@ Kim Jönsson
Hi all and thanks Kim!
You bring up some central questions that I'd like to take up. I'll reply to the initial post with all of your replies in mind.
First, you may be interested in watching this video from the LeWeb conference
for more context.
For the sake of clarity, I will be phrase my reply very directly.
Regarding the new surf/host engine:
I get, that one of cshq’s perspectives surely is, to cater to the needs of the surfers – without those, there would be no need for CS. – But please remember also – that without host’s – the same goes. Wherefore it’s equally important to cater to the needs of the hosts.
We are focusing on hosts's needs first and foremost. Hosts are the ones ultimately making core Couchsurfing experiences happen.
I see – that CSHQ has failed in communicating this premise to the many, many new members – and therefore the system is failing – and we’re experiencing a vast decrease in successful couch surfs.
BUT – the solution to this challenge is NOT to shift the “workload” to the part of the hosts. Nor is it to reduce the host’s profiles to a standard easy read overview that you sift through like any other add. – The sole reason that CS works is – that it’s a genuine exchange between people who cares about others – and are out to actively make more strangers into friends.
I agree that we need to do a much better job at communicating to new members that it is not
about a free place to stay but about sharing and cultural exchange. These will be areas that we are improving now or in the near future:
- We are improving the new user on boarding experience, which will require new users to understand the concept and values of Couchsurfing before they can actually surf. It ail also require basic profiles before new members can interact with other members.
- We will be adding more confidential review tools (in addition to the references).
- We also look forward to support Ambassadors again as they are the ones who understand best what it takes for a successful and truly meaningful surfer/host experience.
By no means do we intend to shift the workload towards hosts.
The new surf/host engine shall give hosts who want to host more a better tool to choose who can send them a request.
We are still in a early testing phase and we are changing it continuously thanks to the feedback from our most active hosts in the test cities. The host profiles will include much more information and it will be displayed in different ways.
The “old system” worked very well – I find it very difficult to accept – that this tested and successful system won’t work equally well with a few million new members – as long as all these people gets what this community is really about – and how to use it.
This "new" system we are testing will not
replace the traditional couch request, it is an additional way
that shall give hosts more choice over their hosting activities. Also, it is intended to cut down on low quality requests.
Particularly in places where there are hundreds of hosts per surfer, this "new" way to find a host shall make it easier for host and surfer to find each other, and leave both sides less frustrated as they can focus on lesser but more quality requests.
That said, the "old" system will stay alive!
Regarding safety/gender concerns:
The suggested focus on a few pointers at the top – such as smoking (really guys – in this day and age??) – and gender quotation? WTF? – Here’s a real life example – I’m a host – I’m a man – I like men (as I’m a homosexual) – I mostly host women! – This due to the fact, that most women traveling alone prefers a female host – not many of those around – and all girls mum’s taught them, that the next best thing to a girl friend is a gay friend! – Therefore I get a lot of requests from woman. This fact is in no way a testament to the safety of my surfers nor can I in any way see why in the world it would be relevant for future surfers?? – Remember please that I’m offering my couch – NOT my bed.
I get that safety is tremendously important here – but isn’t that exactly the reason why we shouldn’t focus on sex in the very first line??
Should we not be about all the ways we’re the same – friends and strangers alike – regardless of race, nationality, gender, sexuality etc. etc..???
And encourage everyone to have a good and clear profile – and to have a proper exchange of expectations with their host/surfer before coming?
The women’s equality movements aren’t taking any points on this one neither – yet again reducing women to the delicate and fragile entity that “we” need to take care of. – Rather than thinking of woman as intelligent and able to take good care of themselves – by thinking for themselves.
We included gender indication as one factual pointer that may help travelers make more informed decisions. The wording and display of it may still need to be improved, but gender per se IS a crucial element for our members' safety.
While we ARE a trust network, we encourage trust to be based on informed decisions rather than blind faith. Keep in mind that Couchsurfing connects people from different cultures, religions and with hugely varying gender concepts. We intend to remind members that gender may be a factor to consider before staying with a stranger.
We're absolutely in agreement that we need much better new member education. My hopes are that Ambassadors in the new Ambs program will also have this "new member" challenge in mind. All members, but especially new ones need to understand that they are responsible for their own safety at all times and to use good judgement: https://www.couchsurfing.org/n/safety.
We are currently putting together a beta tester group for feedback on a new user experience. If you wish to participate, please send an empty email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for your thoughts!
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I am listening.
"Advice for hosts" offers a lot of useful input and we are aware that guests with inappropriate expectations are a pain point for hosts.
We are working on improving the new user education by on boarding them step by step. In May, we introduced a first version of our new user experience (NUX). Now we're about to develop it further, so that members are required to complete their profiles upfront and are then slowly introduced to how Couchsurfing works.
An essential part of this new member education are our Couchsurfing values
. We intend to emphasize them much more in the future.
My hope is also that Ambassadors will also find our values a useful resource to share, especially with new members.