Location: The Couchsurfing Project >> Brainstorm - the original one....
Login for full access to Couchsurfing Groups. Not a member yet? Join our community!

questions about Ambassadors...
Posted July 30th, 2008 - 10:45 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted July 31st, 2008 - 12:19 am by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Hello Lena,

I can't speak for other ambassadors, but as an ambassador I simply try to be a good surfer and a good representative of CouchSurfing, and to follow the Ambassador Code of Conduct.

Unfortunately (in my opinion) there is not currently any site-wide feedback system in place for ambassadors. We swap ideas and discuss issues in the ambs groups, and occasionally receive tidbits of information there, but no real official "guidance." We have had discussions in one of the groups about training (there isn't really any) and feedback (again, there isn't really any), but pretty much all we do is try to educate and police ourselves.

Ambassadors, in my opinion, should represent the best of what CS can be. They should be model surfers and hosts, have completed profiles, be involved with their local community... and speak with tact and consideration.

I suspect that most often when you have problems with group posts by ambassadors, it is because those ambassadors often don't consider their words as well as they should. Obviously there will be some deviations from this, in the form of ambs actually meaning the damaging things that they might say, but in general I don't think it's a power trip or an attempt to flaunt the flag.

Now, regarding feedback for ambassadors, I think Australia may be in the lead by having developed a cohesive Australia CS Organization whereby city ambassadors stay in contact with country ambassadors and they share information and perhaps conduct training of some sort, as well. I personally am trying to get the US Organization more active, partly for that same purpose... maybe you could check into activities in the UK and see if they have anything like that?

Also, I hope that when you have witnessed ambassadors being rude and offensive in groups you have called them on it. Sometimes (not always, I'm well aware) people make insensitive remarks without realizing it.

One thing we could do is try to find a communication channel that will allow concerned members to request clear feedback (and discipline when necessary) for ambassadors.

I will point out, before ending, that the requirements for becoming an ambassador have recently become a little more stringent, so perhaps that will help alleviate the behaviors you've observed.

Derek

Posted July 31st, 2008 - 4:44 am by from Culiacan Rosales, Mexico (Permalink)
Some people say ambassadors take their job's too seriously, others say they don't take their jobs seriously enough. With such a large group of people coming together OF COURSE we'll have a wide variety of people and how they handle situations, that being said.

Most ambassadors will agree with you that there needs to be a review system implemented for current ambassadors. We have been basically told its being worked on.

Currently the premise I am familiar with is all complaints about ambassadors go to the country ambassador in larger countries like America each country ambassador is responsible for a certain regon (like south west, north east etc), if you have a problem witha country you speak with the global. (Assuming you've tried to handle things with the ambassador personlly yourself first)

The country ambassador should also bee keeping a tab on their city ambassadors to guide them etc.

Technically if we receieve a negative reference we lose our title (or so it was when I first signed up).

I look forward to seeing what CS will en dup doing as this is definately an issue that concerns me.

:-)

Carissa

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 12:11 am by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Carisita, I would say your thoughts on what happens with complaints about ambassadors certainly represent the ideal... however, in my (limited) experience as an ambassador, the ideal is not reality. Virtually the only time I hear anything from an ambassador up the ladder from me is when I approach them with an idea. I wish it were otherwise.

I've also never heard that an amb would lose his or her title due to a negative reference... I have to say that seems a bit heavy-handed for just one negative reference that could have been written by anyone with a grudge or a chip on their shoulder - just like they could do to any other member.

Another thing people can do if they have problems with an ambassadors is simply use "contact us" under "problem with another member." I don't see why that wouldn't work with ambassadors just like anyone else.

Derek

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 1:11 am by from Culiacan Rosales, Mexico (Permalink)
From the code of conduct:

Ambassadors must agree to the following code of conduct:

"I will be a model surfer and host, and maintain positive references by that means.... I understand that if I violate this code of conduct, I may be asked to resign."

As with everything its not a hard clad iron rule but it is in the conduct code. And yes the CUQ/MDST is always an easy place to go if you don't know how else to voice your complaints about a member, any member! Ambassador or otherwise :-)

Korea had an AMAZING country ambassador that recently resigned, but until then she had a VERY active role. She actually did 6 month reviews asking if they still wanted to be ambassadors etc. And now we're fortunate enough to have our global ambassador for Asia living in Korea, so he tends to help out when possible...granted I am sure no one has ever complained about me since I am perfect :-P

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 1:46 am by from Accra, Ghana (Permalink)
Hi guys,

As with everything on CS a complaint has to be brought against someone for the MDST or the ambassadors management team to take action.

Ambassadors often have their status removed after an investigation of a complaint from the MDST. Obviously details of such actions are between the members and the MDST but I know of it happening.

Outside safety concerns a member can complain about an ambassador not living up to the code of conduct and those complaints can be sent to the ambassadors management team through the contact page.

As for reviews of how the ambs are going then I believe that it is way behind what it is supposed to be and hopefully the country and regional ambs can up their work rate on this. As a nomadic amb I'm supposed to receive a review as well from the AMT but if they've looked at my profile and doings I'm not sure but if anyone else wanted to bring a complaint against me then it could be cone simply through the contact us page.

Tc

Posted July 31st, 2008 - 10:21 am from Cairo, Egypt
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted July 31st, 2008 - 10:31 am from Utrecht, Netherlands
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 11:03 am from Kowloon West, China
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 1:21 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Post removed.
Posted August 1st, 2008 - 1:43 pm by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
This post has been removed by the user.

Deleted Post
Posted August 1st, 2008 - 2:59 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 3:46 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Honestly, that sort of problem is not just with ambs. Regardless of what the complaint is and who the parties are, it is nearly always a matter of one person's word against the other. In my opinion, it seems like the initial aggrieved/complainant/whatever you wish to call them loses out a lot, because I have seen man instances where an initial negative reference was removed for being inappropriate, while there was a retaliatory reference allowed to stand because it fit the guidelines.

As you have mentioned, Lena, the issue is one of transparency. That is a real problem, because very little, if any, information is given about member disputes (aside from what the members themselves say), under the auspices of privacy concerns.

The problem I see with making a group post about an ambassador's behavior is not the simple act of posting, but what happens in that thread afterward. For instance, in the Beijing thread posted by GUYAZN, the complainant (whose complaint appears valid to me and has some good points in it) goes on and on, and keeps the thread going just to rant. I'm a bit disappointed that the moderator never suggested to her that she lodge a complaint via "contact us." My point is that, while bringing a complaint into the public eye of a group post, there is always the risk of creating the spectacle of a mud-slinging match that can go on and on and not reach any sort of resolution at all, ambassador or no.

Trent, thank you for your response and for your helpful presence in the groups. I've also sent the ambassador management team a link to this thread in case they'd like to respond.

Derek

Posted August 1st, 2008 - 4:45 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 2nd, 2008 - 11:56 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 10:54 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
1) Had my experiences been with anyone other than a couchsurfing ambassador I might not have been so quick to post.

...

If my problem had been with a first time host or someone who otherwise seemed to be an utterly clueless dwork I very likely would have left it at a negative reference.

Depending on the circumstances I might not have even gone beyond neutral reference. After all, I wasn't physically or emotionally harmed. I was just disgusted and offended.

It was, however, an ambassador. And if I had dropped another potential host because I had this pure gold offer from him, how many other people in Beijing during the Olympics might also decide to stay with him? How many of them might be less assertive or, in the event that something physical were tried, less able to defend?

...

2) The problem I see with making a group post about an ambassador's behavior is not the simple act of posting, but what happens in that thread afterward. For instance, in the Beijing thread posted by GUYAZN, the complainant (whose complaint appears valid to me and has some good points in it) goes on and on, and keeps the thread going just to rant. I'm a bit disappointed that the moderator never suggested to her that she lodge a complaint via "contact us." My point is that, while bringing a complaint into the public eye of a group post, there is always the risk of creating the spectacle of a mud-slinging match that can go on and on and not reach any sort of resolution at all, ambassador or no.

...

Actually I did lodge a complaint via contact us. I'm not entirely sure whether I did that before or after I made the initial group post (certainly done the same day).

I wasn't going on and on just to rant. This debacle has caused me to participate more actively in the groups here and it was my failure to understand local netiquette versus other communities I have belonged to that had me responding and responding again.

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 2:50 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Hi Marian, glad you're here. I won't ask for specifics, but I'm curious - did you hear back from contact us? I sent a notice about this discussion to see if anyone would respond with some information, but no response so far, and no indication of them having read this thread (Trent's post to this thread was before that).

Derek

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 3:31 pm by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
I got a response and while I won't go so far as to say that I'm 100% satisfied with it, it was a reasonable response.

It was my responsibility to more thoroughly check out my host's profile before I agreed to surf with him. Notwithstanding the fact that I think he was deliberately misleading elsewhere with regards to what was available (one bedroom apartment is a one bedroom apartment, one room is one room, the two are not the same) he did say "floor". I also should have asked about the couch info on the phone. My fault, plain and simple.

Since I didn't take any pictures of the floor there is nothing to go on but my word about it being filthy. The people at contact us also don't know how lax my standards are and I'm betting there are people out there who complain about dirt that others of us can't see.

As for the rest of it, even if David has failed to come forward to make any attempt to defend or deny any of the especially bad parts of my version of events, there really isn't anything that can be done at this time.

Disgusted as I was by his behavior I would like to believe that whatever happened between him and the 19 year old girl who did spend the night there was consensual. Since I'm not friends with that girl I cannot speak on her behalf and Contact Us cannot act on what I've said unless it a) wasn't consensual and b) she or does something about it (and even then, he met her through LiveMocha).

It's just a matter of going on record. If no one goes on record about negative experiences then people who have negative experiences will be afraid to post them due to victim cognitive dissonance "no one else has ever complained about this person so it must just be me, it must be my fault..."

I've gone on record.

I've done my part.

Hopefully, something will eventually be done about this man and hopefully that something will be done before someone gets hurt for real.

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 3:45 pm by from London, England (Permalink)
marian, as i said in the bejing post. i'm in 100% agreement with you in regards to your paragraph about going on record and i'm sure there's plenty more out there even if they don't end up posting about it.

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 7:46 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 8:12 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 9:26 pm by from Denver, United States (Permalink)
No, I think you have us confused with Berlin, Germany, capitol of the zionist butt kissers.

Here in the USA we still have a tiny bit of free speech. If you think Judaisum is a race and not a religion, go to this page, (in the USA) and it will set you straight.

http://www.netureikarta.org/

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 5:44 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
David is also Jewish thus he's allowed to make Jewish American Princess comments.

I'm just thinking about the kids at Solomon Schecter (or, heck, even my friends here at Kehillat Beijing or the Chabad House) and what they would say if they heard that someone described _me_ as a JAP.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 4:39 pm from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 4:47 pm from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 7:54 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 11:07 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
I agree with both of your points Meher

I didn't read Marian's comments as being picky, spoiled or prudish...only as objecting to the use of David's amb status and relative wealth to trawl for dates among the vulnerable.

Christopher, when you describe amorous couples in hostels, I'm assuming you mean people of similar ages and social status. No one cares about that...let em go. I don't care either if David's hobby is "romancing beautiful women"...I just hope that his actions don't include the manipulative seduction of impoverished girls.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 11:40 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
In fact, although I hadn't specifically noted the couch info when I looked at his profile (bad me, my fault), I had noticed the "romancing beautiful women" and that, along with the pictures of him surrounded by groups of young women made me think fondly of my friend Sol, who, up until he died in 2006 at the age of 106 was still "romancing beautiful women."

Romance and sex often go together but they need not.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 1:32 pm from Richmond upon Thames, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 5:29 pm from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 6:45 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
Thanks Chris for the education on Russian HC/CS standards of sexual free expression. As long as there is no power imbalance associated with it, I see no problem. I think what is being discussed here, however, is the role an ambassador plays in possibly generating a real or perceived power-imbalance and using this 'power', or position of implied trust, to get a desired outcome.

As for members making their own decisions: couldn't agree more. I've always liked how this site respects and tolerates a variety of choices...with gratitude. And, even though I never mentioned her in my post, you're quite right: the 19-yr-old is of-age and can certainly choose her own partner (whatever her reasoning). My concern is for the many teenagers around the world, seeing little legitimate chance in life to support their families or get out of their small towns, become the purchased company of older foreign men...quite common in Asia. I'd feel uncomfortable if CS tacitly supported that sort of exploitation via it's ambassadorship designation.

The sexiest men out there are those that promote genuinely elastic horizons in the lives of young men and women...rather than offering them quick cash and a slobbering adolescent libido.

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 8:30 pm by from Derry, Northern Ireland (Permalink)
I believe the ambassitor's behavior is one thing, but CS needs to educate inexperienced surfers at how to pick good hosts. I surfed plenty of places this summer and in some cities such as Dublin and Rome, you see plenty of guys who all hosted beautiful women and have cheesy almost harassing comments to everyone of them. IF a girls wants to avoid such, stay with another girl or even a couple, but that still doesn't avoid the situation totally. I've heard of even worse accusations of monitors in other websites intercepting requests and then soliciting the girls to stay with them instead. I think girls really need to know how to read people's profiles and determine who is not a risk. Also, another problem with ambassitors is that they have so many references. Too many at that. Stuff like, "he told me about couchsurfing at a bus stop and i singed up and all." They have so many references that it will be hard to see the negative ones (so CS should make it easier to sort through them) and also we should find a way to sort through them by association, ie reference left by a surfer, a host, a community member, a random meeting at the airport let alone people should learn to evaluate references in general. I can go on forever about this...

My sister is astonished about how I cs'ed though Europe, and she wants to try it now, and you should see the email I send her about cs in general and especially note the topic I wrote on how to find low-risk hosts and all. Maybe put a link to it on the cs wiki or something, but the knowledge needs to be shared so situations like these are less likely to happen. But face it, as you women know, there are always desperite, cheesy, lazy guys that try to advance on everything and the last place you want to be is on their couch.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 6:47 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 6:59 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
quite right Val

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 7:01 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 10:03 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
I can see many reasons for keeping these situations private. Mostly legal (and I suspect aside from negative publicity...this is the biggest reason). People put a lot of personally identifying things on their profiles. Many choose not to hide their profiles (or don't know how to) and forum posts are easily googled. If these disputes became open to the public and available for the scrutiny therein...CS could very easily be sued for providing a portal for slander. Not to mention victim rights of the US which prohibit the release of a victims identity if things like rape are involved. Personally I don't think either party identity should be released until a trial has been done...but then you run into public rights to knowledge issues...and this is a whole topic and rant unto itself :P

If both sides agreed to allow the information to become public, then I could see this happening...but the minute you have one person who doesn't agree with this and if it is out there...they could potentially go after CS for the defamation.

The statistics issue...I think they should be produced. But lets be realistic...how many companies produce negative statistics about their own service? And chances are those that do are doing it by court order...not because they graciously chose to. This isn't to downplay the need...just a realistic observation. Unless the LT has a truly compelling reason to get that information out there...they likely won't. If it does it will be watered down and chances are you won't get names.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 8:21 pm from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 8:19 am from Richmond upon Thames, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 11:24 am by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"What does concern me is the inability (or
unwillingness) of CS to identify and act upon
predatory patterns of behaviour, especially if their
official representatives are involved. "

Its misleading statements like this that start to annoy me about this forum. What this appears to state is that there have been predatory patterns of CS representatives that CS MDST (or other leadership) is either covering up or "failing/UNWILLING???" to act upon. This is a pretty BOLD accusation. Where's your proof? Free speech aside...what gives you the right to arbitrarily defame volunteers who do work hard to root out this kind of stuff?

If your point is that CS will need to combat these when they arise, then I heartedly agree. But don't lead into your point with a strawman and HIGHLY accusatory statement like this that can't be backed up.

I think we ALL recognize that there is a potential for people to be taken advantage of through CS...it has happened and its not JUST ambassadors that do this. I'd wager that you would be hard pressed to find a significant ratio of ambassadors who have taken advantage of others (not to say it doesn't happen...just that the odds are still MUCH smaller) to non-ambassadors identified as risks. But in these circumstances, ambassadors MUST be held to a much higher standard...and I generally believe that they are. We have to go through the same stuff within disputes, and we also have the scrutiny of other ambassadors who are much more ready to critique us if they feel we are in the wrong.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 12:26 pm from Richmond upon Thames, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 5:59 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
Actually my former Beijing host and I are both Americans.

It wasn't just the having sex in the room he expected me to stay in (I spent the night at an internet bar), it was everything that came before and the behavior that came after.

I've spent enough brainpower on this issue already so without going into too too much detail, it was almost as if he was trying to cram as many socially inappropriate behaviors into as short a timespan as possible.

As for thoughts on morality and so on ... I don't know how to convince without going into great gobs of detail all about me me me but my thoughts on morality are VERY open. About the only thing that can truly get under my skin is consent issues.

I've been living in China for just shy of 6 years. A 19 year old from the distance provinces is pretty much either an already married mother OR a child. There is very little room for leeway.

Even assuming that she fell into this very small subgroup of liberated young women, when her salary (which was under discussion in English) is 1000rmb a month, and her dinner (which he paid for as her first restaurant meal in the 7 months she's been in Beijing) is 40rmb, and she's been kept out past the time that she's already said (in English) that her dormitory closes, it's really difficult to call her going home with him the reasoned act of a consenting adult.


Posted August 3rd, 2008 - 11:48 pm from Neuvecelle, France
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 6:27 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
@ Lena

Yep, this is one of the 'cabal' replying. It seems that we-who-rule-the-cs-world from the shadows and make everyone dance like puppets are now being unmasked :P

Just kidding. Don't burst an artery.

I see where you're coming from Lena and yes I do agree that Ambs being representatives of this community and even guardians at times (or perhaps meant to be) of what it is supposed to be, should possibly be held to a higher standard. And certainly I know there have been instances of Ambs taking advantage of the trust people repose in them purely due to the flag on their profile. And yes these are the people who disgust me more than anything and they ought to be dealt with swiftly.

But, I think you really are seeing conspiracies where there are none. Truth be told, I know of occasions, when it has come to light that an amb has been misbehaving in a big city, that the other city ambs have taken it upon themselves to go to the MDST and admin to have the issue addressed. If anything, I think they go much further (as I would personally) than with any normal complaint as the threat to surfers is greater, it reflects awfully on the entire local community, the safety network and last but not least, the ambs themselves. If anything I think ambs are harder on their own (at least the ones I've known).

As for the Ambs who flaunt their flags in everybody's faces (and I know there are a few), I am more inclined to be amused and pity them. You see, in my opinion, they lack any greater accomplishment or purpose in life than a fairly arbitrary badge of trust placed in them by a tiny community on a little address in cyberspace. Do you see the tragedy in that? I do..

@ Marian

Just to let you know that I'm very glad you did what you did - left the ref and contacted MDST. I'd also like to mention that, in my opinion, the moderator in the Beijing group did what she had to do in a fairly balanced fashion.

@ Victor

Very interesting site and information. A lot of things I didn't know. I do think though that interesting as it may be, the guy on the Beijing group came across repeatedly as deliberately and pointedly bigoted (if you prefer that word to 'racist') and that his use of the phrase had absolutely nothing to do with the information you have shared with us.

Please forgive the long post.

Cheers

Rahul

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 1:20 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
Regarding the Beijing thread, I wonder if David has any children in his life (...in addition to his lovely girlfriends).

I'm the mother of two kids and have found it useful to remember that all of my guests are someone's beloved son or daughter; that there is family at home thinking of them and praying for their safe travel. I try, as a host, to live up to those expectations.

My own teenage daughter can't wait to go couchsurfing when she is 18. My wish is that our community will care for her in a manner distinctly different than how David has chosen to care for his young female guests.


Posted August 4th, 2008 - 5:26 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 7:31 pm from Fort Lauderdale, United States
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 8:20 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
There is one. Generally, if you feel a wrong negative reference has been placed on you're profile. you address it through the CuQ. The MDST will make a determination whether it is or is not retaliatory. If they find that it is, normally the negative reference states something along the lines of the reference is inappropriate.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 9:14 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 9:53 pm from Cardiff, Wales
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 3:54 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 11:41 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
From what I can tell, he simply changed his to neutral...a far cry from being negative (though his wording is probably questionable).of their own...much like the current reference syst

My statement wasn't to dispute whether this works or not, only to let Dushan know that there is a procedure in place to get retaliatory references removed. I don't waste time disputing these things in this forum any more because everyone believes their way (assuming they even take the time to suggest an alternative) is the only right way and anything CS endorses must be inherently evil or wrong. Is the system we implement now perfect? No. But ANY system you put in place will have inherent flaws.

Posted August 4th, 2008 - 11:43 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
EDIT...i think i accidentally dragged the original sentence end to the middle :) -"of their own...much like the current reference syst"

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 12:03 am from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 1:09 am by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"Matt, come on - you're giving up because people think the current system can and should be improved???"

No...I just choose not to get involved in discussions regarding what people want to do with things around here...because I don't have the time to follow every single point or follow people picking apart things that I may present.

"For one, arguably many of the issues that are arising as CS approaches a million members are DIFFERENT than when the system was set up and a couple of thousand people were on it. Should we not evaluate how it is working? Are we going to pretend there are no problems? Will CS continue to ignore people who raise legitimate complaints?"

I agree that things could generally handled differently when there's more people involved. I don't have any idea personally how to improve this system because I believe that ideally the reference system works...just like people who believe in change think ideally their system works.

"And by the way, if you are not aware of it , i HAVE suggested MANY solutions to many issues on CS, from the beginning. So have others, so quit pretending that everyone just bitches. Mostly they are ignored, so they give up. Just to be clear, *that's* not necessarily a problem, but it is a waste of available resources and kinda dumb too."

I know you have suggested things...as has many people. I generally don't agree with these suggestions, but don't have a better alternative so I opt not to get involved. I also recognize that to most of those who make decisions that this is not likely where they go for their choices (its actually been pretty obvious by the general complaints that continue in this forum). Wrong or right for letting the "great ideas" get away...I am nobody to judge.

"Besides, you're really going to ignore central problems of CS with 'any system has problems'?? Really, NOT every system has serious problems, and almost certainly every system can be improved, so i find your response pretty silly, and absolutely no excuse for sweeping serious problems under the rug."

I'm not ignoring the problems of CS. I can recognize problems that can and do arise within the way CS does things. I think some of these are faults in the system...but I also believe some are the faults of the people who abuse the system or fail to use the systems in place. I don't sweep anything under any rug...all I did was inform someone that there is a process by which references are disputed...that was the only involvement I wanted in this thread.

As for the topic of the ambassador...as far as I am aware the MDST is currently sorting the situation out. Personally I think this guy should lose his flag. Partially because of the sudden trend in negative refs...but also because of the retaliatory responses (and the arguably racist retorts) he made both in his reference and the Beijing forum. If he remains I feel this would greatly discredit alot of good people who represent this site.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 4:09 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 7:46 am from Kowloon West, China
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 12:42 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 12:51 pm by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
Coming back to the original topic, how about this:

Obviously the mere existence of a amb status is bringing up many issues. If the ambassadors are doing something that needs to be done and can't be done by non-ambs then it is a "necessary evil". But maybe it is not needed.

The member greeting can be done by normal experienced members, if a members don't know how to do things he can ask the relevant group... I would like to hear something that ambs do and that cannot be handled by the community.. Seriously, I'm curious.

In Hamburg we have two ambs. One is a blessing, he's part of the emergency team, he directs the new members to the local group... the other is just doing nothing. The meetings are organised on the group, but he's enjoying the little yellow flag which we suspect is the only reason that motivated him.

Julien

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 1:19 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
Ambassadors are simply CS volunteers. I decided to get my flag because at the time, the central NY area had none. The closest ambassadors were NYC and buffalo; both of which areas are very different compared to where I live. I grew up in this region and wanted to help out the local community both in finding couches for those who need help and bringing the community together.

Realistically, everyone has their own motivation for getting their flag; some for noble causes, while others for less noble. Then there are the select few that make us all look like idiots like this Beijing nut job. Regardless, I think that threads like this are evidence that people (both inside and outside the ambassador circle) place WAY too much thought/worry/care-about/over-reaction to a symbol that means you are volunteering.

Anything that ambassador's do can technically be handled by a community of trusted volunteers. These jobs range from MDST, New member greeting, to helping with emergency services and event organization (to name a few). But again...a lot of us don't put the seriousness in this flag you seem to. We all volunteer in our own way and try and keep our communities focused and together. Do I need a flag to do this? No. But it does give something specific for the community to go to for (in theory) a trusted opinion on how things (should) work.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 1:43 pm from Richmond upon Thames, England
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 2:06 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
I agree with what you are saying about newcomers. And maybe this was the original purpose of the title...a place newcomers can gravitate toward to adapt to what is really a different way of addressing life and people in general. Ambassadors should and NEED to be trustworthy and should be truly ideal CS hosts.

As for the Beijing stuff, I think there's very few if any ambassadors who want to help keep this guy's title. Even those who are trying to calm the group in their forums are doing it to maintain some sense of order, rather than "protect their own" or "sweep things under the rug" as some may suggest. Things in that thread could have very easily slid into a slander war and next thing ya know, the thread is suddenly "missing". I'd hate to see that even in the forums I co-moderate. I believe the negative references speak for themselves and based on these alone, he is violating the part that says ambassadors need to keep their accounts in good positive standing.

On that same note though, he should and is being afforded the opportunity to due process through the MDST because (outside his retaliatory comments both in forum and reference response), the first negative is a case of he said/she said which needs to be sorted out. Obviously the second negative does demonstrate a trend that IMO should be dealt with...but again I am not in a spot to be a disciplinarian. I just hope like many that the right thing will be done.

disclaimer: I don't speak for the ambassador community or other ambassadors...only as one :)

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 2:53 pm by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
I have been following this thread (and the related ones) with great interest for a while (I just twitch a bit when things gets a bit heated and people slander others or are rude.. I don't like that, but that is me..) and haven't made so many comments yet since I am kind of swamped at work and others do say so much good stuff anyway =)

But Now I have some time so I just want to say that I very much agree with matthew here.(The first answer by Derek about ambs are also very good I think.. and of course other posts as well) We ambassadors (yes I am one too) are just active members who commit some extra time to volunteer for the CS project and help with whatever we can, the flag and the title is just something that marks us as volunteers, it doesn't mean anything else than this, and doesn't give any special privileges.
As a volunteer we are trying to help the community and other members and I guess that is why we are marked, so that new members (and old) can find us and easily contact us with questions etc, since it is a bigger chance that we do know some more of the workings of the community than a random member due to the time we spend with it, but there still are many non-ambassadors who know more and are more dedicated than some of us, we are not any special.

A part of being a volunteer is to try to be a good raw model, which includes being trustworthy..which I think most of us are.. but unfortunately maybe not everyone..

Anyway Matthew already mentioned the above, what I really want to do is add that ambassadors are not admins, we are as much in the admin and leadership teams hands as everybody else, some of us know or have some contact with them, especially the global and country ambs, but far from everyone.

Hmm.. maybe this didn't really add anything of value, I tend to rant a bit, but hopefully it gave something =) and yeah just like matthew and everyone else I just talk for myself.

Tomas

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 3:35 pm from Macau, China
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 4:15 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"I was just wondering why 'Nomadic Ambassadors' exist? Why it might seem a good idea if they are travelling for periods and are spreading the 'CS gospel' to non users ... do they stop being 'Nomadic ambs' when they return home/ set up residence somewhere?"

Nomadic ambassadors are generally there for people who extensively travel, yet still want to volunteer and be involved with ambassador activities. Most of them were city ambassadors at one time and find they won't be able to serve their main city from abroad. If they do end up in a place for an extended period of time, they very realistically can be moved to a regular city ambassador status...depending on the need for the region and how the Ambassador Managers decide to do with it.

Actually....here's a better link for what CS expects of their various degrees of ambassadors:
http://www.couchsurfing.com/amb_levels.html

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 5:02 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 6:26 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
valerie I believe whole heartedly with your ideologic viewpoint of ambassadors and the responsibility ambassadors have; especially to upholding cs principles, the views newbies can have of such a title, and that these ambassadors should be quality checked.

I guess what I don't understand is what you're getting at? what ambassadors are being "protected"? the only ambassadors that I see with any sway for anything are global and maybe country ambassadors. these are thw ones that generally set the direction. but among the ones I've met or worked with, none have shown me an ounce of desire to gain endorsements just to look cooler than the next or for whatever reason. even in the ambassador forums I never see them rally around someone or try to isolate and protect based on status. if anything that's truly hard to do with the numerous and diverse appointments. especially when we can be pretty critical of eachother.

on the note of evaluations though, I do have some reservations. I spent 9 years in the military, having to annually prove on paper to my superiors why I deserved a high mark because it affected my promotion status. here I am donating my time and am leary of going through something similar just so I can continue to volunteer. its probably a necessary evil, just kinda sucks at the same time.

also don't knock my spelling mistakes; I'm using my cell phone ;)

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 7:05 pm from San Francisco, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 7:22 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
Hi Gabriel

You must be new to Brainstorm if you think this is fighting:)

How else can we decide upon the boundaries of acceptable standards in this community unless we debate them?

Marg

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 1:46 am from San Francisco, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 5th, 2008 - 10:39 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
There have been a number of things posted here that I would like to respond to, but first I'd like to thank Julien for reminding us of the original purpose of this thread: to discuss ambassadors who abuse their status, title, and "power" -- not to discuss just one dispute between two members.

My points:

1) Ambassadors' purpose(s), and why we should have them: Yes, any member of CouchSurfing can do the things ambassadors do. However, it helps to have people marked as volunteers in some manner, because it gives other members (particularly new people) someone to contact with reasonable expectation of getting a response, and possibly faster than one from CUQ.

2) The title: While the title could be changed, to perhaps "volunteer," as I've seen proposed in the past, I will admit that I like the title "ambassador," because it has a meaning that I believe fits the purpose of the position. An ambassador is basically someone who represents and communicates the ideals of a particular group. The title "volunteer" does not really communicate that, and while many people volunteer for CS, not all of them want to be contacted by or answer questions asked by members. I'd also like to say that I don't see the title "ambassador" as grandiose at all; I think of it as more of an ombudsman than anything else. Basically, the definition and connotations of the word "ambassador" differ from those of "volunteer" - just like other titles; for instance, "moderator."

3) Nomadic ambassadors: I travel to a lot of places where the CS community is not yet what I would call "self-aware." One of my duties is to organize events in the places I travel to, and I pay particular attention to the areas where there are not that many CSers, or where they have not yet had get-togethers. Now people will point out that *any* member can do that - but the truth is, not *any* member does. I'll admit that I feel a bit driven by my ambassador status, because I actually have some duties outlined that I am expected to perform. I never advertise my status as an ambassador or sign as an ambassador or anything. I just travel and organize get-togethers, and people see that I'm an ambassador, and frequently ask questions in the form of "since you're an ambassador, maybe you know ..." I think that's a good process that gives people opportunity to ask questions and get some (hopefully) good answers in person.

Suggestions for improving ambassador performance (including behavior):

1) Examine the size of the ambassador management team. Does it need to be enlarged to deal with the number of ambassadors we have?

2) Set forth (and make public) clear expectations for country & global ambassadors regarding their relationships with and feedback to city and nomadic ambassadors.

3) Require ambassador participation in a questionnaire about performance of their ambassadorial duties on a quarterly basis. This questionnaire should be a combination of multiple choice and short answer in order to get good specific responses to the questions. The answers should be evaluated by country and/or global ambassadors, and they should deliver recommendations regarding continuation of ambassador status to both the ambassador in question and the ambassador management team.

4) Given the expectation that some people, particularly new CSers, have that ambassadors should be trustworthy, here should be reasonable disclosure of details when it comes to disputes between ambassadors and other members. Agreeing to this should be a condition for applying to be an ambassador.

Who has thoughts about (or ideas to add to) these points?

Derek


Posted August 6th, 2008 - 8:23 am from Bolzano, Italy
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 9:35 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
sure Gabriel! I'll send you a note:)

Derek, I like your suggestions, especially 1 and 2. The questionnaire is a good idea but perhaps too much work to reasonably expect from the second tier ambassadors to get out quarterly. I've never had any feedback at all except once a country amb asked me if I still wanted to be an ambassador, but that's it...not a huge tradition of scrutiny, which is, as Matt said earlier, kind of nice as compared to his army experiences...but can leave problems falling through the cracks.

In the absence of this managerial oversight, I appreciate members like Marian for speaking up on their concerns...so we can openly talk it out. As long as all parties are free to participate and publicly tell their side, I think slander will not be an issue (at least, CS can't be held liable...correct me if I'm wrong!) and boundaries for acceptable community behavior can be discussed and decided by the group.




Posted August 6th, 2008 - 11:31 am by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
Honestly, there are people of this ilk all throughout the world. I would say generally that the flag should and does envelope an ideal of trust within the system. But you can't throw out the fact that we're human...and people we don't expect to be predators or whatnot can and will get into the system. Its unfortunately reality of the world we live in. I'm betting (and hoping) before he was an ambassador, Beijing boy's "romancing women" statements weren't in the profile...but I really don't know...none of us do. I even bet those who did his review are sitting there asking themselves "did I see that in the profile before?".

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 9:26 am by from London, England (Permalink)

Since everybody on this threat is mumbling along I may as well mumble one more thing that came to my mind:

Does anyone remember the pedophile incidents in the catholic church? Aren't the people who committed those crimes the ones you (as a religious person) should look up to? Shouldn't they live the cleanest and most straight forward life of all of us? Does anyone claim, now that several hundred cases of child molestation have been proven, several members of the church being convicted, that the whole of the catholic church is evil?

I think the people who claim that 'we have to act before something serious happens' do not understand that there is not a whole lot we can do to prevent the few black sheep who abuse CS to do what they do.

Is there a system in the catholic church/police/any organization with a structure (or somewhat a hierarchy) that cannot be abused?

I, as a person claim that it's the CS 'leadership' to stay silent and not to react to the issues that emerge. A moderated and open discussion may actually make us able to address issues and find solutions. Group posts like this one just go on and on and on until people get bored.

And yes, the incident that happened here in Beijing is still not solved...

Lots of love from Beijing,
lee.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 10:30 am by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
The "event organizing" and "Member helping" part of an amb mission can be fulfilled more efficiently by the relevant Group (you know, like the Brainstorm Group).

A lot of standard members are investing a lot in their local communities. Put that against the fact that, of my two city-amb, one is just doing nothing.
The other one is doing a great work but again, he could do it as a standard member.

1- The motivation to volunteer can be long-lasting for some people, and pretty short-lived for others. Giving permanent status is contradictory with this state of fact.

2- Statuses and hierarchies are generally a bad thing. I readily admit that sometimes, It can't be avoided, but let's avoid in any other case.

Julien

PS: I'm not concerned about the Beijing incident. However unlikely you make bad things to happen, given a big enough population, it eventually will. It's the whole ambassador system that I believe is unneeded and actually ressource-consuming.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 11:43 am by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
What resources do we consume though? Its not like we are being paid for this.

Point 1: Also technically, permanent status isn't granted. Its *supposed* to be up for review quarterly...which obviously isn't working and maybe should be done yearly?

Point 2: Thats just a discussion of ideology. Some people think none or minimal structure is bad...others thing top-town structure is bad. I think the ambassador title is necessary...Especially for the sake of identifying trusted volunteers within certain regions.

I understand what you're saying...but frankly...if people were looking to volunteer to do these things, they would have applied to do so by now...either the direct volunteer application or the ambassador app (you can do one or the other). If you just leave it to the wind for whomever to do w/o structure...it probably would never get done. But again...thats just a difference in ideology and faith in people's work ethic.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 11:45 am from Bolzano, Italy
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 8:17 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
I stand by my belief and assertion that ambassadors are necessary. Do you *really* think that helping members and organizing events can be done "more efficiently" by a Group? Please show me an example, because when I have tried to introduce things to CS groups to organize, all that happens is discuss, discuss, discuss. Discussion is extremely valuable, but definitely NOT efficient. This is especially true in smaller communities where CS isn't really active yet. It generally takes SOMEONE (amb or not) to take the initiative and get things rolling... I haven't seen any of these communities become active (or aware of each other) through group action, because there really isn't a group at all.

@CRIIRSARA:
"For me such things are really SERIUOS AND DANGEROUS..., what are we waiting for? that something raelly bad happens?" -- regarding this quote, I just want to point out that if (or when) something "really bad" happens, it is at least as likely to be from a non-amb as from an amb. And also, I really think it's okay for you to encourage new members to trust ambassadors. I truly believe that the vast, vast majority of ambassadors on this site will "do no harm" in their performance of their duties. While there are bad apples, as we are all aware, I take issue with the notion that there are multitudes of ambassadors running rampant abusing their power.

I have met a fair number of ambassadors, and by far the "worst" have been the ones who, as far as I could tell, didn't really do anything.

Derek

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 8:28 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 8:36 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"i must admit there is a general trend of distrusting ambassadors and the feeling that they abuse their token ranks whether to get a couch or harass someone"

I would like to see some proof of this. Both the "feelings" you claim and the "abuse" that's happening. Pretty lame to make blanket arguments without backing it up.

Posted August 6th, 2008 - 8:37 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Meher,

What exactly do you mean by "mature" groups? I have read anti-ambassador sentiment in many posts in quite a few different groups, that I'll admit. Where my belief diverges from yours is that I don't think the groups are very representative of CS membership in general, and that is simply speaking from my own personal experience. Most members I know personally join their own city group, and other city groups when they're challenging. Beyond that, they may join the vegetarian group, or a photography or football group... but most members do not participate in groups like brainstorm, community communications, etc.

Derek

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 4:08 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
'Without pointing to anyone and in general i must admit there is a general trend of distrusting ambassadors and the feeling that they abuse their token ranks whether to get a couch or harass someone'

Meher, I'm not sure where you're getting this information and exactly where all you've been surfing around the world. I (and a lot of the people here) do know however that there have been a number of problems in some of the Indian groups over a period of time. Perhaps you're taking your cues from this? Do correct me if I'm wrong.

I find it amazing that you just randomly threw that out there as fact because this 'sentiment' of distrust that you seem to know a fair bit about is something I have hardly seen in my entire time surfing around Europe.

I've seen annoyance, exasperation and some degree of tongue-in-cheek mockery but very rarely (if ever) distrust. The usual irritated reactions come from people who don't like being moderated on the boards but other than that...

Perhaps you might like to clarify your statement?

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 5:00 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 6:29 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
:) I know Monolita and I thought as much.

I was just making a little bit of allowance for the possibility that, just perhaps, this was coming from groups relatively outside my experience.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 7:13 am from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 8:16 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 11:34 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 12:36 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"Dear Mathew ..we have a website which is open to all just like i have spent some time looking through posts maybe you can do the same ...its an open book !!"

The issue I take up with in forums like this is people making blanket claims about their idea of "truth" or "fact" and failing to produce tangible evidence. You can't claim something and then turn it around on those you expect to believe you. It's not my burden to prove. The problem I have with these is that other randomly involved CSer gets the wrong idea because of someone's wild thoughts or claims and then cites your claim as fact.

I wouldn't call what was said retaliation against you particularly, but more against these kind of posts. We all want to work toward a better community and I among anyone can easily see a well argued side (I very much ride the fence on many issues). But again...I didn't make the claims. I shouldn't be expected to do research into something someone else claims.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 3:05 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 4:58 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 8:19 am from Bolzano, Italy
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 8:40 am by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
Nobody sane is thinking that becoming an amb makes you dumb or evil. Ok I said it once but it was sarcasm (I was completely ignored and that was probably the best way to deal with it :) ). So far I do believe that most priests want only the good of their community, as with most policemen or CS amb. The laws of statistics and human nature make it inevitable that a couple of fuckers will show up and throw discredit on the whole system. It is up to our common wisdom to not cut the tree just because it has yielded a couple of bad apples.

Also, it would be wrong to judge individuals. Even the Beijing guy. Judging someone is not a thing to do over coffee or forum thread. There are institutions for that.

But we can judge an "administrative system". Is it likely to produce constructive achievements? Is it efficient? Is it ethical? ... The list goes on ; and decide which "way of organizing ourselves" is good.

@Matthew: The ressource consumed by the amb system are the time-energy-ressources spent on managing it. Reviews, acceptance of new ambs, training if any, each level of the hierarchy having to watch upon the lower and respond the the higher...

Still @Matthew: About the work not getting done without ambs.
Open-source projects are usually organized as: "whoever feels like doing the work, go ahead". Anyone can contribute, and drop out the day after. Projects like Ubuntu or Firefox are organized that way and they are not failures. It just takes a big enough community to make it statistically impossible that every contributor will happen to walk out at the same time. With 600,000 members, we're far above the threshold.

@Derek: "it generally takes SOMEONE (amb or not) to take the initiative and get things rolling"

You said it my friend. It takes individuals, not yellow flags. Any group member can go ahead and "get things rolling" anytime he wants. So far in the Hamburg group, the ambs organise no meetings at all. One of them we never even seen posting. The other is not that kind of guy. What he does, he does great and it's the members of the group that speak up and say: "Barbecue at the beach next Friday, everyone is invited". And when a newbie asks a question about Hamburg or whatever else in the group, it is usually another standard member that knows about the issue that advises the kid.


Julien

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 5:05 pm from Fort Lauderdale, United States
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 7:14 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 7:28 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 7:59 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Hey Val, good post... Off the top of my head, I have a couple specific proposals regarding your ideas, and a comment on another.

1. Before becoming an ambassador:
* How about a "comment period." There could be a monthly posting, or news release, or something that would get members' attention, with a list of applicants. Members are invited to give feedback about individual applicants. At least a post to the applicant's city group, if there is one.
* How to encourage people with true community motives, and DIS-encourage people with private agendas: I hesitate to propose this, for several reasons... but perhaps ambassadors should be nominated AND apply. Maybe members from your own city could press a "nominate" button on your profile, and an application would not be approved until after... or there could be a quarterly "call for nominations." Of course, there's nothing other than a sense of propriety to keep would-be ambs from asking people to nominate them, but it's *something*.

2. During ambassadorship:
* While it might be more efficient for ambs to review their peers, I don't think it would increase confidence in the system - regardless of reality, members could easily perceive ambs to be buddy-buddy or in cahoots.

Thanks for the hugs and the pretty flower!

Flower

Derek


Posted August 7th, 2008 - 8:32 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 10:30 pm from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 7th, 2008 - 10:50 pm by from Tuross Head, Australia (Permalink)
Birgit,
thank you for the insights and the depth of your response. Very much appreciated and with that hopefully the discussion will now be more informed of what is happening... and what isn't.

I for one am taking the link of your post back to my Country Org group to ensure that our own Ambs are equally informed of this response and the other very positive and informative response and opinions in this Post.

regards
lei

Posted August 8th, 2008 - 3:54 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks Birgit

Posted August 8th, 2008 - 5:02 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 8th, 2008 - 5:03 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 8th, 2008 - 9:55 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
In my (second) post of ideas for improving the ambs system, I did acknowledge (indirectly) the problem of a popularity contest if ambassadors were (partially) chosen by nomination. Mostly, I think that it would at least be *something* -- rather than what we have now, which is simply a self-nomination. At least it would be another hurdle, and ill-intentioned people might have trouble finding someone to nominate them. The better ones wouldn't have to ask, they'd just eventually be nominated.

Also, one additional idea: how about a group of NON-amb members to help the AMT oversee the ambassadors. They could help with the review process and such, thus removing some of the burden from the AMT (and perhaps a little bit from country ambs), and perhaps some non-amb oversight would also help alleviate the distrust of ambs we have discussed here.

Valeri, if you like, I'd be happy to help you compile all these ideas.

Derek

Posted August 9th, 2008 - 7:01 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 9th, 2008 - 6:30 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 10th, 2008 - 5:57 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 10th, 2008 - 6:14 am by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Hello all,

I have combed this thread for proposals for making the ambassador system safer and more trustworthy. The proposals thus far are publicly viewable here: http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dcg6cpdb_2crzvvmfn.

I'm sure I missed a few, so if anyone wants to add ideas for improving the ambassador system, send me your email address and I'll add you as a collaborator.

As Monolita pointed out, there are other threads in this group that address the more general idea of how to create and maintain a system that will not only keep CS safe, but also promote member confidence in the safety of the system. Should we create a document listing proposals for that, as well?

Derek

Posted August 10th, 2008 - 1:17 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks so much Derek
Here is one more set of suggestions: http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=892&post=1379143

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 8:13 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 8:55 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 8:55 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 8:55 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 8:55 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 8:55 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 9:05 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 9:32 pm from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 10:20 pm from Utrecht, Netherlands
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 10:31 pm from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 4:16 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
Yep, thats true. The 3 neg ref warning has been around since I joined so thats at least a year. Its definitely a warning that pops up when a person has 3 and not a percentage of anything. So, that isn't any indication that anybody is listening, just that not everybody is aware of the existing features on CS.

Personally I don't agree with this whole thing about bumping neg refs to the top and keeping them there. For the nth time, I think the burden of reading a profile lies with a surfer and if he/she is too darn bone lazy to go through a profile then there isn't a whole lot you can do (and quite frankly I don't see why you should do anything).

For those who say it'll be buried, if you simply flick the page scroller down and just watch the screen you will see if there is a neg ref because you'll get a flash of red as you scroll down. It stands out pretty clearly in my opinion. I've never missed one. Worst case, you can highlight the entire ref in a coloured box or something of the sort but I think it should stay where it is. It gives you chronological perspective which is important.

And I remember seeing a link to an 'Independent Women' discussion and a suggestion (from Valerie I think) where one of three vouches needed to qualify for amb-ship ought to be from a woman.... thats just downright discrimination!!! If you want a rule like that then apply it to both genders. Let women also require a vouch from men!! And incidentally, in case you hadn't noticed, there are several ambs who don't have 3 vouches and the rule can be waived at the discretion of admin when a person is from a less active, more exotic area.

On a last count I'd like to just observe something. The kind of people you are talking about, the ones who take amb-ship and use (or abuse) it to their advantage, are very smart and very calculating. This Beijing chappie was just an aberration and was too cocky about it all. There are very very good odds that their behaviour is exemplary until the point they get their amb-ship. In fact its probably also exemplary beyond that point towards most people and they target certain, specific vulnerable surfers. Tell me, exactly how do you suss out such chaps before they actually get appointed? I do think there ought to be a way to fast-track the suspension of their amb-ship but since we are talking about prevention here rather than cure, I would just like to know how you go about this. I personally think its going to be pretty hard and you are simply going to make people work harder to conceal their behaviour (not that that means one shouldn't try to eradicate it).

Anyway, I'm glad they finally suspended David's Amb-ship. Looks like it took a fourth neg ref which had to be turned into a neutral to seal the deal.

Posted August 11th, 2008 - 9:08 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Monolita, that's a private document and we can't view it - but I'll send you my email, if you're able to add me as a collaborator (or you could publish it to the web so I can look at it there).

Derek

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 5:20 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 5:49 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Post removed.
Posted August 12th, 2008 - 8:00 am by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
This post has been removed by the user.

Deleted Post
Posted August 12th, 2008 - 11:20 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 11:29 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
I agree that to categorize neg refs publicly on the profile *by the surfer* would not accomplish anything, since people judge threats differently: for example, one person's sexual harassment is, unfortunately, another person's desperate, obsessive, ham-handed attempt at courtship...and would escalate the situation to more he said/she said. Also, as James said, the list of petty annoyances is endless, but make for good stories:)...he pissed in my yard (or James: on my new TV)...she spits when she talks...

I would suggest, however, that the categorization of negative references privately *by the MDST* would be helpful. Perhaps if the team were alerted to negative refs detailing dangerous or truly creepy behavior that would threaten potential surfers, they could watch these (...hopefully few?) profiles and monitor their activity locally with ambassador help. I think it would be both fair and beneficial if a mail was sent to those on the watch-list saying that their activity is being monitored privately because of a threatening neg ref...with a potential profile-freeze or deletion if more weird behavior is reported.

Too big-brotherish? Hit me with some criticism:)

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 2:18 pm by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
Uff! Sorry guys I can't keep up anymore! I'm out of this one.

:)

Julien

Posted August 12th, 2008 - 9:19 pm by from Mumbai, India (Permalink)
This was one of the rare debating posts that I actually read up and I have a few PoVs I'd like to share about the situation.

What I think was wrong about the manner the whole discussion was conducted, especially the following 2 points:

1. The discussion about David's sex life/habits

I feel that the moment people started judging whether David was indulging in prostitution or not, the whole thread lost its objectivity and relevance. Everyone has opinions and they are welcome to it, but your freedom to an opinion ends where the other person's reputation begins.

Whatever David was doing with the 19 year old girl may have been morally reprehensible..or not, but when we try to force our sense of morality down someone else's throat, it loses validity.

Seeing some of the posts above condoning David wining/dining the girl and then sleeping with her...and this being esp bad because he was an Ambassador...maybe you guys should put up a CS directive that prohibits any CS member (or Ambassador) from visiting the RLD in Amsterdam or Patpong in Bangkok or any other place like that across the world?

Unless that is a CS rule, I thoroughly object to ANYONE discussing what a CS member does in his private life as long as it is legal and not criminal. It almost harks back to bible - let the person who has not sinned, cast the first stone. I know people by nature are salacious and love discussing the sex lives of others - but on a public forum, you are not doing anything other than causing serious harm to someone's reputation.

2. Expectations as a guest

I am not sure if I am right - but from what I read, David did not actually have sex WHILE Marian was there. He asked her to come after a while. So a quick question - if I have a studio and am hosting a guest, does that mean I cannot have any sex in my own house even when the guest is not around?? Jeez, now thats a bit restricting!

Marian says it smelt bad later and the floor was dirty - she was in her full rights to leave, right? And she did! So what was the problem again? I am not sure that as a host I should be entirely responsible for helping my guest find proper accommodation if she doesnt like what I have to offer. Sure, as a kindred soul I'd definitely try to help her out, esp given that its a female alone at night, and esp as an ambassador but that in no way leads to an obligation on the host's part.

**********

On my part, I did find many of David's actions creepy and I would have respected the people who posted here and on the other post more if they had stuck to what was fair. The moment you start discussing anything else, the discussion turns into a smear campaign and loses all its fairness. The following things were not right on David's part and should have been focused on ONLY and not a discussion of morality in the third world:

1. His comments of a sexual nature that he made towards Marian during dinner. Definitely a big red flag esp for someone you've just met.

2. His constant alluding to her religion in his posts - uncalled for and distasteful.

3. His using the CS forum to prowl for easy sex - as evidenced by his online aol chat with the lady and alluding to her that he liked her and was 'open-minded', despite her making clear that she had a bf - creepy and shady.

These are the instances on which David should have been judged and penalised - not on the fact that his house was dirty or that he had sex with someone or and tried to keep the guest away for 15 minutes because he wanted a modicum of privacy. Anything more than that just means you are all just pandering to your salacious instincts and jumping to conclusions about someone (a 19 yr old in this case!) you dont know anything about.

Please be objective and careful when you discuss something as serious as this and give up the temptation of speaking from the pulpit.

My (significantly more than) 2 cents.

Pranav

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 5:27 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 10:10 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
I generalized my comments because my original negref was deemed inappropriate.


Posted August 13th, 2008 - 6:39 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 9:17 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
"I think girls really need to know how to read people's profiles and determine who is not a risk."

Dennis, I'll pre-empt Valeri on this by saying that the guys also need to take some responsibility and, as a general line of conduct, quit hitting on their guests. Sometimes it's difficult to judge from a profile if the host will be inappropriate....unless the references detail it. Let's also educate people, and support them, in leaving more balanced references.

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 10:08 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
different girl...

the girl in question doesn't have a cs profile

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 3:56 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 4:40 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 9:02 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 11:26 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks so much Pickwick

I appreciate your careful and sober analysis. Agreed, of course, that we must ensure the fair treatment of all participants, accuser and accused...without gossip.
Yet, what to do in the absence of any due process?

Many people here are probably wondering, why make such a big deal? Nothing illegal transpired...and they're correct. Yet in the absence of any regular review process, how is questionable behavior to be judged? The accused will either get pardoned or skewered in the groups....rites of public opinion....as we've seen here. Vigilantism will take over if there is no careful *public* way to test community standards, as is the situation currently on this website.

I'll speak for myself: I'm possessed of a towering, irrational, biased, volcanic hatred of anyone who endangers
teenage girls, specifically. Perhaps it's because I have my own daughter to think of, don't know...but I resent a world that sexualizes girls inappropriately...and the men who normalize and pardon (and indeed profit from...)it. When no one condemns behavior patterns that consistently put girls at risk, I'm happy to chime in and ridicule those who do.

My husband's youngest obstetric patient (...to date) was a 10 year old. She arrived full-term, in active labor, infected with several sexually transmitted diseases, and with no understanding of what was happening. My husband said she alternately sucked her thumb and cried during the delivery. The girl had endured, certainly, criminal mistreatment, but no one payed for this crime (except the girl). In fact, her stepfather had brought her in just so she could get fixed up...he didn't want to kill the cash cow. A quick bribe and he was on his way....money, not justice, spoke.

So, what to do when you see threats to the well-being of your daughters, sisters, nieces, mothers, lovers and friends...and no regular due process to handle the threat?

Ridicule the powerful.


Posted August 15th, 2008 - 6:12 pm from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 18th, 2008 - 5:06 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 18th, 2008 - 3:14 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 10:28 am by from Haikou, China (Permalink)
1) The discussion of morality.

You are right.

Although the sex was the catalyst for my not coming back that night and the behavior the next morning was my catalyst for writing the negref and the sex became one of the major points of discussion, it wasn't the _thing_ that made it a bad experience. More the straw that broke the camel's back.

But we shouldn't (and by we I include me) shouldn't have been going on and on about the moral issues because it is his life to do with as he likes.

2) Expectations as a guest.

I'm pretty accepting of dirty/dingy. I just cycled across China, avoiding the main roads, staying in farm-houses and truck stop motels, as well as often camping.

Same goes for accepting the floor. In fact, I slept on the floor last night.

The situation is that David had been informed that I had a current host (just not a longterm one) and had a potential other host who had been turned down solely because of David's GREAT offer to come for a whole month and even pick up the lease on his 'one bedroom apartment' if I found work in Beijing. Under those circumstances it is within the expectations of an American guest to an American host that I be told at some point in the long phone conversation that there isn't a couch or bedding.

3. Comments of a sexual nature

Started well before dinner. Because we were going to a CS meeting after dinner I was wearing a nice dress. It was at this point that the comments became especially inappropriate rather than those which can merely be assigned to a general level of hamhanded cluelessness.

4. Alluding to religion

Does anyone know if JAP (Jewish American Princess) is used by anyone other than Jews to refer to other Jews?

-M

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 1:35 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
Regarding morality: yeah those sex tourists should be able to do as they like. Why try to shove your moral code in another person's face? It's not illegal in those countries and those guys have money to spend, so where's the problem? it's such a hassle to consider the impact of your life on other people...especially poor people. I mean, who cares, really?

and those Cambodian 12-year olds, have you seen them giving birth? it's so annoying how they cry the whole time.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 4:57 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 7:39 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
You beat me to it Monolita and I must thank you for that because I don't think I would've expressed myself quite so eloquently.

The bottom line is that until and unless you actually know this '19-year-old-girl' and her circumstances, and what actually transpired, and were there to see some kind of abuse, there is now way you can draw conclusions about exploitation.

I hate to break it to you but the legal age of consent in most of China (and certainly in Beijing) is 14!!! Take a look.

http://www.avert.org/aofconsent.htm

Now if the girl was aged 13 and 363 days, then just about anybody is entitled to rise up and yell whatever they want.

Why?

Because its ILLEGAL!! Plain and simple!

In any other case, you and I and the entire human race is entitled to be disgusted, nauseated, horrified or whatever.

But, unless you have any more information than any of us who have been reading the boards, you can't condemn a chap for it and you sure as hell can't penalise him for it.

What if we started applying regular, mainstream Indian morality and even law to western lifestyles and behaviour on CS? Did you know homosexuality, let alone being frowned upon (to put it mildly), is still illegal in India?! Would you like that yardstick applied to the worldwide CS community?

So please don't randomly assume that just because this dame was Chinese that she was being exploited. If you actually KNOW it then thats different. But I don't think anybody here does.

So lets stick to whatever else that is logical and there is evidence of.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 10:39 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 11:02 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
War is also legal.

I never mentioned David and don't care about him. I'm arguing against the use of moral relativism generally as comfort.

Sorry to hear about those Chinese 14.5 year-olds....pity.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 11:13 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 12:07 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
yeah I understand you Mono...thank you:) But every time we offer an opinion on anything, we are setting forth our premise as superior....moral or otherwise.

Our other choice is to remain passive. It's fine to be passive in the face of issues you care nothing about...but to remain so while caring is paralysis.

I'm happy to ridicule the lazy and unlovely middle-aged male men who travel to Asia for sexual adventuring among the teenaged. Social pressure is the only effective counter-weight currently available since legal strictures do not apply.

I find it strange and perplexing that one person here on CS stated his admiration of David...such a stud. I guess I have more work to do:))))

Posted August 15th, 2008 - 6:15 pm from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 15th, 2008 - 8:39 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks Christopher, but I'll have to respectfully disagree with you.

Most people who visit the child prostitutes do so as part of their leisure time...you can build a vacation around it. In some places, visiting the brothel is like going to the pub in the evening. One of our friends went along with some neighborhood dudes once to check it out. He said it was like those seafood restaurants where you choose the fish you want as entree (...and just about as arousing):a house with a line of ~10 expressionless country girls sitting in plastic chairs against the wall. He guessed that they ranged in age from 13 to 20...but, of course, it's to their advantage to appear as young as possible, so age was difficult to determine. he said they were just wearing normal sarongs, nothing tarted up, and just waiting around for customers...somewhat surreal in its normalcy.

I don't know how effective the NGOs, elected reps or churches are in countering this...a lot of money and corruption in this business.

Posted August 16th, 2008 - 6:51 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 16th, 2008 - 6:54 am from Cluj-Napoca, Romania
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 16th, 2008 - 7:33 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 8:40 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 11:06 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 14th, 2008 - 2:16 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 15th, 2008 - 1:20 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 13th, 2008 - 2:31 pm from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 15th, 2008 - 10:21 am by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
Keep on topic!

This one seems pretty much exhausted anyway, doesn't it?

Julien

Posted August 17th, 2008 - 10:28 pm by from Oss, Netherlands (Permalink)
Hey people,

I didn't add to this post yet and as far as from my experience the behaviour doesn't count as important for being ambassador.

I Used to be a city amb and have almost double the amount of Vouches than both the country ambs of the Netherlands.
I organised 1 meeting per month (and attended another one per month).
I never had any negative real life experience at all with Couchsurfing
More people trusted me with a friend link without even asking them than any other amb in the Netherlands.

and in the end even my city amb flag was removed by the AMT without any warning in advance.

I made a post about a CS like organisation about 1 member showing my opinion that he was kinda corrupted and as he seemed to have a good friend connection with someone of the AMT my flag was removed in less than a week.

In my opinion as long as the same AMT is there the Ambassador system is just as reliable as the government of Tanzania.

It doesn't matter how you act at all
It doesn't matter how many meetings you organise
It doesn't matter how much commitment you show to your country.

If the AMT doesn't like you they remove without any warning at all.
I asked Promitheus for an advanced explanation why but never got a reply from him.

Probably a complaint against a person like him by using the contact Us team would never work as he just has friends that are not my friends.

Probably Ambassadors that misbehave and abuse people all the time are okay as long as they don't make negative posts online.

Anyway Since may i'm no longer an Ambassador and now I start realizing that I don't need that stupid flag at all.
I'm no longer paft of that corrupted system and now can go on meeting people and have fun.

Now I realize even more that people with that flag are taking CS to seriously for being realistic.

Though as an Amb i had a great time but without the flag I still have a great time and less posts to read and no role on helping the CS community anymore.

So amyway i can advise people to thing twice before they start volunteering for CS.

Now I still greet many people (even without the flag) and organise meetings once in a while.

Being a normal member saves me from getting a lot of wedding requests from Ghana and this ambassador group where they are writing things they want to hide for the rest of the community.

Conclusion: apart from 2 members I still love all the other 687,581 members in couchsurfing and am happy to help them in any case of need.

Posted August 21st, 2008 - 3:55 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 21st, 2008 - 5:15 pm by from Oss, Netherlands (Permalink)
Well it at least can give a diferent perspective on the amb teams but probably it won't help anything/anyone any further.


Posted August 19th, 2008 - 4:33 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 20th, 2008 - 5:20 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks everyone...and greetings from the Virginia beaches.

and Monolita, especially a thanks to you for countering my argument in such a nice, respectful way:) Great example for all reading.

I agree wholeheartedly that there should be protection for individual freedoms, romantic or otherwise, even if we find them personally repugnant. The feral, sexual roamings of men in Asia are indeed legal...as are mullets and nose-picking. I oppose all three of them for aesthetic reasons: they're ugly.

The pairing of old farang with teenage Asian is repellent to me because of its moral dichotomy: this situation doesn't happen without a fair amount of ethical bargaining inside both heads. The thing that bugs me is this: these gray-haired dudes, I guarentee you, are smoothly congratulating the daughters of their colleages and peers (read: white gals) on their professional and academic achievements...even while they're putting the stones to "exotic" (read: not white) local gals of the same age in Asia. Why not conform to a consistent set of moral standards? If you sincerely support the well-being of all young women, all of you middle-aged bottom-feeders: then you'll leave the young gals alone and allow them to have all the sex they want in developmentally appropriate settings with boys their own age. They don't need your help with this aspect of their development. Why not put the energy you expend in spamming teenagers into self-improvement (salsa-dancing, Italian lessons, Buns of Steel video...you name it...)so that you can actually attract women to your coolness and not be reduced to tricking teenagers into your bed? (...excuse me while I supress my gag-reflex....ok, I'm good)

Old guys make the mistake of assuming that their teenage pick-up sex is consequence-free...and so it would seem by the majority of postings here. Yet, there are prices paid, on both sides: loss of dignity for sure...even without my happily-delivered insults. The inappropriate living-out of adolescent fantasies by older men in Asia results in the diminuation of all people: the young women reduce them to "wallet" just as they reduce the young women to "genital smear". Legal: yes; desireable: no.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 6:37 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Post removed.
Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 7:20 am by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
This post has been removed by the user.

Deleted Post
Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 8:29 am from Kowloon West, China
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 10:06 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 4:23 pm by from Oslo, Norway (Permalink)
Hi San Francisco people and people of the world, members to this group

In this thread we have witnessed an open reference dispute and seen several inappropriate posts and replies naming and shaming other members, copy and paste of private emails etc.


The Member Dispute & Safety Team would like to offer some information to the questions raised within this thread.

THIS will be a LONG post, but it will contain a lot of information hopefully useful to you on what you can do if you get problems and where you can go and how the processes of MDST CUQ’s (Contact us questions) works.


First we would like to remind you all that when you signed in to the couchsurfing project and created your profiles, you also accepted our Terms of Use and the CS Guidelines - http://www.couchsurfing.com/guidelines.html

In the CS Guidelines it is stated clearly that
1. it all begins with RESPECT
2. Don’t Spam
3. Couchsurfing is NOT a Dating Site
4. Keep the chat rooms Friendly
5. Photo Posting Guidelines
6. Events are free.


This thread, the publicity around it, and the way the involved has treated each other in this dispute may not be characterized to be of a respectful character. Even when you experience problems, it is extremely important that you treat your fellow members with respect and write about them in a non-emotional, factual and polite way.

Not only did you all agree to the Couchsurfing Guidelines, but you also accepted the Terms of Use of this site. As members of the community we all have certain responsibilities making the experience as good as possible for the other members.

Terms of Use can be found at - http://www.couchsurfing.com/terms.html

We here repeat from section 2 on User Conduct the parts interesting for this thread:

2. USER CONDUCT. In your use of our Services, you must act responsibly and exercise good judgment. By way of example and not limitation, you shall not:

(a) violate any applicable law or regulation;

(b) infringe the rights of any third party, including without limitation, intellectual property, privacy, publicity or contractual rights;

(c) use information obtained through our Services for any unauthorized purpose;

(e) use our Services to transmit, distribute, post or submit any information concerning any other person or entity, including without limitation, photographs of others without their permission, personal contact information or credit, debit, calling card or account numbers;

(g) "stalk" or harass any other user of our Services;

(h) collect or store any information about any other user other than for purposes of the permitted use of our Services;


From the section about User CONTENT we repeat the parts that are interesting for this thread.

5. YOUR CONTENT
5.2 Content Restrictions. You are solely responsible for any content that you submit, post or transmit via our Services. You may not post or submit any content that:

(a) is defamatory;

(b) contains nudity or sexually explicit content;

(c) may disparage any ethnic, racial, sexual or religious group by stereotypical depiction or otherwise;

f) makes use of offensive language or images;

(i) contains any of your personal contact information, except as specifically required or requested as part of your registration on this site.

5.3 No Obligation to Post Content. We have no obligation to post any content from you or anyone else. In addition, we may, in our sole and unfettered discretion, edit, remove or delete any content that you post or submit.

Learn the Terms of Use and be good examples to others by following them.


WHAT DO YOU DO IN CASE OF PROBLEMS

Sometimes members will have problems with each other. No one wants that to happen, but what shall you do if you are experiencing problems.


WHAT IS THE ROLE OF THE MEMBER DISPUTE & SAFETY TEAM ON CS?

The Member Disputes & Safety Team (MDST) helps members resolve their disputes and
provides for member safety on an ongoing basis. Our role is to be an unbiased third part
to help communicate between the disputing parts.


Princess Rachelina mentioned in one of her posts in this thread...

"I hear this is a common problem that needs serious addressing immediately. I personally cannot do anything with the problems passed to me, but I personally am the one who has to listen when those people dont get responses in months or if ever, what am i supposed to tell people?"


Often local ambassadors get contacted first by members in the local community for
advices.

Whenever members have concerns, they can communicate with the MDST
using CUQ category "Problem with another member". When they do so, they ensure that this communication is only received by the MDST and cannot be seen by anyone else.

MDST are NOT able to act on any 3rd party complaint and although it is a very nice gesture of someone to offer to help out the person that has been offended or that has a problem, this might slow down the process for the situation they are complaining about.
The best advice is to ask them to contact MDST directly as fast as possible.

HOW TO CONTACT MDST?

How do you contact us? -> Use the Contact Us Questions (CUQ) form to be found at –
http://couchsurfing.com/contact.html

When the issues are of a privacy related character - Mark the form with "Problem with
another member" to assure that your question goes directly to the MDST inbox.


PLEASE ALWAYS ATTACH AS MUCH INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE ABOUT ANY DISPUTE WHEN YOU CONTACT US
This includes links to profiles, what happened where, references to communication you had etc.



HOW DOES THE PROCESS OF HANDLING COMPLAINTS HAPPEN WITHIN MDST?

Now, lets present the flowchart of the typical contact with the MDST.


MD%26S%20Flowchart-stripped.jpg


YES, Sometimes it takes a LONG time to get back to the people sending us CUQs with their informations and complaints. Here are a few reasons to why.


1. We are all volunteers. We are not always able to reply immediately.

2. Due to the nature of the complaints we get in MDST it is critical for us to gather AS MUCH INFORMATION as possible and also make sure we have the correct information before we act.

3. Due to member privacy we are NOT able to hand out any information about any disputes to any other parts than the directly involved parts. All members to the MD&S Team have signed the confidentiality policy (See what that includes on the public MDST group - http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=6220&post=371396)
All Senior members to the team have also signed the Couchsurfing NDA (Non-Disclosure agreement)



If you are not involved in the dispute, but wondering about information, it might seem like it takes even longer time because there is so much going on behind the scene.


A FEW USEFUL LINKS

What the Member Dispute & Safety Team CAN AND CANNOT DO FOR YOU - http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=6220&post=517373

The MDST FAQ - http://www.couchsurfing.com/member_disputes_faq.html


Safety Guidelines and Tips for Travellers - http://www.couchsurfing.com/member_disputes_faq.html
Safety Information - http://wiki.couchsurfing.com/en/Safety


USEFUL GROUPS
Couchsurfing - Advice for hosts
http://www.couchsurfing.com/group.html?gid=1075

Reference Writing Support
http://www.couchsurfing.com/group.html?gid=10141


We hope that by this post we are able to clear up a few doubts about how things work and how we can best work together.

Looking fwd to working with you in the best way possible.

Marianne

PS. THis post is a cross posting to several other group threads, please bear over with it and thanks for understanding.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 4:40 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Although I haven't really been closely following this thread I want to take the liberty to state that I don't really understand your contribution in this thread.

Apart from that I would like to add something to this thread anyway: a current profile picture of a global ambassador is violating quite a few rules you're stating in your post. http://www.couchsurfing.com/image_gallery.html?id=1RR6RP&photo=3040354

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 5:03 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"Although I haven't really been closely following this thread I want to take the liberty to state that I don't really understand your contribution in this thread."

You OBVIOUSLY weren't following this thread and truly did miss his point. He stated that you need to contact the MSDT with any problems you have with another member. Please refrain from calling people (including Ulf) out in public. It belittles the nature of this group and the legitimate intentions of this thread.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 5:30 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Matthew, a repulsive profile picture of a global ambassador is very relevant to this thread. I recall the original questions of this thread:

"Is it having a title and flag that gives them feeling of being superior - corrupting feeling of power?

Or some of those who apply for Ambassadors function need it to build up their missing self-confidence and are having some personal problems?

Is there any monitoring system, check out of what actually Ambassadors are doing, or once you got the title, you can loose it (if not on your request) only by many serious complaints?"


I don't feel personally offended, but I wonder how CouchSurfing can hammer on these terms, guidelines and conditions while at the same time someone who is supposed to be a guiding example for the entire community is breaking them.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 5:53 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
I'm not defending or endorsing Ulf's choice of picture. I'm just pointing out that there are ways to deal with a problem you have with an ambassador or member. But rather than follow that, you felt public scorn was better, which I felt was the wrong approach. You just felt inclined to chime in despite admitting to not following the debate. Pretty lame in my opinion.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 6:47 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 8:08 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
Calling people out for choices they make on their profiles in a public forum isn't "debating". Its McCarthyist witch-hunting. mmkay? If Kasper felt SO greatly about his dislike of Ulf or the pics chosen...then he should take it up with the MDST and ALT. Otherwise, he pretty much contributed nothing to this debate.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 8:24 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 9:13 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
I never attempted to sweep anything anywhere. I don't have that power...really. I informed him I felt his commentary was uncalled for (especially when he wasn't even admittedly "following" the thread) and recommended the proper channels for reporting behavior he obviously feels is not befitting of an ambassador. If he was so insulted or whatever by Ulf, surely he would like to go that route as well. Rather than use this as a forum to call out anyone we think isn't living up to their duties or is misrepresenting CS.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 10:00 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Matthew, correction: I am not "insulted or whatever by Ulf".

Apart from that, very relevant to this discussion, consider how profiles of global ambassadors (who are there to select and weigh new ambassador applications among other things) affect the view of the public on the CouchSurfing project. I don't think this will inspire a lot of "RESPECT" among viewers.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 10:08 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 11:02 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 5:31 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 5:08 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 22nd, 2008 - 9:04 pm by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
5. YOUR CONTENT
5.2 Content Restrictions. You are solely responsible for any content that you submit, post or transmit via our Services. You may not post or submit any content that:

(b) contains nudity or sexually explicit content

Does this relate to only content which is posted on threads or also to just about anything that is on your profile page?

If it applies to content on one's profile page then I recall a very famous surfer who is a photographer and who's on a 'nude couchsurfing' project. His profile contains many pictures of nude couchsurfers, a lot of them ambs. I could add a link here but I don't know if that would be 'defamatory'. I certainly wouldn't mean it as such but I for the mo I shall refrain.

Now please understand that I am NOT impugning his integrity or criticising his or anybody's choice of a lifestyle. People are perfectly entitled to pose nude and surf nude and do whatever else they feel like.

I am only trying to understand this 'legislation' if you like and how it is meant to be applied.

Additionally, this is related to a lot of the topics that have been discussed here. I understand the problems associated with privacy and we've been through any number of discussions about not providing links to profiles on public discussions and threads. But, on occasion, do you not think that very specific questions and issues need something concrete (such as an example in the form of a link) in order to clarify a discussion? What if I provide a link to a person's profile in order to throw open a discussion about what is and is not 'infringement' of a rule or acceptable on CS? I would not be accusing him/her of anything like theft, harassment or whatever. But we would be discussing content that is open to the general CS public on a person's profile. A case in point is Kasper's link to Ulf's prfile. Is that unacceptable?

Again, this is NOT a critique of anybody's lifestyle, just a plea for... enlightenment, if you will :)

Cheers

Rahul



Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 5:44 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 6:16 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 12:55 pm by from Amsterdam, Netherlands (Permalink)
5. Photo Posting Guidelines
Your photos reveal a lot about you, but your main photo shouldn't be too revealing! We don't allow your primary photo to be nude. Pictures must be respectful to others.
I sincerely fail to see where in this Abu Ghraib picture parodie and its suggestive title anything "respectful" at all comes in.
Its original makes you wonder if you should not cancel yr membership of the "human race club" all together: a parodie on it indead reveals a lot about its poster's "taste".

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 1:36 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Ok - here we go again…


Birgit: Thanks for pointing me to this nice little thread!


Now let's pretend
THAT nobody here had seized this opportunity to once again pretentiously present publicly his own moral superiority by pointing fingers at whom in their divine self-awareness they have accused and (conveniently) also already sentenced to have failed to match the moral standards set by (conveniently) themselves
BUT that my name was only brought up to have "something concrete (such as an example in the form of a link) in order to clarify a discussion". And personally I'd like to thank many of the posters in this thread to actually have done just that - especially (as always:) Rahul and Monolita (who ironically keeps confusing me by alternatively posting stuff that I cannot describe in words which would comply with the "Be respectful!" rule and posts like this last one that I can only full heartedly agree with;-D).

First of all:
I can't imagine that it could be forbidden or would actually be "prosecuted" to link to what's "out there in public" anyways - so Kasper's link to my profile is obviously perfectly all right. One can question his motives (or simply don't give a damn anymore…). And if one (possibly MIS)understands that he did so to complain about it and to try the get it forbidden or banned or something - then one can surely point out to him that posting here is not the right way...
If however such a link is in any way mingled with or connected to accusations or defamatory speculations and conclusions (no matter how much it might be tried to present them as real facts…) which are NOT obvious to all from just having a look at the linked profile (or post or whatever) then CS has to act - indifferently to what the acting members might think about the specific case themselves - for otherwise CS, as a USAmerican company, might feel the not so nice aspects of the "not so perfect" USAmerican law system (liability!!!).



About the issue of this thread - or rather about the little twist Kasper brought up when brining up my current profile pic:

The question is NOT whether or not we have to endure inacceptable behavior from Ambs - or any CS member for that matter. Of course we have not!
The question is WHAT is acceptable and what do we have to tolerate. And to determine that the TOU can only be ONE OUT OF SEVERAL sources to help to do just that.

Now: as any other bigger community we here on CS do have our own share of fundamentalists who simply cannot act differently than from how fundamentalists just act: taking what has been written word by word…
But one has to understand that CS is NOT a state which has the (legal) duty to prosecute the laws it has given itself. While CS members have signed to comply with the TOU that were "dictated" to them by CS, CS on the other hand can decide to actually not claim just that from its members! CS can even decide to claim it from some of their members - while not from others!

They have every right to do so - but they'd be stupid if they did. Instead they found their own ways to try to keep the balance BETWEEN a Pharisee-like run law-and-order community applying McCarthy methods to force all to go along with this AND an anarchistic (in the commonly MISunderstood meaning of the word) overly laissez-faire style with no commonly agreed on boundaries at all.

The people who (as volunteers!) are the actually acting persons behind this approach are obviously not perfect but human and can only try to achieve this as best as possible - while at the same time enduring to be shot at from all sides for being in the middle which is obviously too far on "the other side" for each sides…
So WHILE there are those who never fail to use any chance to accuse the MDST of NOT doing ENOUH (and - of course! - more often than not in the OCS's guys' typical defamatory style of mixing up such general accusation with some insinuations, un-specific hints and their own little conclusions and conspiracy theories…) there are AT THE SAME TIME those who like me accuse them of often doing TOO MUCH!

I've had this discussion with (members of) the MDST and "high-ranking" CS volunteers often enough - publicly and sometimes (very) privately. And I still get angry when I think of how they would delete funny and (IMHO) completely harmless "fake profile" like this one: http://www.couchsurfing.com/people/tigger4u - once they would actually be reported to the MDST as fake profiles (which are against the TOU) in the "proper way" by one of those overzealous members who - as I can only speculate myself here! - hide their pathetic attempts to revalue their empty lifes by making themselves appear more important going after rule-breakers behind the standard huge pile of "I'm only trying to protect my beloved CS community" crap...

Likewise they might actually force me to change my picture as soon as anyone of said overzealous members officially reports me to them. Though - following their standard procedure - they would first try to "convince" me to remove it "voluntarily", probably by putting one of those charming MDST members (or - if I'm lucky! - even admins!) on me to whom I cannot reject any favor.
Like they did in May 2006 when for 3 weeks I had this scandalous picture as my main profile pic: http://www.couchsurfing.com/image_gallery.html?id=1RR6RP&folder=&skip=48#1064373 . The reason why I brought this up here is because I had never planned to have the picture on for more than 2 weeks or so since a) it was only meant to be some kind of experiment (or more like a bet, which - by the way - I won) and - way more importantly here! - b) I actually like the rule CS follows on the picture content issue! For it's a perfect example for how one can use the TOU as ONE source to determine what's ok and what's not but also use OTHER sources like - for example - some brains or common sense to come up with a good compromise.

The compromise we have here is that while they tolerate nudity in pictures in general (IN CLEAR CONTRAST to what the TOU state, thus waiving their right to claim from its members to follow these TOU as CS is perfectly entitled to!!!), they will not tolerate this (and other things) when it's in your main profile or couch picture, since (in short) that's the picture that can show up on anyone's screen without the option to prevent that or even just see it coming.
I like that and that's why I respect it as a good and reasonable compromise - even though I myself find it stupid that we give in here to prudes;-)

BUT I honestly didn't even think about the "nudity" in my current picture, when I uploaded it - since I don't see any nudity! Might sound silly to some - but I mean it!!!
This really is just yet another good example for how things can be perceived differently by different people.
So this time I am not deliberately violating a little CS rule here (as I was with the HP picture) but I really believe I am not! I'd really like to know what "quite a few rules" Kasper is thinking of - I'm seriously not aware of breaking any of the TOU's here!
I might violate some people's personal feelings - but that's their problem, not mine!



And finally about the idea that ambs have some kind of role model function:

That has been discussed pretty often and I was told by many volunteers "in high positions" (…) that I have to take into consideration that because of my Global Amb status I should consider my actions more since they are "associated with the organisation, and not just the person."
Well - I disagree with them and to my knowledge so far there is no rule on CS that forces me as a Global Amb to be a good role model. And as long as that is not the case I'll go on following and emphasizing other values like tolerance and freedom of speech over an almost blind and rather fundamentalist rule obedience!

And so long I will keep on acting and speaking out against self-righteous wannabe-somebodies who are arrogant enough to think they can decide on what's funny and what's not and what therefore must be forbidden and what can be allowed.
Let me repeat - again! - that the first thing any dictatorship goes after (and fears most) is any sense of humor that they don't like and I can only hope that we will not pursue that path here on CS!


Maat et joot! / Take care!


Ulf

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 2:30 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 6:37 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
"is the core of the problem with you." - funny! I'd consider it the core of the problem with you (guys). Let's agree on it's the core of the problem - who is to decide what's offensive?

It seems to me that it is commonly agreed on that we leave that decision up to those who are always offended by everything and whine the loudest about that. The moment somebody says: "Hey! That offended me!!!" there's always a big group of people going after the accused offender criticizing him for being so offensive. And more often than not if you'd ask every single one of that big group you'd find out that many if not most of them would actually not be offended themselves, but still criticize the accused offender for being offensive to ... - well... - the offended! Nobody ever criticizes the offended for being offended.

And that's how we've turned into a society where political correctness is omnipresent and predominant and its followers are the high priests of our time with the power to accuse and judge everyone they like to for having said the word "Jehova"!
And that's why more and more people have actually lost the ability to notice and understand sarcasm and mistake the one who's making fun of - let's say - narrow-minded Nazi assholes by parodying them with one of those Nazi assholes. And where a "The New Yorker" title cartoon making fun of all the false accusation against Obama creates a huge public outcry with everybody criticizing them for putting all these false accusations on their cover in an especially tasteless way...

There are people who find the color red offensive since they consider it the devil's color! Does that mean I can't wear anything red anymore 'cause theoretically I can always accidentally run into one of them and then offend him with my nice Colognean T-shirt???

There are people who find kissing in public offensive. There are people who find gay behavior offensive. There are people who find black people being allowed to everything white people are allowed to offensive. There are people who find Christians being Christian publicly offensive.

Again: Who is to decide what's offensive and what not. No - more importantly: what's intolerable and what we have to NOT like but tolerate? By definition one can only "tolerate" what one does not like - for example: what one finds offensive...

Who's to decide?

"You've been told over and over again..." - that's correct! But only by the same 10-20 people. It's actually more like over and over and over and over and over and over and ... again - and you've long ago taken the lead for this group.
On the other hand there are literally hundreds who find the same shit of mine funny. Who should I listen to - the same 10 people who have squatted the BS group and then founded their own little platform to constantly publish all their aggressiveness and false accusations against a certain group of people (plus a handful of others...) - or all the other ones who can laugh about my current picture and tell me in person (or everyone in their references on my profile!) that I'm a nice and funny (and at times even sensitive and/or understanding...) guy?

Huh?

Oh - may I remind all that this is NOT about me, but I'm just being an exemplary case - "something concrete (such as an example in the form of a link) in order to clarify a discussion";-)

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 8:00 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 23rd, 2008 - 11:54 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
To avoid any confusion:
I'm not aware of having violated any ToU and since my dear adversaries do - as always - stick to their way of insinuating and phrasing only very abstract accusations I can't reply to any specific charges here...

And for those who get confused about why Val and her about 5-10 Ulf-bashing friends think that they have the monopoly on the gospel truth and therefore the authority to keep lecturing me on how to behave - while those hundreds of other people I mentioned who actually like my humor are - of course - all wrong: obviously Valerie is the official spokesperson for entire cultures, religions and regions and therefore knows-it-all!

So - naturally - she is also the keeper of the truth about what CS really is about.

Anyone willing to actually not derail to any more "Hit the Ulf" playing but actually discuss the issue of the thread and the questions I've brought up in this context?

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 7:43 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 8:21 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 8:43 am from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 11:28 am by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Pickwick: "You weren't aware of the Ambassador Ethics Code"

Your usual way of just insinuating and phrasing only very abstract accusations deliberately avoiding everything specific I could actually reply to.


Pickwick: "... are a smoke screen. "

The same old arrogant, self-righteous bumptious and - most importantly - false and defamatory truth twisting. Nothing else to expect from you.
And (to use yet another of your pathetic little argumentative tricks): Don't you contradict that - just accept criticism for a change!


Pickwick: "Name one. Or better: ask one to post here".

Stop commanding people! We all know you've been in charge and responsible for I guess it was something like a few million people or so in your fabulous life - you've posted that often enough. But I'm not one of them!
And - no! I won't ask them. They'd only get pissed by you guys living in your tiny little bubble and from there denouncing anyone who's not following your rules of your world.

For the record: I did not ask Birgit!

How about you contact the people on my friends list and ask them??? Feel free to publish the results here!!!
(As "something concrete in order to clarify a discussion" - of course)

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 12:19 pm by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
Man.... Ulf you've really sunk your teeth into, 'need something concrete (such as an example in the form of a link) in order to clarify a discussion', haven't you :)

Getting back to my main question though, I haven't seen anybody, in all the slanging thats gone on since, actually give me some kind of answer that is germane to my question (save, funnily enough, Ulf, who called for the use of common sense and some judgement in the application of the TOU, however it reads).

@Pickwick: 'The nudity is really secondary, although it clearly violates the rules for main profile pictures.'

Pickwick would you mind pointing me towards these rules for main profile pics, as opposed to the other pics on a profile... 'Cos I haven't come across them yet and was actually hoping for exactly that clarification by my post.

The way the TOU currently reads, its rather nebulous in my opinion.

Again, I was seeking clarification, not calling anybody out, not accusing anybody of anything, not reporting anyone or or or or or..!

I was merely trying to understand the darn thing and how it is 'officially' supposed to be applied.

@Valerie:

'I guarantee that a 'new guy from India' who had any naked pix on his profile or 'me molesting a girl' pix would be booted pronto, in contrast to more 'established' people.'

So true... But unfortunately that dichotomy would also be seen between an 'established' Indian male and an equally 'established' European male. In my opinion, it has less to do with differences in hierarchy and more to do with racial prejudice. If you switched the analogy a little, I seriously doubt whether an established Indian male would similarly fare better than a European newbie. In fact I think there would be even greater suspicion that the Indian male was exploiting the system.

Again, the profile I mentioned earlier, has far more explicit nudity (than anything on Ulf's profile), without any claim to humour (but possibly a claim to art) and I have seen other profiles with bondage pics and suchlike. And none of these people have been ambs. I don't think this is a case of an amb getting away with something that other people are not.

And if the TOU something for everybody, why shouldn't an amb be allowed that same freedom? Is it some kind of weird reverse discrimination?

I think it boils down to clarity, or the lack thereof and consequently I am asking for clarification.

Cheers

Rahul


Posted August 24th, 2008 - 12:21 pm by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
Sorry, typo..

And if the tou ALLOWS something for everybody, why shouldn't an amb be allowed that same freedom?

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 1:04 pm by from Amsterdam, Netherlands (Permalink)
Rahul: see http://www.couchsurfing.com/guidelines.html

5. Photo Posting Guidelines
Your photos reveal a lot about you, but your main photo shouldn't be too revealing! We don't allow your primary photo to be nude. Generally, we don't censor gallery photos, but we reserve the right to. Please post only photos of yourself, not celebrities. Please get permission before posting photos of other people. Pictures must be respectful to others.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 5:47 pm by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
Thanks Helga. I missed that :)

Right, taking this forward..

'We don't allow your primary photo to be nude. Generally, we don't censor gallery photos, but we reserve the right to.'

Ergo, nudity on a profile pic is not ok, but in the gallery it is acceptable, for the most part.

But, doesn't this contradict

'You may not post or submit ANY content that:

(b) contains nudity or sexually explicit content'

How do we draw a distinction between a TOU and a 'Guideline' (if at all)? At this point do we sort of move into the grey area where we simply use common sense and our own judgement?

If so, then we're in for some amount of trouble given the previous responses that show hugely divergent OPINION (as thats all they are).

Here we enter the realm of uncertainty that Ulf keeps alluding to and while some people would like to err on the side of diplomacy and caution, others feel that its unfair to impose conservative limits on people who don't wish to be so.

Personally, I find the second argument more compelling as, in my opinion, this very project of ours flies in the face of conservatism. Staying with people you have never met and accepting strangers into your home is about as wild as it gets, if you think about it. Additionally, where exactly do you draw this arbitrary line of conservatism? I could think of entire cultures which seem to be outrightly anti any expression of homosexuality (there was a recent thread on the Jordanian group which really touched a lot of raw nerves). Certainly, things like bondage and S&M are viewed as twisted and abhorrent in many cultures (including my own, at least publicly). So do we impose these across cultures? Exactly how far do you want to go with this?

Personally, I would go no further than the TOU because thats the easiest thing to do but, given its lack of specificity (for lack of a better word), I think its better to err on the side of liberalism.

But, thats just me...

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 6:49 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 6:55 pm by from Amsterdam, Netherlands (Permalink)
Rahul, this CS is or is trying to be a GLOBAL community, where indeed you invite real people in your very real home from cultures very different from your own and stay in theirs.
The TOU -in itself OK - is not kept well or at all "pro-actively" by anybody at all..(where to start with half a million individual minds) and are in contradiction with some of the guidelines as well.
The "site" is mainly "policed" by itself or should be.
The result of this "common best agreement" you click on when signing up (conciously I may hope) indeed would be "on the conservative side" all over.. Personally I could not care less about any nude pictures published I've been running a professional sauna so what the h.., and guess what my TV channels show daily.. or any "black humor joke"..for that matter if I thought it was funny.. and I do NOT think Ulf's is too funny:what's next?? a pyramid of nude humiliated folks with a girl and a guy big smile behind them?? or BIG smile standing over an opened body bag with a nude but very dead, beaten up person???

There's even a "black humor" group here..all open to join.
But NOT in yr main profile picture!!!coming up "by itself" as correctly stated by Ulf.
An ambassador as a representative of CS maybe should think a bit longer and harder, keep global culures in mind..before posting anything globally.
What would upset me is not the "nude folks"..but the "fried cat recipy"..(as much of a black joke as Ulf's) in the San Fran group makes me pretty sick.. and the same applies: global ethics to keep, not the ones of all of yr friends..to take in consideration world wide...









Posted August 24th, 2008 - 9:59 pm by from Vancouver, Canada (Permalink)
I wonder. Would people rather Ulf keep his black humor "secret" only to be surprised when they surf with him....OR
have a reasonable idea of his humor beforehand and then decide if they wanted to surf with him (or not)?

Why are we so eager to be Politically Correct? I rather know what a person genuinely thinks, rather than them pretend to be whom I want them to be...

For the record, I did think it was a controversial pic - but then again I think that it appropriately describes Ulf!


Posted August 25th, 2008 - 6:29 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
Dear Helga and Norbert,

I am not debating Ulf's picture at all to be honest. I very consciously stayed away from that in my post because I was trying very hard to concentrate on the macro picture and trends and interpretation of rules in general.

Both of you may very well be right (and I do think you have a very strong case) but I did not want the discussion to get lost in a shouting match over Ulf's case. It was first brought up as an example, true, but shouldn't this discussion be about more than Ulf?

Let me put it to you this way, if admin judges that Ulf's pic is a bit too much for a profile pic, and removes it, or even if Ulf himself removes it, will you suddenly believe that there are no double standards? I think not. But, if they don't you will have a little more ammunition, am I right? So, either way, the debate does not and SHOULD NOT end with Ulf.

This is exactly why I was attempting to draw some sort of line between links to a person's profile for the purposes of clarification or debate, versus linking for the purpose of accusation or serious complaint.

For the record, since both of you have such strong feelings about this, I do hope you have used 'Contact Us' and reported it because while we may debate it till the cows come home here, action or a decision will only take place if you have lodged an official complaint.

I hope this clarifies my stance at least.

Cheers

Rahul

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 6:00 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 1:55 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 24th, 2008 - 3:12 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 6:59 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 7:02 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 2:50 pm by from Vancouver, Canada (Permalink)
OK does no one else find it ironic that the "Pirates" are trying to CENSOR an "Ambassador"? I guess someone's lost their open couchsurfing superhero card :D

Roy

(disclaimer: no offense intended, I just had to chuckle)

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 6:31 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 7:27 pm from London, England
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 9:51 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thank you John; I like your thoughts.

I think many people are afraid to suggest boundaries on behavior since CS has been so great in attracting a terrific bohemian mix of people. I've constantly been amazed at how intelligent, tolerant, and sincerely respectful CS members are in their support of a variety of life choices...love that.

Yet, a spirit of toleration indeed need not extend to poor management. I can wave off tacky photo choices (and sympathize with your work setting!)...but find poor financial disclosure and/or lax/inconsistent or unevenly-applied rule enforcement to be deal-breaking. I think, Roy, that these issues are frequently discussed on the OCS blog...sometimes even productively:) To request better management, or have philosophical differences regarding open source code, terms of use, and non-compete clauses, is not being disloyal...perhaps the opposite. The desire for well-run, professional management is also not inconsistent with being a good person. I understand that criticism is annoying to leadership, but the best leaders view it as a source of information and feedback...and learn.

Posted August 25th, 2008 - 11:18 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 12:42 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
forgiven:)

so interesting...how the smallest considerations can make such a difference, no matter the size of the organization. True, too, that good management can quell a lot of discontent that masquerades as philosophical in origin. Isn't it a cliche that all great governments pick up the trash on schedule? Thanks for the perfect explanation...obviously borne of experience:)

I think the key item here is that debate and discussion do not equal duplicity...fear silence and inane groupiness (big hug!), not opposition.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 4:34 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 3:19 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Since the original issue of this thread was: "questions about Ambassadors..." I'd like to offer a big "Thanks!" from me, too! I wasn't pissed that this revolved a bit too much about me, but happy that it's not anymore (or at least not that much but - if at all - really only as an example;-D).

Then again the way I follow the train of thoughts in this thread I understand that we've come to a point where we say: before we think whether or not special rules apply to Ambs or what rule apply to ambs we should perhaps discuss first how CS should apply rules in general - and which. I might have gotten that wrong - but that's actually what I'd like to post "a bit" about. WARNING: "a bit" is ironic - this is in fact gonna be long, but I have confidence in that you guys know how to scroll down a web page (in case you're not interested in these thoughts of mine...)!


First of all:
We don't have to "discuss" whether Ambs should get special treatment - they shouldn't! Nobody says they should. That doesn't mean that it's not happening - no system is perfect.
But that can go both ways and a quick reference to the "Ambassador Ethics Code" can easily lead to the situation where an Amb will be allowed less than any other member.
Also if an Amb actually benefits from his "standing" then I'd say that this is usually not in so far as that he'll be treated like he's above the law but he actually only gets a fairer treatment which others might sometimes not get.
What I mean by that is this: in the example Monolita brings up about the "someone who was disgusted […] till the person knew it was Ulf's profile" could it not have been the case that the moment this person knew it was my profile it suddenly daunted him that the "disgusting description" could actually have been sarcasm? A thought he should at least have considered in the first place without knowing whose profile it was - but unfairly failed to think of!
I happen to think that unfortunately more and more people like to scream out that it's up to the one who uses sarcasm to ensure that it will be understood by everyone as such - while nobody seems to demand from the "readers" to consider that option without having to been told so (if you have the time then PLEASE have a look at this: http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=176628&title=obama-cartoon )
Of course - that is an opinion that can be debated itself. Which perhaps we better refrain from right here and now… But the point I was trying to make is that maybe this someone Monolita mentioned didn't act "unfairly" when suddenly he was fine with the description once he knew it was by me (in other words: was not unfairly granting me some special treatment out of some kind of cronyism or whatever) BUT had actually acted highly unfair when forming a judgment way too quickly without first knowing all aspects of the case and considering all possible explanations - including the one(s) that are in defense of the accused.


Then: Regardless whether we consider the ToU and "Ambassador Ethics Code" guidelines or laws - they are subject to interpretation in any way. As every well-worded "law" they are phrased as abstract as possible so that one can later subsume as many specific cases as possible. And that leads to results that are often conceived by non-lawyers as incomprehensible if not downright ridiculous. And yet they are perfectly correct - not only "formally" but also on the matter - and NOT the unpleasant result of some shyster's work who's unfortunately "good" at his job.

People simply have to learn that what they understand under certain terms is not necessarily what others understand, too, and that if such a situation occurs one often has to give the "defendant" the benefit of the doubt and conclude that he in fact didn't know he was violating a rule. Or sometimes even really wasn't!

Allow me trying to explain this with an example that does not involve me - but my good friend Bill Clinton;-)
When Clinton in the interrogation conducted by the attorney or special investigator answered that he didn't have sex with Lewinski then he didn't lie! I'm not talking about the press conference when he told the public he "did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky" - but the interrogation. That is difficult if not impossible to understand for people who've never done law-stuff - but apparently obvious to everyone who knows a bit about law (and reads or watches that interrogation). That's why he got off the hook - for the impeachment was not about his personal conduct but about whether he lied under oath.
But actually things are similar with his abovementioned statement in the press conference: He said he had no "sexual relations" with Miss Lewinski. What apparently happened was that she gave him a blow-job. I'd guess that you can ask anyone in Europe whether that falls under "sexual relation" and they'd all say: "Yes - of course!" and would therefore only laugh about this pathetic attempt by slick Billy to squirm out with such a silly fact-twisting. But if you'd asked around in the US you'd be surprised (I certainly was!!!) to find out that many there (and - no! - not just those who are inclined towards him) say that he actually didn't lie since they actually didn't have sexual relations. Just the blow job - which apparently is only some kind of a bit more intense kissing to many in the US! And you'd be surprised (or - when I think about it - maybe not...) how many here in Europe would simply dismiss that as the ridiculous misunderstanding of some blind Clinton followers - and thus completely ignoring that perhaps one can actually understand the term "sexual relation" differently on the 2 sides of the big pond!

And to bring it back to my picture: I do honestly take the view that there is no nudity in my picture - or at least none that one can actually see! If you look at the guy on the ground you can actually see less of his naked body than you could see of Michael Phelps during the Olympics! In short: there's no penis, no bottom and no (female) breasts visible here! One could make the point that you can see a penis here: http://www.mokers.org/blog/images/2008/02/sports/michael-phelps-speedo.png - so would a picture like that breach the ToU's?



You are of course free to let Pickwick tell you what you have to think and understand. Or you can use your own brains and perhaps consider that I might really mean it when I say that I don't bring all that up to "create smoke screens" but to really make a point about how things are not always as simple as people like him like to put it.

Just do me the favor and give this a thought:

Is there actually nudity in my picture?
If I have a picture of a person under a blanket and the captive tells you that this person is naked or perhaps you can even clearly see the outlines of his private parts showing thru the thin cloth - would that be nudity?

And if it's ok for Helga to get so ... hm… not sure: depressive or sad or frustrated or angry about the Abu Ghraib scandal that it makes her wonder whether she should not cancel her "membership of the 'human race club' all together" then why should I not be allowed to get cynical about it as my way to deal with it and express that, too. Even if that is only because accidentally the occasion had arisen to do so?

And am I not perhaps a good role model and do present CS in a good way for I show that you don't have to be a poor little glib PC conformist to be a good CS member but we allow our members - even those in "higher positions" - to be a bit edgy and unorthodox.
And am I not perhaps a good role model when I use my profile the way it should indeed be used by everyone: an unvarnished reflection of what and how I am so that people have an actual chance to know what to expect BEFORE meeting me. And NOT - as it is with way too many members - nothing but a canvas where they "express themselves" and show themselves in as bright and neat colors as possible like in a fucking portfolio, only spiced up with a little "imperfection" ("I do occasionally laugh too much") to make it look more real!

I could go on like this point by point all the way thru the "Ambassador Ethics Code":

- Do I not promote respect and tolerance for my individual humor which happens to be the kind of humor of the culture I grew up in?
- Do I thus not promote cultural diversity and awareness of how something some may find totally not funny can still by others be considered a really good sense of humor - even though (or maybe actually because!) in a wicked and sarcastic way?
- Do I now promote honesty and fairness by being so fair to my possible future guests or hosts or fellow CS'ers who might meet me at events as to be so honest about me - even my "darker" sides?

And in doing so and being faithful to myself do I not strive for personal and professional integrity?



I know the OCS guys love to have only one explanation for everything they dig out - and it has always to be the one which makes the people they attack look as bad as possible. And apparently they simply cannot act differently than to shrug off any attempt to come up with some other explanation which would actually cast a better light on the culprit's acts or motives as "smoke screens" or pathetic fact twisting (and denying...) attempts of blind disciples.

But maybe some others can - and maybe way more than we'd assume. I for my part tend to always think the best of my fellow CouchSurfers and have trust in their judgments and (right) understandings - despite of what only a very few wanna constantly tell us here!



And that has so far all been only about how EVEN IF we understand and apply the ToU and "Ambassador Ethics Code" as laws that can still lead to very different results - depending on how we interpret certain actions and subsume specific cases!


But - to be honest - I actually think CS should (or better: can seriously only!) use the TOU and "Ambassador Ethics Code" as guidelines and (as I said before) only one of several sources to determine how to deal with specific cases.

For if CS DID uses the TOU as laws which they have to follow word by word (to not send the wrong signals or whatever…), then they'd neither be allowed to only follow some of those laws and some not or not so much but would have to enforce all of them likewise!

And then think about what would happen if I'd copy that self-righteous act of unfortunately already so many here on CS and start going for everyone I declare to breach CS rules including without limitation 5.2 a), 5.2 c), 5.2 f), 5.2 h) (...) or - my favorite!!! - 11, 1. sentence in connection with http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/oer/nasaecp/Webbrfg/index.htm LOL



Finally:
Funny to read John's and the Pickwick's last posts almost right after it. 'Cause when I read John's I had to think of the discussion we had lately in some group about whether or not to express support for a free Tibet on CS since CS could get banned in China for that.
And now I wonder: Will I be allowed to have a (main profile) picture of me at a "Free Tibet" rally with "Free Tibet" in its captive? For there might be a John at an office desk in China who can then not go on to CS at work anymore...


Maat et joot! / Take care!


Ulf

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 3:33 pm from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 4:39 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 5:34 pm by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
Ok here come some of my very unprepared ramblings and thoughts when reading this.

I have to say that I really liked and mostly agree with this (a tad too long)post. Except for the parts delving into the ongoing(?) fight/strong disagreement between Ulf and other members, but with the history involved there I guess it is hard to avoid, which is too bad, but things happen.

Personally I don't find the particular picture funny but should we really censor it away so strictly? It might be offensive to some but then a picture of free hugs, or free Tibet or people dressed with short skirt, or even in red shirts can be offensive to others. And the picture should not be judged by itself, it has to be seen in its context, as a part of the rest of the profile, and it tells something about that person, u might like it or u might not, u might realise that u will not get along or that u really will, depending on ur taste and outlook on life.

However I do think that a main picture should be carefully considered before chosen. Some things have a bigger chance of stepping on peoples toes, like nakedness, or satiric (and unfunny, according to me..) humor. It can be hard to make a rule about it, but the person choosing it should try to be respectful.. and respect in this case is to realise that it might offend others, and if it is worth having it. If the person thinks it is so important for them to have it, then he/she could have it, as long as he/she is aware of its possible impact and does not get upset if he/she receives critique for it.
For me it is not so different then the people who have "I don't want to host people that are xx" which mostly have been accepted in the community as personal preferences, and honesty so people can avoid the person if in disagreement with the statement.

About ambassadors being treated in a different way.. well I don't think it has so much to do with the ambassador flag, but rather the friendship with someone. I accept some very harsh and bad racist jokes for example from people I know since I also know that they really do not mean it, if I hear the same from others I considered it as very ill-mannered and probably offensive.. but I try to give the benefit of a doubt since that person might not really mean it either, but it is much harder to do so.

SO I agree about ToU and other rules being seen as guidelines, because if a we start to follow the rules to the letter.. well then I think we end up in a very unfree situation.

Of course we will always have the problem of what the rules should allow and what not.

This is a very global community and for me that means that we should be really not strict and accepting, since we otherwise would end up having to be overly strict, or very limited to one view, which I think is worse. The freedom of speech and especially thoughts and ideas are very important I think.

Everyone and their thoughts and feelings should be respected and accepted, even those u do not agree with and of course also ur own ideas and feelings. However for me there is one clear exception. I do not accept/respect views that do not respect/accept others..

Erh.. hmmm I'm not really sure that I make sense here, but don't have any more time now. Hopefully it is not totally unreadable, and maybe someone finds something worthy of a thought or a bashing, which is ok as long as the person at least thinks a bit first.. ;)

Tomas



Posted August 27th, 2008 - 4:49 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 7:46 am by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
I have been thinking on this since I wrote yesterday and have changed my opinion a bit, I hope that is forgivable.. =)

I still stand by the thoughts of things being accepting and not so strict when it comes to pictures and such, but when it comes to the main picture yes I do now think that it should be more regulated than other things, since it is more public. (Yes I know others have already made this point, I'm just a bit slow in processing..) I am all for having subgroups containing anything that members wish to indulge in, as long as they can go there or choose not to see it freely, and more controversial things should be kept away from the main groups. The same with pictures, it is hard to say what is really wrong things that belongs to sensitive areas like nudity, sex, religion, politics, ethnically etc. I believe these areas are sensitive in any setting in whichever culture we approach, no matter what "liberal accept everything" people like me thinks of it. And since I'm also a firm believer in peaceful ways and conflict avoidance. So redirecting these kind of pictures and groups away from the main forums and into more limited settings where people can choose if they want to see them or not is in the end a better solution/compromise than to completely censor or to totally open, and thus force possible unpleasant things on others for no good reason other than following an ideological thought just for the sake of it, which is impolite and a bit disrespectful.

So with this statement I guess I'm agreeing with some earlier debaters, which is ok. But I also still thinks that Ulf raises some very interesting questions about acceptance and different views.

Monolita, u do also raise a couple of interesting issues and I will try to answer with my thoughts of it, but not right now, I have to go back to work now before they start to censor how I am "working" here.. ;)

Tomas

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 9:45 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
"advocating looseness of guidelines based on a very biased western understandings"

Perfectly correct Monolita...you said it all right there.

I've always been puzzled by this website's sometimes contradictory image: billing itself as a travel network based on cultural understanding, safety, and trust...but then blithely tolerating the violation of its own guidelines. It appears that rules are made, and then not taken seriously. I just can't figure out if that is a byproduct of standard marketing technique (ie: appear edgey)...or if the leadership genuinely doesn't feel bound by its own rules.

I've seen guidelines being ignored regarding ambassador oversight (there is no review process that I've been subjected to...and I was made amb without the necessary vouch numbers), composition of the board of directors, tax-exempt status (and other organizational minutiae which has been debated endlessly) and the general promotion of an international party scene...which is indeed fun!....but has nothing to do with cultural understanding...and which sometimes runs directly counter to the preservation of traditional cultures. It's as though the concept of cultural respect extends no further than fashion: young Westerners wearing dangly earrings, tats, and sarongs on the beach...superficial ornamentation that tribal-tags a person as one of us.

Am I being unfair here? I know that the leadership and other volunteers take their roles quite seriously...and indeed work very hard so we may enjoy this service free of charge. Yet, I think the group of decision-makers at the top has historically been so culturally homogeneous in the past that they didn't realize the wink-wink rule breakage would be misunderstood by people of non-Western heritage.

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 12:46 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 1:06 pm by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
Very well put there Pickwick, I full-heartly agree with you in this observation.

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 11:10 am by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
->Monolita.

First I would like to say that I am not talking about the current system so much, but rather just voice my opinion(s) on these matters. Since I do not really know how the system works or why decisions are made. Luckily I am very far from being in a decision making chair, or to know anybody that is.

I don't know anything about ambassadors/surfers who have been removed for breaking small parts of the ToU, but for me that does not sound right at all and does not concede with my opinion of an accepting environment with loose guidelines, since that should be for everyone!. I would NOT like to propose a system that is based on how good friend you are with the admins since that is not really fair. But I do not like if rules are adhered to by the letter either, and thus that forces some kind of subjective decisions into the system which unfortunately makes it easier if u are a friend.. I can not really see a way out of this except for having very fair-minded people in charge, or by having decisions more open to debate among us normal members or at least elected representatives, but then we are on another matter. I think it is a problem and do not really want to advocate something since I do not have a good solution, I just meant to say that biased opinions based on how well u know someone are quite normal and that it happens often. not that it is the way things should be run.

What I do not really understand is what u mean with a biased western understanding? What is western oriented and not applicable in other cultures? The thought of being accepting to other viewpoints? Of not censor things based on just one way of looking at things?
Do u mean that it is inherit only of western culture to show openness for other impressions? Im not sure that I agree with this since I sure know that a lot of westerners are not particular open, but it might be that some other cultures are more close-minded.. I maybe myself am more closed minded then I like to think, which is why I find this discussion quite rewarding)
But is it more right to limit expressions because of that? And which cultures limited view should we pick? If we are to choose two views I will always choose the one that is as open and non-negative as possible. If this is western biased, well then I guess I have been seeing the western culture with very different eyes, since this is not something I feel speaks for the normal western view of life.
I hope no one takes offense by these questions, they are not there to object to monolitas viewpoint, or to promote my own, I am just trying to understand and hopefully get a bit wiser. This might be the wrong place though since Im feeling that I'm taking the discussion a bit off-track now..

So anyway When it comes to Ulf I can only speak about this instance, and I am not ready to say anything about if he are trying to be respectful or not. But I agree a bit with u here (after some thought, as I pointed out in my other post earlier today), intercultural exchange goes both ways, but taking one view-point and force others to accept it is not an open and accepting way. To show alternative ways of thinking is though. So that is why I want to keep "strange" humor and other objectionable things, but to keep them away from the main pictures/groups so that people might explore different views on their own when/if they feel like it, and not when someone else feels like it.

(sorry for the long and "off-trackish" post)

Tomas

Posted September 2nd, 2008 - 8:05 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 3rd, 2008 - 6:41 am from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 3rd, 2008 - 7:53 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 3rd, 2008 - 12:27 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
such nice posts...thank you both....and well-timed: I just finished browsing through Outside magazine's travel supplement called "Go" which basically aims to commit every sin outlined by Monolita via their mantra: (disreguard the Golden Rule and...) Travel without the hassle of adapting to the local culture...since you, Western guy, are rich enough to do so http://outside.away.com/outside/culture/200609/outside-go-magazine.html

Valerie, I agree with your observations regarding language and the limitations of online communication. Brevity conveys a sense of good netiquette...yet requires English mastery, elegant thinking, and the ability to self-edit via reserve and tact. How many of us have got that all together?? Professional writers have been, of course, panned or celebrated for their varying ability to employ nuance, sarcasm, and beautiful speech...but, for us regular-joes, explicitness is about the best we can do to avoid wordiness on the web. I agree: online communication favors cultures who employ a more explicit communication style...to the impoverishment of readers globally.

Posted September 6th, 2008 - 11:05 am by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
Hi Monolita! (and others still reading this)

Thank u for the answer, that was a very interesting post, although I feel that I apparently missed to convey properly what I actually meant, since I agree with much of what you are saying here, while you say it like I expressed a different/opposite viewpoint, which I wasn't. Or maybe I was, I just didn't mean to ;)

But before I dive into another long answer to this post I have to agree with Valerie that this discussion might be better in a "views on intercultural communications" thread/forum and would gladly follow there if someone shows the way.

My earlier question: >>>What I do not really understand is what u mean with a biased western understanding? What is western oriented and not applicable in other cultures? The thought of being accepting to other viewpoints? Of not censor things based on just one way of looking at things?<<<< that you interpreted as me saying that the western viewpoint is accepting, while I was actually asking you why you were saying so in the post I was answering , and that I did not really agree with that statement. Maybe you weren't saying that either, I just interpreted it that way since I was talking about acceptance of other viewpoints and you said I was western biased..
Hmm this is turning complicated and due to on some misunderstandings, probably caused by my lack of proper debating skills in this language, well I hope I made things a bit clearer even if I didn't break any new ground =)

I preach openness and acceptance of different views as long as those views do not limit acceptance and openness to others too much. I do not believe this is a treat reserved for, or even particularly common in so called western culture even if "they" often think so, and I think we agree here. In fact I would like to avoid the labeling of western and eastern cultures since there are such a broad spectrum of views inside both those boxes. Sure I am more familiar with the "western" ones and maybe a bit biased but find the "indian" ones you are talking about very interesting as well, and are trying to widen my horizon further by trying to understand what you are talking about (hopefully earning some love and affection on the way.. ;).

The next section is to answer your last question but also (and maybe mostly) to describe my thinking a bit more (yes that is a bit selfish of me sorry, I just feel that I want/need to)

When I propose looseness I do so on the basis that it would be equal for all, and that different viewpoints should be equally accepted. Not that what Westerners think is acceptable should be forced upon everybody else.
Unfortunately I see no other really practical way of doing this globally than by being rather explicit with what we mean, and by not having any strict rules. Since any rule will be biased in one way or another, some people think one religion is the only truth, some another, some people think that women can dress in certain ways, others that it is unacceptable, some think that you should be allowed to love anyone regardless of race or gender or joke about anything, some do not accept this...

What I believe in is that people try not to be offended when they encounter things they do not agree with, since there always will be things out there that you do not like, and this goes for every camp. Disagreements and communications should be encouraged as ways of educating and widening your horizons, but should be performed as polite and careful as possible. Views and ways of doing things should not be censored on the premises that they are offensive or similar, but how they are shown and expressed is another matter. Discussions should not be about what and why to allow things, but where and how to do so.

Well that is at least the core of my beliefs, they might not always be practical or realistic and there are for sure some exceptions and extra details to all of this, but I don't want to hijack this thread completely =)
And no, I do not think this is the way CS is run today, even if I wished so. (which is a "funny" paradox, I say that one view should not be forced on others and that acceptance is the golden rule, but yet by thinking and wishing this, I do in a way try to "enlighten" others with this view and have a hard time accepting views that do not accept other views.. and I see nothing really wrong with it! Well I guess life can be quite paradoxal at times)

Happy thoughts everyone!
I will be very busy for some time now, so don't think I have escaped if I do not answer something else in a while.. ;)

Tomas


Posted September 6th, 2008 - 11:09 am by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
Darn, sorry I maybe should have used the "scroll-bar method" here.. but saw it too late.. but next time! =)

Posted September 6th, 2008 - 1:10 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks for explaining your thoughts so well Tomas:)

Western understanding: My friend lived in Mali and said that greetings there were very long. In addition to greeting the individual, both people exchanged greetings and concern for all family members on both sides...running to several minutes. My friend said, at first, she could feel her impatience rising until she had adapted to the slower-pace of life...but that, once she got used to it, she felt herself really listening to the other person and actually caring about how their family members were doing...and then understood the value of those long hellos.

I think we Westerners can come-off as distracted or burdened by listening and really hearing other people if they don't express themselves quickly enough for our tastes...like we can't be bothered. I think our affection for a fast-paced life also results in the explicitness Valerie described.

I know too that Americans don't shush their children. Little kids are encouraged to talk, talk, talk and say whatever pops into their heads...with praise. No wonder we come on too strong for many people! Perhaps that is a bit of what describes a Western bias? I'm sorry if I overstepped Monolita! Am I correct in understanding you?

Posted September 6th, 2008 - 7:56 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 8th, 2008 - 1:05 pm from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 5:42 pm from Macau, China
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 28th, 2008 - 4:00 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Michael: "CS is a bottom-up organisation"

If only... I think CS is more appropriately characterized as a top-down hierarchical corporation where most work is done by volunteers who are required to sign away the rights of their creation and by now probably the right to complain in public as well. Although the lack of internal open criticism could also be due to the more rigorous selection procedure for new volunteers. (If you want to volunteer I suggest to not mention any serious political involvement or any involvement related to free software.)

Posted August 28th, 2008 - 8:49 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 28th, 2008 - 10:25 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
"And thinking of it, it is the disparity between how someone like Ulf (who is a global ambassador, who is known to and connected to the 'inner circle' (and who if there are real complaints about him to the MDST, he has connections there too) is treated, and some new person, or an Indian person, is treated, that bothers me."

You seem to drop lots of accusations of complaints about people with "connections" being treated differently. Where's your proof? Have you complained recently and found it went on deaf ears? You've spoken over and over again of speculation, conspiracies, or the "general feelings" that people are getting preferential treatment, yet never offer anything to back up what you state!

Posted August 29th, 2008 - 2:01 am by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Matthew: I guess the questions you raised in your second paragraph where purely rhetorical ones - or perhaps some kind of a better communication technique ("better ask questions than raising accusations...")…

But why not speak straight here:

TO EVERYBODY WHO IS NEW TO THIS and does not yet know about this ongoing clash between the OCS guys and those of us who denounce their defamations:

Of course Birgit is right!
Of course there is criticism a plenty within the CS organization and of course that leads to changes needed to improve our little web endeavor. And that is also done transparently - at least as long as the unfortunately in great parts rather silly USAmerican law system does not force us (i.e.: CS as a USAmerican company) to act silly (or sillily?) ourselves in order to protect us from gold diggers who might exploit that law system's flaws for nothing but their own profit...

LET THE OCS GUYS NOT FOOL YOU into believing that the difference between them and us is that
- they are the only ones who criticize what's wrong on CS and that
- they only criticize for they are the ones who fight for a better CS out of their love for this project and that
- they are the only ones who do this transparently and that therefore
- they are the only real opposition which CS as an organization needs.
And that their criticism remains unheard because the leadership doesn't like criticism and there are not "friends with the mighty".


The real difference between them and us is that
- their criticism is only in a rather small parts relevant with most of it being only defamatory and simply untrue speculations and conclusions (hence the lack of ever offering any evidences or mostly even just anything a bit more specific than their always very abstractly phrased or often only just insinuated accusations!) and that
- their criticism can hardly be explained differently than by considering NPD or something similar as the possible motive for them and that
- their so-called transparency is in fact nothing but noisy and blatant outbursts of their hatred caused by the fact that (thank God!) so far they could be prevented successfully to in fact impose onto everybody else what they in their unequaled arrogance declare as the only right thing to do AND is of course counteract by how they themselves orchestrate their attacks and that therefore
- they are actually not really an opposition in the well-understood meaning of that word since they lack any sign of constructiveness and can only offer their negative people bashing.
And their criticism remains unheard because it's simply not worth it as long as it's done in such inacceptable ways and out of such low motives and could therefore not been cared for by hardly anyone!


MATTHEW: Before you ask me if I can offer any evidences for the accusations I raised in this post: Why should I? I'm pretty sick and tired of just criticizing their inacceptable ways and take pleasure now in simply playing along and following their rules and examples! I know that this shouldn't belong here - after all there is a website for such oral littering: www.opencouchsurfing.org but I don't post there as a matter of principle.
(AND YET: Check out the links in the "Personal Description" of my profile to find some of the ridiculous and false stuff that one can mostly find on the OCS site...)


Oh - and should this thread after their derailing efforts to make it yet another thread with their beloved full bunch of the ever same CS leadership bashing attacks actually go back to be about the issue - then I'll be more than happy to keep on talking about that again, too!

Posted August 29th, 2008 - 2:34 am by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Oops...

Forgot that new disclaimer that is apparently mandatory these days - so I'll give it to you as a later added part of my last post now:


WARNING:
This (i.e. my last) post my contain sarcasm! Keep away from children and stupids!

Posted August 29th, 2008 - 1:17 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 29th, 2008 - 10:29 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 6:55 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
LOL

Ok - looks like we've once again managed successfully to turn a BS thread into another chapter of our little private war until nobody else is interested in reading the thread any more;-)
Fine!
So I can use it now to answer to you, Valerie, AND post my thoughts on various aspects of what had been discussed here before AND then leave it there - since nobody (except for you guys and me) reads any of it any more anyways;-)
But then again maybe some do and are actually interested in my thoughts (...) and at the very least I can always copy&paste from what I post below or refer to it later when this (or rather: these) discussion(s) will inevitably come up again...

So there'll be 5 posts following this one:

A) My answer to Val's post (right before this one)
B) Some thoughts on "Freedom of Speech" and CS
C) Claryfing my view on the ToU as "guidelines or rules"
D) The Sarcasm v. The Nudity
E) To comfort all my USA friends: the picture was not targeted at you!


PLEASE EVERYBODY (who's still reading this): just skip all of those posts or those which you are not interested in - e.g. post A) - by simply scrolling down to the next one(s) and spare us telling me they are too long (that's a matter of opinion!) or why else you wouldn't read them - THANKS!

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 6:55 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
A) My answer to Val's post (right before this one)

So, Val, let me get this right: You think my negativity and my ranting is unnecessary and that I raise accusations here which (to your knowledge) are not true. And that bothers you.
Well, welcome to the club!!!
Now you should know how I (or we) feel and think about you guys - for I've done nothing else than copying you guys' tricks and techniques and ways which have "infuriated" me for so long;-)

Only that from "our side" I'm the only one who has now started to actually do that, too (targeted at you guys though, of course) - and I've done it only for the second time now! And yet it already bothers you;-) But then surely you must understand why I (or we) are so annoyed by you guys (or have long ago chosen to completely ignore you altogether!) when we have been the target of such cheap and inacceptable techniques for far over a year now!

Btw - just for clarification:
With "our side" I mean those of us who run this show (the LT and the main volunteers) who have been - sometimes all together and sometimes only some singled out ones - the object of "your" ranting for so long now PLUS guys like me who speak out against "you guys'" despicable ways of criticizing them and us and thus became an object of your endless ranting ourselves;-)
And with "your side" I mean mainly you about 10 guys (and the number really is that pathetically low...) who have declared themselves alternatively "Pirates" or "the only really opposition within CS" and have posted the vast majority of all the posts on OCS and almost all the posts here in CS (in the BS or other groups) that contain nothing but angry criticism of "our side" (see above!).


Let me quickly summarize just some of the main points that you keep bringing up:


- open source and democracy

"You" are correct when "you" point out to the fact that CS has decided NOT to go "open source" and NOT to choose our main volunteers (ambs et al) thru some kind of democratic election the way some of "you guys" would like to have them conducted. But the reasons for why CS has decided so which "you" have given so far have almost always failed to match the real facts!
Hence my accusation of how "you" always mix up some real facts with lots of false facts, conspiracy theories and wrong conclusions. And since "you" always try to "disguise" those speculations of "yours" as some more facts "you" then, of course, consequently reject all other possible explanations as "smoke screens", diversionary tactic or fact twisting - including the real facts!!!
"You" may not agree with the TRUE reasons for why CS has decided to not go open source - but then post THAT and post why "you" don't agree with those TRUE reasons and DON'T make up "your" own UNTRUE explanations, just because they might be much easier to attack.
"You" may not agree with the TRUE reasons for why CS has decided to not have as much democracy as "you" say we should have - but has not Thomas as "your" main speaker for more democracy just proven himself and "yourself" triumphantly wrong with his little pathetic Antwerp City Amb election stunt? And can one therefore not say that perhaps CS has actually some valid points for why they handle things the way they do? If "you" still contradict them, then really just do contradict THEM and DON'T contradict points which "you guys" have presented "yourself" as the reasons for why CS does things the way we do!


- CS sweeping things under the carpet

You, Val, should know by now very well the true reasons for those actions you labeled "sweeping things under the carpet". You know why the stupid USAmerican law system forces us to act like this - against our own instincts and preferences! You should know by now that the MDST guys only care all about member's safety and about how to mediate member disputes and don't really bother about the "marketing CS" aspects. And yet you accused us of "trying to conceal" those few occasions when something bad happened within the CS community. And "you guys" even came up with the old "to get a higher price when CS will be sold to goolgle" bullshit as THE explanation for such behavior.
Which brings me to one of "your" favorite accusations:


- CS will be sold to google.

BULLSHIT! Pure speculation! And yet the way you always bring it up must sound to newbies - or those who are not into this "you" against "us" thingy - as if these were real facts! It has happened already!!!


- CS pays way too much for the servers

If that is so - why have "you" so far failed to backup those accusations by providing us with figures that show that for the SAME SERVICES of the SAME QUALITY other US companies of SAME REPUTATION and standing as the one we work with do in fact usually charge substantially less than what we pay?
And once "you" begin to speculate about why CS pays too much (as "you" say) at it becomes either a tad arrogant ("the LT is simply inept") or the same old conspiracy theories again...


- YOUR, Val, accusation (or at least insinuation) that I, Ulf, "who is a global ambassador, who is known to and connected to the 'inner circle' (and who if there are real complaints about him to the MDST, he has connections there too)" will be treated better than others.

FALSE! As you can see they (the MDST) just forced me to change my pic!
And you know what's funny about it? There has apparently not been a proper report yet!!! They stumbled upon it BECAUSE I am "known to and connected to the 'inner circle'" - or to be exact: BECAUSE I have "connections" to the MDST! Anybody else might have had the chance to get away with it and keep that picture at least for a little bit longer until somebody would have reported him properly to the MDST - but I did not have that chance!


- Your statements about criticism within CS and the effects of yours

What annoys me most are all "your" efforts to create the FALSE image of how criticism within CS is unwanted, ineffective, censored and basically lacking!
All of that is rubbish! None of it is true.

You, Val, and others keep telling me that I have to be nice when criticizing you. But that has never made me accuse you of not wanting or "censoring" my criticism - which is exactly what "you guys" do all the time when things are the other way around!
"YOU GUYS" have never been told to not criticize CS nor have you ever been censored! All that has been brought up against me in THIS VERY THREAD - especially against my reasoning of why I should be allowed to keep that picture because op "freedom of speech" (see below!) - I could easily turn around to tell "you guys" that while "you" have, of course, every right to criticize whomever and whatever "you" like that does NOT mean that "you" can do it in every way "you" like to use (e.g. defamatory or insulting ways!) nor that "you" can do it wherever you wanna do it (e.g. in the "inappropriate" groups).
Never has any of what "you" posted within CS been deleted (or "censored" in any other way) because it contained criticism!
Any yet "you" started OCS and thus created the myth that the world would need such an external platform to have a free and open forum for criticizing CS! FALSE! OCS has never been needed - and neither has "YOUR GUYS'" "criticism". There are enough - volunteers and "common members" - who criticize things that are not perfect on CS. But in appropriate way which therefore (not always but more often than not!) leads to real consequences and actual improvements for the site!

THEN more and more of "us" decided to simply ignore "your" posts - within CS or on OCS. Because those more and more of "us" were fed up completely NOT with "your" criticism as such BUT with "your" ways. "You yourself" took care that "you" are not heard any more (while many, many others with their criticism still are!!!).
But - of course! - "you" twisted that into that "we" are just too arrogant to listen to criticism in general. FALSE! CS does listen to criticism and acts on it - just not to "yours" any more. (Or rather not to "your" public ranting. For - as you, Val, should know very well - things are different when "you guys" utter criticism in less publicly looking for applause - and then also much more civilized - ways.).
True - that lead to the situation that "you" cannot actually criticize CS's real motivations and arguments for why CS act the way they do, because "you" are simply not told them any more since nobody who knows them answers to "you" any more. But that's "your" own fault - it's the consequence of "your" 'style of criticism'. And even if it were not so - "you" would still not have the right to simply present "your" own speculations as facts here the way "you" always do!


But to top all of that "you" have this great way to take credit for improvements that have nothing to do with "you"!

* Like when Pickwick pointed out to how CS has to consider and follow the Thai immigration rules for the Thai Collective, comparing that Collective to the first one in Montreal which was already very unfair to do since - for several reasons - one couldn't compare these 2 situations in the way he did. He had no idea what CS until then had done or not done about it - but simply speculated or insinuated they had not (yet) done the right or necessary things. When he was then answered that these things are being taken care off he went on claiming that this is only or mainly because of his criticism there!!!

* CS (and Casey) have meant to go 501c3 for years! And though "you" know as good as nothing about the efforts made on that issue so far and in the ongoing process "you" first kept telling everyone that this has all been a lie and a trick to rake in more donation money (ridiculous! like anyone has actually donated money or more money because of that...). And when then the application was actually mailed "you" immediately claimed that this was only because of "your" criticism!!!
"You" now seem to know little to nothing about why things take so long - and yet "you" keep publishing your own speculations as facts (again...) on which you base new criticism.
And I wouldn't be surprised that in case CS will be granted the 501c3 status "you" will claim that as your victory again!!!


At least I'm glad to see that you did not take credit for me changing my pic or for having pushed the MDST forcing me to do so;-)

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 6:56 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
B) Some thoughts on "Freedom of Speech" and CS

Ok - so basically you're saying that "Freedom of Speech" shall be granted as long as nobody (for what reasons ever) minds.

Uhm... Isn't that pretty much how "Freedom of Speech" is dealt with in China? Or was in Hitler Germany? Obviously they mind (or minded) much more things. And other things which we all probably agree on that they shouldn't (have) mind(ed). But at the end of the day it's still the same - you are (or were) allowed to exercise your right of "Freedom of Speech" as long as nobody minds in China (or nobody minded in Germany back then).

And you can't change that simple fact just by a little rephrasing - somewhat along the lines that this "Freedom of Speech" also (as every right!) implies some obligations or responsibilities and that if you censor my pic you are in fact not limiting my "Freedom of Speech" but actually just enforcing those obligations or responsibilities!

And isn't that exactly the reason for why the human right of "Freedom of Speech" shall not be contravened or limited in any way as long as an act of exercising this freedom does not itself breach another right of the same or higher "status" or importance in a way which weighs heavier or limits or contravenes that other right more than prohibiting that very act would contravene or limit the acting part's right of "Freedom of Speech"?!?

And somebody feeling offended as such can surely not be a general reason to limit the right of "Freedom of Speech"! For a variety of reasons - but mainly because it would be way too random and could in effect undermine the "Freedom of Speech" completely!
I mean - one cannot prove that somebody who claims he's been offended is in fact not. So for example any CS leader could simply state that he feels offended by the OCS's guys criticism and therefore this criticism must be forbidden - which is obviously rubbish;-)

Of course there is also the right of "keeping your honor" and all that and they protect one from being the object of insults and defamations and such. And then we have a classical clash of two rights of similar importance where it has to be decided which one weighs more in a specific situation. But that is hardly the case if somebody is offended by an act of exercising ones right of "Freedom of Speech" that is not targeted at any anyone nor send to anyone specifically (including the one who took offense from it).

Having said all that: I am very aware that limiting or completely banning the "Freedom of speech" is completely different from, let's say, "regulating" this freedom.
If a state says that (for example) pornography can only take place in certain places or (for example) on TV at certain times and such - then this state does NOT limit the right of "Freedom of Speech" altogether but simply regulates it (usually in order to avoid abovementioned clashed with other rights)!

Likewise if CS decides to forbid certain posts in certain groups or move certain posts from one group to another then this has nothing to do with censorship either!
And if they force me to remove that pic as my main profile picture but allow me to keep it in my picture folder then this - of course! - again constitutes no limitation to my "Freedom of Speech" at all!!!
As long as I can still post in other groups then or keep my picture someplace else everything is Ok.


ACTUALLY:
As long as CS doesn't try to take my "Freedom of Speech" away from me completely - and that is to say in my life and not just here on CS! - then (for all I know) they can do here within CS whatever they wish!!!
As longs as they are clear about that in their ToU (as they are!!!) right from the start (as they were!!!) they don't even have to give good arguments for anything nor be consistent in their actions.
They could - for example - deny me, Ulf, the right to do something everybody else would (still) be allowed to, simply because an LT member might not like my nose!
(DISCLAIMER: that last sentence was meant to be an example and contained a bit of what might be called "sarcasm"! To my knowledge nobody has ever been denied anything here on CS because of his nose and for all I know all the LT members like my nose just fine!).


So my intentions in this one discussion about "Freedom of Speech" within CS and former similar ones have always been to hopefully have an influence in the process of making a decision for how CS will autonomously (!) deal with such matters - and I constantly fight for keeping CS as open and laissez-faire as it used to be EVEN THOUGH apparently I keep losing on this bit by bit:-(
Which doesn't have to be a bad thing (though I personally don't like it) for perhaps "the other side" who wants CS to restrict way more than is still done for now might have a valid point or two, too;-)

As for this above-mentioned process of making decisions for how CS will autonomously deal with different matters - read C) below;-)

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 6:57 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
C) Clarifying my view on the ToU as "guidelines or rules"

I have to apologize for having caused misunderstanding by phrasing what I meant to say not good enough. Let me try again:

I guess the only practicable way for CS to deal with specific situations is to do it kind of in the "case law" way - in other words: having a jurisprudence based on judicial precedents rather than statutory laws;-)

What I mean by that is this:
I don't know how CS got those ToU - but I guess in the beginning we simply took some "standard template" for ToU for a web site and kind of adapted them to our specific needs. Ideally that had been done by a (US) lawyer for us - but I just don't know;-)
And these ToU stated (as they still do) that no member may post or submit any content that contains nudity or sexually explicit content.
And then everything was peaceful for nobody posted nudity - or nobody cared if somebody did. Until somebody did. There must have been some kind of first case in which a member complained about another member posting nudity and pointed out to the ToU prohibiting that.

So CS was faced with the question of how to deal with it. And - YES! - that was an open question because CS is - of course! - allowed to decide NOT to enforce its own ToU!!!
And there were reasons enough - brought up by many! - not to enforce this special one - since many wanted CS to be a really open and liberal community which would therefore not forbid such (in their opinion) harmless things as nudity.
And there were reasons - brought up by others! - to enforce that one ToU.

So now CS was forced to make a decision which then would also be the standard procedure for all following similar cases! NOT because that's how it has to be (again: CS doesn't have to be consistent on that but has every right to enforce their ToU in some cases and then again not on other but similar occasions without even having to give any explanation for that at all - let alone a reasonable one!!!) BUT because it's the only reasonable and proper thing to do;-)

AND FOR THAT PROCESS, for making a decision on a first case of some certain kind which would then serve as the judicial precedent for following cases of the same kind the ToU can (IMHO) only be some kind of guideline and only one out of several sources!
In other words: in this first case the ToU should - of course! - have been considered. But so should have the arguments that were brought up by those of us who say we should allow nudity! For example the one brought up by Monolita here (if I understood her correctly) which basically says that the more we allow a member X to put on his profile the more we enable all other members to get a profound and comprehensive impression of that member X.
And then ideally they came up with a decision on that first case that was a good compromise and included or had considered all of those sources. Like, for example, that nudity will not be allowed on the Couch Picture or Main Profile Picture (for all the good reasons brought up here in this thread by Pickwick and others!), but will be tolerated on the picture pages.
One could even go a step further and say that IF a member wants to upload pictures containing nudity - or perhaps also "sexually explicit content"! - then he must create a sub-folder on his picture page for such contents whose title would make unmistakably clear for everyone what to expect when clicking on that folder to check out the picture it contains!

AND THEN once this has all been decided for that first case THEN this decision shall henceforth be the LAW (NOT just guideline!) for all future cases of that same kind!


I hope I've made myself sufficiently clear that time;-)


HOWEVER: read on in D) ;-)

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 6:57 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
D) The Sarcasm v. The Nudity


NOW I once again would like to stress out to how very different the 2 main points of criticism about my picture are!

The one point is the "nudity" and that's tricky as it complicates what I just described in C) above...

The problem is that once a we have decided on a specific case and thus created a judicial precedent which will then be not just a guideline but a "law" for all later similar cases - as described in C) above - then this does however still not provide us with a "law" that will forever be sufficient to decide on all further cases!

For once because things may change and what we might consider inappropriate now we might watch with very different eyes 10 years from now.

But mainly because such a "law" - or rather such a decision on a precedent might prove insufficient for a later case when there is a detail in that later case that has simply not been considered in the first one.

For example: when we came up with the rule on how to deal with nudity (i.e. none on your main profile pic etc. - see above!) then we did not think of that someday we may have a case in which it's simply not clear if the picture contains nudity or not!

I stick to what I said before: you can see no penis, no vagina, no bottom and no female breast on the picture and therefore one can very well make the point that there is no nudity in the picture. At least no visible nudity - and what else could possibly be forbidden? Nudity that you can actually not see in a picture simply is in fact NOT in the picture!

So the arguments brought up against that aspect (the nudity) here in this thread are simply silly! For they disregard the fact that the "law" we have on CS about how to deal with nudity does not tell us anything about what nudity is. Since that was simply not needed so far. But now it is - so now this picture has become some kind of another "judicial precedent" case, for it forces us now to make a decision what shall now and henceforth be considered nudity on CS - or at least in the context of the "law" that prohibits nudity on profile pictures. Thus the decision we'd make now on this case would become part of the "law" about nudity on profile pics by enhancing or adding to or elaborating it.

Little funny side note: for THIS decision our ToU could not be a source at all - neither as "laws" nor "rules" nor "guidelines" and not even just as "inspiration";-) Simply because they don't tell us anything about what constitutes nudity :-D So here we'd be force to actually use our brains - in contrast to brainlessly simply pointing out to some ToU...
Yippee!!!

And then this decision can - of course! - define that what you can see on my picture shall be considered nudity here on CS! After all there are regions where a naked woman's face is considered inacceptable nudity! Or FIFA forbids football players to take off their jerseys during the game: http://www.cbc.ca/sports/soccer/molinaro/2008/03/no_shirt_no_service_fifas_shir.html

I would consider it downright stupid to declare what you can see on my picture nudity in the context of that abovementioned "law" and therefore forbid my picture because of that nudity - but I've failed to prevent people from being stupid before, so what can I do...


A WHOLE DIFFERENT STORY is the sarcasm!


Here we have the problem that there simply is no "judicial precedent".
So this can would be a "first case" and thus the decision on that one would henceforth be our law how to deal with such cases. Problem is that it's a bit more complex than the first nudity case probably was - for it is not even clear what exactly about it could be or should be forbidden!

Now the ToU do not forbid sarcasm nor cynicism nor irony! Or I simply missed that point. If they did we'd have a similar (and similarly easy) situation as we had with the first nudity case;-)

So we can't forbid it on account it contains sarcasm/cynicism/irony.
So we have to find something else in the ToU that we can apply.

The argument that it "characterizes violence as acceptable, glamorous or desirable" is (IMHO) just laughable! It's completely ridiculous and could have even more ridiculous consequences.

To begin with: could we still allow pictures of people boxing each other?
Can we allow people to express their likings for movies like "The Silence of the Lambs" or perhaps even for the character of Hannibal Lecter?
Do we not have to forbid any references to most of what's going on in rap music and will Marilyn Manson or Rammstein be completely banned from CS?

But what's much more the point in this case: is it not the core idea of irony or sarcasm to express the opposite of what it seems to say at first sight?!? And if we simply act ignorant and stupid and refuse to see in a picture like mine that it - of course! - does not "characterizes violence as acceptable, glamorous or desirable" but actually by using acid cynicism depicts just that as something as loathsome as it is, then we will in effect forbid all kind of irony and sarcasm altogether - surely that cannot be our target?

But how about: "makes use of offensive language or images"?
If you read E) below you'll see that many understood my picture very well in the sarcastic way it was meant - but found exactly that offensive. I'm talking of USAmericans, who felt that the sarcasm in that picture was targeted against them...
It was not - but, again, for that read E) below.
It was simply misunderstood that way. But the result was - again - that people felt OFFENDED...

The problem I see here is that the word "offensive" in the abovementioned ToU basically opens the doors incredibly wide for CS to forbid basically whatever they feel like to forbid! For it is hard - if not impossible - to define it, especially in a community as ours where so many different cultures meet in one place!


AGAIN:

What if a (let me call them:) hard-core vegetarian is offended by a picture in which somebody eats meat?
What if a Buddhist it offended by a picture in which somebody just kills a spider or even shoots a fox or deer?
What if one of those people I mentioned in one of my further posts is offended by somebody wearing the color red?

In my case I was forbidden to keep that picture because the "right" people, i.e. the ones who have the power on CS, felt offended by that picture, too.
Of all the people I've grown up with I couldn't name ONE who I think could possibly be offended by it!
And obviously nobody here on CS who saw that picture and was not offended by it posted that - except for Birgit. So theoretically 99.99999 % of all CouchSurfers could possibly be perfectly fine with it - but I'd still be forced to change it just because unfortunately none of them is part of the MDST...

Shall that be the base on which further cases like this are decided upon? Or should we not rather come up with a better "law" for the future, the way we came up with one for nudity?

To say it very clearly:
I think that we should NOT allow the offended ones to determine single-handedly what is offensive and therefore inacceptable and what not BUT rather consider who or what was the sarcasm/irony/cynicism targeted at. After all sarcasm/irony/cynicism is a form of criticism and we should thus forbid it only where we'd forbid the criticism behind it, too! I happen to think it's perfectly all right to express one's anger about Abu Ghraib and thus it's perfectly all right to do so in the form of cynicism!
And then, YES!, I think we should force those members among us who are offended by SUCH sarcasm (or actually not by the sarcasm itself but rather by their own misunderstanding of it!!!) to endure that feeling of being offended!
And, YES!, we should expect them to clear up THEIR misunderstanding themselves - e.g. by simply asking the member with such a sarcastic picture about his intentions! When I originally filled in my profile I put "I'm pretty much what they used to call 'Arian' around here" into the ethnicity field. Weeks later I got a mail from a fellow member from Israel who didn't know me and thus didn't know why I put that in BUT had the common sense to simply go and ask me about it before condemning me or reporting me to the (back then non-existent) MDST. I think we should expect our members to exercise such common sense - rather than to force everybody to consider that common sense may not be exercised by others and thus to take measures which ensure that those others do not even have to exercise it!!!
I mean:
the more we put effort into ensuing that that even when common sense is not exercised there will still be no harm done
the more we support our members to not use common sense any more!
Why should they - if we do everything we can to make sure that they don't have to, to survive here?!?

YET:
IF we actually do say that ALL sarcasm and cynicisms (though hopefully at least not irony, too...) will be forbidden on the CouchDescription pic and the main profile pic (just because it CAN be misunderstood by some and THEN be considered offensive by them)
or in other words IF this would actually become the law for sarcasm and cynicism on main profile pic (AS IT HAD NOT YET BEEN THE CASE - at least not to my knowledge - but apparently is now...),
THEN I would, of course!, obey to it even though I would still very much dislike that for the reasons explained above!

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 6:59 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
E) To comfort all my USA friends: the picture was not targeted at you!


I consider the idea that clichés that are commonly associated with one people do actually tell you anything worth knowing about that people bullshit! In our globalized world they simply don't apply any more - if they ever did! The only thing they are still good for is to make fun of each other - in a folksy way and with a good-natured intention!

Neither do I think that one can held any single representative of a people responsible for any act that has been committed by "his people" or other members of his people or the government of his people.
No - let me rephrase this:
Obviously one cannot held any single representative of a people responsible [...] !!!

Trust me - I know what I'm speaking about. Probably much more so than most of you - even more so than the USAmericans. For I am German, you know!

BUT one can easily turn such an act into a whole new cliché that one can then again use to make fun of the concerned people - in a folksy way and with a good-natured intention, of course;-)
I for example can still not get enough of coming up with more and more jokes about our dear neighbors in the south for usually letting their kids grow up in cellar prisons;-)

And then I find it... hm... "stupid" is too, uhm, offensive (;-.D), "silly" is probably, too, so let's say I find it unnecessarily thin-skinned and unreasonable if such a representative of a people then reacts offended to that!

He should rather use his common sense, first, and consider the 2 possibilities that we have here:

a) the person using the cliché does so with the intention to offend: in this case one shouldn't be offended to not do him the favor to fall for such a pathetically simple attempt to offend!
b) the person using the cliché does so to crack a harmless little joke in a folksy way and with a good-natured intention: then one should laugh about it. Or not, if one happens to not find that specific joke peculiarly funny - but then still not be offended, either!


I personally never gassed a Jew or any other human being nor started a war nor committed any of the other atrocities they Nazis did. So how on earth could I ever get offended by somebody greeting me with "Heil Hitler". It completely daunts me why so many of my German friends always are - for to my knowledge they never gassed a Jew or any other human being nor started a war either!

And likewise I find it hard to understand why any USAmerican who has not tortured and humiliated prisoners of wars he was expected to treat with respect and some dignity while keeping them in custody could be offended by my picture. Or - to put it the other way around - the only ones who should be offended by my pic are the ones who committed those acts in Abu Ghraib - and I find it strange that I should not be allowed to offend them in such a way...

Anyways: I did not want to criticize or mock the USAmericans all together with my harmless little picture!

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 7:00 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Over and out!


Maat et joot! / Take care!


Ulf

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 11:36 pm from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 1st, 2008 - 12:32 am by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
thanks Julien...you're the best. I agree that you can't generalize about people's behavior according to their 'roles'...and can't wait to meet everyone and form my own opinions:)

Posted August 29th, 2008 - 6:00 am from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 28th, 2008 - 9:44 pm from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 29th, 2008 - 6:10 am by from Bangalore, India (Permalink)
Kasper I haven't signed anything away (yet) and am fairly vociferous about a lot of things.

As for this involvement in politics, I'm afraid I fail to see the connection between that and CS in any way. Perhaps you mean that people who are involved in politics tend to be more radical and consequently they aren't welcomed as ambs? I'm not entirely sure about that one..

As to free software, this has been a philosophical argument that has been going back and forth (mostly back) between two camps in CS and quite frankly I think its fairly pointless. If people want a site which is based on free software and open source code (or whatever) then they're free to make one themselves. I hardly think you can force someone to bend to your wishes when you really have no serious claim to it in the first place.

Am I right in interpreting your post as basically saying that all ambs who are around now are powerless sheep who swallow whatever is shoved down their throats?

Please feel free to correct me, but English is my first language and its also pretty darn good (even if I do say so myself) and I am not prone to paranoia and yet this is what jumped out at me.

Posted August 26th, 2008 - 10:25 pm from Milton, United States
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 1:13 pm by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
Hi Jacques.

Too bad that u feel that way. Sure this thread might not have ended up in any practical solutions, but I think discussions has its place as well, and is important in its own way, since it might make people more aware and understanding of ways to think etc.
Sure everything here might be considered wind, but at least for me it is a pretty strong wind that makes it storm in my brain, which must be a good thing.. And in a way maybe making it not too far away from the purpose of the group after all.. ;)

Tomas


Posted August 27th, 2008 - 4:52 pm by from Alexandria, United States (Permalink)
yes, Hi Jacques! I meant to greet you before:)

one more thing and then I'll try to shut up and let others contribute: the whole culture of non sequitur that is quite popular here on CS doesn't translate easily. Im a fan of this humor...the whole point of which is to make the familiar seem funny or peculiar, but realize that it relies upon a lack of context...which is terribly difficult to catch or explain literally. It's a staple of the SF/Burning man art scene, among other places, and really doesn't fly well even here in DC, where we tend to be quite practical and analytical:) Witness the bunny ears, the shopping carts, the feather boas...and ponder.

Anyhow, this somewhat hipper-than-you mindset can function as a block to understanding across cultures, since some CS members really won't get it...and also renders difficult selective criticism of member photos or profiles as tasteless....since cultural mash-up is fair game...and nothing is considered necessarily tasteful either. Do I make sense? Or should I just go back to creating my life-size He Chong sculpture out of dryer lint?

Posted August 27th, 2008 - 5:41 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 9:01 pm by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
358,777 charcacters on this page. That's like 40,000 words of 3 syllables. My god! It could be printed as a short book!

Is there a ranking of the longest brainstorm posts?

I doubt that anyone will ever go through the whole thing again. Can't we just agree to stop posting here?

And to express ourselves with the least number of words possible ? Some (I hope all...) of us have a life besides Brainstorming.

Julien

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 9:26 pm from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 30th, 2008 - 11:29 pm by from Arequipa, Peru (Permalink)
hah, good work lena!

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 2:39 am by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
@Lena: Huff! So you still are still watching upon that battlefiel you opened.

Yeah, right, I didn't want to sound like the great inquisitor. I just had the feeling (hope...) that every contributor of the debate was actually tired of it and would jump on the first excuse to let it die off. So I tried to provide the excuse.

Maybe we shoud open a dedicated group: "ambassadors VS rest-of-the-world" :)

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 3:01 am by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
@Julien: I promise not to join :)

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 9:50 am from Barcelona, Spain
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 10:01 am by from Mumbai, India (Permalink)
CS is a voluntaryy organisation.Ambs are oart of CS then why a private group.Are they more intelligent than other CS members.What is so great they are doing for CS? I find here usually, they do nothing except forwarding couch messages to other CS members and than claiming that they have arranged the couch.

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 10:23 am from Orth an der Donau, Austria
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted August 31st, 2008 - 11:23 am by from Amsterdam, Netherlands (Permalink)
Mr Mittal, I can imagine you feel the way that you do... I'm sure that most ambs worldwide do a brilliant job in their volonteer work as a hardworking respectful representative of CS but an amb is not a "middleman" in assigning couches to any-one at all and at some point in time in Mumbai some now ex-ambs, hardly hosting themselves were using it that way, sort of OK still but taking all the credit for it is "weird". I hope this is not the case anymore, and you can decide perfectly well who you would like to host and connect yourself to and who you would not, after guests approached you in person and not through any "middlemen"..,setting you up with people you have little in common with.

I've been kind of "reluctant" to host overly zelous ambs ever since one of them cancelled their stay with me very (!!!) shortly before arriving since I "crosshosted" some-one else also: even if they knew that long in advance and from the start I replied that would be the case.
I prefer to host "newbies"..with little references and vouches, and expecially LOCALLY conquered references and vouches by the dozen I would take with a bucket of salt.. ("met at a CS meeting only for 5 whole minutes: great person I'll trust with my life..".. blehh GET REAL please).

I obviously host more (far more) than I'll ever "surf" but I find myself going to be hosted by ambs..(now) who set their first footsteps in the CS project being hosted by me as their very first CS experience, and I don't think their honest desire to exchange culture and lifestyle has changed in the meantime.








Posted August 31st, 2008 - 11:31 pm by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
This thread is just too exciting! I have to contribute again!

@Chandraprakash: Don't be too affected by Birgit's answer. I'm sure she didn't mean to turn you down. Indeed volunteers spend a lot of time-energy-resources on a project, without getting paid. So when someone say they are just lazy, they will feel robbed of their only retribution.

Though I understand what you say about having ambassadors that seem to do nothing. We have one like that in Hamburg, it discredits the system a bit. But let's not conclude that all ambassadors are like that. We also have the exact opposite in here, doing a great action for the community.

And mostly we have our members. Some of them inactive but some of them investing a lot of time-energy-resources in hosting and sustaining a lively local community. Some even join our "emergency request" group and host stranded travelers on a very short notice. They give the life to the whole system, and though a significant part of them is idle, there is no telling when they might start interacting.

Just in case we lose perspective :)

Julien

Posted September 2nd, 2008 - 11:29 am from Pune, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 4th, 2008 - 9:40 am by from Mumbai, India (Permalink)
My observation were purely of Mumbai.I do not have any idea what other Ambs. are doing in other cities.They may be doing remarkable work.
I can see only moderators in Mumbai group.How to find Ambs. for Mumbai?

Posted September 4th, 2008 - 9:46 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Hey Chandraprakash, to find the ambassadors in any city, simply do a couchsearch in that city using the advanced form. The sixth line of search criteria is "Ambassadors only" - you can click on any level or "all."

Derek

Posted September 5th, 2008 - 4:51 am from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 5th, 2008 - 10:08 am by from Sainte-Marie, Reunion (Permalink)
Did he? I don't see how?

Julien

Posted September 5th, 2008 - 7:30 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
I hope he'll respond himself... but Val, I think you may be reading too much into his question.

Derek

Posted September 6th, 2008 - 4:49 am from Albuquerque, United States
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 7th, 2008 - 5:03 am by from New Delhi, India (Permalink)
Val, wouldn't Derek's answer help Mr. Mittal find the people, the Ambs, he was looking for anyway?

Posted September 8th, 2008 - 12:25 pm from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 8th, 2008 - 9:07 pm by from Seattle, United States (Permalink)
Okay, now I have to respond, for the simple reason that my silence is taken to be not understanding sarcasm.

The simple truth is, I did not initially believe his question to be sarcastic, as he prefaced it with the statement that he did indeed see the moderators of the Mumbai group. Having had the sarcasm pointed out to me three times now, I understand that the mods must be fairly active, while the ambassadors are not.

No cultural misunderstanding, just an internet misunderstanding.

Derek

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 12:45 am by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Hm...

It looks to me like there have basically 2 issues been discussed in this thread - among some rubbish like silly little personal cockfights (SORRY - BUT THAT'S AN ACTUAL ENGLISH WORD THAT REALLY FITS HERE:-D)

I would entitle them like that:

A) ASSESSING AMBASSADORS AND/OR THEIR WORK FOR AND/OR EFFECT ON CS

- should such assessing be done at all?
- if so - by whom?
- in what ways?
- what can a CS amb be measured by?
- what matters: his work or his personality or personal/private behavior?
- is a CS amb a private person or a "public figure" - does he speak for or represent CS?
- ...


B) HOW TO DEAL WITH THE INEVITABLE CLASH OF CULTURES in a community that brings different cultures together like ours

- where do what cultures or aspects of different cultures usually clash here in CS?
- how can that be avoided?
- does it have to be avoided or is it something we'll simply have to endure? (after all: we celebrate the existence of different cultures - so perhaps we should not strive for leveling them down...)
- do we have to find compromises or will one culture predominate over another?
- how could such compromises look like?
- would rules (as part of such compromises) apply to all aspects of CS life or can we apply different sets of rules to different situations - like for acting on an "international stage" and acting on a local one or even "in your own home" (e.g. your profile)
- is there a private part for each CS member in which we'll allow him more than "in public?
- if so - where is this private part and where is this public?
...


SO I suggest to start 2 new threads if that's fine with everybody!

For I consider both these issues important ones! And this assessment seems to be proven by the fact that they both come up again regularly in all kind of groups and also in real-life encounters.
However I'm afraid that in this thread it's being discussed in a rather exclusive group now (i.e. only by those few members who still keep following this thread).

Hence my suggestion to start over with 2 new threads.

I realize that this will lead to quite a bit of repeating what has been posted here already... But better repeat it and then have it read and possibly discussed by a bigger group than to keep these important discussions "exclusive" - only to avoid repeating oneself.

And why not?
We could simply copy&paste form our own posts in this thread.
AND, PLEASE, DO THAT instead of putting links in these new threads to posts in this one! For I'm afraid that might lead to people being discouraged to follow the discussions even in the 2 new threads;-)


Just an idea. Up to you to make something out of it:-)


Maat et joot! / Take care!


Ulf

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 4:21 pm by from Stockholm, Sweden (Permalink)
Well Ihta was agood post that makes a lot of sense. I'll back u up on this one Ulf! (and I will do it if no one else have by tmrw when I next check this group ( I have to run away now) =)

Posted September 21st, 2008 - 10:53 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Ok. I did a thread myself about "RULES FOR CS - for different regions, different cases, different members..." ( http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=429&post=1589819 ) INCLUDING what I called above: "B) HOW TO DEAL WITH THE INEVITABLE CLASH OF CULTURES [...]".

It's super long though with only my own 5 posts in it - so you might rather not read it;-)


But for " A) ASSESSING AMBASSADORS AND/OR THEIR WORK FOR AND/OR EFFECT ON CS you might actually wanna have a look at the thread I just posted for that ( http://www.couchsurfing.com/group_read.html?gid=429&post=1590231 ) - it's much shorter;-)


Maat et joot! / Take care!


Ulf

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 8:16 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 10:09 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 10:30 am by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
Does this person know you are talking about her and calling her out in this group? I do recall you scolding someone in an earlier thread about it being inappropriate to call people out in the BS group when they're not here to defend themselves.

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 11:16 am by from Hvidovre, Denmark (Permalink)
yes this person has been given the info on her thread in the discussion in the other group - so that is sorted out and done ....

all in the open

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 11:34 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 11:58 am by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
I'm just checking since I don't see her as a member of this group, nor do I see brainstorm mentioned in your own personal statements on that thread. Why bother posting here about your concerns of her ambassador bid? Why not just limit it to that thread and be done with it?

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 1:37 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted October 1st, 2008 - 12:00 pm by from Sherrill, United States (Permalink)
ah wait I stand corrected...didn't see the link at the end of your statement. Apologize.

Posted October 21st, 2008 - 7:39 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 5:06 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 8:18 am from Berlin, Germany
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 9:23 am by from Mumbai, India (Permalink)
Mr.Picwick,Have not been this discussion enough?What is in the title?As long as ambassadors are doing the work to promote and help CS in their city,country or globally,it is enough.After all they also have to look after their living and travels.
The point arises when they have the title and are not doing anything visible.

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 9:29 am from Kochi, India
This member has chosen to allow only Couchsurfing members to see their group posts. To see this full converstion, sign up or log in.

Posted September 11th, 2008 - 1:19 pm by from Cologne, Germany (Permalink)
Ok.

Then not...


You couple of guys who are still following this super long thread at this point have fun discussing these important issues among you;-)


Maat et joot! / Take care!


Ulf