CSHQ) is to ensure that standard is met globally, which naturally means that some sort of monitoring from CSHQ makes sense.

Our main concerns lie with distributing accurate information with regard to member Safety above everything else.

7. New members - will they get a welcome message ( as per the deleted New Member Welcome group) with a lot of useful information or will place ambassadors be getting a notification when someone new joins from their geographical location? This would take a lot of time in busy cities.
Apologies for the length or if these points have already been covered / discussed and answered.
If I have more thoughts I will come back to you.
Cheers
Martin


No worries, these are valid questions! All new members are currently already receiving a welcome message with basic information about how it works and Safety hints. A little further down the road, we will provide a tool that allows all members to see who is new in their area for more personal welcome messages.

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EDWIN HUANG

I think it's foolish to separate Ambassadors into task cliques. Yes we all have a different aspect of Ambassadorship that we tend to do and we should be allowed to do all of them. We might do certain things more often as circumstances and our availability dictate.

Ambs can perform tasks in whichever field they qualify for (because they are actively involved in what they help others with).

We will include a function that allows you “take a break” from whatever category you wish at any time. In order to resume the tasks in this category, you will have meet the activity requirements again but you won’t have to reapply.

Figure out a point system for each of your 4 categories and make sure your accomplishments add up to some arbitrary number for qualification.

E.g.

Surf: 2 points.
Host: 3 points.
Moderate: 4 points
Event: 2 points
Large event >100 attendees: 4 points

Get to 20 points.


I like your idea, but it is hard to “measure” accomplishments in a fair way across the entire globe.
This is part of the reason why we broke down the Ambs tasks into different categories. The categories allow us define “activity” for each area based on a fair, transparent and measurable system.

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DAS MARIECHEN

Hi Martina,

Thanks for posting this well-structured document. I have some comments on it but would like to ask one (off-topic) question first: Which role do you have within the CS community? I’ve been on holidays for a few weeks and didn’t see you post in an “official way” before. Are you part of the CS staff and in charge of the revised ambassador program? Sorry for being so curious but sometimes I lose track with the ever-changing responsibles for community and ambs… ;-)


No worries, it’s no secret. I started as a Community Manager in the beginning of February 2013. I’ve been setting up the Beta Panel and have collaborated on drafting the new Ambs program. As a community Manager, I follow a lot of the discussion in the Ambs Group for internal input. You are right though, you only missed very few posts of mine.

So here we go:

1) Do current ambs have to re-apply?


Yes. Current Ambs who meet the basic criteria will get an invitation first.

2) How can you choose which type of ambassador you would like to be? Can you change your status during the two-year term?

By stating it and meeting the basic criteria.
Yes you can change your status any time by toggeling it (see above).

3) I am not 100% convinced of the classification system yet… I guess I would be all except from travelling (since I am not what was formerly called a “nomadic amb”). Probably this is the case for many other ambs, too.

See above

4) Will moderators become Places Page ambassadors? Most ambs are mods, too. But not all mods are ambs…

No, they will have to apply naturally after the initial invitations are sent out. More to come on the application process.

5) One thing which makes me headache is this statement: “Participation in the program can be terminated by either party at any time.” This sounds like a really bad employment contract… It looks like CS still reserves the right to kick out ambs without warning and proper discussion (like in recent cases). I understand that there are and have been cases where ambassadors do not deserve their role due to misbehavior but this statement is too hard for me. Do you know what I mean?

Thanks for your work and for pushing the topic :)
Maria


I disagree on your wording of it but yes, that right is reserved. Ambs will naturally be in closer contact with CSHQ and we will share information on what is expected and acceptable.
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SHIIZZLE

I would like the old way of the Ambassador program.

World, Continental, Country, City, etc.


Give the new one a chance.

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DANIEL OBLADI

Shiizzle : the old way Ambassador Program was about : Global, Country, City and Nomadic Ambs...

The new program (Draft 1) is better...


Nice to hear :)
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SHARON LEISK

Without saying anyone is wrong or right here, I can see in some situations the new program could work, however, as we so often find in this massive diverse community called Couchsurfing, one size does not fit all.
Australia is massive in size and sparsely populated, in our situation in Perth, I doubt we will have any ambassadors, little on 4 (assuming 1 of each type).
Does this mean areas with a small Couchsurfer/population to size ratio will be disadvantaged ?


You’re right, one size does not fit all. We were rather looking for one size that could fit any.

As per some of the answers above: we will measure activity level locally. Most likely on the city level, which gives member in rural areas the same opportunities as members in major cities.

On a personal level, I won't be reapplying for the new program. I love Couchsurfing and all that it means to me, that said, I do it for the love and because I want to. If I have to be measured and judged to keep a pretty meaningless flag (in our area at least) , its not something I'm interested in. With no support or backup, in a Couchsurfing sense, I have done this since 2007. Time for the brave new CS'ers to take the lead ...

With that said, if the existing ambs do not want to move with the new program, and it leaves our areas without at the minimum someone to mod, can we recommend possible ambs to be included in this initial uptake ?


Thank you for all your support in the past and you point out some things that we are working on improving (backup from CSHQ).

Let’s give the new Ambs Program a try before we go looking for alternatives :)

Sorry for the missed post Theresa, I will reply on Monday.

Posted May 25th, 2013 - 8:52 am from Wellington, New Zealand
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Posted May 25th, 2013 - 10:07 am from Bilbao, Spain
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Posted May 25th, 2013 - 4:11 pm from Pompano Beach, United States
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Posted May 26th, 2013 - 11:30 pm from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted May 26th, 2013 - 6:39 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted June 3rd, 2013 - 1:48 am from Baltimore, United States
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Posted June 5th, 2013 - 3:18 pm from London, England
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Posted June 5th, 2013 - 9:07 pm by from Los Angeles, United States (Permalink)
I like the new program. It will take some time to implement but the new approach will address many that just want the title but don't necessarily want to do the leg work. The categories are nice but ambassador just sounds like it should encompass all aspects of CS...

will see...

much aloha from Los Angeles,

Elizabeth

Posted June 6th, 2013 - 1:05 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
I'll be back tomorrow with the outstanding responses.

I've been looking at the feedback that a lot of you submitted through the form. Thank you for that too, it was very useful and I'll share a summarized version with you soon.




Posted June 6th, 2013 - 10:01 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted June 6th, 2013 - 11:43 am by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
Alfonso and family,

thank you for an interesting reading! Have not heard about it.

Posted June 6th, 2013 - 2:50 pm from London, England
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Posted June 6th, 2013 - 9:59 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted June 6th, 2013 - 1:19 pm from London, England
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Posted June 6th, 2013 - 4:56 pm from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 12:41 pm by from Woollamia, Australia (Permalink)
I second Sharon's observations about Australia and especially regional Australia.
No chance of 4 am s where I am.

Posted May 31st, 2013 - 8:58 am from San Jose, United States
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Posted May 27th, 2013 - 2:11 am by from Rabat, Morocco (Permalink)
hi all,
i agree with most of the document bu like many of other member for category it's kind of diffeculte to put category like that or can make it to choose like last time between category and my idea is to put : traveler, city or country, and in case the ambassador need a break chnage to that with the agree of both side.

one love on the earth
rachid

Posted May 27th, 2013 - 4:52 am from Bangkok, Thailand
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Posted May 27th, 2013 - 8:17 am from Glasgow, Scotland
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Posted May 27th, 2013 - 1:42 pm from Corrales, United States
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Posted May 27th, 2013 - 5:41 pm from Kowloon West, China
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Posted May 28th, 2013 - 5:15 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
As we discuss here, I am compiling a FAQ which also takes into account the feedback that has been submitted through this form. I will publish it here once it is more comprehensive

THERESA

Several issues about personal data (collection of passport details/copies of ambassadors and members in the future) concerns me:
(i agree with most of the comments posted by the fellow Ambs above, i shall not repeat them)
1. USE of data - the Guideline hasn't said how the personal data (passport copies/details) will be used. I appreciate that CS probably will have a personal data policy, sooner or later. However, 3 things concern me:


That is a very valid concern, thanks for bringing it up. The data is one piece of our increased Safety measures.

(i) In March 2013, Don, our much-loved former CS Berlin received a legal suit from CSHQ for "copying information from the site" even that he was invited to do so only after Sam Houston (a CS officer) invited him. To date, Tony CEO insisted that the CSHQ was correct to lodge the legal suit against Don and to suspend his CS account even without any prior negotiation/discussion/simply getting in touch with him (Tony refused to further comment on the matter in the Amb group). Don is lucky that he is based outside of the US and he can avoid the legal consequences in the US. Now, if Don's situation happens to any of us, with our passport info CS can sue any of us in any country/jurisdiction more easily. From the previous experience how the new CS management bullied some of our Ambs, i'm concerned.

Now that the FTC investigation is closed and upon a phone call with Tony, Don has been reinstated.
To prevent similar legal steps from happening to any other member: notice the difference between making a copy/backup and distributing it.

(ii) CS is now a private company, owned by shareholders who also own interests in Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Twitter. Generally speaking, CS is a group company to these social platforms in certain situation under the company law. In many situations, group companies are permitted to share personal data they collected to cross-market. Also, in case that the CS company winds up, merges or is taken over by another company, the personal data will be legally permitted to transfer to the new acquirer/purchaser/company.

(iii) Will CS send our personal data to US and overseas governments, non-governmental agencies, etc upon their requests? Under US law, in case of an federal investigation or subject to court summons, CSHQ will be forced to share personal information to governmental bodies.
2. COLLECTION of data - the sugar coating here is that the personal data is collected for "verification". To verify that a person exists, there are many other ways that can be done. The old verification method by visa card is one, the mutual CSer verification function on BeWelcome is another. "Verification" of a member does *not* justify the collection of passport copies/details. This is why amazon, Agoda, Hostelworld, AirBnB, many hotels/hostels, tour service companies do *not* ask for your passport copy/details but visa details.
Collection of personal data without a justified purpose is a violation of personal data law in many countries.

Personally, I don't see why "verified CSers" (those who contributed US$10 or more) have to verify themselves again.


Other services actually do ask for ID verification which makes sense given that it is more complicated to fake an ID/passport than an address. Our aim is to have the entire community ID verified but we are piloting with Ambs first.


3. KEEPING of data - How will data be kept. What is the system in place to counter system invasion by hackers. Many service providers/website that are facing similar safety concerns as CS (eg AirBnB, Triping, BeWelcome) do not collect personal data for the risk that the data can be hacked/reproduced by any staff member/persons having access to the data.

CSHQ doesn't seem to have been properly advised by an experienced legal counsel on this (Martina/Cameron can correct me if I'm wrong).


You’re right, we all face the same concerns of being hacked. Fortunately, our legal counsel are of great help in our legal issues and helped us redo our Terms of Use very promptly. (see the [ulr= http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14478350]ToU conversation with Tony[/url] to stay on topic here)

That said, I applaud Martina's initiative for preparing a discussion draft and ask for suggestions than to blindly roll out something like what it happened with Sam Houston in December 2012 (Places pages) and in January/February 2013 (deleting New Member Welcoming Team and Greeting boxes).[/color]

Let’s not be overly enthusiastic about the draft until we see the program serve its purpose.

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COCYTUS

Hi Martina

If I am reading this right, the new proposed ambassador programme will only be posted here in the ambassador group for consultation and the final programme will then be emailed out to all ambassadors.


The program was posted here first to allow active Ambs a very first look. We will naturally email it out to all Ambs before it is final.

Given the significance of the change for ambassadors don't you think that this proposal should be emailed to all ambassadors for consultation ?

The active members of his group are not fully representative of the total ambassador group. Not all ambassadors are able to come to this group regularly and in fact, after a previous ambassador review we were advised that this group WAS NOT the official communication channel and anything that ambassadors needed to know about would be emailed to us. Over time this group has descended into a location for disaffected people to voice their complaints about changes and the group lost its mojo a long time ago.

So given this confusion around appropriate communication channels I recommend that this is emailed to all ambassadors.


Absolutely. Planned as a next step.

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KOLDO BURGOA COMUNION

As ambassador it's supoossed to create good athmosphere and more active group in your city, isn't it? ok, we did. And as Bilbao probably there are more examples, we create day by day more active group, when we see the need we propose new people to create subgroups, etc. Nothing or amost nothing is recorded in CS forum, couse as active participants, we are in the meetings with the people... how can you take if we are doing well that work or not?

As you answered to Martin you solve some doubts I had, but I haven't read other one, maybe I missed: the actuall ambassadors, we have to re-apply or re-wait to be propossed or you will decide and communicate to us?


Everyone will have to reapply to guarantee that everyone is being treated equally. But this does not mean that all previous Ambs will be accepted.

thanks

PD: to translate whatever is needed to spanish or basque I'm ready to help as always.


You’re welcome and thank you for the kind offer! (we don’t have any basque speaking people at CSHQ but some Spanish speaking)

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BRANDEE IN FLORIDA
I agree with Cocytus, PLEASE email all relevant info to us.

I like the new ambassador guidelines. I never understood why 'verification' is important though. As in verifying one's identity. It doesn't make one safer to know someone's real name. I think references are much more important than knowing someone's true identity. Especially if it is a traveler surfing with me who comes from another country. If "Anne Smith" surfs with me and she came from Australia, and does something bad in my home, and then goes back to her country, it's going to be impossible to press charges against her or whatever. I would much rather see that she has positive references. I don't care if her name is "Anne Juliet Smith" or "Anne Julian Smith".


Verification can be a crucial piece of information for member safety in two ways:
1) It is easier to identify fake/duplicate profiles.
2) Ambs are likely to hear about local safety incidents first. As local experts, Ambs may be an important point of contact for more information in such emergencies. It may hardly ever be important for CSHQ to know someone’s real name, but when it does, it can be crucial.

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ALFONSO MORA SENA

what about family ambassadors

we think that is really a special kind of ambassadorship

having a 5 and an 8 years old CS Ambassadors at home like we have....

i dont know any more active in the difusion of CS than my children.

they host @ home (my 5 years old daugter is the one that lends her room since she is 2)

they help ys to organize family meetings, cooking meetings...

they love to join the weekend co meetings

whenever we are surfing some are, we every single time try to look for the family amabassadors in that area to get information in the area that is interesting for CS families withc children traveling.

if you go to a normal places ambassador asking for nice places to visit interesting for a 5 years old girl, he may be not have the information, a family ambassador has it :-)

regards


actually, the blue flags were removed, as far as i know :-(


In general, current Family Ambs would fall in the Host Ambs category, as this is what they are often doing.

We are firstly focused on making Couchrequests more successful in general. Far down the road, we plan to provide better features for families to share their knowledge.
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MIKETENDSTOTRAVEL

Martina:
1- What is the issue with having all ambassadors, not just a few, have strong flagging powers? You trust a person enough to make him or her an ambassador, but you don't sufficiently trust them to use flagging wisely?


On the one hand, there has been some abusive flagging between Ambs in the past which we can better prevent when only one designated group of Ambs flags. On the other hand, consider this a test setup that is open to discussion as we continue.

As a traveling ambassador, I've seen posts that were blatant violations of CS rules, and so did local members, but instead of the item being flagged, what resulted was an endless thread of members verbally attacking and scolding the person who posted (or some trolls coming to his support) instead of people simply flagging. With the power to flag, those ugly exchanges and verbal jousts would not happen to such extent. You might ask, where were the local moderators or ambassadors? Asleep at the wheel?

You are right, that is an issue that needs to be addressed. It is one that should be addressed by a better performing flagging system rather than individuals.

Until we have a better tool in place, you can always flag with ‘regular’ flagging weight and/or report to our Support Team. Suboptimal - we know.

2-An invitation to the new ambassador program means an invitation to apply or an invitation to accept ambassadorship being offered without the need to apply?

Invitation to apply.

3-What is your criteria for extending that invitation? It's no secret that among the ambassadors there are CSHQ-can-do-no-wrong boosters and all manner of CS critics. Will you send invitations to the cheerleaders over the critics?

The basic criteria are.

The cheerleader vs. critics distinction made me laugh :)
Yes, critics do exist and they are amazing because they care enough to criticize.
I believe people learn more from criticism than from praise though.

4-You will ask ambassadors to generate local information? We did that - years of local information dumped by CSHQ - and now you are asking us to do it again? Does this make sense? Can you not send us that valuable info I hope is still somewhere in the CS database?

The challenge with information is not necessarily generating it but rather curating it. And we may need some help gathering the most valuable resources that have already been created.

5-And if required to do this extra work, will you pay ambassadors for doing what (coupled with proposed training sessions) sounds like a full-time job and not simply part-time volunteer work? Keep in mind you are a for-profit company and it rubs some the wrong way that you would demand work beyond what they are happily willing to do for the CS community - host, help travelers, plan events, facilitate meetups.

6- Eagerly awaiting your responses to Theresa Winters' questions, for they are the same ones I have.

Michael


Ideally, a large part of the effort involved with training sessions lies with CSHQ and not the Ambs. However, it is up to you to choose whether or not you wish to participate. This is one of the reasons why we broke down typical Ambs “tasks” into 4 working groups. It allows Ambs to focus without producing a workload for them.

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THERESA WINTERS

"Given the significance of the change for ambassadors don't you think that this proposal should be emailed to all ambassadors for consultation ?"

I agree with David -- I know many of my Ambassador friends don't check this group, but would have valuable input. Please send an email to all Ambassadors inviting their consultation (and you might consider doubling up with both a CS account message AND one to people's personal addresses, so that you're 100% covering your bases).

@Brandee: knowing someone's real name allows you to accurately file a police report (in your own country or the one you're visiting) in case something untoward should happen. It might not prevent something bad from happening to you, but being able to more easily press charges could prevent something bad from happening to someone else in future.


Appreciate your input.

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RACHID ALAOUI

hi all,
i agree with most of the document bu like many of other member for category it's kind of diffeculte to put category like that or can make it to choose like last time between category and my idea is to put : traveler, city or country, and in case the ambassador need a break chnage to that with the agree of both side.

one love on the earth
rachid


I will share some mock-ups here by the end of this week. Hopefully, they will give you a better idea what the new Ambs program looks like. The concept of city and country Ambs is not very far away from the new categories.

The main change with introducing the 4 categories is that they actually focus on what Ambs DO (rather than what they ARE).



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MICHAEL KOHL


Please share your thoughts on the new Ambassador Program with us anonymously through this form

It asks for our CS user names and email addresses, that doesn't really seem "anonymous".


I’m sure you can find a way to make it “truly” anonymous ;)

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LOCH LOMOND COUCH

As one of the five Scottish Ambassadors I generally welcome the proposals. I think the old programme was a bit vague.

I will not re-iterate the common threads with which I agree.

I do see that in some places, like the north of Scotland, where ambassadors are thin on the ground, or non existent, that the categories may not be relevant. So the new programme must not be created with San Francisco or Paris as the only model.


I think the visuals will help explain how the categories are not as relevant in rural parts of the world as in large cities. But they also don’t hurt in rural areas. I am curious to hear your input once you see the mock-ups. Please keep me posted!

One issue with the new 'profile' of Ambassadors might be 'spam'. Of course Ambassadors must be visible to new members, and to members with problems - but there should be a mechanism to save them from daily, "how do I get from the airport", and "where is the best bar to watch football" questions from people who haven't taken the time to look, or are just lazy. This is more important now, given the growth in new members.

Agreed. Working on it.

Of course Ambassadors should be doing the things that reflect the new categories, but let's not forget some of the basic traits that make a good Ambassador: wisdom, experience, and an ability to sort things out. These skills may not necessarily shared by those creating a lot of events. If someone lives in the middle of Paris it is easy to create lots of "Let's meet here" events but that person may be a party animal and not necessarily be the best person to go to for advice.

Ideally, Ambs are both, active/experienced and wise. The former is measurable, the latter one Ambs will display in what they do.

An excellent Ambassador could live in the north of Scotland and achieve nil points (like the UK in Eurovision...).

For myself, in addition to hosting lots, surfing, and organizing events I promote CS to new people, try to correct blatant misconceptions amongst some, and often comment on Forums to counter some extreme opinions, whether on issues of race, or CSHQ.

Like the Embassies that each country sets up abroad there are day-to-day activities, lost passports AND Ambassadorial roles like promoting the country. I am concerned with these changes that the only focus is on 'activities'. Let's not confuse action with result.

On one detailed point for me is next year I plan to go travelling on a motorbike across to Iran, Russia, and China. I would not want to lose my Ambassador status (assuming I am 'selected'...) as I would see myself doing a valuable job on the road.

I'll stop rambling...

Michael, Loch Lomond, Scotland


I agree that activity is not enough, consider activity level a minimum criteria.

Thank you for your “rambling” :) it is useful and a good reminder of what we need to stay focused on.
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MOSES ILLINOIS

I like many of the details that were written into Draft 1 of the proposed Ambassador Program. I think getting the Ambassador program back up will allow some good changes for active new members. I remember when I became an ambassador; there were guide lines and requirements to be accepted as an Amb. Such as, how often you had to sign in on the website to show you were active, planning events, surfing, hosting, or aiding to spread information to those that inquire. This continuation is a good thing.

Also, I like that I am an ambassador of a specific city or region. I worry a bit if that will disappear. I think people are able to easily find me for advice or information according to my activity level in my local community and I feel "trained" through my many experiences and encounters.

Likewise, when I plan my travels I seek out ambassadors of the cities I visit and contact the moderators of the city groups because I know they have the most experience. If Ambs will no longer be organized by city, country, region, then how do I find the experienced local people I want to talk to? On the place pages, I mostly hear from other travelers and less from local people. -Moses


I don’t expect that feel to disappear as the Ambs Directory will be easily accessible to all members via the Place Pages. It is designed to connect travellers with locals from any area.
Again, the visuals will shed more light on this.

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GUSGUSGUS

Several issues about personal data (collection of passport details/copies of ambassadors and members in the future) concerns me:
(i agree with most of the comments posted by the fellow Ambs above, i shall not repeat them)
1. USE of data - the Guideline hasn't said how the personal data (passport copies/details) will be used. I appreciate that CS probably will have a personal data policy, sooner or later. However, 3 things concern me:


(i) In March 2013, Don, our much-loved former CS Berlin received a legal suit from CSHQ for "copying information from the site" even that he was invited to do so only after Sam Houston (a CS officer) invited him. To date, Tony CEO insisted that the CSHQ was correct to lodge the legal suit against Don and to suspend his CS account even without any prior negotiation/discussion/simply getting in touch with him (Tony refused to further comment on the matter in the Amb group). Don is lucky that he is based outside of the US and he can avoid the legal consequences in the US. Now, if Don's situation happens to any of us, with our passport info CS can sue any of us in any country/jurisdiction more easily. From the previous experience how the new CS management bullied some of our Ambs, i'm concerned.

(ii) CS is now a private company, owned by shareholders who also own interests in Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, Twitter. Generally speaking, CS is a group company to these social platforms in certain situation under the company law. In many situations, group companies are permitted to share personal data they collected to cross-market. Also, in case that the CS company winds up, merges or is taken over by another company, the personal data will be legally permitted to transfer to the new acquirer/purchaser/company.

(iii) Will CS send our personal data to US and overseas governments, non-governmental agencies, etc upon their requests? Under US law, in case of an federal investigation or subject to court summons, CSHQ will be forced to share personal information to governmental bodies.
2. COLLECTION of data - the sugar coating here is that the personal data is collected for "verification". To verify that a person exists, there are many other ways that can be done. The old verification method by visa card is one, the mutual CSer verification function on BeWelcome is another. "Verification" of a member does *not* justify the collection of passport copies/details. This is why amazon, Agoda, Hostelworld, AirBnB, many hotels/hostels, tour service companies do *not* ask for your passport copy/details but visa details.
Collection of personal data without a justified purpose is a violation of personal data law in many countries.

Personally, I don't see why "verified CSers" (those who contributed US$10 or more) have to verify themselves again.

3. KEEPING of data - How will data be kept. What is the system in place to counter system invasion by hackers. Many service providers/website that are facing similar safety concerns as CS (eg AirBnB, Triping, BeWelcome) do not collect personal data for the risk that the data can be hacked/reproduced by any staff member/persons having access to the data.

CSHQ doesn't seem to have been properly advised by an experienced legal counsel on this (Martina/Cameron can correct me if I'm wrong).

That said, I applaud Martina's initiative for preparing a discussion draft and ask for suggestions than to blindly roll out something like what it happened with Sam Houston in December 2012 (Places pages) and in January/February 2013 (deleting New Member Welcoming Team and Greeting boxes).


As these concerns are not essentially related to the new Ambs Program, please have a look at their answers in Tony’s daily discussions (http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14509693).

Posted May 28th, 2013 - 5:58 am from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted May 28th, 2013 - 6:34 am from Wellington, New Zealand
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Posted May 31st, 2013 - 9:01 am from San Jose, United States
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Posted May 28th, 2013 - 7:46 am by from Albufeira, Portugal (Permalink)
Hey Martina! Hey family!

I've been following this thread and would say that I believe the upcoming "Couchsurfing Ambassador Program" we've been discussing is very well designed and generally agree with everything in it.

<3

Posted May 28th, 2013 - 8:19 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted May 28th, 2013 - 11:11 am by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
Dear Martina,

just a couple brief questions:

1. Could you please state your credentials? i.e. are you CS Inc. employee? What is your position? etc. Thank you very much in advance!

2. Could you please outline the key differences b/w existing (old) Ambassador program and a new one?

3. So far I see only one big difference - Amb. grouping:
New Ambassador Groups: Traveling, Host, Events and Place Pages Ambassadors suggested instead of current system of City, Nomad, and Family Ambassadors. Any good reason for that change? Most of ambassadors who I know are involved in hosting/travelling/events creating/Group posting/responding/moderating - is there any need to separate those activities?

TIA!

Posted May 28th, 2013 - 11:36 am from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted May 28th, 2013 - 7:59 pm by from Raleigh, United States (Permalink)
I have been an ambassador for a while now and have historically been very involved in the Raleigh CS culture. Over the last 1.5 years I have been very involved in other parts of my life, but it is looking like I will be able to be very active in CS again very soon. I can understnad why people like me will have to re-apply, as my level of involvement has recently been lower than usual. I do have a few concerns though.

I have generally been really scattered with how I am involved. I sometimes am active on the place page...other times I am an active host...sometimes I travel. If you add it all up I have been a very active CS member, but if you look at it by each different type of activity I might not seem that active. It doesn't seem fair that people like me how are moderately active in all categories would be scored on a scale that rewards people who are very active in only one category.

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 3:29 am from Shanghai, China
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 6:41 am from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 3:07 am from San Francisco, United States
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 6:24 am by from Kochi, India (Permalink)
hi Martina,

Its been a long time since we have gone on record here in the Ambs group...:)

Bringing in some structure to the Amb program is a good step. So lets hope for the best, but let us be very clear that nothing should be made mandatory on any Amb. We serve for we like to serve. We are active b'coz we want to make that difference. The day you are going to impose rules that make the Ambassdorship look like a job - we are out of this. (not CS - but ambship)

The point about id. verification via passport is something which we have espoused for over 3 years. We had some issues here with local police in India and ever since then we insist that any CSer coming to surf with us has to give us a copy of their passport if they want to be hosted. Its mentioned on our profile for the last 3 years. (And we have had no refusals so far!!) The same idea was mooted in several mails to CS admin & Amb public & private groups. Lots of mails were exchanged, but nothing ever came out of it. So this time around, hopefully - you will extend the same to all members and not just Ambs, for that will take care of neg. profiles / duplicate profiles / false profiles/...etc. And it makes for one solid reason for safety of the member.

As for categorization - keep a mode/option for the world-continent - country-state- city as it is a practical way of searching. You may keep as many other ways as you find appropriate.

cheers,

Priya & Q
Kochi, India

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 6:39 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
THERESA

Martina, thanks for answering people's questions. However, right at the start put my name above someone else's questions. I'd love for mine to be answered.


My apologies Theresa, It wasn’t my intention to copy someone else’s answers (I guess I should stop working late).

Great idea to have people go over this before you launch it! I hope you will take their suggestions in mind and get a 99% perfect product out for once, rather than launching a half-finished one like the Events.

I'll try not to repeat what others have said, so here goes.

1.) "Place Pages Ambassadors may also be asked to accumulate or fact check information about their local areas."
If we're generating content for you, where will it be gathered? In a Wiki? In a FAQ?


We are working on a product solution to gather all information that has been created by the community throughout the past years and thus make it more accessible. FAQs and wikis tend to be outdated quickly which is why we are discussing a more dynamically structured model with a (working) search function to browse content.

Where will this be put on the Place page? And will this 'accumulation' or ongoing 'fact checking' be renumerated in any way for the work they are doing on behalf of CS HQ?

The content could initially be accessible only via the Ambs directory and eventually on Place Pages. Suggestions welcome.

And will this 'accumulation' or ongoing 'fact checking' be renumerated in any way for the work they are doing on behalf of CS HQ?

No. The point is not that Ambs work on behalf of CSHQ. It’s the other way around. We at CSHQ need to know how we can support local experts to best share with the rest of the community.

Like in past Ambs Programs, Ambs will provide support to fellow members.
Unlike in the past, the typical Ambs tasks are broken down into the four different categories. This structure basically allows CSHQ to better cater to the different needs for each category and provide the necessary tools.

2.) Why can't ALL Ambassadors have greater weight in flagging? Surely the Travelling Ambs would be looking in various Place Pages for information...so if they see a post that shouldn't be there (because it's commercial, or dating spam, etc.), why can't they flag and remove it? Similarly, just because someone is a Hosting Amb doesn't mean they would never go in their city's Place. Why wouldn't they be able to remove a post?

In the long term, the goal is to educate all members of the community to flag abusive posts. Everyone who
is interested in keeping Place Pages clean is warmly welcome to apply for that category, regardless of whether they are already in another category. It is a matter of focus and responsibility for the Place Pages Ambs, they will be the both responsible and accountable for their flagging.

3.) "Leave It Better Than You Found It:
This applies to the world, to relationships, to your host’s home or to
the sidewalk you meander down on your way to a coffee shop"
Really? So if I don't stop to pick up a piece of litter on the sidewalk, you're saying I could get kicked out of the Ambassador program?

Remember: choose your words very, very carefully. Flights of fancy have no place in a code of conduct.


I’m honestly surprised to hear you disagree with these core values.

4.) An
Ambassador may choose to “take a break” from their role(s) at any time.
Ambassador status may be reinstated by Couchsurfing if criteria are met
and there are program openings. Participation in the program can be
terminated by either party at any time.

So, say I am an Events/Place Amb. And I go off travelling. Obviously I wouldn't be able to host events or moderate my home Place. I would want to temporarily take a break for the duration of my travels. You're saying that when I get back after a couple of weeks, I wouldn't be able to return to being an Events/Place Amb? Really? Does that seem fair? Also, if an Amb takes a break, will their designation (flag or otherwise) disappear from their profile? Or will it become a different color or some such?


No. I am saying you would be able to return. Your activity level during the break will not count and in your example you would be able to return to being an Amb.

5.) Couchsurfing will distribute information regularly to Ambassadors via email and by other means.
What other means, exactly? And by 'email', do you mean to our private and personal email addresses, or via the CS email system?


We’ll get to this later on. Most likely via CS email system. That depends on what type of information it is, obviously, safety warnings would deserve more attention.

6.) ...someone
can only be a Host Ambassador if they are an active Host. Because
activity levels vary regionally, the specifics of what constitutes
“active” may vary by location. At a minimum, Ambassadors must exceed
average activity levels for members in their region.
How are they going to know what the 'average activity levels are'? Will this be distributed by email or the aforementioned 'other means'?


That is a great question.

Here is our suggestion: We show you the average activity level in your city for all Ambs categories. You can see your own activity status and increase activity wherever needed.
This could be a visual tool accessible to all Ambs and maybe in the future to everybody. Thoughts?

7.) Members who wish to participate in the Ambassador Program must apply. Initially applications will be by invitation only.
So, you're inviting all current Ambs, yes? Then will you invite all who have already applied and been turned down? And then the general public? What is the timeline for this? When will you be opening up the program? I ask so I can tell those in my community who run our weekly events, or host continuously, to apply.


Firstly, we will invite all current Ambs to apply. Then, we will email very active users.

I don’t know what you mean by “Then will you invite all who have already applied and been turned down? Please elaborate.

Today we emailed all Ambs about the new Ambs Program. We plan on opening up the program as soon as they have had a chance to give their input, too. Don’t consider this set in stone but we may start accepting applications as soon as next week. Feel free to invite your friends to follow the discussion in this thread!

As we are expecting a lot of applications at the same time, we will be rolling the applications out by region. Starting with Africa and moving to other continents one by one.


[size= 13px; font-family: Arial; color: #222222; background-color: #ffffff; font-weight: normal; font-style: normal; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline]You really need to flesh out what the criteria are for the various Amb programs. How many events does one have to create to be an Events Amb? How often does one have to log into a Place to be a Place Amb? Being vague like this isn't going to help anyone maintain their 'activity levels'. It's hard to maintain them if you don't specifically say what they are, now isn't it?



We’re currently refining the exact criteria. Please share your opinion on how often you think an Events Amb should have organized an event in order to qualify. This will also depend on the regional average.


Last question:
8.) Will you be instituting the Ambassador Dashboard again?


This ultimately depends on whether or not it is still needed. Yet to be discussed.
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COCYTUS
just realised I posted this in the wrong thread ... doh!

https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14478350#post14492684


No worries,. Some questions are already answered but here is your feedback again (thanks for the clean structure):

*** Feedback on Proposal for Ambassador Programme ***

OVERVIEW
I'm not sure whether it is a good idea to specialise ambassadors, there are some advantages to having generalists eg in isolated communities or smaller populated areas with 1 Ambassador. In my own field of expertise over the years we have moved case management from generalist to specialist back to generalist and now again to specialist. It's not that we can't make up out mind, we're just responding to our environment. As it changes we must also change - so I'm open minded about this. Let's "suck it and see" as the expression goes ...


Stay tuned, some wireframes coming up tomorrow that will elucidate the classification.

"Being in more than one ambassador group requires meeting the requirements for all groups" ... I have a concern about that. An ambassador who is a member of more than one group should be able to have a reduced requirement compared to an ambassador who is a member of a single group. The sum of all their activity surpasses that of an ambassador with a single group membership. Some isolated ambassadors may feel compelled to have to host, event and place and having to meet the full requirements of these groups may be an obstacle.

If you are in a more isolated area, your minimum activity threshold will naturally be lower - thus no need to worry.
Plus, as described above, a visual element that gives you a benchmark of the average activity in your place for reference may help too?

WHAT DO AMBASSADORS DO
My comments above are also relevant. I would like to add, that in areas with low ratio of ambassadors to place pages that Place Ambassadors should have the ability to act on a regional basis and moderate many place pages in their area. Then there is the question about Group moderation. Many places have country specific groups with valuable discussion threads eg What Visa requirements are there for working in XXX ... these groups need moderation and are not specific to any one place. Used to do more moderation but with less tools it becomes more work and less effective.


Place Pages Ambs will be “responsible” for a designated Place Page or designated Place Pages in their area. However, they will not be restricted to those.
On top of increased flagging weight they will also have tools to correctly categorize posts on Place Pages. (Thanks Martin Lahiffe for the input)


VISION
no comment - it's fine

CORE VALUES
no comment - also ok

Ok.

WHO CAN BECOME AN AMBASSADOR
Question - I presume that existing ambassadors will all be invited? I am pleased that an application process will be a requirement to continue. As part of that process I imagine that existing ambassadors will feel empowered to decline the invitation if they wish and that they will still be valued and celebrated for their contribution over the years ... eg the Blue alumni flag and perhaps some other way to indicate the personal sacrifices that ambassadors have made giving their time, knowledge and experience freely to grow couchsurfing into what it is today. Even the harshest critics of the recent changes over the years, if they choose not to continue, deserve to be recognised appropriately.


See above. Yes, all Ambs are invited to apply to the new Ambs Program first. Good to hear that this process is appreciated. I am aware that it doesn’t ring well with everyone but for the sake of fairness, it is necessary. Same goes for safety checks.

Absolutely agree on the recognition of past contributions. There will be a designation as a way of saying thank you to all former Ambs.

BASIC CRITERIA
very positive change about minimum requirements being regionally calculated. My only concern will be if you make that a monthly requirement. Some seasonal places have significantly more activity in summer compared to winter. Happy with the average requirement but as averages work - in some months an ambassadors will be under requirement and in some months over requirement. So the period of assessment needs to be longer than monthly. And as this is a NEW programme being implemented untested then perhaps an amnesty should apply for the first term to test the assumptions about activity levels and requirements?


Absolutely. We were thinking of activity being calculated on a 12-months term to respect travel seasonalities. Does that sound appropriate?

TIMEFRAME
2 year limit, very positive move. Just need to handle retirements with dignity. Also there needs to be a fair and transparent process to manage disagreement if after two years an ambassador applies to continue and is declined. What is the criteria to be continued, how is an ambassador measured, who makes that decision, is there a right of appeal, what is that appeal process etc ... you know, the right to natural justice and all ... nemo iudex in causa sua ... and ... audi alteram partem


You raise a question that governments around the globe struggle with: who’s to judge.
We’re a community of travelers, not a political structure. That said, I completely agree on the process having to be transparent (without undermining our safety endeavors) and fair.

AMBASSADOR EXPECTATIONS
No comment - looks fine, needs more information about what the training looks like.

FINAL COMMENTS
Looks good, some very positive changes, thanks for the opportunity to be consulted. Happy to discuss further, happy to be contacted.

Regards
David


Yey, happy to continue the discussion.

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MC_MACHADO

Hey Martina! Hey family!

I've been following this thread and would say that I believe the upcoming "Couchsurfing Ambassador Program" we've been discussing is very well designed and generally agree with everything in it.

<3


Nice.

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EDWARD TRAVELS

Generally speaking, as a draft (particularly a first draft) and as a proposal, I have no significant issues, as a number of others have commented, with what I can read. Practice is, of course, the devil in the details of what the reality of any new ambassador program will become.

Also, generally speaking, I would second a number of the questions and concerns that have been voiced here but I think we need to hear from a greater and more diverse set of the '"active ambassadors" who do frequent this forum -- so far, we have a minimal amount of feedback and from a very small number of people.


All Ambs are informed by now. Looking forward to their input.

One of the repeated concerns so far is the categorizations of these four roles. Yes, as Martina's reply have suggested, these are tasks which the active ambassadors have or currently do perform, although not always at a particular level of activity. Using my own PP (places page) as an example, we have a very large area (Los Angeles/Southern California) which has about a dozen ambassadors living/registered on the site in this area, if you do a search, but at the moment, there are only, to my knowledge, two other ambassadors who are, again in one limited situation of these new categories, creating and working on Events, for example, other than myself.

As you stated “the devil in the detail” keeps us busy defining clear lines of what “activity” means. Stay tuned, more details coming up soon.

And the great majority of the CS Events are ones I am putting on. (We have a number of non-CS events which are actually commercial spam/promotion) and probably anywhere from 3-9 events per week that are attempts by members to find ride shares, get people to go with them to a museum, site see, a tourist attraction such as Six Flags, Universal Studios or Disneyland, etc.) There are also some half a dozen people who are currently putting on Events on an somewhat regular (not weekly or even monthly, but more than one-time) who are not Ambassadors and I'm not sure if they would have any interest in applying to become one.

However, only one ambassador is trying to put on weekly events (and it's not me) so how would you exactly find a minimum level to qualify to be an Event Ambassador for this area?


The minimum level of Events organized should allow “quality” Event organizers to participate.

I’m curious about your opinion on how many events an Events Amb should have organized (let’s count events during the last 12 months as suggested above).

[As an aside, I also agree that I think it makes more sense to be an Ambassador to a particular place. While I have no affection for being a Country ambassador, although I can understand how, for some regions, that makes perfect sense due to the size, membership, involvement and other such issues), I like the idea of being the LA ambassador.]

Ambs will visually be tied to a Place Page and as the Ambs directory will be accessible from Place Pages. More on this coming up.


Let's just sake, for argument's sake, I qualify to be an Event Ambassador (I'm one of those people who do host, but rarely due to to current circumstances and what hosting I do perform in LA I would guess is certainly below the average - although LA probably has a low percentage of members who are on the site, versus members who actually hosts). Even though I am not hosting someone in my home, I'm often showing people around, which I personally consider a form of hosting; either giving them a walking tour of downtown (as I just did for a guy from Austria yesterday) or I'm taking them to a museum, meeting for coffee, etc.

CSHQ has no real record of that kind of activity, nor do I think it has any way of measuring who on the site might be doing something like that.


True. If you qualify for even just one category, let’s stick with the Events Amb example, you will show up in the Ambs directory.
From there, you are accessible for other members on all kinds of questions. The idea behind the working groups is to specialize in a field where you are actually actively engaged.

Additionally, as I did with the guy from Austria and I do for a number of people, I spend time (even if, again, for argument's sake, I'm the Events Ambassador for LA) showing people how to navigate the site, how to make couch requests, tell them about an emergency couch request room, show them how to look for the ride share groups, etc. I do think on a regular basis; again, not to say I'm the only one doing that, I'm sure others do that, whether they host someone in their home or not, but how is this going to be measured?

I understand the desire to have a way to measure and quanitify people. As I said, there are about a dozen people who have the Ambassador tag in LA and not to take anything from any of these people - I'm still somewhat new to Couchsurfing in LA, having only been in LA's CS groups for the past say two years and only really actively and paying attention for the past year, so for all I know, all of these people were hugely active, far more than I've ever been, in the past. But right now, they aren't - as far as I can see - doing much - nor taking any advantage in having that Ambassador tag for that matter.

I'd like to see some more about how these measurements will be made in practice, and how these categories will also exist in practice.


Agreed, it is extremely challenging to adequately measure offline activity.
In your example, the LA Ambs you mentioned are no longer active. Thus, them having Ambs status and increased visibility makes little sense and may even be confusing to new members.
(Note: I am not saying their past contributions did not matter - they did).
My point is, they are no longer highly active, thus do not need an “Ambs status”. On the other hand, highly active members who are by quantifiable criteria highly active are more in touch with the community and need tools to support other members.

In short, the idea behind the new activity criteria in the proposal is to provide tools to those who are highly active users and thus need them the most.

The Ambs expectations, core values and community guidelines are the more qualitative set of “criteria” that Couchsurfing Ambs should embody.

Please follow up with measurability questions once you have seen the wireframes.

I'm also as concerned as others have been with CSHQ wanting to have a record of passports or other government issued ID. I don't see how this will practically happen to the entire membership. I was comfortably being verified, and I believe there are other ways that CSHQ could verify members, as other websites do, short of what has been proposed.


The ID verification is a step that we want to test and discuss with the Ambs. We are not trying to sell records of personal data to anyone. Verifying a person’s real existence has a lot of crucial advantages to make the community safer. Jen, who runs the CS Community Team may enter the discussion on ID verification in the weeks to come.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JUSTBORIS

Dear Martina,

just a couple brief questions:

1. Could you please state your credentials? i.e. are you CS Inc. employee? What is your position? etc. Thank you very much in advance!


I am a Community Manager at Couchsurfing International and joined the team on Feb 1, 2013.
Not sure what the etc. refers to but if you are interested, check my profile.

2. Could you please outline the key differences b/w existing (old) Ambassador program and a new one?

- There is a clearly defined structure of how the Ambs Program works, and what the definition of an Amb is.
- Ambs will be accessible to local members via Place Pages thus more visible to all other members.
- The main focus lies on what Ambs DO rather than on what they ARE.
- Ambs are actually required to be active and will be provided with the tools that are most needed.

3. So far I see only one big difference - Amb. grouping:
New Ambassador Groups: Traveling, Host, Events and Place Pages Ambassadors suggested instead of current system of City, Nomad, and Family Ambassadors. Any good reason for that change? Most of ambassadors who I know are involved in hosting/travelling/events creating/Group posting/responding/moderating - is there any need to separate those activities?

TIA!


The old categories are impossible to measure. The 4 new ones are. While quantitative criteria do not suffice to make someone a good Amb, they ensure that Ambs are at least actively using what they claim as their expertise. Consequently, they are more in touch with how the site works because they use it continuously.

While the 4 categories exist, Ambs can still perform all of these activities if they choose to.

The upcoming visuals of the Ambs directory will help answer your question further.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ALFONSO AND FAMILY MORA SENA

Dear Martina

The same way as other ambassadors do, i dont understand the change form
City Ambassadors
Nomad Ambassadors
Family Ambassadors

to

Traveling Ambassadors
Host Ambassadors
Events Ambassadors
Place Pages Ambassadors

ti seems changfing from what we are to what we are supposed to do...

this would be ok, if you are thinking on emplyes, not in volunteers...

ok, you as an employe, will be in charge of creating events, but, as JUSTBORIS sayd

JUSTBORIS>"Most of ambassadors who I know are involved in hosting/travelling/events creating/Group posting/responding/moderating - is there any need to separate those activities?"


See answers above.

You Said

MARTINA>In general, current Family Ambs would fall in the Host Ambs category, as this is what they are often doing.

Actually, we host (we have hosted arround 150 times, b ut we have organiceds more than 150 events (minimun 10 per month with two weekly events and some aditional ones)

we go on bein active trying to help Sevilla Places and in events

Tony was pushing us to become Events ambassadors and Places ambassadors

https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14459624#post14464351

Tony>The team is slammed with the Surf/Host Engine so I would advise that you become a CS Places Amb and we'll work with you then to get the pages right. We'll get the applications out by the end of May.
....
TONY>Thanks Alfonso. Super useful. Maybe you should be an Events Amb too. :)

So it will be difficult to choose
Host Ambassadors
Events Ambassadors
Place Pages Ambassadors

and being specialized in families, we have hosted 38 times families with children


I am sorry, I guess I was not specific enough in my answer. I did not mean that you could only
be a Host Ambassador. You should maybe apply for multiple working groups: Host, Events, Place Pages.

We are only at the very beginning our process of understanding how CS families are different.


Martina, i suppose that the best way to understanbd the difference of CS for Families should be being hosted by a CS family :-)

you have an amazing one really close to you in San Jose
https://www.couchsurfing.org/people/schertle/
we hosted them @ Seville in 2010, the crossed half europe to attend a meeting we organizedhttp://www.couchsurfing.org/meetings.html?mid=45588
BIG HALLOWEEN FOR LITLLE COUCHSURFERS


Thanks for forwarding the nearby contacts.

I plan on taking your advice when I travel to South America this autumn - looking forward to it =)


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

ANDREW FARR


I have been an ambassador for a while now and have historically been very involved in the Raleigh CS culture. Over the last 1.5 years I have been very involved in other parts of my life, but it is looking like I will be able to be very active in CS again very soon. I can understnad why people like me will have to re-apply, as my level of involvement has recently been lower than usual. I do have a few concerns though.

I have generally been really scattered with how I am involved. I sometimes am active on the place page...other times I am an active host...sometimes I travel. If you add it all up I have been a very active CS member, but if you look at it by each different type of activity I might not seem that active. It doesn't seem fair that people like me how are moderately active in all categories would be scored on a scale that rewards people who are very active in only one category.


You bring up a valid concern. We are working on the exact criteria of what defines “active” and will look more closely into this kind of scattered engagement you describe. You seem to be most active in hosting so I would assume you would be most likely to qualify for this category. Will look into it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------
More tomorrow - it is getting late :)

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 7:37 am by from Madison, United States (Permalink)
Martina,

Thank you for taking the time to read through our feedback. I like everything in the proposal EXCEPT for the following part:

"Couchsurfing Ambassadors of all types are active members of the service, meaning they frequently log in and engage in the activities for which they are applying to be an Ambassador. For example, someone can only be a Host Ambassador if they are an active Host. Because activity levels vary regionally, the specifics of what constitutes “active” may vary by location. At a minimum, Ambassadors must exceed average activity levels for members in their region. An exception is given to Traveling Ambassadors, whose activity levels are compared with other travelers."

There is not going to be an accurate or fair way of gauging how active an ambassador is -- regardless of the timeframe or area you sample from. There are just too many factors at play. There will always be fluctuations in participation/activity based upon the ambassador's personal schedule or time of year -- especially if the ambassador is a student or someone who has a sporadic work schedule. It simply isn't fair or logical to exclude highly experienced couchsurfers as ambassadors simply because they cannot meet a strict activity standard of "exceeding average activity levels".

I understand your concern that you want to keep ambassadors actively supporting the community and actively participating in couchsurfing, but the proposal you have made has too strict of a standard and that standard is also too difficult to accurately gauge. Please remove or revise this part of the proposal and you will have my full support. My suggestion would be to have a very basic activity standard (such as meeting average activity levels for the region within 20% standard deviation) for all ambassadors. Other than that, I'd say leave the rest of the proposal as-is.

Thank you,
Jesse Allhands
City Ambassador for Madison, Wisconsin

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 8:37 am by from Sydney, Australia (Permalink)
Hi Martina

It is a nice move after some period of being reluctant good to go ahead with new programs and new Ideas , just a few points:

How will you evaluate Ambassadors ? how you can recognize them as being active or not ? what are the benchmarks ?

and who will decide about these guidelines ?

Thanks and best regards.

Reza
Ambassador of Mashhad , Iran

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 9:17 am by from Shenzhen, China (Permalink)
Hi Martina,

I do not agree with the new categories. Way too narrow. What is the reason for choosing these?

Kaisa

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 9:23 am from San Jose, United States
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 11:58 am by from Philadelphia, United States (Permalink)
Hello Martina and fellow Ambassadors:

I am thrilled to see that the ambassador programme is being revamped and re-invigorated.

I actually like the new categories. I do think that we participate in various ways and these categories are useful in describing them. I do agree with the issue about those of us that may not be active hosts or engaged in planning events, but still serve CS goals and aims by showing people around, assisting with personal issues, site usage, providing advice and counsel, etc.

I think we should maintain our city ambassadors and place hosting, event, place pages under city/regional headings, or at least for the large/major cities world-wide.

Howard



Posted May 29th, 2013 - 2:19 pm from Eindhoven, Netherlands
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 3:42 pm from Sevilla, Spain
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Posted May 30th, 2013 - 2:14 pm by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
Dear Martina,

thank you very much for your answers. Re: your position - honestly I did expect to see it either in initial post or in your profile (I did check it, of course), and was a bit surprised that I did not see any info. Anyway, good luck at your (relatively) new position.

A few notes and two new questions:

> The old categories are impossible to measure. The 4 new ones are.

That seems to me slightly incorrect. You may - if you wish to - measure old categories the same why that you are going to measure new ones. For example, it seems to me that you are saying that for host ambassador everyone will be able to see how many ppl s/he hosted let say last month, for places amb - how may questions responded etc., right? So, it could be the same for a City Amb - just with a few categories (hosted xxx, events created xxx, questions responded xxx, etc)

small question between the lines - did you participate in Amb Program before? Did you read its documents?

New questions:

1. Legal: As a few couchsurfers mentioned in different threads, it is illegal to use volunteers by corporations in US. I am not a legal expert, so could you please clarify it? If that is so, then the question is - what kind of status ambassadors will have? We all used to be volunteers, when CS used to be (or pretened to be as some say) a non-profit... and obviously non of us want to be involved in illegal activities...

2. It come to my attention that CS Inc is launching this program as well: http://events.cornell.edu/event/couchsurfing_ambassador_program_info_session

- Are you responsible for College Ambassador program?
- Could you please explain this line: "No Couchsurfing experience necessary."
Do I get it right that in order become a College Ambassador, NO Couchsurfing experience necessary???

TIA!


Posted May 30th, 2013 - 2:30 pm from San Francisco, United States
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 1:16 pm by from Boynton Beach, United States (Permalink)
Any organization in a state of change runs the real risk of losing connection with its knowledge and experience base. Sometimes that is not all bad and sometimes it is a huge loss.

It is difficult to see how this program change improves the CS experience.

It will likely become apparent that forcing those with varied interests into corporate boxes mostly squeezes them out of the group.

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 2:04 pm by from Kyiv, Ukraine (Permalink)
i have just one main question for me know:

does the "serving" for the "Company" and its "growing community" on "2-years" basis with "applying procedure" and requirement to show my ID and confirming again my good reputation, peacefull and "diplomatic" attitude, readiness to "accept and share" information and cooperate in "working groups" member and with a paid stuff (like Martina) - IS IT A PAID POSITION?

if no, doesnt it look like they want to USE our abilities, readiness to share, orginise, create, help, open-heartly voluntering and make this word better place for living and traveling for their company needs? FOR FREE!

probably this post will be deleted, but i think that it is much more important question then discussing how many groups will be in this "new vision" community.

best regards and deep respect to those who still keep their CS flags!!

Marina

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 3:52 pm from Milton Keynes, England
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Posted May 29th, 2013 - 4:48 pm by from Karlsruhe, Germany (Permalink)
I think this draft is over-designed and detached from reality. Much as the new CS user interface, the new search (and search-related functions) in particular.

For one thing, how would you label someone, whose CS encounters are, say, 53% as a surfer, and 47% as a host? It sounds like an old joke about policemen who always patrol in pairs, because one can read and the other can write.

Secondly, I would remind that CS is now a commercial enterprise, and as such should make a clear distinction between employees' and volunteers' labor. In this particular case, I'd expect more thought and effort from the employees in preparing the draft before presenting it openly, even to 'ambassadors'. You simply haven't done your homework.

Thirdly, to my impression, ambassadors in the present-time CS play no significant role in decision-making (if at all). That is to say, we have become a sort of "frequent flyers' club". We love CS, we use CS, we recommend CS, despite the old technical hiccups are just replaced by new, even more ridiculous ones instead of continuous, evolutionary improvement. But for better or worse, we do not BUILD CS any more.

Which means, designing rules for how exactly ambassadors should toe the line, and who qualifies for that in the first place, seems to me rather futile. You have to completely re-invent these roles. I mean, you have to come up with something that works, not this draft, of course.

Bottom line: this plan will add yet another broken feature to the CS as a system, and can potentially repel more of experienced CS-rs away.

Posted May 29th, 2013 - 5:10 pm from Glasgow, Scotland
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Posted May 30th, 2013 - 6:53 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
(sorry for the duplicate post, pasted the wrong image source)

Thank you all for your thoughts and for taking the time to read through this thread! Your input is being discussed across the team at CSHQ. We are refining the criteria of the expected activity level for each Ambs category.

I’ve received a very helpful message yesterday upon which I would like to clarify one particular point: By no means am I saying the old program was not serving its purpose or wasn’t consensual at the time it was created. Past Ambs Programs were designed to face past challenges in a much smaller community.

Previous programs may have served that purpose perfectly while they were in place until they became neglected for too long and coexisted with other programs to the point where it became unclear what an Amb does. With a growing community of 6 million members, new challenges arise.

The new program needs to live up to the much larger size of our community and some quantifiable criteria become inevitable. However, the core values and community guidelines are in no way a by-product. They are set of high standards of how all CS Ambs are expected to interact with other members.

Generally speaking, the new Ambs are active users that signs up for an ongoing, active commitment to the community in what they do and how they interact. We at CSHQ will do our best to provide Ambs with tools that help them support other members.

I would like to share one of the core features of the new Ambs Program with you before discussing more of the questions (I will continue answering them tomorrow):
the Ambassador Directory

The idea behind the Ambassador Directory is to make it easier for community members to find Ambs who are willing to help them out, share their expertise, answer questions, give advice and more. All Ambs, regardless of their type, will be listed in the Ambs Directory. Members will see a link on each Place Page (marked on the wireframe below) that will take them to the Ambs Directory.



This is what all Place Pages would look like with a prominent link to the Ambs Directory

So, clicking on the “14 Ambassadors” link will take you to the Ambs Directory which will list local Ambs and travelling Ambs that are in the area. There may also be a link to a view of all Ambs around the world. In the second picture you can see the Ambs mini-profiles showing what category you are an expert in.

The picture below shows examples of four different Ambs types who are active in one categories each. (Instead of calling them categories it may be more adequate to think of them as “fields of specialization” Ambs are still encouraged to answer other questions as well)

Caroline in the first picture below is a Host Amb, that has hosted from 2009-2013, it shows you how actively she has hosted last month, how many FAQs she has answered so far and how many references she has. By clicking on the FAQs and references you can read them. The “Ask me about” section allows Ambs to tell the community what else they like or are knowledgeable in and want to share. This is also a place where, for example, current Family Ambs could fill in that they are experts in Family Hosting, Family Events etc.Members can also see how quickly Ambs may reply to them, which can be crucial whenever they come to Ambs with urgent questions. The listed languages obviously make it easier for members and Ambs to address someone they can actually speak to. Members can choose whether they want to privately message Ambs, or ask them a question publicly, or read through previous posts/answers of the respective Amb.

The same applies to Events Ambs, like Hector in the picture whose mini-profile will also link to his weekly event.
Similarly, the mini-profile of Place Pages Amb Germain will show how many conversations he has participated in. Note: “participated” may include re-categorizing posts, commenting on posts, setting featured events and flagging spam.

Traveling Ambs will have a similar mini-profile showing how much they have surfed in the last month.
On the right hand side of the picture you can see all other Ambs in the area, both locals and travelers.



This Ambs Directory in any place, here Austin, would show you mini-profiles of local Ambs and Ambs traveling in the area

By clicking on e.g. Caroline’s profile picture, her name or any of the buttons on her mini-profile, you will be taken to her previous answers under “Frequently Asked Questions”. From here you can also see her full profile if you want to know more about this Amb.




This is what an Ambs mini-profile looks like with the Ambs' personal FAQ, answers, links to other sources of information etc


Please keep in mind that we are still working on the feature and things are most likely going to change as we consider more feedback.

Posted May 30th, 2013 - 2:12 pm from Corrales, United States
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Posted May 30th, 2013 - 3:21 pm from Edwardsville, United States
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Posted May 30th, 2013 - 10:24 am by from Kyiv, Ukraine (Permalink)
totally agree with Antoine-Van-Rijsel! i think some loyal members (specially from US and other commercial "perspective" areas) already got an offers.

besides of paying stuff CSHQ will try to use initiative of the existing CS Ambassadors for free, like they are doing now, proposing to discuss this program and playing on our really open hearts. and then, if most or even some of us will send them to visit "Hell, for free, Couch and Coffe included!!", they will have enough "new vision" oriented, "pro-active" members, ready to slave just to get a priviledge to have an CS AMBASSADOR FLAG!!

GUYS, BE AWARE WHAT WE DISCUSSING HERE AS GENERAL!!!

Posted May 30th, 2013 - 10:25 am by from Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Permalink)
I never complain and I have no reason to do it now.
I wait and see what happens with the new program.

Happy to give any advise if it's requested.

A bit concerned for the Amb types as they are a bit "limiting" to my point of view.
I generally agree with some of the others who wrote that some ambassadors host-organize-moderate-travel more than anybody else and to define what they do more would be limiting.
Please, for example, look at my profile and try to tell me what is the "ideal" amb type for me? :)

Anyway, if that is your decision, we will wait and see and surely it will be fine.

As I already told Tony on our Videochat, i really hope CS finally uses its resources and puts more value on the CSers who can give more and are willing to give more...

Posted May 30th, 2013 - 11:29 am from Kolkata, India
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Posted May 30th, 2013 - 5:42 pm by from St. Catharines, Canada (Permalink)
Martina,

Kudos for this step to organize and boost the ambassadorial task force!

While being overall all for the proposed changes, I want to share a few concerns.

1. As Balazs commented above, the categories seem to leave a lot of grey areas, and afford no more specific connection of an ambassador to his or her locale.

2. The ID checks appear to be redundant; since the Ambs are in no way official representatives of Couchsurfing, there is no legal loophole to cover, and there is no apparent de-facto gain in such action, while the hassle can be quite major (especially to the traveling ambs). However, I agree this is not such a big issue.

3. My main concern is the need for very hands-on ambassadors' training and (especially) support teams. In past, that repeatedly proved to be the weak link. At times, the training team previously was at its best but the AST/AMT management slugged and let the project fumble (I know, for I was part of the AMT, and we did not do that well at the time). And at times, the management was all enthusiastic about managing and supporting the ambassadors, but no one really invested into training the new ambassadors. Is there a simple and viable plan in place that includes direct coordination between those parts of the program?

Once more, thank you very much for the thought and the effort. Certainly, a lot of us here will be glad to hop onboard with the renovation and reorganization.

Cheers from Niagara,
Eli

Posted May 31st, 2013 - 4:38 am from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted May 31st, 2013 - 7:01 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
One correction on the visuals of the Ambs Directory: The years listed in the mini-profiles of each Ambs are the years during which that person has been an Amb in the past. For example, look at the numbers in the top right corner of Caroline’s Ambs profile)

One more thing, I’ve been accused of sounding dictatorial. It’s definitely not my intention. If I had more time, I’d make my answers sound beautiful. Considering that you are 2000 people and I am but one person, I hope you understand that some answers are very, very short.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

M.J. DE LA CRUZ

Hi Martina,
Let me start by thanking you for the e-mail that made me aware of this document as I might have missed it since I'm traveling and as such not checking the AMB group as often.

A few things concern me about my ability to continue as an AMB under this new program. I want dearly to stay as an AMB because as an AMB I feel I have and continue to contribute to the community.

1. Types of Ambs, I pride myself on being a nomad, not a constant traveler, but a nomad, I often settle down in places for 3-6 months and during that time make it a point to host as often as possible. But a large part of my time is spent backpacking and traveling. Would there be different icons for different kinds of AMBs? If so, would it be easy to switch between different types of AMBs? Could a member have more than one icon at a time, say "Host" and "Event"?


We try to take typical traveling behaviors (like the nomadic one you describe) into account when we define the criteria. How many nights would you say you typically surf during the remaining 3-6 months of a year?

As the Ambs are going to be accessible from Place Pages, there won’t be any icons saying you are an Amb but there will be a link to the Ambs Directory from your personal profile.

2. The vague criteria to hold an ambassadorship seems frightening to me. I love to host events, even when traveling in a foreign city, I've even started up weekly's in cities I was visiting (Ask the old schoolers in Philly about Yaki-Tori Boy Tuesdays). I love to host whenever possible. I've hosted in my car, in a tent, in an abandoned building, in hotel rooms, in a barn, in the middle of a big "camp out" protest. I love to travel and am very knowledgeable about it. When I am looking at a place page (or formally City Groups) if I see incorrect information, I chime in and correct it. I also flag when I see inappropriate posts, even if I'm on the other side of the globe of whatever place page I'm looking at. That being said, how frequently I do each of these things varies greatly almost on a bi-weekly/monthly basis. I would never claim to be more active than the average user, but I am extremely active both on/off line. If I'm a traveling AMB, why do I have to be more active than other travelers? Despite being a nomad for the better part of 10 years, there are many who have traveled more extensively, or who when using CS have better luck finding hosts. What activity will you base this requirement on? (i.e., log-in locations, connections with hosts, posts in varying place pages, CRs sent, something else?)

I don’t have the answer to all your questions yet. Generally, the 4 Ambs types need to be active specialists in their categories so that CSHQ can design tools and features from their input which will benefit them and everyone else in return.

This conceptual shift towards more specialised Ambs is very much focused on finding the people who are active users. It is a conceptual change that is needed to improve the service for the entire community at a large scale. This is also a step that naturally favors ongoing contributions over past contributions.
All the past work, energy, heart and soul that past Ambs have poured into CS is much appreciated. We’ll keep working hard to make the new program great. This draft is a starting point.

3. Sometimes another CSer will inform me of a stranded surfer or I'll read an emergency CR in an appropriate group, I'll check out that members profile and agree to host them (via text, call, facebook, carrier pigeon,etc) whatever is the best way to communicate with that member at the time. These experiences are usually never recorded except in the form of references, as in there is nothing in the "Surf Report" or CR section of the site about this guest. In order to prove that I am hosting as often as I am, would I need to require a surfer to send me a formal request, once they are already in my home?

Correct. Uncool, but it is very advisable to send formal requests no matter what. Having information in our system helps us have provable information in case the Trust and Safety Team has to take action. For your own sake, please do use the formal couch request.

We may ask you in your application to become a New Amb to estimate, to estimate the number of nights surfed/hosted so we can compare it to our data and see if there are consistent deviations.

4. Working groups? Can you please define what the roles of these working groups would be? What kind of activity I would be required to perform in each group to maintain AMB status. This is very important to me as there are many times I cannot access the Internet (For example, I'm about to go on a 53 hour bus ride from Mexico City to San Diego, USA, then immediately hopping on a bus to Los Angeles, then connecting to another bus to San Francisco.) I will be on the road for almost a week straight with 0 Internet access. How will periods like these affect my "role" in a working group? Especially since I also like camping and hitchhiking which are other times I am often without Internet. I would also be concerned with how my actual time with surfers/hosts would be affected by needing to be online more than I already have to.

Ambs will have a dual impact, they will support members and have a special platform to talk to CSHQ whenever they need.

The 4 working groups refer to the 4 different types of Ambs. Ambs of all types will have a platform for themselves - 4 expert pools - where they can share expert insights, help each other out, discuss with CSHQ and request features that they need for their field of specialization. Traveling Ambs share their traveling expertise with the community and give us insight into the special needs travelers have while using CS.

During trips like the one you describe you can just toggle your status to “having a break” and resume when you’re back. During that time, your “lack of activity” won’t have an influence on your overall activity level.

If you feel that you are not able to be active enough online you may be better off being an awesome community member than committing to be an Amb. Being an Amb should not be about a status but about doing something you want to do and that you can and want to take the time to do. Not being an Amb does in no way make you a less valuable contributor to the community. It is just a different way of interacting with the community.

5. What is the time frame for evaluating an AMBs activeness? (i.e., every week, month, 3 months, 4 months, year, 2 year term)With alot of recent changes to the site I (unwillingly) have been less active in the last 6 months, first by incorrect location, then not showing up in search as a host, then by the algorithm that constantly placed be at the bottom of search. I still managed to host but not nearly as much as I wanted to. If you were to look at the last 6 months, it would not be a fair representation of my activity with CS.

We’ll most likely look at the last 12 months, counting back from the date of application. We're working on figuring it out. Do you have suggestions or particular cases/concerns we might not be aware of (e.g. seasonal travel or hosting, etc.)?

6. "Create Connection[s]: Humans need connection, and are made happier by them. Connecting with and accepting the kindness of “strangers” can restore our faith in our fellow human beings and help us all to become better people." I really dislike the wording of this, who says our faith in humanity/humans needs restoring? I realize I might be nitpicking here, but maybe isn't the best way to phrase a core value, when some people's "core values" already include faith in humanity. Just sayin'...

Hm, great point. Would you support “strengthen” instead of “restore”?

7. Will all current AMBs be invited into the new AMB program? Will some current AMBs be made to apply?

All current Ambs will be invited to apply and have to pass the basic criteria.

If I chose to take a break for a month or two, would I have to [re]apply?

No

8. "Couchsurfing will distribute information regularly to Ambassadors via email and by other means." Will this include future site updates, changes in CSHQ staffing, financial transparency information, fluffy stories about other CSers around the globe?What kind of information will be distributed? How Frequently? When will this begin to happen?

We'll regularly distribute information about how the site, service and mobile apps are improving or changing, how you can help to keep the community safer, and any changes or enhancements to the ambassador program(s) that we make as we learn more and get more feedback from the working groups and from the community at large. We may share interesting data about how the service is growing or changing, information about events that have been particularly interesting, or the like.What kind of “financial transparency information” would you like to see that would be helpful?

This is scheduled for after you have been accepted to the new Ambs program and will happen as frequently as necessary. Probably monthly, with additional notifications for urgent Safety information.

9. "In some cases Ambassadors may be asked to contribute content for travelers who will be visiting specific regions." Will content creators retain the rights to the content they create? If a content creator no longer wishes to have their content available to CS or its members, would they be able to remove it or request to have it removed?

Content you will create will be subject to the Terms of Use; meaning you won’t be able to retain ownership or remove it. But we won’t sell it or benefit financially.

This is the aspect of the program that is least likely to roll out any time soon, so there will be time to co-create it. What type of content do you think will be most beneficial?

10. I think comparing CSer's activities for eligibility is not the best way to go about selecting good ambassadors. There are people mainly in bigger cities who WANT to be more active in the community, but just because they only have one surfer a month, compared to say, a local average of 2 surfers a month, doesn't make them any less valuable in the community. This is something I've been discussing with my host here in Mexico City, who although wants to be very active and involved, and be a bigger part of of the community, under the requirements would not come close to being "above average" compared to fellow CSers here. Will other factors play into eligibility besides just the numbers?

Yes they will, but at this stage, we’re really looking for active members and need to be able to identify them somehow. We are still working on the criteria that allow us to calculate average activity levels while taking into account as many concerns as we can.
Please share any concrete suggestion?

11. For a "verified" traveling AMB, specifically nomadic ones like myself, who settle in places for short periods of time. Will there be an easier way to change the home location? In the last year alone I have had to have over 5 postcards sent. Right now my location is set to Ensenada, Mexico since I was there for 6 month, but now that I am on the road again, I would like to set it back to San Francisco (where I am from), but since I currently have no postal address for a post card to be sent to, if I change it now I would always be considered "Location Unverified" Specifically for traveling AMBs, could there be a more prominent "Hometown" and "Current Location" at the top of the profile?

Good question. When we move the profiles over to Rails, we’ll have much more flexibility in our ability to modify the profile and make it more useful for different types of Couchsurfers. I’ll earmark your observation as something to consider when we make that change. Thanks!

12. Would you consider adding "Nomadic AMB" instead of "Traveling" and have "Traveling" be a status for any AMB who is traveling. Currently on an AMB profile is says "John Doe is an Ambassador living in Example City"[even when that AMB actually lived in a suburb] assuming the new AMB system will be the same, Will it then read "John Doe is a Host[ing] Ambassador living in Example City"? I bring up this wording for the purposal (above) about changing "Traveling" to a status and replacing Traveling AMB with Nomadic AMB so a profile could read something like "John Doe is a Host[ing] Ambassador in Example City who is Traveling" or "John Doe is a Nomadic Ambassador currently in Example City" On the latter example allowing the Nomadic AMB update the city they are currently in. What do you think?

I realize this is the first draft, but to me it raised more questions than answers.

Will discuss this with Product Management.

Thanks for taking the time to read my very long winded response and I looking forward to working with you and my fellow AMBs to create a program that is beneficial to the community and rewarding to be a part of.

-MJ[/color]

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BARRYFUN

Like many ambassadors, my level of activism has dropped off over the last year or so. That's mainly due to the birth of my son. I'm ready to re-engage again and this New Ambassador Program is timed perfectly for that.

Congratulations on the birth of your son and nice timing :)

My main questions/concerns after reading the draft are (1) how many Ambs should there be in a city (I live in Shanghai, a city of 22 million) and (2) how specifically do I apply to continue my ambassadorship. These points are already raised by Michael Lahiffe and Ken Nakagama and covered by Martina so I'll just wait for the final Program details.

More populous areas will have more Ambassadors. Finding an appropriate algorithm for this right now. Possibly, the number of Ambs per area will be a function of the size of the CS community in the same area.

It's wonderful to see so many familiar faces again, especially names I've not seen for a while. And thank you so much for coordinate all this, Martina. Answering everyone's questions with patience and detail is uber commendable!

You’re more than welcome.

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PRIYA RAMACHANDRAN

hi Martina,
Its been a long time since we have gone on record here in the Ambs group...:)
Bringing in some structure to the Amb program is a good step. So lets hope for the best, but let us be very clear that nothing should be made mandatory on any Amb. We serve for we like to serve. We are active b'coz we want to make that difference. The day you are going to impose rules that make the Ambassdorship look like a job - we are out of this. (not CS - but ambship)


Thank you for this straightforward input. You make a very valid point. Putting a structure on a program without imposing rules is a very thin line. Will keep this in mind.

The point about id. verification via passport is something which we have espoused for over 3 years. We had some issues here with local police in India and ever since then we insist that any CSer coming to surf with us has to give us a copy of their passport if they want to be hosted. Its mentioned on our profile for the last 3 years. (And we have had no refusals so far!!) The same idea was mooted in several mails to CS admin & Amb public & private groups. Lots of mails were exchanged, but nothing ever came out of it. So this time around, hopefully - you will extend the same to all members and not just Ambs, for that will take care of neg. profiles / duplicate profiles / false profiles/...etc. And it makes for one solid reason for safety of the member.

We are working on a more robust verification system, and this is a first step. We’ll use the Ambs to pilot the ID verification piece so we can see how it works, get feedback from the new Ambs, and determine the best means of improving verification systems as we go forward. Agreed it’s very important to take this seriously.

As for categorization - keep a mode/option for the world-continent - country-state- city as it is a practical way of searching. You may keep as many other ways as you find appropriate.
cheers,
Priya & Q
Kochi, India


I am not sure what you mean. I see two questions here.
Do you suggest that there should be a fifth category? If so then what is the benefit of it?
Or do you mean to say that members search for Ambs by globe - country - city? If so, then this will not be necessary as members find the Ambs Directory from the Place Pages.

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EOEL

Having read the proposal, what kind of reimbursement can an ambassador expect for the work they do for couchsurfing inc.? It certainl sounds like a job with obligations and a contract attached to me.

As mentioned above, being an Amb should not be about a status but about doing something you want to do and that you can and want to take the time to do. You may prefer to be a regular member and still have a great positive impact on the community. Your contribution will matter to the members you interact with as much as it would if you were an Amb.

I also am not a fan of having to fit into a category. What is the aim of having these categories? What will the benefits be for the community. Most city ambs will fall into all categories. What is the goal you want to achieve?

I can see that. As detailed above, the categories allow activity in each field which ensures that Ambs are experts in at least one category. Ambs are by no means restricted to one category.

Compare it to how most study programs at universities work. You may be a student interested in many fields but you choose a major for more focus. That does not mean you are restricted to learning or knowing only things in this field. The point is that by focussing, you develop a set of skills that is stronger than if your learning is too scattered.

This may not be the best analogy, but I hope you see the benefit in the fields of specialization.

Mentioned earlier was the fact that this model might work for new york and paris and shanghai. Places where millions live. My little village as 300k population only, my place of birth only 275 individuals. How can someone in rural areas like Einsiedeln or Grindelwald become an amb?

My hometown has roughly 64 inhabitants, I can relate to that and I’m sure I’m not the only one coming from a tiny place :)

We’ll make sure rural areas are not discriminated.

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JESSE ALLHANDS

Martina,

Thank you for taking the time to read through our feedback. I like everything in the proposal EXCEPT for the following part:

"Couchsurfing Ambassadors of all types are active members of the service, meaning they frequently log in and engage in the activities for which they are applying to be an Ambassador. For example, someone can only be a Host Ambassador if they are an active Host. Because activity levels vary regionally, the specifics of what constitutes “active” may vary by location. At a minimum, Ambassadors must exceed average activity levels for members in their region. An exception is given to Traveling Ambassadors, whose activity levels are compared with other travelers."


There is not going to be an accurate or fair way of gauging how active an ambassador is -- regardless of the timeframe or area you sample from. There are just too many factors at play. There will always be fluctuations in participation/activity based upon the ambassador's personal schedule or time of year -- especially if the ambassador is a student or someone who has a sporadic work schedule. It simply isn't fair or logical to exclude highly experienced couchsurfers as ambassadors simply because they cannot meet a strict activity standard of "exceeding average activity levels".

We will never find a 100% fair way of gauging how active an Amb really is. But we can try to get as close to the 100% as possible by using the data we have. I wish I had a better answer for your question and a way of incorporating offline activity into the criteria (without creepy surveillance).

I understand your concern that you want to keep ambassadors actively supporting the community and actively participating in couchsurfing, but the proposal you have made has too strict of a standard and that standard is also too difficult to accurately gauge. Please remove or revise this part of the proposal and you will have my full support. My suggestion would be to have a very basic activity standard (such as meeting average activity levels for the region within 20% standard deviation) for all ambassadors. Other than that, I'd say leave the rest of the proposal as-is.

Thank you,
Jesse Allhands
City Ambassador for Madison, Wisconsin


We’ll start with rather strict criteria but plan on loosening them should they turn out to be too strict. If it is as you say “too difficult to accurately gauge” then we’ll have to adjust. Your suggestion is not too far off what we’ve been discussing internally today. Let’s give it a try first!

Thank you for sharing your concern, this is for sure the part that Edward referred to as the “Devil in the Details”.

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REZA KAHLAEE

Hi Martina

It is a nice move after some period of being reluctant good to go ahead with new programs and new Ideas , just a few points:

How will you evaluate Ambassadors ? how you can recognize them as being active or not ? what are the benchmarks ?


Hi Reza, the activity criteria discussed above will be an important part together with Safety screenings. The benchmarks are yet to be refined. Stay patient.

and who will decide about these guidelines ?

Each member of the community can report another member if there is a breach of these guidelines. Luckily, in many cases, pointing a misstep out to another member is sufficient and reports are not needed.

Thanks and best regards.

Reza
Ambassador of Mashhad , Iran


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KAISA ANSPER

Hi Martina,

I do not agree with the new categories. Way too narrow. What is the reason for choosing these?

Kaisa


They were compiled in close collaboration with other current Ambs in the discussions with CEO Tony. See the discussions of the weeks 5-9 in the Ambs Public group, eg. week 9: http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14444302

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I’ll catch up with you tomorrow but have one question that I would appreciate your input on:

Do you consider yourself as living in a rural place?

Posted May 31st, 2013 - 8:46 am from San Francisco, United States
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Posted May 31st, 2013 - 8:49 am from San Francisco, United States
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Posted May 31st, 2013 - 8:55 am from San Jose, United States
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Posted May 31st, 2013 - 9:03 am from San Francisco, United States
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Posted May 31st, 2013 - 11:02 am from Burlington, United States
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Posted June 1st, 2013 - 8:53 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
KEN NAKAGAMA

Hi Reza

Past performance is no indication of future results, but in the many cycles we had before it took over a year.

I have no involvement any longer, as my knowledge hasn't any real value today.

Originally, I was asked to structure the AMB program in 2005 and provided a lot of insight. Most likely anyone left doesn't remember.


CSHQ needs to try some things and not over think them. We all expect mistakes, but at least it is progress.

Maybe CS really needs a historian Intern to figure out lessons learned and not reinvent the wheel each time they get new people or attempt to fix something.

I do not believe there is much hope of a useful AMB program today without direct live educational instruction with exams. There needs to be a mechanism to remove AMBs, and a term or online training is not going to solve the knowledge gap.

Regional AMB should provide this training, paid or not, besides their normal duties of about 10 hours a week.

CS is well intentioned, but its likely more things will get broken going forward.

To quit is the wrong thing and helps nothing.
The way to help is participate

Cheers


Undoubtedly, we will make mistakes, and we are committed to moving forward and making progress. We do have a few people on staff who have been around a long time (since 2005), and we seek out their expertise (and memories) quite regularly. And we want the input of the community, at large.

Thanks for the input on the importance of instruction & education - we definitely need to do some more thinking and development here. What we’ve outlined so far is really just the beginning.

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GABOR CSONKA


"Host: Active hosts who share their hosting expertise with the community......
..... someone can only be a Host Ambassador if they are an active Host."

So if i hosted 200 people, and now i cant host (traveling, or changing my home condition (f.e. having roommate) etc.) i dont have experience anymore to share? I dont know our local community to help??
pls. think about it..


You can always help. Maybe the new Ambs Program is not the best way for you to engage under these changes but there are many other ways to support the community.
We do hope that everyone will continue to participate in the community however is most appropriate for them, their stage of life, their interests, and available time. The new Ambs Program is different from the old one in that we do want to take activity into account. It’s not easy or perfect, but, in part, it’s what the new program is about. Helping us get feedback and make CS better and better by being in close contact with people who are actively using it presently.

This is not meant to show any lack of appreciation for the old program or the people who participated in it. The new program is not “better” than old ones, it is adjusted to the needs of a growing community.

"It is the responsibility of Couchsurfing Ambassadors to be informed about the company, the website and the community, and to distribute accurate information to other members or prospective members who want to learn more."

We dont have really the tool to do it. (how to post to our community?? places reaches small (active) portion of the people)
I think C.s. headquorter can easier send some regular updates to all members about...how to use the always changing website... informing about c.s. mission, philosophy etc.. Members they dont know it usually.. they just sign up and thats all.. small quize would help :)


Part of our job is to figure out how to efficiently distribute accurate information and work with Ambs to make sure they understand what we’re saying and doing.

and yes: reagion, country amb. has relevance...

In your opinion, what is the main benefit of this global-country-city structure to fellow members?

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EDWARD TRAVELS

Martina:

Thanks for the responses.


My pleasure.

As you can see by my own comments, and some of the new comments since I made my first post, people are still questioning the need for the categories. Essentially, we are talking about specialization: specifically in Events, which IMHO, all ambassadors take part in one form or another, for the most part, Hosting (as well, this is something that all ambassadors will take part it in one form or another -- and, again, using my previous example in my initial post, that hosting in this case should include activities such as showing someone around your home town and showing them how to use the site (not just a meet up for coffee or lunch, but a more extensive experience).

Being a Places Page ambassador is, essentially, being a moderator. And the site has, if you take into account the numerous sub-groups, has hundreds upon hundreds of Moderators, well more than the site has Ambassadors. Los Angeles, to again use my own area (PP) as an example, has about 35+ related or geographic specific area sub-groups and sub-regional groups (district or neighborhood, or smaller geographic cities wrapped in to the PP area and the previous LA County city group area), all of which have one or more moderators, and it's never had anywhere near that many Ambassadors, active or not.

I've done moderation in well run on-line communities and in wild-west type communities and it's a thankless job I've no desire to do again. I'm not sure why we don't just call them moderators still? As others have pointed out in earlier posts here, we've had moderators who were not all ambassadors and vice versa.

I'll take a look at whatever these "wireframes" are and comment more them, but I'd like to point out that so far, the biggest feedback seems to be questioning the path of these categories so I hope CSHQ is taking this account as this draft goes into various iterations.


Yes, a Place Pages Ambassador will have a similar role to a moderator.

Indeed, the categories are specializations and they have yet to prove their success. Absolutely taking this feedback into account.
What do you think is the main benefit of the old categories over the suggested new ones?


* * * * * * *

When I have visited other CS areas, my experience is that quality events, as you put, tend to be weekly in some cities (a few seem to support twice weekly) -- however in numerous others (as an example, San Francisco appears to have a regular monthly event and a dining event that is bi-weekly, neither of which is organized by an Ambassador). I'd say if you are going to use metrics based by area, an ambassador should be doing regular events (for example, someone who was an ambassador in SF should be doing an event at least once a month, given that two non-ambassadors are doing approximately 12 and 26 events respectively). On the other hand, let's define quality. Someone in LA decided to start a re-occurring event at a bar and, as it became a Featured Event as the only such re-occurring event at a time, a fair number of people signed up for it on and off, but in practice, because it's not really organized as a meet and greet, people don't show up and now that we have created some actual CS meet and greets as re-occurring events, it's fallen off. However, if you counted ever single one of these that this guy has organized as part of your metrics, I don't know that anyone else has kept up with him or could have in a 12 month frame.


Yes. Completely agree that metrics alone are imperfect. But they do offer us a starting point.
You make an interesting point, that we’ve found to be the case in many places - the main, recurring events aren’t hosted by current Ambs but by other active community members who are doing great things. We’re looking forward to also give them a chance to join the program.

I know some other cities have the problem of promoters coming onto the site and putting on re-occurring events that are just commercial spam disguised as a CS calendar entry. How, exactly, are we defining quality events?

To answer your question a little more clearly, I think it should be regularly and compared to however we can all mutually agree to quanitify and qualify something as a CS quality event (which to my mind means an opportunity for CSers to meet and greet one another, get to know and exchange culturally, personally, socially and intellectually).


Great question. Regarding commercial spam, our Trust, Safety and Policy team meets weekly to discuss these types of issues and define nuances in what will/won’t be allowed. In some cases, these things are very difficult for us to determine from HQ. The Places Pages Ambs will work within our (evolving) guidelines to make sure we’re maintaining the best quality possible. Community members can flag events as spam, which is, in some places, quite a successful means of removing the worst offenders. We’ll continue to develop better tools ongoing. Important topic.

* * * * *

Finally, I have, as I type this, not received the info via my regular email so I'd double-check that all Ambassadors 'having recieved' the proposal by now detail.


Thanks for letting us know. I suspect your message notification may have prevented you from getting the message. I’ll investigate.

Thanks again for your responsiveness.

Thank you! As always, your feedback is very useful.

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SWARNAB SAHA

for me its looks like some shareholders board meeting discussion, bit scary....

"It is the responsibility of Couchsurfing Ambassadors to be informed about the company, the website and the community, and to distribute accurate information to other members or prospective members who want to learn more."

- can you please clarify the term "COMPANY" - i dont think i am working in any company or signup any contract.


We refer to Couchsurfing, the Corporate entity, as the “company”. We do realize that for many, Couchsurfing has far, far broader meaning. We’ll distribute company news (site updates, other changes that will impact the community and the like) to the Ambs so that they’ll have answers to common questions the community asks. And we’ll look to the Ambs to tell us what we need to provide more information about.

and i guess i read some discussion about Ambassador groups, bit confusing .....
other than that everything is pretty fine........and same i guess......


The Ambs “types” will form working groups and work together and exchange themselves.
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MACNAPIER

Hello Martina and fellow Ambassadors:

I am thrilled to see that the ambassador programme is being revamped and re-invigorated.


Yeah!

I actually like the new categories. I do think that we participate in various ways and these categories are useful in describing them. I do agree with the issue about those of us that may not be active hosts or engaged in planning events, but still serve CS goals and aims by showing people around, assisting with personal issues, site usage, providing advice and counsel, etc.

I think we should maintain our city ambassadors and place hosting, event, place pages under city/regional headings, or at least for the large/major cities world-wide.


We’ll give that suggestion some thought. What is your reasoning for this?
Thanks in advance for your answer if you get to it.

Howard

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ROBBIE COLLINS

I second Sharon's observations about Australia and especially regional Australia.
No chance of 4 am s where I am.


Let’s give it a try. With 992 CS members in your area there is a chance there might be some interested applicants. There’s nothing wrong with a place ending up having only one or two types of Ambs.

(On a personal note, you guys have some stunning beaches in Jervis Bay - loved it!)

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RIC REILY

Any organization in a state of change runs the real risk of losing connection with its knowledge and experience base. Sometimes that is not all bad and sometimes it is a huge loss.

It is difficult to see how this program change improves the CS experience.

It will likely become apparent that forcing those with varied interests into corporate boxes mostly squeezes them out of the group.


It’s definitely not our goal to force people into boxes, but to develop a program that we, with the help of the Ambs, can run. We need groups of people who actively use the core features of the site to engage with other Couchsurfers to help us as we continue to rebuild the site and build new features. And, without question, the community benefits hugely from active Couchsurfers being available to them.

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MARINA PALAMARCHUK

i have just one main question for me know:

does the "serving" for the "Company" and its "growing community" on "2-years" basis with "applying procedure" and requirement to show my ID and confirming again my good reputation, peacefull and "diplomatic" attitude, readiness to "accept and share" information and cooperate in "working groups" member and with a paid stuff (like Martina) - IS IT A PAID POSITION?


No, it is not a paid position. It is a commitment you wish to make of choose to deny.

if no, doesnt it look like they want to USE our abilities, readiness to share, orginise, create, help, open-heartly voluntering and make this word better place for living and traveling for their company needs? FOR FREE!

probably this post will be deleted, but i think that it is much more important question then discussing how many groups will be in this "new vision" community.

best regards and deep respect to those who still keep their CS flags!!

Marina


I hope you see some value in the new program after it has launched. Thank you for everything you have done for the community. Flag or not, your willingness to share continues to matter.

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CARLO VOGELS

Dear Martina, having a basic knowledge of the English language was always one of the basic requirements to become an Ambassador. Now you suggest that finally the document will be translated in other languages.
Further you said "everyone is being treated equally", does that than also mean "in all cases" that we translate documents to all local languages?


You mean to translate into roughly 7000 languages?
Or into the 8-10 most used languages in the world (and also on CS)?

We will offer translated versions of future text. I’m not sure yet how many languages, but the latter seems more feasible.

Ambassador Expectations are "stay informed by reading the distributed materials, and by participating in training events", what about the non-English speakers, do you translate for them the materials too?
We are all volunteers. I assume that most of us have next to there couchsurfing life still another life. Can the information that you send be concise and clear.
When launch date of the new ambassador program is planned, is there some transformation plan?
You said "there won’t be any flags at all", this means including the new ambassadors? I think the yellow flag has become some "cultural heritage" and even part of the CS vocabulary I think we must not change all old traditions because people start to feel alienated to CS more an more.
We now plan to introduce all those different flavours of ambassadors, but I guess you are a CS-Ambassador, or you are not. Than you can toggle between them. This is all not very clear how it works in practise. Changes your symbol than every time? I organize a lot of events in different places, I travel half of the year, I also host people when I'm not traveling, or sometimes even (if possible) outside my country. I consider myself as a universal ambassador, I don't concentrate on any of those groups, because couchsurfing is all. Can I be a member of all at the same time, or we have to choose? Do you introduce this only because you want to “measure” accomplishments? Do you gone measure this electronically?
Some guys who seldom host, seldom travel, never organize events, or not contribute in place pages can be good ambassadors if they join events and CS camps. I think a CS Ambassador must be connected to the community. I heard in the past that some ambassadors even never show up on any meetings, and nobody has any idea who this person is.
Than we have the security issue, I already mention for a year some serious security issues that private information appears in Google. Even though I suggest serveral easy solutions to solve this, was still not able to do so. Than there is the issue that "Ambassadors will be listed in the Couchsurfing Ambassador Directory on the Couchsurfing website". I hope this directory will also protect our privacy one Google. Remember that couchsurfing contains many private information about all of us, as well in the profile, the references and tracking of our location. All useful information, but not to show on Google. Thereby we have already some impression about who are the Ambassadors and who are the most active
https://www.couchsurfing.org/search/in/everywhere/mode/L/order_by/priority/filter/ambassador
All ambassadors will be visible, but how? You say 'and will be able to put a “face” with locations' but not all of us want or have their face online as you can see in todays profile photos. And sure couchsurfing is not a dating site, we don't have to judge on somebodies appearance. For sure all safety issues are important, but safety issues are not containted in papers, but direct people experiences which are reflected by the references. And sure we have also to take in a account that an ambassador is more sensible to get a negative reference than a non-ambassador.


I’ll start by saying that the new program IS different from the old one in that we’re looking for Couchsurfers who are active in each of the areas who want to participate in this program. It is different from the old one.

Great feedback on Privacy settings. We’ll take that into account as we further define the Ambs Directory and as we develop the program in greater detail.

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ALFONSO AND FAMILY MORA SENA

Thanks again for myour time

Martina>I am sorry, I guess I was not specific enough in my answer. I did not mean that you could only
be a Host Ambassador. You should maybe apply for multiple working groups: Host, Events, Place Pages.


I think that most of the ambassadors are in the same situation... you get involved in everithing, thats why i dong think is so good idea to split it based in what you do.


Anyone is welcome to apply to whatever groups they’d like. People who are truly active in all of these ways will likely be Ambss in multiple categories.

Martina>We are only at the very beginning our process of understanding how CS families are different.

you should also join FWG


Jen, with whom I work closely, is a member of the Family Welcome Group and refers to it constantly as a model of how Couchsurfing really works and the amazing connections that happen there. Jen’s going to the CS International Family weekend in Poland this summer with her daughter. At some point you should connect with her directly. She’s very passionate about CS and families (and she hosts).

Alfonso>>Martina, i suppose that the best way to understanbd the difference of CS for Families should be being hosted by a CS family :-)

you have an amazing one really close to you in San Jose
https://www.couchsurfing.org/people/schertle/
we hosted them @ Seville in 2010, the crossed half europe to attend a meeting we organizedhttp://www.couchsurfing.org/meetings.html?mid=45588
BIG HALLOWEEN FOR LITLLE COUCHSURFERS
Martina>Thanks for forwarding the nearby contacts.

I plan on taking your advice when I travel to South America this autumn - looking forward to it =)

you should try to surf the couch of a family with children... and meet some family ambassador arround there....

What about comming to Europe->Spain->Seville for Halloween

we organice an amazing halloween meeting for families & Children. Lots of activities, lots of fun.... this year it will be 4th edition.

Warm/sunny weather here...

regards


Please forward an invite in case me or more likely Jen is in the area!

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JIMMI GARVIN

mmmmmm fresh coffee! I like it! Sounds good to me... sieving through all the previous comments, neutrals, negatives and positives it is clear that who we want as an ambassador is someone who is active, respectful and approachable. Hopefully, most of us here already fit those categories and the framework will allow us to enable others to join up.

An ambassador retreat of some sort would be cool. Bottom line is that we are all CouchSurfers, but additionally ambassadors do take the extra step by ensuring everyone else is doing ok.

Greetings from Milton Keynes... the city of roundabouts! :D


Refreshing post. Thank you very much Milton!

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GLOBESKATER

I tried to read most of the replies,

First of all I have to say that I am happy that CSHQ is working on the ambassador programm to make it more transparent and to make it clear what the tasks of an ambassador are! I am wondering if these guidelines will be available to all members?


Eventually, yes. They’re still a work in progress!

At the moment in my city it seems that all the tourists are going somewhere else, I receive couch requests very rarely at the moment.. I would be happy with a more safe verification system as the last request was turned down by me because it was a group of guys with not much on their profile and as a young woman alone this did not feel safe enough, even though it could have been a great experience, ID verification does need to be handled very carefully with all the ID theft going on at the moment...

Yes. We’re aware of the risks and benefits of ID verification and are in the initial stages of developing a carefully constructed policy and framework. Stay tuned for details. Agreed that more robust verification systems will benefit the community.

I will try to follow this thread as carefully as I can and hope that there will be a good working ambassador program in the future!

Much appreciated.


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TOOMAS VENDELIN

I think this draft is over-designed and detached from reality. Much as the new CS user interface, the new search (and search-related functions) in particular.

For one thing, how would you label someone, whose CS encounters are, say, 53% as a surfer, and 47% as a host? It sounds like an old joke about policemen who always patrol in pairs, because one can read and the other can write.


It’s much simpler than that. If you’re active in multiple categories and wish to participate in them, great.

Secondly, I would remind that CS is now a commercial enterprise, and as such should make a clear distinction between employees' and volunteers' labor. In this particular case, I'd expect more thought and effort from the employees in preparing the draft before presenting it openly, even to 'ambassadors'. You simply haven't done your homework.

Thirdly, to my impression, ambassadors in the present-time CS play no significant role in decision-making (if at all). That is to say, we have become a sort of "frequent flyers' club". We love CS, we use CS, we recommend CS, despite the old technical hiccups are just replaced by new, even more ridiculous ones instead of continuous, evolutionary improvement. But for better or worse, we do not BUILD CS any more.


It’s true, it’s a different program than its’ predecessor.

Which means, designing rules for how exactly ambassadors should toe the line, and who qualifies for that in the first place, seems to me rather futile. You have to completely re-invent these roles. I mean, you have to come up with something that works, not this draft, of course.

Please do let me know if you have specific suggestions.

Bottom line: this plan will add yet another broken feature to the CS as a system, and can potentially repel more of experienced CS-rs away.

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GUSGUSGUS

Here's a great article talking about how important the international CS city communities are.

Deleting "City ambassadors" and reducing the city-focus-ness of CS is just another step in the wrong way.

http://www.tnooz.com/2013/05/28/news/couchsurfing-when-a-travel-community-needs-a-new-life/

(feel free to share this article to any CSer who still has a heart to do it.)


As Ambs will be shown in the Ambs Directory via their local Place Page, city-focus-ness is not likely to decrease.
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LOCH LOMOND COUCH

Toomas, I agree with the sentiment of your post.
I feel CS is working despite CSHQ, not because of it.
I don't, even as a business person like the tone or oft patronizing nature of the CSHQ replies.
The tone is not collaborative, but dictatorial.
It makes me sad, but I still love my CS experiences on the ground.


My deepest respect and gratitude for writing me the message below. As you mentioned, I will share it here as you raise some points that may be of relevance to more people here:

Hi Martina

Firstly sorry for the slight misuse of messaging but I wanted to share some thoughts.

Secondly I was the author of the "dictatorial" comment. Apologies.

I have been in similar positions in the past and I admire your patience with dealing with the all the comments.

I'll try to explain what I meant now I am not on a smartphone on the Paris Metro. (Visiting my future wife I met through CS....)

I understand there has to be an element of "we've had our best shot at CSHQ at the new procedure and to some extent will have to run with it".

What I really meant to share was how to correct a common (?) misconception of how CS is now "multinational (evil) corporation / shareholder/profit-driven organization". I felt the tone of some of the replies partly reinforced this.

I know there has been lots of communication from the centre about the legitimate reasons for 'B Corp' etc. but you will know there are those encouraging people to leave CS altogether, even among Ambassadors, and Ambassadors have resigned over how they perceive CS has changed for the worse, rightly, or wrongly.

So the message has not got through to many.

I think now is a good time to get Ambassadors to get behind the changes and share the benefits and values with the wider CS community.

None of us like 'spin' and fake PR but in my (even small) businesses I have made use of PR to ensure the right (=truthful!) message gets across. I believe CSHQ has used external PR and I wonder if now would be a good time to share the right (=truthful!) message about CS's future direction with the Ambassadors so it can be promulgated. I assume that you wouldn't be happy with a US Ambassador / Embassy in another country encouraging people to stop being US citizens.

(I was the author of the comment about Ambassadors not just being about 'activities' but 'result'/values.)

I love CS and the shared joy. I have hosted far more than I've surfed as I try to get a new business off the ground with its associated time and monetary constraints. But the world has come to me. I need to count but I must have hosted well over 200. (Not all, especially 'returners' go through Requests). I have met people from so many cultures that I never would have known otherwise. Isn't it fantastic!

I'll stop, you have a life beyond reading my (further) ramblings.

(I have written 'privately' but am happy for this to be shared if helpful.)

Michael

PS. Hop on a flight to my Kitchen Surf here at Loch Lomond on June 9th....


Thank you again for your kind reply and enjoy the Kitchen Surf!

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DAVID ALLAN

Posted 35 hrs ago by David Allan from Burlington, United States (Permalink)
Hi Martina,

I don't have any more to add. I think every possible question is being asked so I will be okay to wait for the end product.

I thank you for all your work and communciations.

David Allan


Thanks, David! And thanks for your work on the Safety Beta Panel. Jen mentioned that your insights were helpful.

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COCYTUS

Hi Martina,

Like Theresa I have checked both my personal email linked to my profile and my CS email and I did not receive any email notification about the Ambassador Programme. Can you please advise what email group is being used to communicate with Ambassadors? I used to get them but dont seem to get them anymore ... Many thanks.

On another note, since the email was sent I am really pleased to see so many new voices here bringing the diversity of views that we value so much. It's not all doom and gloom out there and obviously when we put the keyboard down and go out Into the real world then the amazing connections with real people are still happening ... Go figure :)


Yes, I will investigate and let you know. We’re greatful to have so many voices chiming in - a lot of feedback is being delivered through the form, too. Some very helpful suggestions and some great energy.

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Posted June 1st, 2013 - 9:15 am from Zurich, Switzerland
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Posted June 2nd, 2013 - 4:03 am by from Caracas, Venezuela (Permalink)
Many of the ideas and suggestion put forward, either throughout this thread or through the documents in question, only relate to large CS markets in the western hemisphere.

I have always lived "off-the-beaten" path (whatever that means) Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Yemen... and so on. Concepts of different responsibilites for ambassadors, or points system to prove how good an ambassador you simply to not apply to these and many more countries.

Sure, if you are in Berlin or New York or Sydney where there are 1,000s of members and numerous ambassadors, the division makes sense. But in somewhere like Yemen, where there are 238 members in the entire country, such measures as the ones purposed will hinder sustainable growth, not encourage it.

One need not take such an extreme example as Yemen. While in Azerbaijan, we double membership in Baku a city which previously did not have an ambassador, but now has one with only 110 references.

In short, while the purposed ideas might work in large scale, western-centric locations, they are not needed in the overwhelming majority of the world. Perhaps it's true that CS doesn't care about overall growth, and only cares about the big places. I certainly hope not.

Posted June 3rd, 2013 - 12:22 pm by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
Martina,

could you please respond to these questions when you will have chance? TIA

---------------------------------------------questions:

1. Legal: As a few couchsurfers mentioned in different threads, it is illegal to use volunteers by corporations in US. I am not a legal expert, so could you please clarify it? If that is so, then the question is - what kind of status ambassadors will have? We all used to be volunteers, when CS used to be (or pretened to be as some say) a non-profit... and obviously non of us want to be involved in illegal activities...

2. It come to my attention that CS Inc is launching this program as well: http://events.cornell.edu/event/couchsurfing_ambassador_program_info_session

- Are you responsible for College Ambassador program?
- Could you please explain this line: "No Couchsurfing experience necessary."
Do I get it right that in order become a College Ambassador, NO Couchsurfing experience necessary???
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Posted June 3rd, 2013 - 9:29 pm from Eindhoven, Netherlands
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Posted June 4th, 2013 - 12:42 am by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
@Tobias, EdwardTravels & Theresa -

Yup. It really was sent to all (current and former) Ambs.

I was responsible for sending this email. According to my records, all three of you received it. Of course, I won't share your emails in this public forum, but you're welcome to email me directly (bill@couchsurfing.com) double check. Any of the following failure cases are possible:

(1) the email was filtered by your email client (i.e. gmail, hotmail, yahoo)
(2) it was incorrectly categorized as spam (great suggestion from annarital - check your spam folder!)
(3) it was sent to an email address that you no longer check (so please confirm that we have your correct email address on your account settings page)
(4) you have enabled an unsubscribe setting that blocked the email (check here: https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/master_unsubscribe)

or, it could always be...
(5) some bug that we haven't heard about yet! :/

Email is a bit trickier than many people realize. So that you all know, we're really focused on improving deliverability (meaning, the % of emails that actually hit our targets inboxes) while also giving all CS community members as much control as possible to control the amount and type of emails they receive. Historically, Couchsurfing has never had the technical infrastructure (and tracking) required to do this effectively & efficiently. But, we've been leaning into it for a while now and so your experience should be improving.

-Bill

Posted June 4th, 2013 - 12:46 am by from Emeryville, United States (Permalink)
One more thing - anyone that didn't get the email, please email me directly (bill@couchsurfing.com). I'm interested in better understanding the situation. That also will allow for this thread to stay focused on the many more important matters at hand. :)

Posted June 4th, 2013 - 3:22 am from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted June 4th, 2013 - 7:00 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
Many of you are concerned whether or not you are going to be eligible in the new program. Rather than looking at the average criteria for each region, let’s look at how we are going to select Ambs and what the factors are that impact the selection process.

For the sake of clarity, this will sound rather rude. I apologize in advance for the tone but it is important that this is clear to people speaking different languages.

This new Ambs Program is different from the old one.

To become an Amb, we are going to have minimum activity requirements.

Recent minimum activity is crucial to ensure that all Ambs are actively using the website. It is very important for us to work with Ambs who are actively using the website to improve our online tools and features for the entire community. These quantitative criteria are only one part of the application and they are supposed to be reasonable and will vary depending on the size of your area.

We are aware that activity statistics only tell one side of the story and that it takes more to be an exemplary Amb than stats.

In your application you will be asked why you wish to become an Amb. This motivation statement (in a couple of sentences so we understand your motives, not an essay) along with a Safety check will make up the qualitative selection criteria.

This is how the selection process would work for Ambassadors: for each area around the globe, the number of Ambs slots will depend on the size of the local Couchsurfing community. In very active cities, the activity bar will be higher, and there may be more competition for available slots. This favors rural areas but also means that in very dense areas with a lot of applications it will be more competitive to become an Amb.

Being an Amb in the new program may not be for everyone. But at the size of our community, this level of structure is necessary to ensure a program that will work for the size of our community and that we can collaborate with the community to maintain.

The bottom line is: if you want to be active as an Amb on a continuous basis then please do apply once we are ready to process applications!


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DJDESI

I became aware of the new ambassador program changes when I received the email. It was in my email.

I have been an active member of CS since 2010 and since 2011, I have been moderating the main Qatar Group for travelers and also the Qatar CouchSurfing Community for resident local CSers. I was promoted to an Ambassador in 2011 and have been an even more active member since than. The journey till now can only be described as AWESOME. I love the feeling of Organizing, Inviting and participating in our various activities.

I will give an example of my own city or you can say the whole country. The capital city is Doha and is basically the whole of the whole country of Qatar. 95% of the population lives here, so I think I can rightfully introduce myself as the country ambassador for CS in Qatar.

I organize the following events on a WEEKLY BASIS, EVERY MONTH, THE WHOLE YEAR:

Sunday: Movie night at a couchsurfer's place which is open to all.

Tuesday: Weekly CS meeting at 8PM

Thursday: Dinner/Camping/Rock Climbing

Friday: Boat party/some kind of gathering

Free transportation from and to the airport to and from any destination the visiting CS guest wishes within Qatar 24/7

Moderate 2 groups for Qatar on CS

Run CS Qatar community on FB

In-between, I organize or arrange get-togethers of friends from CS who have actually become life long friends as the community is really closely knit group of friends and almost everyone knows everybody else. We have developed life long friendships and passing by travelers transiting through our small country of Qatar are witness of this and when they leave, they have a big smile on their face and already planning to return :) I host last minute and emergency couch requests. My detailed contact address is always on my profile and I have been contacted by stranded couchsurfers at airports and or hospitals. I feel happy and blessed, that I have been right next to them in their hour of need. May they all ever be safe and happy :)

I have been doing this since 2010, BUT NOW, I will have to start from scratch, prove myself again, verify myself, apply again, choose a category I feel fit for????

Why do I have to choose between Traveling, Host, Events, Place Page?


It sounds like you would be an amazing Events / Place Pages Amb in the new program. By your description you’d most likely by far surpass the minimal activity requirement and would be just fine. ID verification is under discussion still and will be considered a test. Most likely, we’ll ask you to send a photocopy of your passport or ID.

Most of the discussion that is going on here is about this specific point. Why not just let the old categories be as they are and improve other things that you and the rest of the awesome community has raised?

One of the main disadvantages of the old categories is that they are difficult to support with online tools. Tony (CEO) started the discussion about the future of the Ambs program in daily threads 12 weeks ago with the goal to “to create an effective channel for HQ to share information as the site evolves and also connect directly with Ambs that want to contribute to CS's continued mission[...]”

The categories are a result of daily conversations with many active Ambs for over 9 weeks, read for example week 9.

With the new categories, CSHQ can provide Ambs with specific tools they need to advance the community.

At the same time, the Ambs are still strongly tied into their local cities/regions as they will be accessible via Place Pages.


Looking forward to seeing many more awesome times.

Regards,

DJDESI

PS: I like the way you are responding on individual basis - RESPECTS


Thanks :)

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THERESA WINTERS

Groetzi, Martina. Thanks for responding to my points. Here are my answers:

We are working on a product solution to gather all information that has been created by the community throughout the past years and thus make it more accessible. FAQs and wikis tend to be outdated quickly which is why we are discussing a more dynamically structured model with a (working) search function to browse content.

When will the information gathered by Ambassadors be implemented? You don't have to give an exact date, but a month will suffice.


As soon as Ambs have had a chance to complete their mini Ambs profiles and the Ambs Directory has launched (most likely i this order, to give Ambs a chance to get acquainted with the Ambs Directory). After that, it really depends on whenever Ambs create that content.

Me: Where will this be put on the Place page?

Martina: The content could initially be accessible only via the Ambs directory and eventually on Place Pages. Suggestions welcome.

I suggest you re-design the Place page and ask for Ambassadors and other groups to take a look at it. Having a huge 'FAQ' or 'Have a question? Click here!' as part of the Place re-design is necessary to prevent people from asking the same questions over and over and missing crucial information.


This is farther out but we were thinking of adding a mechanism that allows members to ‘mark’ useful answers of each Ambs where the top rated answers automatically feed into a general FAQ section. That general FAQ section could be accessible from Place Pages.

Note: This is a feature that will most likely not be implemented with the launch of the Ambs Directory but added later.

Me: "Leave It Better Than You Found It:

This applies to the world, to relationships, to your host’s home or to the sidewalk you meander down on your way to a coffee shop"

Really? So if I don't stop to pick up a piece of litter on the sidewalk, you're saying I could get kicked out of the Ambassador program? Remember: choose your words very, very carefully. Flights of fancy have no place in a code of conduct.

Martina: I’m honestly surprised to hear you disagree with these core values.

I'd appreciate if you didn't put words in my mouth. I didn't say I disagreed with the sentiment. I merely said that putting a fluffy piece of nonsense into a code of conduct -- one that, if not followed, could be punishable by expulsion -- is not necessary. Please evaluate each and every sentence and determine if this sort of thing is needed. Remember: brevity is best.


Always open for concrete suggestions to rephrase :)

Me: How are they going to know what the 'average activity levels are'? Will this be distributed by email or the aforementioned 'other means'?

Martina: That is a great question.

Here is our suggestion: We show you the average activity level in your city for all Ambs categories. You can see your own activity status and increase activity wherever needed.

This could be a visual tool accessible to all Ambs and maybe in the future to everybody. Thoughts?

Sounds like it could be good. Also sounds like if an Amb sees their graph slipping in comparison to the regional average they might try to game the system. They may put up a few events the day they happen, which no one comes to, just to get their average up; or they'll ask a friend to say they've hosted them in order to get their hosting average up. I'm glad you're discussing this so that people can think of ways the system can be abused. It's good to figure all of this out before you roll out the program. Since you're planning on rolling it out next week, it sounds like you'd better make some quick changes and decisions, eh?


Thanks for your input. We’re planning on starting with applications soon. The Ambs Directory will only be launched after Ambs had a chance to familiarize themselves with the Ambs Directory.

Martina: Firstly, we will invite all current Ambs to apply. Then, we will email very active users.

I don’t know what you mean by “Then will you invite all who have already applied and been turned down? Please elaborate.

I meant 'will you contact everyone who has already applied to be a part of the Ambassador program and been turned down?' I know of several people who have approached CS to become Ambs but were told they could not because the program was not open. Contacting those people would be nice, considering they already have an interest in the Amb program. You can ask the Help Desk to go through their records and provide you a list of names.


Applications are not open yet. Our Help Desk advises interested members to follow this thread to stay up to date.

Martina: We’re currently refining the exact criteria. Please share your opinion on how often you think an Events Amb should have organized an event in order to qualify. This will also depend on the regional average.

Watch your verb tenses there -- I think Events Ambs, if you're still insisting on going ahead with the different types, should HAVE organised, say, a dozen events. I think they should BE continuously organising at least one a month attended by, say, 8 people.

With everyone's comments, looks like you'll be typing responses for a while, so I'll let you at it.


You got it. Thanks for the numbers - they are helpful indeed!

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ANTOINE VAN RIJSEL

I have read the new ambassador program, some interesting new ideas, but you forgot the main topic:

The CS ambassadors should be paid now !

You forgot that the volunteerings is finished on CS now and it is forbidden by US laws. You are asking to the CS ambassadors to be community manager and sellers of the Service Mark Couchsurfing worldwide. But CS is now a private for-profit company. So why don't you pay the CS ambassadors for the service made ?


Ambassadors are members who choose to help others without payment. It is completely understandable if you prefer to do so in your own ways and by your own definitions.

The new Ambs program is different in that it focusses more on improving tools for Ambs and in order to do so comes with activity requirements. You can still make a difference to others, even if you decide not to apply to the new program. Don’t get me wrong, I hope you come on board but in case you don’t, thank you for your past efforts!

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MARINA PALAMARCHUK

totally agree with Antoine-Van-Rijsel! i think some loyal members (specially from US and other commercial "perspective" areas) already got an offers.

besides of paying stuff CSHQ will try to use initiative of the existing CS Ambassadors for free, like they are doing now, proposing to discuss this program and playing on our really open hearts. and then, if most or even some of us will send them to visit "Hell, for free, Couch and Coffe included!!", they will have enough "new vision" oriented, "pro-active" members, ready to slave just to get a priviledge to have an CS AMBASSADOR FLAG!!

GUYS, BE AWARE WHAT WE DISCUSSING HERE AS GENERAL!!!


There’s been a lot of public discussion on the corporate status of Couchsurfing. You may find this discussion on the corporate status with Tony (CEO) useful. Sorry for deferring to another thread, there’s no way I could have usefully summarized these conversations as they include several Ambs and would make little sense read outside of their original context.

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MASSIMO BENNARDO

I never complain and I have no reason to do it now.

I wait and see what happens with the new program.

Happy to give any advise if it's requested.

A bit concerned for the Amb types as they are a bit "limiting" to my point of view.

I generally agree with some of the others who wrote that some ambassadors host-organize-moderate-travel more than anybody else and to define what they do more would be limiting.

Please, for example, look at my profile and try to tell me what is the "ideal" amb type for me? :)

Anyway, if that is your decision, we will wait and see and surely it will be fine.

As I already told Tony on our Videochat, i really hope CS finally uses its resources and puts more value on the CSers who can give more and are willing to give more...


I hear you. You may always be in active in all 4 categories if you wish. Your specialty is clearly hosting and I really hope you decide to apply to become a host Amb in the new program. The categories are not meant to “limit” Ambs, but to provide both Ambs and CSHQ focus to better collaborate.

If the categories prove to be too limiting, then we’ll have to change them.

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SWARNAB SAHA

i never join cs to earn money

i never join cs to receive ORDERS from some different country

i never join Cs to work for some company without knowing international law

i never join cs to accept a responsibility in a dictatorial manner

i never join cs to enjoy artificial freedom


i am happy to put down the FLAG (which has no meaning in my world)


No part of the new Ambs Program is intended to be an order. You seem to have inspired at least 167 people, I’m certain it’s more than that and I thank you for this. I hope you continue to connect with awesome strangers regardless of the new Ambs Program. If you ever change your mind you’re welcome to apply.

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MOSES ILLINOIS

First, I'm glad this conversation was opened to Ambassadors at large through the mass e-mail that went out. It is good to have many new voices to look at this from new perspecives, but please let's not ruin this opportunity to help with new changes by clogging the dialogue with negativity like that which has happened to so many other threads. Let's continue to use this opportunity for constructive criticism instead of destructive venting. Second, I'm not sure about the new "fields of specialization" (Amb Categories) but I'm excited to see how they will work. I liked seeing the mini-profiles. They were helpful. -Moses- City Amb of Springfield, IL USA[Currently traveling around SouthEast Asia]

Thank you all for your constructive input and for sharing your concerns!

I’m looking forward to reviving the Ambs Progam with all of you and finetuning it until it works.

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JUSTBORIS

thank you very much for your answers. Re: your position - honestly I did expect to see it either in initial post or in your profile (I did check it, of course), and was a bit surprised that I did not see any info. Anyway, good luck at your (relatively) new position.

Sorry to disappoint you. I’m not a big fan of titles, they tend to be distracting.

A few notes and two new questions:

> The old categories are impossible to measure. The 4 new ones are.

That seems to me slightly incorrect. You may - if you wish to - measure old categories the same why that you are going to measure new ones. For example, it seems to me that you are saying that for host ambassador everyone will be able to see how many ppl s/he hosted let say last month, for places amb - how may questions responded etc., right? So, it could be the same for a City Amb - just with a few categories (hosted xxx, events created xxx, questions responded xxx, etc)


To be more precise; the old categories were not divided into separate task-oriented categories thus less clearly distinguishable. The new Ambs Program is different in that the focus has shifted from what you are, e.g. a city Amb in Moscow, to what you do, e.g. host actively in your case.

small question between the lines - did you participate in Amb Program before? Did you read its documents?[/color

No. I was never an Amb myself. I have a lot of respect for what our active Ambs have contributed to CS - it’s just not my cup of tea to be one myself.

And yes, I read about through the documentation of many previous Ambs Programs and talked to members that joined in 2005 and were part multiple collectives. ]



New questions:

1. Legal: As a few couchsurfers mentioned in different threads, it is illegal to use volunteers by corporations in US. I am not a legal expert, so could you please clarify it? If that is so, then the question is - what kind of status ambassadors will have? We all used to be volunteers, when CS used to be (or pretened to be as some say) a non-profit... and obviously non of us want to be involved in illegal activities..


Ambassadors are neither employees nor volunteers. They are members who have an interest to help out other Couchsurfers and have a direct way to give feedback to CSHQ. No need to worry about your legal status.



2. It come to my attention that CS Inc is launching this program as well: http://events.cornell.edu/event/couchsurfing_ambassador_program_info_session

- Are you responsible for College Ambassador program?

- Could you please explain this line: "No Couchsurfing experience necessary."

Do I get it right that in order become a College Ambassador, NO Couchsurfing experience necessary???

TIA!


The college Amb program was a test and is not linked to the New Ambs program. For now, it is on hold as it does not address current community needs.

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M. J. DE LA CRUZ

Martina,

Does this mean you will not be responding to my post? Seems kinda rude. I took my time like everyone else before me, and you chose to stop answering when you came to my post. I would appreciate you responding to my questions.

I will also be happy to discuss what the AMB program means to me, in person, I'll be in the Bay Area June 5-13 and will attend the CSHQ Intl CS Day Meetup. I look forward to meeting you.

But please don't stop responding to our comments and questions about the AMB program.

Sincerely,

MJ


I hope my responses reached you by now. I’m no magician. I saw that you will be coming to Intl. CS Day - looking forward to it and to talking through whatever questions you may have!

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KEN NAKAGAMA

I would agree Regional AMBs should get paid and provide live face to face training to other AMB and promote a road show as I did in the past.

Volunteering is not forbidden by law anywhere.

I think at this point it is unfair to take advantage of those that built CS, only out of knowing their loyalty cannot be understood at CSHQ

CS will endure well beyond the half life of angry folks.

But patience is a virtue. In general I only complained in Public after a year of private suggestions on any single issue.

Save being spammed by this forum. Its clearly an easy fix if the developers commented their code and wrote down an Admin Manual as all Great Developers do

I have been pleased that CS employees are actually engaging the community and hosting themselves. Stay with crazy hosts who kicked them out, or the great many who never reply to messages or leave a reference, no shows and personal abuse. Once they have guests that steal from them, clean out your refrigerator or break dishes or personally know people who have been raped, then I am sure things will change a lot. A year does not make a CS experience


I don’t quite understand how your points relate, what is your main concern?

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SAHARA 1

Right - I didn't get an email, either.

One of our product managers is investigating this. Could be your email settings preventing you from receiving the notifications or else our internal messaging tool that needs a tweak. Will give you an update when I know more.

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ALEXANDER BARRERA

Surely many of the current ambassadors thinks that be an amb it's like a volunteer job. But, i'm not agree with that, all of us are free to decide if we will continue helping with the growing of CS or not. If we expend several hours to make and events, or to write post, it's our desition. Nobody here have a "contract".

I've been Ambassador for a while, and at the same time i've been volunteer in several teams here in CS, (translations, GEO, bug tracking groups (SBOT - JIRA), CUQ (now Helpdesk), and there are a big difference between be an amb and be a volunteer here in CS. In the case of the groups above, most of the members had "goals" and certain time to get them; When I was a volunteer, I spent more than 8 hours per day - in my pc - working on my tasks: translating the page, fixing locations, answering cuq's, etc), for more than one year in some groups. In the amb program (the old and the new one), you are free to participate, you can use your free time, you can write conversations, but you are not obligated to do that, and certainly, you are not obligate to have "work hours".

That's why all volunteer groups were closed and those tasks are now made it by paid staff. But the amb prog never was a volunteer program per se, and i think that should not be a payed work, because it's not a work. Talk about a remuneration it's a useless conversation, this was discussed and it's already solved.

This is only my opinion (just in case).

Cheers

Alexander


Thanks Alexander. I hope there are more people who share your perception of an Amb.

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ELI COURANTE

Martina,

Kudos for this step to organize and boost the ambassadorial task force!

While being overall all for the proposed changes, I want to share a few concerns.

1. As Balazs commented above, the categories seem to leave a lot of grey areas, and afford no more specific connection of an ambassador to his or her locale.


Thanks. I hope the local connection will become more evident once the Ambs Directory launches.

t2. The ID checks appear to be redundant; since the Ambs are in no way official representatives of Couchsurfing, there is no legal loophole to cover, and there is no apparent de-facto gain in such action, while the hassle can be quite major (especially to the traveling ambs). However, I agree this is not such a big issue.

The ID checks are not aimed at covering legal loopholes but to test a new system of verification. Jen may eventually discuss this topic separately. The immediate benefit in verifying Ambs is for our Trust and Safety team to be able to more efficiently work with local Ambs in case of an emergency.

3. My main concern is the need for very hands-on ambassadors' training and (especially) support teams. In past, that repeatedly proved to be the weak link. At times, the training team previously was at its best but the AST/AMT management slugged and let the project fumble (I know, for I was part of the AMT, and we did not do that well at the time). And at times, the management was all enthusiastic about managing and supporting the ambassadors, but no one really invested into training the new ambassadors. Is there a simple and viable plan in place that includes direct coordination between those parts of the program?

Once more, thank you very much for the thought and the effort. Certainly, a lot of us here will be glad to hop onboard with the renovation and reorganization.

Cheers from Niagara,

Eli


This last point of yours was enormously helpful to prioritize elements of the Ambs Program. Thank you for bringing this up. The plan on training of the Ambs is in process. There will be topics such as Safety that are important to all Ambs, these are the ones we have already been working on. Other training topics such as information on moderation are also in process.

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THERESA WINTERS

Regarding the new Ambs Directory layout, I have a few queries:

1.) Why are the same questions' links repeated over and over? Why have "how to make new friends in Austin?" listed half a dozen times? Shouldn't it make more sense to just have each question listed once? You can bump up the more recently-answered ones to the top; no need to repeat them over and over in different links. It will just clog things up and make it confusing for readers.


It’s a first wireframe of the Ambs directory and not the final product. Agreed on more recently-answered topics at the top, maybe eventually in combination with answers that members mark as useful.

2.) When people are asking an Ambassador a FAQ, does it get sent to all Ambassadors in the same Place to answer? Because it seems pretty redundant to make each and every Ambassador separately answer the same questions over and over. There should be one centralised FAQ for each Place (and, IMHO, one that anyone can answer -- crowdsourcing information can turn up suggestions Ambs are not aware of).

The centralised FAQ is an option we’ve been looking at and I will definitely discuss this further with our Product Managers.

3.) Remember that Ambs move just as much, if not more, than the average person. Throughout their time as an Amb, under your system they will have collected hundreds of FAQs that are irrelevant to whichever Place they have moved to. It makes more sense to have FAQs linked to a Place, not a person who may move around (or who may decide to not be an Amb any longer, in which case their data would not show up in the Ambs Directory).

Completely agree.

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GERRIT DETERTS

Theresa +1

to 1: i hope it is only part of the example


Yes, it is.

to 3: yes yes i think the general information about th area of the place pages are to ar away for somebody who is searching for it. they need to visibible in the top of the page. maybe similar to the add on which Don Shine created or as in group guidelines in the groups. The idea to show all already given answers is a nice idea. i sometimes answer to questions: please use the given search function as the question was asked a hundred times ans answered as well. more and more peole not reading around. I sometimes find three posts one under the other whats going on tonight.

Absolutely, Ambs should not have to answer the same questions over and over again. That would be a waste of your time. It will take some time until a general FAQ is in place which means that it may temporarily be a tedious task for Ambs to answer questions more than once. We’ll do our best to provide you with good tools soon.

or you have alread for categries what would would be about one called information about the area.


Yes. Some sub categories within an FAQ would make sense, to roughly group topics, for example: “getting around”, “things to do”, “places to eat”, suggestions welcome. They should be broad enough to work globally, but narrow enough to be useful.

i find important thet there is more information visible how to use CS and where to find infomation.

Definitely. A lot of the questions on how to use the website should be answered by the website itself.

We’ve already been working on a more informative new user experience and will keep improving this aspect.

It is agood idea to show all the given answers, but maybe not related to a single ambassador. and right now it takes to many clicks to get to the information and to be honest if the button is called information instead of AMBthen i would look there for information, but i personally would not expect information behind a link called AMB.

We’ll take this into account. Thanks Gerrit.

Post removed.
Posted June 6th, 2013 - 9:26 am by from Auckland, New Zealand (Permalink)
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Posted June 5th, 2013 - 7:48 am by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
Martina,
a few short points:

1) "Ambassadors are neither employees nor volunteers." - will it stand in a court? It is quite obvious that CS Inc might face legal proceedings from former couchsurfers/ambassadors (it nearly did, btw, recently). Ambassadors used to be volunteers, and it is unclear for me how you can prove that they are not.

Btw, you did not respond to my direct question - are corporations prohibited [legally prohibited] from using volunteers in US?

2) Sided with Maria Maksimova question 3. Is passport data are essential for ambassador program? How anyone can be sure that CS Inc. is not going to misuse our personal data? CS Inc has a long track of broken promises and direct lies from topmanagement (from CS will always stay non-profit to smaller lies), and that is quite obvious that many active (and knowledgeable) will not feel safe to provide sensative personal inforamtion to CS Inc.
So, is it done in order to filter out those guys?
If not, are there any other ways of identification?

3) [between the lines] - you did not dissapoint me, just confused a little bit. I thought it is part of politness to present yourself first - especially if you are in charge of the program

Posted June 5th, 2013 - 8:29 am from Redon, France
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Posted June 5th, 2013 - 9:34 am by from Playa del Carmen, Mexico (Permalink)
I don't think this "Ambassador=Volunteer=Illegal" is getting us anywhere..
As an Ambassador I feel as a normal user of the site with a bit more visibility.

Martina: As for the 4 separate categories, have you thought of allowing specially active members to have More than one or even all 4 flag types at the same time?

Posted June 6th, 2013 - 3:47 am from Melbourne, Australia
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Posted June 6th, 2013 - 9:27 am from Auckland, New Zealand
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Posted June 7th, 2013 - 2:18 am from Los Angeles, United States
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Posted June 7th, 2013 - 6:42 am by from Oakland, United States (Permalink)
M. J. DE LA CRUZ
Martina, I don't have much time to respond right now.

Quick answers to a few questions you asked and like I said I would be happy to discuss more at the Intl CS Day festivities.

In the next 6 month I will be surfing 180 days (with the exception of the occasional nights when I am unable to find a host)


You may want to apply for a Traveling Amb!

When you talk about not taking into account past activities, that sounds pretty dismissive to the efforts that have been put into CS. You can say a million times that it is appreciate but if your following sentence basically say it doesn't count, it is clear it isn't really appreciated.

The CS community will always appreciate your past efforts, as will all the members you have helped out ever since you joined in 2008. I know this is not the kind of recognition you are talking about but it’s an important recognition even if “just” by the members you supported.

The new program is different in that it focuses on ongoing activity.


If you are still at least as active as the average members in your region, please do apply. If you get into new Ambs program, your mini profile will list the years you have served the community as an Amb in the past.

You talk about making connections, that is what CS is about. We make friends and connections all over the world when we host and surf. So my number and a lot of other members number are never going to match what is actually happening

I understand what you mean and I wish we could measure what happens offline. But the truth is we can’t.

"Being an Amb should not be about a status but about doing something you want to do and that you can and want to take the time to do." I mean no disrespect, but this sentence, makes me feel like you and/or the CSHQ team have a true disconnect to who the current AMBs are. We wouldn't currently be AMBS if we didn't want to be, as you may have notice many AMBs have resigned, because they stopped wanting to be an AMB for one reason or another. Those who are still here WANT to be here. WANT to contribute. I wouldn't be an AMB if I thought I didn't have time for the community. Every waking moment of my life is about CS. Every person I met I tell about it, even random people on the bus. I wear the logo on my backpack, laptop, motorcycle, and have a big banner in my window whenever I am settled down for a while. Not having time to contribute isn't a problem until you make being an ambassador an unpaid job.

Thank you for the reminder. And we want to be able to support Ambs by providing them tools in a structured way.

"We’ll most likely look at the last 12 months, counting back from the date of application. We're working on figuring it out. Do you have suggestions or particular cases/concerns we might not be aware of (e.g. seasonal travel or hosting, etc.)?" Yes, recent changes to the site, whether you believe it or not many very active members have been pretty screwed over in the last 12+ months. I can go into detail when I have more time. But also being in a rural area that CSHQ decided to group into a larger metro area, not only made it more difficult to be active for a lot of people but also destroyed a lot of work by AMBs who had worked hard to make Rural surfing more accessible. And the darn algorithm. If a surfer wants to sort by experience people with 1 or 2 references of CS friends shows up before members who have hundreds. How can an AMB keep their numbers up if when someone is looking for an experienced host, they can't find them in search?!

I hear you on the recent website changes. We’ve taken this into account by setting the minimal activity requirements lower than originally planned.
Activity levels will be measured by your actual location not by the area grouping on Place Pages.

RE: Other criteria besides numbers, "Please share any concrete suggestion?" How about asking AMBs to report back about their activities, if there are MAJOR discrepancies between what an AMB reports and the numbers on your end then you can re-evaluate that AMB. But AMBs are and should be trusted members of the community. Just because someone hosts a lot doesn't make them trustworthy.

Taken into account in application - thanks!

The categories still make no sense, most current AMBs are AMBs because they are experts in at least 3 of the 4 categories. I can't think of an AMB who hasn't been a part of organizing events, flagging inappropriate material, or host/surfing.

I am not some special case, a rare occurrence, or atypical of the CS community. I know of many people who are nomadic, there are even groups for us. ;-) So my expectation of a new AMB program would have space for someone like me (doesn't have to be me), and as it is written it just doesn't seem to take into account the many nomads that are part of the CS community.


The activity criteria try to capture nomads in the category of Traveling Ambs.

Ensenada is rural, but is also a city. Close to TJ, the community is very connected to TJ but it is it's own area. Rosarito is part of the TJ community and half way between the 2 cities.

Santa Rosa is Rural, part of the Metro Bay Area, but very much it's own community. Rosa has the largest population in California north of San Francisco, and while close to SF many people from Sonoma County, unless for work, hardly ever spend time in the city.

Being a native of SF and having spent much living in Marin and Sonoma, I can tell you, (with the exception of Sausalito) Marin and Sonoma are pretty separate from SF (and separate from each other) despite being neighbors.

Also, Napa even though it is part of the wine country, is on a local level very different than Sonoma.

Rural is not just about the number of people. Please keep that in mind.

Like I said I don't have much time to write, so can't say everything I want to right now.

-MJ


Thanks for your input on rural areas.
This helped us move forward and leave the concept of “rural” behind. The spectrum of what members consider rural ranges from 5’000 to 680’000 inhabitants per city. We’’ measure against your home location.

PS. Strengthen is better than restore, but I think your focus is wrong. But maybe that is just my opinion.
How would you want to change the focus of this value?

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M. J. DE LA CRUZ


Colors are messed up but quotes are in "quotes"

No worries :)

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Ken Nakagama

"Being an Amb should not be about a status
Many many past AMBs used their status for personal gain with limited benefit to the Community

The categories still make no sense, most current AMBs are AMBs because they are experts in at least 3 of the 4 categories. I can't think of an AMB who hasn't been a part of organizing events, flagging inappropriate material, or host/surfing.

Agreed, they have no value for the Community, much less a resume. I had asked Casey in the past for a system that tracked activity so at least volunteers have a list of what they did.

There needs to be substantial adherence to making guests reply to couch messages. I am sick of no response

It should be required that all guest requests include registered users, there should be no exception here

I get guests who swear everyone is a CS member only to find out it is not the case. There is no value to the Community of non member guests, they can go use AirBnB


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A points system is not a bad idea, but the issue on every site using it is people learn to game it.

Lets get the simple and most critical things done first and that would be SCRUM and Agile

I presented these ideas for software development in the past and its not clear any really useful project management is in place despite statements in the past

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In the beginning, CS used pro-bono lawyers without any online experience. I emphasised they need REAL lawyers who understood International Law

CS is now a company and the smart play in the Valley is to go with www.wsgr.com or someone in this range

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Bring back Amb private with rules.


Most of your points are already answered. Some are a bit off topic and for the lack of time I choose not to answer them here. (No offense intended)

Its not possible to talk about crimes and serious issues in a forum that is in Google

Crimes should first of all be solved by a team of experts. Publicly discussing it is not efficient enough in this example and can even hinder our Trust & Safety Team in their investigation.

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M. J. DE LA CRUZ

Hey Ken,

I'm not sure if you are referring to my post about hosting stranded surfers without CS requests. As I mentioned, I review their profile before agreeing to host them, but sometime people in those situations are not able to connect to send an official CR. I don't host people who are not members. Even couples, if they don't have a "couple's" profile each person needs to have their individual one.

About responses, I agree 100% it is insane how few people actually respond to CRs. I think when searching for a couch I get about a 10-15% reply rate, 90% being on liners "can't host you" "busy" "out of town", etc.

For all members there need to be more emphasis on responding to CRs.

-MJ


We’re working on the surf/host engine to make more Couchrequests end in successful hosting/surfing.
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DAVID ALLAN

Hi Martina,

To answer your Rural Place question.

I used to live in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle

Now I live in Charlotte 5,000

which is next to Shelbure 15,000

which is next to Burlington 65,000 the largest city in a state of 205 rather small towns.

So yes, I consider Vermont rural.

Cheers,


Thanks David, see above in my reply to M. J. De La Cruz - that helped to get an idea of what rural can mean.
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EOEL
Good morning Martina, i hope you are well.

For me, the new ambassador program sounds more like you are building a 1st level support line based on volunteers to offload some of your company responsibilities and relief some of the weight.


No, it isn’t. We are trying to make it easier for active users - not volunteers - to do what they want to do and would do anyways.

First thing i find completely wrong is to have demands of volunteers. 'Verification' of a volunteer as an example. Secondary, what is in it for the amb? What do they get out of it? In an egalitarian culture, the flag is worth nothing.

Safety requirements are the same for everybody still. Ambs may be the first group to test improved safety verification.

There won’t be flags. For visibility, Ambs will be accessible from all Place Pages.

I have some solid ideas how this could be done in a way that both engages the local communities and also addresses your challenge of needing people to help others. As a company, i am sure you can afford consultants :).

regards
Evert


It’s your choice if you want to freely share them with the community or prefer not to.
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JOE SCARANGELLA

Many of the ideas and suggestion put forward, either throughout this thread or through the documents in question, only relate to large CS markets in the western hemisphere.

I have always lived "off-the-beaten" path (whatever that means) Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Yemen... and so on. Concepts of different responsibilites for ambassadors, or points system to prove how good an ambassador you simply to not apply to these and many more countries.


The criteria try to take into account if not favour rural areas and special living/traveling conditions. That’s one of the main challenges of this new Ambs Program. To be seen if it succeeds. If it doesn’t, then we certainly have to change it.

Sure, if you are in Berlin or New York or Sydney where there are 1,000s of members and numerous ambassadors, the division makes sense. But in somewhere like Yemen, where there are 238 members in the entire country, such measures as the ones purposed will hinder sustainable growth, not encourage it.

One need not take such an extreme example as Yemen. While in Azerbaijan, we double membership in Baku a city which previously did not have an ambassador, but now has one with only 110 references.

You basically point out our main challenge here.

The said Amb in Baku has “only 110” references (118 refs by today).

If he lived in Paris, this may be way too small a number of references.
However, in Baku, given that it is much less traveled, he may well be the most active Couchsurfer.

Are you saying he should not be an Amb, because he has less opportunities to host, because there are less travelers?

I’m not trying to expose you, but you made an excellent point worth looking at. Including members from less travelled regions such as Azerbaijan is the main challenge we’re facing with the activity criterias.
The solution we proposed here will give this guy in Baku a chance to be an Amb because he is by far exceeding the activity level in his region.

In short, while the purposed ideas might work in large scale, western-centric locations, they are not needed in the overwhelming majority of the world. Perhaps it's true that CS doesn't care about overall growth, and only cares about the big places. I certainly hope not.


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BERGUMBIRA

ok, so... When and where this application form?

I also doesn't received the mail about the feedback form and this thread, just I read all by regular visit here...

About this new program I will be myself, wait and see but mostly wait and do...

Family amb should be keep in the new program
and Rural Amb should be instated in the new program
Ambs Flag Icon should be keep on our profile

that is my only input to this discussion and I know it will be not take in consideration lol, as usual...

anyway...

I'm less involved since the new place pages vs city group... Funny to see that my Penang group still alive and nice and diversify but make travelers and new local members lost to discover (or not) that is two forums for the same place.


Luv and Hugs

Michel


We’ll email everybody when the applications are open plus post here about it. We will start with Ambs applications in Africa first.

As I answered before to Alfonso, Family Ambs are a group of members whom we simply don’t know enough about at this point in time, to start the Ambs program with this category. Once we know more about this member-type, we’ll definitely look into it. Both Jen and Tony are couchsurfing with their kids and are eager to connect with CS families needs. But this is further down the road.

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THERESA WINTERS

@Martina: When you get a moment I'd love to see responses to my questions posted here:

https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14488539#post14519665


I did take a moment to reply :)
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SIRI MING

This is pretty much exactly what I was going to post. While many ambassadors have knowledge of places, events, etc., it is really only the family ambassadors that have that specialized knowledge of couchsurfing with children. PLEASE add this as a category--it is certainly something I appreciate both as a family ambassador and as a surfer.


See above reply. Yes, families are a huge asset to the community. This will be a focal point eventually.
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EDWARD TRAVELS

There's actually a rather decent number of posts that have been made that haven't received a response. While true, not all of them are questions that need answers, you've posted responses to people who made observations or comments, without questions (e.g., as just one such example, David Allen).

And just to follow-up, I've not received that email sent to all ambassadors to notify them about this and it's my understanding that at least one other person (not a member of this forum) who has not received it in LA.

------------------

Sorry that should READ: "And to follow-up, I've STILL not received that email . . . ."


I assume you emailed Bill about not receiving the email. If there are specific questions I forgot to answer or did not pay enough attention to, please bring them up again.
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ANNARITAL

@For the one who haven't still received the email

did you check your 'spam box' ?

that is where I found the former one...



Thanks annarital

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JUSTBORIS

Martina,

could you please respond to these questions when you will have chance? TIA

---------------------------------------------questions:

1. Legal: As a few couchsurfers mentioned in different threads, it is illegal to use volunteers by corporations in US. I am not a legal expert, so could you please clarify it? If that is so, then the question is - what kind of status ambassadors will have? We all used to be volunteers, when CS used to be (or pretened to be as some say) a non-profit... and obviously non of us want to be involved in illegal activities...


2. It come to my attention that CS Inc is launching this program as well: http://events.cornell.edu/event/couchsurfing_ambassador_program_info_session

- Are you responsible for College Ambassador program?
- Could you please explain this line: "No Couchsurfing experience necessary."
Do I get it right that in order become a College Ambassador, NO Couchsurfing experience necessary???


See my reply on June 4. No, I am currently not responsible for the College Ambs program.
At this point, there are no College Ambs, and it is unclear if there will ever be in the future. Should the discussion on the idea of the College Ambs be resumed, it will certainly be due to substantial changes.
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TOBIAS KICK

I did not get any message, ..... are they really sent out to all Ambs ??


Yep. See Bill’s post (WLOUNDY)

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CARLO123
Dear Martina,

Thanks for mentioning in your posting on reaction to my privacy concerns: Great feedback on Privacy settings. We’ll take that into account as we further define the Ambs Directory and as we develop the program in greater detail.

Problems with privacy can very quickly be made, even without that you realise it, and it also is done in your posting, as you mention many users with their full name.

I have reported the posting to MDST.
I have a backup of your posting in case you don't have, so you can repost in a correct way.

Regards,
Carlo

Addressing members with their username under which they post in a public forum is hardly a breach of policy.
I like your humour ;)

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WLOUNDY

@Tobias, EdwardTravels & Theresa -

Yup. It really was sent to all (current and former) Ambs.

I was responsible for sending this email. According to my records, all three of you received it. Of course, I won't share your emails in this public forum, but you're welcome to email me directly (bill@couchsurfing.com) double check. Any of the following failure cases are possible:

(1) the email was filtered by your email client (i.e. gmail, hotmail, yahoo)
(2) it was incorrectly categorized as spam (great suggestion from annarital - check your spam folder!)
(3) it was sent to an email address that you no longer check (so please confirm that we have your correct email address on your account settings page)
(4) you have enabled an unsubscribe setting that blocked the email (check here: https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/master_unsubscribe)

or, it could always be...
(5) some bug that we haven't heard about yet! :/

Email is a bit trickier than many people realize. So that you all know, we're really focused on improving deliverability (meaning, the % of emails that actually hit our targets inboxes) while also giving all CS community members as much control as possible to control the amount and type of emails they receive. Historically, Couchsurfing has never had the technical infrastructure (and tracking) required to do this effectively & efficiently. But, we've been leaning into it for a while now and so your experience should be improving.

-Bill

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One more thing - anyone that didn't get the email, please email me directly (bill@couchsurfing.com). I'm interested in better understanding the situation. That also will allow for this thread to stay focused on the many more important matters at hand. :)



Please do email bill@couchsurfing.com if you haven’t received an email. We’re still curious to hear of all non-deliveries!

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THERESA WINTERS

David in NZ didn't receive it, either.

Please just re-send it to the Ambassadors' CS accounts instead of our personal emails. That way you'll even be able to see if we've read it. SO much better for all.

Looking forward to reading Martina's lengthy response to everyone's comments and queries!


Me too.

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SHARON LEISK


Thinking out aloud here, why is the categorisation of Ambs important ?

The categorisation helps us support each activity with tools and features designed for particular needs.

If not, what other options are there ?

For the full discussion of other options, please read (or reread as you have been actively following the daily discussions with Tony) read for example the discussion in week 9. Weeks 4-8 also discuss the future of the Ambs program.

Could not all Ambs be equal and then have specialisations ?

You got it. That’s how it is: Ambs are equal and then have specialisations.

This caters for the 4 main working groups, in areas with a small number of ambs, if all ambs have the same powers, it allows for backup ambs, etc.

Will discuss the idea of backup Ambs, thanks!

This also allows for growth in the future and caters for the smaller (though no less important) specialities. ie Family, Rural, Hitchhiking, etc.

The specialisations are then criteria based and its up to each individual how many specialisations you can manage.

If all Ambs start off with the same powers in their local areas, the flow on effect would be a lot greater in terms of being able to provide answers, moderate, etc ...

Yes, individuals can choose how many specialisations they can manage, as long as they are active enough in each category.


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ALFONSO AND FAMILY MORA SENA

can you share the from: and the subjet: and date: to make easyer looking for it.... :-)



Please share your thoughts on the new Ambassador Program with us anonymously through this form:
https://docs.google.com/a/couchsurfing.com/spreadsheet/viewform?fromEmail=true&formkey=dF9BLXdEbDZ1SUFod1pSUlJSNmJkTVE6MQ

I will not publish feedback that has been given “anonymously”. But I will summarize the key points and share these with you.

I’ll definitely take Smersh’s advice on starting a new thread.

Posted June 11th, 2013 - 1:35 pm by from Ahmedabad, India (Permalink)
Hey Martina !

the new program details are really cool. its great to have specific guidelines for ambassadaors. It had been long overdue, till now even ambassadors had been confused about their responsiblities. lot of times even they dont realise where to draw the line and are short of info. Few even started being bosses of their groups etc.

it makes a lot of sense to have different types of ambassadors ( travelling, hosting, event etc) that will give all ambassadors the scope to actively pursue what they want. two year term & an evaluation later also is perfect..

The current vision for ambassadors imbibes very strong values of team building and keeping the community positive. These values are of great asset in day to day life for ambassadors too.

Ambassadors should also notify CS about any kind of violation of CS principles or illegality goin on either at events or in groups

overall kudos to the new program & hope stuff works out well for all of us !

cheers !
Amit

Posted August 21st, 2013 - 4:56 am by from Sydney, Australia (Permalink)
Hi to anybody

It seems that the new Amb program is good, but when it is going to be operational , I haven't got any emails or application forms or anything so far!

when do you think that program starts to give back the flags ?

All the best

Reza