Location: The Couchsurfing Project >> We are upset that CS has become a for-profit corporation
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CS dissidents FAQ
Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 8:14 pm by from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Permalink)
Some of us wrote this FAQ to make it easier for people to find some basic informations that now are hidden in the middle of thousands of threads.

It seems to be a good place to start if you just got here. Feel free to copy, edit, complement, etc., and SEND IT TO YOUR FRIENDS, POST IN YOUR CITY'S GROUPS, etc.

Let's spread the information!

FAQ

- Basic Issues

1) “CS belongs to Casey, he can do whatever he wants with it!”

If you are saying this it’s probably because you don’t know the history of CS. Yes, it was Casey’s idea (but not an original one, since “hospitality exchange” organizations existed long before he was born), but the execution of this idea is due to hundreds of volunteers who developed the code, who were always suggesting and adding new features, who were translating texts, etc. So, in fact, the CS site is what it is today thanks to volunteers and their work. And the fact is that they willingly contributed trusting they were donating their time and work to the community, to a non-profit organization which was a registered charity in the state of New Hampshire, and which had applied for official charity status with the USA tax authorities; and these volunteers were people like you, who used the site, who hosted people, attended meeting, made many friends, etc., not a kind of staff team who worked and was paid as employees. So it’s not true that the structure of CS belongs to Casey, actually, we believe that the structure belongs to the community which created and developed it.


2) “OK, but nothing has changed until now, why don’t you wait and see what will happen? Maybe the site will continue to be totally free and get even better!”

Though we think this is very implausible, the matter is that even if this were true and the site continued to be totally free, got better, etc, we still wouldn’t regret not being here anymore. Because the problem is that we don’t think that what has been done is ethical. So, we don’t want to be part of it anymore, we don’t want to support people we can no longer trust, people who fooled us, pretending to build a non-profit project and turning it into a corporation to make money out of it. Actually, even if for us, members of CS, there was (for the moment) no great change in the everyday practice, a lot have changed ideologically: now, instead of being a true community, we are all customers/consumers of a service sold by “Couch Surfing International, Inc.”
Like one said: “when it comes to corporate social networks, if you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold.” And we don’t want it, and that’s why we are no longer offering our couches and hospitality so that a for-profit organization can sell them to customers for verification fees and as premium services, pocketing the bulk of the money and graciously donating a miniscule part to look “socially responsible”. We don’t want people making profits from the generosity of hosts and travelers. Especially, not these people in charge of CS now, people who appropriated the work of hundreds, thousands, of volunteers to themselves. Something which is not only ethically incorrect, but maybe even illegal, since one cannot appropriate the goods of a non-profit organization.

So the problem is not that we are against people getting rich or against corporations in general (even if for some of us that is true), but to the way that CS became a for-profit corporation, namely, stealing the goods of a non-profit organization.


3) “But there was no other option other” or “becoming a B-corporation was the best option.”

Well, the first sentence is not true. There were many options: shutting down CS in New Hampshire and reopening it in another place or country being the most obvious one, and that doesn’t even imply that the CS staff would need to be relocated, moving the legal structure would be enough (more about this “we did our best, there was no other alternative, we were forced to do it etc., in the item 5). The second sentence involves a question of value, and so it’s not absolute: best for whom? Best to achieve which goals? Certainly, it was not the best solution COMPATIBLE with the old CS principles (what is clear, since it forced CS to change its nature, from a non-profit organization to a real corporation).



- More technical issues


4) “OK, but Casey said that if CS quit New Hampshire, the state would reclaim 1 million dollars”

Casey is not telling the whole story, so we have to speculate: first of all, it’s not true that a non-profit organization needs to pay to close. What they have to do is give their assets to another charity or to the government. So, this statement would only be true if CS had 1 million dollars in assets, which is unlikely especially because Casey had taken the precaution not to list the member database among the assets when he incorporated CouchSurfing International Inc. in 2003. Another possibility is that this 1 million dollars is how much money CS was owing to the government in taxes. For when it was denied the federal non-profit status (the now famous 501c3), it had to pay retroactively the taxes of the past years. But this debt is not dependent on what happens to the organization.


5) “But they tried to continue to be a non-profit organization, but the US government didn’t approve it!”

In fact what the US government denied was the tax exemption, CS could continue to be a non-profit organization, though it would need to pay taxes. But more important, there are also many doubts if Casey really wanted to obtain this status, since doing it would mean passing the point of no return, that is, if this status was obtained, CS couldn't t be sold anymore. Casey also said that CS was something that was too revolutionary, and use this an excuse of the refusal by the US government, but at the same time Servas, another hospitality service obtained this status (and its complete application is public by law, and can consulted by anyone). And too many mistakes were made throughout the application and review period, which makes us suspicious. But, in order to be sure of this matter, we would need:

a) to see the refusal letter from the IRS (the U.S. government agency responsible for approving or denying the non-profit status at the federal level) which states the motives of the refusal. But we know for example that one cannot be at the same time president and CEO of the organization (as was Casey) to obtain the 501c3 status.

b) to know why every year the tax returns were filed late, which isnt’t helpful in obtaining a favorable decision from the IRS.

c) why the proportion of spending on what could be considered programs in line with the claimed charitable cause was so low.

We can see that there are some indications that he didn’t try too hard to obtain this status, what makes us think if that was really his goal, and not only to have more time to make CS grow and sell it for a higher price.


Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 8:19 pm from Bangkok, Thailand
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Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 8:23 pm by from Wellington, New Zealand (Permalink)
nice work!

Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 8:33 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Where is the LIKE button? How much longer will the Facebook integration take???

The post would be worth flagging but I believe that moves the thread out of sight up there where nobody clicks. Does one of the moderators want to try and if it removes the thread from the list we can reposts the same?

Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 8:56 pm by from Cape Town, South Africa (Permalink)
This is important FAQ and entirely accurate. As someone who runs a non-profit organisation and knows the ins and outs of 501c3 and tax issues, there is something really wrong here.

The worst part is that the assets of a non-profit should not be allowed to change into for-profit as that is essentially theft from the public benefit.

Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 9:17 pm by from Wellington, New Zealand (Permalink)
After some rutting about on the old dubya-dubya-dubya I found the following: http://www.eff.org/

A donor funded non-profit... hmmm sounds familiar... I think that they are worth getting in touch with about this issue.

From their about section:
From the Internet to the iPod, technologies are transforming our society and empowering us as speakers, citizens, creators, and consumers. When our freedoms in the networked world come under attack, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is the first line of defense. EFF broke new ground when it was founded in 1990 — well before the Internet was on most people's radar — and continues to confront cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today. From the beginning, EFF has championed the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights.

Blending the expertise of lawyers, policy analysts, activists, and technologists, EFF achieves significant victories on behalf of consumers and the general public. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations. By mobilizing more than 61,000 concerned citizens through our Action Center, EFF beats back bad legislation. In addition to advising policymakers, EFF educates the press and public.

EFF is a donor-funded nonprofit and depends on your support to continue successfully defending your digital rights. Litigation is particularly expensive; because two-thirds of our budget comes from individual donors, every contribution is critical to helping EFF fight — and win — more cases.

Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 10:13 pm by from Salt Lake City, United States (Permalink)
Supurb faQ!!



Now this EFF could be the ultimate scam of scams. And we have to donate too. Seems like non-profits are the new churches. haha more money going upwards. I'll pass.

Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 10:27 pm from Duesseldorf, Germany
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Posted September 2nd, 2011 - 10:36 pm from Berlin, Germany
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Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 12:13 am by from Rome, Italy (Permalink)
Very good job, Lucas!

Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 2:15 am by from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Permalink)
don't need to thank me, that was really a team work. much of the information was found in discussions in this and other groups...


the important thing I think is to copy and paste this message (modifying it if you feel like), so more ppl can have at least an idea of what's going on and why we are against this change.

Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 2:28 am from Berlin, Germany
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Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 9:30 am by from Wellington, New Zealand (Permalink)
perhaps it just needs to be bumped back to the top of the page the way I know best, sorry to anyone with the "all communication in instant message" function enabled.

Posted September 14th, 2011 - 2:49 pm from Volterra, Italy
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Posted March 11th, 2012 - 12:00 am from Bristol, England
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Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 1:20 pm by from Lapinlahti, Finland (Permalink)
Thanks Lucas from the great start.

If anyone has questions (preferably answers too) that should be there please post here.

I have flagged the first post and once we get more questions for the FAQ we move them all in one message and flag that (keeping only one flagged faq at any give time... damn this board and it's lack of editing and organizing tools...).

Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 2:32 pm from Gieres, France
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Posted September 3rd, 2011 - 11:29 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
This is a great start on the FAX.

Can I suggest:

Changing the name to something like
Save CouchSurfing FAX

Adding more context for people who know nothing about the situation. Here we all have a lot of background, but most people on CS haven't even seen Casey's propaganda, much less know about what is actually happening. At least an introduction is needed.

Posted September 4th, 2011 - 6:35 pm from Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Posted September 4th, 2011 - 7:08 pm from Bangkok, Thailand
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Posted September 4th, 2011 - 10:07 pm by from Santiago de Queretaro, Mexico (Permalink)
thanks for this resume lucas!

i saw that many people in my hometown's group (marseille) are a bit lost because all the information is in english, and you probably know how bad the french can be with english.. :)

so i took the liberty to translate the FAQ in french to post it in Marseille's group. feel free to use it:
(the underlined sentences are the ones i translated but didn't understand fully - got the words but not the meaning, if anyone can explain then i can translate again - so in the message i wrote the translation and the english sentence :) )

1. "CS appartient à Casey, il peut en faire ce que bon lui semble"

Si vous dites ça, vous ne connaissez certainement pas l'histoire de CS. D'accord c'était l'idée de Casey (qui n'avait rien de très original, les organisations d'hébergement de ce type existaient déjà avant sa naissance!), mais sa réalisation n'aurait pas pu se faire sans les centaines de volontaires qui ont développé le code, suggéré les améliorations, traduit les textes etc.. En fait, le site est ce qu'il est aujourd'hui grâce aux volontaires et à leur travail. Ces gens là ont donné de leur temps et de leur travail à une organisation à but non lucratif enregistrée comme "charity" dans l'état du NH. Ces gens là étaient (et sont!) des gens comme vous et moi aui utilisaient le site, hébergeaient, surfaient, participaient à des meetings etc... pas des employés rémunérés pour leur travail.
Dire que la structure de CS appartient à Casey est une erreur, nous pensons qu'elle appartient à la communauté qui l'a créée et développée.


2. "OK mais rien n'a changé pour le moment, pour quoi vous n'attendez pas de voir ce qui se passe? Peut-être que le site continuera à être totalement gratuit, et même meilleur!"

Bien que nous ayons de forts doutes sur la question, le fait est que même si en effet le site restait gratuit et meilleur..., là n'est pas le problème. le problème est que nous pensons que ce qui a été fait n'est pas éthique. Nous ne voulons pas continuer des gens qui nous ont trompés, en prétendant construire un projet à but non lucratif pour le transformer en corporation et faire de l'argent. En fait, même s'il n'y a aucun changement dans l'utilisation du site pour les membres de CS (pour le moment), l'idéologie a changé: maintenant, au lieu d'être une vraie communauté, nous sommes consommateurs/clients d'un service proposé par “Couch Surfing International, Inc.”

Quelqu'un a dit "dans les réseaux sociaux "corporate", si tu ne payes pas, tu n'es pas le client, tu es le produit". Et nous ne voulons pas être en vente, c'est pourquoi nous n'offrons plus nos canapés et notre hospitalité pour qu'une organisation à but lucratif puisse les vendre à des clients ayant versé des frais de vérifiaction ou crée un compte premium, en se mettant l'argent dans les poches mais en en reversant une partie pour avoir l'air "socialement responsable". Nous ne voulons pas que des gens fassent des bénéfices grâce à la générosité des gens. Encore moins des gens qui se sont approprié le travail de centaines, de milliers de bénévoles, ce qui en plus d'être contraire à l'ethique n'est peut-être pas non plus légal, puisque personne ne peut s'approprier les biens d'une organisation à but non lucratif.
Le problème n'est pas que nous soyons contre le fait que des gens s'enrichissent ou contre les corporations en général (même si c'est le cas pour certains d'entre nous), mais que nous sommes indignés pas la façon dont CS est devenue une corp à but lucratif, en volant les biens d'une organisation à but non lucratif.


3."Mais il n'y avait pas d'autre solution" ou "devenir une B-corp était la meilleure solution"

Alors, la première phrase est fausse. Il y avait d'autres solutions, la plus évidente étant de fermer CS au NH et le réouvrir dans un autre état ou pays, ce qui ne veut pas dire que le personnel aurait du être délocalisé, déménager le "siège social" aurait suffit (voir le point 5 pour "on a fait de notre mieux, il n'y avait pas d'alternative, on était obligés" etc)
La seconde phrase est plus compliquée car elle pose la question des valeurs: meilleure pour qui? Meilleure pour réaliser quels objectifs? Ce n'était certainement pas la meilleure option en termes de compatibilité avec les principes fondateurs de CS (puisque cela a forcé à changer la nature de CS, en le transformant en corporation)

4) “OK, mais Casey a dit aue si CS avait quitté le New Hampshire, l'état lui aurait réclamé 1 million de dollars”

Casey ne dit pas tout, alors nous devons spéculer.
Tout d'abord, une organisation à but non lucratif ne doit pas payer pour fermer, mais donner ses bien à une autre "charity" ou au gouvernement. Donc si cette phrase est vraie cela voudrait dire que CS détenait 1 million de dollars de biens, ce qui est peu probable sachant que casey a pris la précaution de ne pas mettre la base de données dans les biens en 2003 (note de la traductrice: si cette phrase vous parait floue c normal, je n'as pas très bien compris la phrase en anglais, si qqun comprend mieux: Casey had taken the precaution not to list the member database among the assets when he incorporated CouchSurfing International Inc. in 2003- je comprends tous les mots mais pas vraiment le sens..)
Il est également possible que ce million de dollars soit ce que casey devait en taxes à l'état: à partir du moment ou le fameux statut 501c3, il devait payer rétroactivement les taxes des années précédentes.
Mais cette dette n'a rien à voir avec ce qui arrive à l'organisation et un éventuel démñenagement

5."Mais ils ont essayé de rester non-profit, mais le gouvernement des États-Unis n'a pas voulu"

En fait c'est l'exonération de taxes que le gouvernement a refusé: CS pouvait rester une organisation à but non lucratif mais aurait du payer des impôts.
Mais surtout, on peut se demander si Casey voulait vraiment obtenir ce statut, car s'il l'avait obtenu CS n'aurait plus pu être vendu. Casey a également déclaré que CS était quelque chose de trop "révolutionnaire" et a utilisé cette excuse pour expliquer le refus du gouvernement américain, mais le site d'hébergement Servas a obtenu ce statut (qui est publique et peut être consulté par tout le monde). De plus, trop d'erreurs one été commises dans la "candidature", ce qui nous rend suspicieux. Cependant, pour être plus sûrs de nous concernant ce problème, nous aurions besoin:
- de consulter la lettre de refus de l'IRS (l'agence gouvernementale chargée d'approuver ou de refuser le statut de non-profit au niveau fédéral) qui informe des motifs du refus. Mais, par exemple, nous savons que pour obtenir le statut 501c3 le président et le CEO (? ndlt) de l'organisation doivent être deux personnes différentes (dans le cas de CS, Casey remplit les deux fonctions)
- de savoir pourquoi les papiers pour les impôts étaient envoyés en retard, ce quin'a pas donné une impression favorable à l'IRS
- de pourquoi la proportion de dépenses en ce qui peut être considéré comme des programmes en ligne e charité était si basse
(pas tres bien compris là non plus, version anglaise: why the proportion of spending on what could be considered programs in line with the claimed charitable cause was so low, NDLT)

Il semblerait donc que Casey n'ait pas fait son maximum pour obtenir ce statut, ce qui nous fait nous demander si tel était bien son but, et pas plutôt de laisser le temps à CS de se développer pour en obtenir un bon prix.

Posted September 4th, 2011 - 10:11 pm by from Wellington, New Zealand (Permalink)
I am grateful to you for this - great work. And I am grateful to France for Georges Bataille.

Posted September 4th, 2011 - 11:25 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Superb work, thank you!

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 9:11 am from Girona, Spain
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Posted September 5th, 2011 - 10:06 am by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
@Lucas: what u did exactly for CouchSurfing ?
you are on CS from only 6 months and you have only 9 references....

Wikipedia is also a B corporation...is Wikipedia so "evil" ?
do you pay for something on CS ?

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 10:27 am from Girona, Spain
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Posted September 5th, 2011 - 2:10 pm by from Brussels, Belgium (Permalink)
Interesting that Wikipedia is mentioned: Wikipedia is not a B corporation, it is maintained and run by a 501(c)(3) charity organization called Wikimedia Foundation, and most decisions are taken by the community of editors.

Try to imagine the global outcry if Wikimedia Foundation would take its assets and turn it into a for profit company.


Wikitravel on the other hand was owned by one person who then sold out to Internet Brands (they also had their mind on CS back in 2006 already), which led to the founding of http://wikivoyage.org/ (which is non profit) but unfortunately only in Italian and German. And the English Wikitravel never really became what it could have become (see e.g. http://wikitravel.org/shared/Talk:Advertising_policy for a quite recent discussion).


And then, to complete the story about wikis, Hitchwiki had actually almost been hitchhiking.couchsurfing.com, but fortunately there was MrTweek (with a server) and we have been able to stick to certain principles, see http://hitchwiki.org/en/Hitchwiki:How_we_want_to_keep_Hitchwiki - although hh.couchsurfing.com would have been under a free Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike License so we could have taken the information elsewhere.
And, finally, damn, I should have just used that CC-BY-SA license when setting up the CouchSurfing wiki.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 2:16 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
sorry...my bad for that...
anyway I'll keep supporting CS as I always did.
B, C or D corp....
peace.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 2:16 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Last word ;-P

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 2:28 pm by from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Permalink)
@ antonio,
your remark about me is pointless (though it helps to show us the kind of person you are), so I won't answer it.

@ david (libertédeparole),
I agree with you that adding more context would be a great thing. It's really pressuposed in the FAQ that people already know about the recent changes in CS. Feel free to write this introduction ;)

@ francesco,
great that you made an italian translation! =)

@ fannly,
merci beaucoup pour la traduction! "CEO" selon wikipedia on traduit en général par "Président-directeur général (P.D-G)" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceo)

quant au premier passage souligné, je crois que t'as bien traduit, la question en jeu est que Casey n'a pas inclus parmi les biens de CS justement son bien le plus précieux: la base de donnés. Pour cette raison, il a pu la retenir lors du changement du CS en enterprise à but lucratif.

quant au deuxième passage, "in line with" veut dire "en conformité avec", donc le sens c'est qu'il a très peu investi en programmes de charité, lorsque le contraire serait plus bcp plus approprié afin d'obtenir le status 501c3.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 2:45 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
@Lucas: oh yeah, judging people from 3 post you read is really "CS spirit" isn't it?
If I have to judge you on that what kind of person you'll be ?

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 3:41 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
About the wikipedia thing i was talking about this (sorry for the mistake):

In the third three-minute video, entitled "Will my experience as a member change", Daniel Hoffer, Couch Surfing's new CEO, says:
m



"We partnered with a socially responsible fund, Omidyar Network, along
with a few other folks. Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment
firm that supports dozens of socially responsible organizations, like
the Wikimedia Foundation (...)"

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 3:52 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Nice folks the Omidyar Network, I suppose.

After this remotely related point Tony, will you now begin to attempt to address any of the points in Lucas' original post or will you continue off topic?

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 4:09 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
can i know why you keep repeting my name in every post ?

my last post was argument of discussion. a guy before was talking about wikipedia.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 4:20 pm from Beyoglu, Turkey
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Posted September 5th, 2011 - 4:32 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
I wrote something(so I had something to say), someone else replied to that something, I replied back.
if you don't like what I'm saying just ignore me.

I'll enjoy CS as it is (and I'm sure that 95% of the people on CS will do the same).

enjoy your 2000(wow 2000 on 3 milion!!) people group.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 4:57 pm from Beyoglu, Turkey
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Posted September 5th, 2011 - 5:29 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Tony you doubled the size of this thread dtarting with a facetious remark, haven't bothered to address the original post, nor reply on topic to anyone imploring you to do so.

And you manage to call that a contribution with a straight face? Good luck with 140,000,000 corpsurfers like you.

Slainté mate, and bon vent

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 5:51 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
aren't u doing doing just the same of me Tony-Dedecastor ?
who is posting in this thread ?
isn't you too?



Posted September 5th, 2011 - 10:51 am by from Scandicci, Italy (Permalink)
There might be also italian readers, or someone willing to post it in the italian groups.

Hope it helps.

Francesco

FAQ - Italian

- Argomenti di base

1) "CS appartiene a Casey, lui può farne ciò che vuole!"

Se fai questa affermazione, probabilmente non conosci la storia di CS. Sì, è stata un'idea di Casey (non un'idea originale, dal momento che il concetto di "scambio di ospitalità esiste da ben prima che lui nascesse), ma l'applicazione di questa idea si è realizzata grazie alle centinaia di volontari che hanno sviluppato il codice, che hanno sempre suggerito ed aggiunto nuove funzionalità, traducendo testi, ecc. Quindi, nei fatti, il sito di CS è diventato quello di oggi grazie ai volontari ed al loro lavoro. Ed è un fatto che essi hanno contribuito volontariamente contando sul fatto che stessero dando un contributo di tempo e di lavoro ad una comunità, ad un'organizzazione senza scopo di lucro registrata come ente benefico nello stato del New Hampshire, e che ha fatto tutte le richieste necessarie verso le autorità fiscali degli Stati Uniti d'America per ottenere lo status di ente benefico; questi volontari erano persone come te, che utilizzavano il sito, ospitavano persone, partecipavano agli incontri, stabilivano amicizie, ecc. e non una sorta di personale che lavorava come impiegati. Quindi non è vero che la struttura di CS appartiene a Casey, in realtà noi pensiamo che la struttura appartenga alla comunità che l'ha creata e sviluppata.


2) "Ok, ma finora non è cambiato nulla, perché non aspettate e guardate che succede? Può darsi che il sito continui a rimanere totalmente libero, e magari migliorerà ancora!"

Sebbene noi pensiamo che questo sia poco probabile, il nocciolo della questione è che anche se questo fosse vero ed il sito rimanesse totalmente gratuito, migliorasse, eccetera, noi non avremmo comunque alcun rimpianto per il fatto di non esserci più. Perché il problema è che noi non pensiamo che quello che è stato fatto sia eticamente corretto. Quindi, non vogliamo più farne parte, non vogliamo aiutare persone di cui non ci fidiamo più, gente che ci ha preso in giro fingendo di sviluppare un progetto no profit e poi l'ha trasformato in una società da cui trarre profitto. In realtà anche per noi membri di CS non c'è stata (per il momento) alcuna evidente modifica nell'attività di tutti i giorni, ma per molti è cambiata la situazione a livello ideologico: ora, invece di essere una vera comunità, siamo diventati tutti clienti/consumatori di un servizio venduto da "Couch Surfing International, Inc.”
Come qualcuno ha già detto: "Quando si arriva a trasformare in aziende le reti sociali, se non stai pagando nulla tu non sei il cliente, sei il prodotto che viene venduto." E noi non vogliamo che ciò accada, e questo è il motivo per cui noi non offriremo più i nostri divani e la nostra ospitalità perché un'organizzazione a scopo di lucro possa venderli ai suoi clienti al prezzo delle quote per la verifica e dei servizi "premium", intascandosi il grosso dei soldi e donandone simpaticamente una piccola parte per apparire "socialmente responsabile". Non vogliamo che la gente tragga profitto dalla generosità degli ospiti e dei viaggiatori. Specialmente se si tratta delle persone che gestiscono CS adesso, persone che si sono appropriate del lavoro di centinaia, migliaia di volontari per fini privati. Questa è una cosa non solo eticamente scorretta, ma forse anche illegale, dal momento che nessuno può appropriarsi dei beni di un'organizzazione senza fini di lucro.

Quindi il problema non è che siamo contro il fatto che alcune persone si arricchiscano oppure contro le società in genere (anche se per qualcuno di noi questo può anche essere vero), ma per il modo in cui CS è diventato una società a fini di lucro, sostanzialmente, rubando i beni di un'organizzazione no profit.


3) "Ma non c'era nessuna altra possibilità" oppure "diventare una B-corporation era la soluzione migliore."

Bene, la prima frase non è vera. C'erano molte altre opzioni: chiudere CS in New Hampshire e riaprirla in un altro posto, o Paese, era quella più ovvia, e non avrebbe neanche comportato che il personale di CS si dovesse spostare, sarebbe bastato spostare la struttura legale (trovate altre spiegazioni su cose tipo "abbiamo fatto del nostro meglio, non c'erano alternative, siamo stati costretti, ecc." al punto 5). La seconda frase comporta una questione di valori, e quindi non è così assoluta: migliore per chi? Migliore per raggiungere quali obiettivi? Di sicuro non era la miglior soluzione COMPATIBILE con i vecchi principi di CS (il che è evidente, visto che ha costretto CS a cambiare la propria natura da no profit a vera e propria azienda).



- Questioni tecniche


4) "Ok, ma Casey dice che se chiude CS in New Hampshire, lo stato gli chiederebbe 1 milione di dollari"

Casey non ci sta raccontando tutta la storia, quindi dobbiamo fare delle ipotesi: prima di tutto, non è vero che un'associazione no profit debba pagare per chiudere. Quello che devono fare è devolvere i propri beni ad un'altra organizzazione senza fini di lucro oppure al governo. Quindi, questa affermazione sarebbe vera soltanto se CS avesse 1 milione di dollari di beni, il che è improbabile, specialmente perché Casey ha preso la precauzione di non elencare il database degli utenti tra i beni quando ha fondato la CouchSurfing International Inc. nel 2003. Un'altra possibilità è che questo milione di dollari sia quanto CS deve al governo di tasse. Da quando è stato negato lo stato federale di "senza fini di lucro" (l'ormai celebre 501c3), deve pagare le tasse retroattivamente anche per gli anni passati. Ma questo non ha niente a che fare con quello che succede all'organizzazione.


5) "Ma loro ci hanno provato a rimanere senza scopo di lucro, ma il governo degli USA non l'ha approvata!"

Nei fatti, quello che il governo statunitense ha negato è stata l'esenzione fiscale, CS avrebbe potuto continuare ad essere un'organizzazione senza fini di lucro, anche se avrebbe dovuto iniziare a pagare le tasse. Ma, cosa più importante, ci sono anche molti dubbi che Casey volesse realmente ottenere questo status, dal momento che così facendo avrebbe superato il punto di non ritorno, cioè, da quel momento, non sarebbe stato mai più possibile vendere CS. Casey ha anche detto che CS è qualcosa di troppo rivoluzionario, ed ha usato questa scusa come causa di rifiuto dal governo, ma nello stesso momento Servas, un altro servizio di ospitalità, ha ottenuto questo status (e la sua richiesta è pubblica per legge, e può essere consultata da chiunque). Inoltre ci sono stati troppi errori durante i periodi di richiesta e di revisione, che ci fanno sorgere qualche sospetto. Ma, per essere sicuri di queste cose, avremmo bisogno di:

a) vedere la lettera di rigetto da parte dell'IRS (l'agenzia statunitense responsabile di approvare o negare lo status di no profit a livello federale) che stabilisce i motivi del rifiuto. Ma sappiamo, ad esempio, che la stessa persona non può essere allo stesso tempo Presidente ed Amministratore Delegato dell'organizzazione (come invece è Casey) per ottenere il 501c3.

b) sapere perché ogni anno i resoconti delle tasse venivano consegnati in ritardo, il che non aiuta nell'ottenere una decisione favorevole da parte dell'IRS (TRADUZIONE DA CONTROLLARE!!!)

C) perché la percentuale delle uscite che potevano essere considerate programmi in linea con la causa dell'organizzazione era così bassa.

Come si può vedere, ci sono alcuni segnali che Casey non ha proprio cercato così intensamente di ottenere questo status, il che ci fa chiedere se questo fosse davvero il suo obiettivo, e non solo un modo per avere il tempo di far crescere CS e venderlo poi ad un prezzo più alto.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 11:04 am from Brussels, Belgium
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Posted September 5th, 2011 - 11:08 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
No need to take offense, Dimitri, Tony's remarks represent the rather pathetic and wishful thinking on the part of a convinced Corp$man. After all, he's capable of writing something as loopy as:

"there isn't ANY alternative to CouchSurfing...."




Posted September 5th, 2011 - 12:47 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
"After all, he's capable of writing something as loopy as:


"there isn't ANY alternative to CouchSurfing....""

I argued about that, I didn't just write that sentence.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:00 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
anyway sorry to Lucas. that was uncalled for. i admit it

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:05 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Tony:"there isn't ANY alternative to CouchSurfing...."

Tony:"I argued about that"

In the entire thread you created, you avoided providing any supporting arguments.

Corporapologists like you are here for one reason only: to distract concerned members by transforming every thread into an unreadable flaming war.

Happy trolling.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:11 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
LOL I gave reasons on the other thread. you don't.
Everyone that is not like you is a troll, right ?

Oh yeah I'm a "Corporapologists"...is this a neologism ?
did you finish calling me names ?

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:25 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"did you finish calling me names ?"

Corporapologist is a descriptive label, which accurately describes your obfuscation in the group "We are against CS becoming a corporation"

A name would be Doris (the forgetful fish from Nemo) which others attempting to troll have earned when, while side stepping issues, and then claim : "Oh, I think I answered that".

Your entire purpose here is obfuscation, to hide the excellent work done by people like Lucas, with your empty flaming remarks.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obfuscation

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:34 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
LOL and reading my CS profile and my "philosophy" seems that I could be for corporations and money ?

I just said that there isn't any real alternative on CS and I talked about the 2 website that could be an alternative but are not and doesn't seems that to be a B corp is really so "evil".
if you think that this is obscure or ambiguos or whatever I dunno what to do about it...

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:48 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
1. "I just said that there isn't any real alternative on CS"
Oh you've convinced me with that one

2. "and I talked about the 2 website that could be an alternative but are not "

3. "and doesn't seems that to be a B corp is really so "evil".

All of these issues have been discussed in multiple threads. The best I can say is that you are too lazy to have bothered to read them, the worst is that you are spamming intentionally.

Happy trolling, Tony.

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:54 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
Is already been discussed ?
well you arrived to this after 10 posts ?
so if was not important you could just not answer...if you answered means that you found that important.

you are like a mosquito when I'm sleeping, petit Andrè

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:56 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Happy Trolling, Tony

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 1:57 pm by from Beijing, China (Permalink)
LOL what is more trolling than cut and paste the same sentence/post petite Andre' ?

Posted October 5th, 2011 - 11:57 am by from London, England (Permalink)
I've posted it on Italian group 830000 persons, but nobody seems to care
:(

Posted September 5th, 2011 - 5:54 pm from Paris, France
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Posted September 5th, 2011 - 6:43 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Tony,
The thread is called 'CS dissidents FAQ', the group 'we are against CS becoming a corporation'. The onus is on you to reply to Lucas, don't you think?

Instead, we're all reading empty pontification from you. And I don't doubt you are perfectly content in mediocrity.

Happy hosting!

Posted September 11th, 2011 - 5:14 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
up

Posted September 11th, 2011 - 5:40 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted September 11th, 2011 - 5:48 pm by from Girona, Spain (Permalink)
@ francesco,
cpuld you made an spanish translation! =)

@ Trullala: great if all of treat could be in Spanish too!

Thanks ;-D
indi

Posted September 11th, 2011 - 8:04 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted September 11th, 2011 - 10:29 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Outstanding German translation Leni - thanks a lot!

Just the following sentence could be clarified:

"And too many mistakes were made throughout the application and review period, which makes us suspicious."

I suggest:

"Und zu viele gravierende Fehler wurden bei der Beantragung und während der Prüfung gemacht, die berechtigte Zweifel an der Ernsthaftigkeit und wahren Absicht von CS aufkommen lassen."

Posted September 11th, 2011 - 11:56 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted September 12th, 2011 - 12:20 am from Berlin, Germany
This member profile has been deactivated

Posted September 12th, 2011 - 10:06 am from Paris, France
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Posted December 6th, 2011 - 3:22 pm by from Bamberg, Germany (Permalink)
Puzzled and lost...

I am more than confused, to say the least.
As you can tell, I am a member for some 5+ years, I organised and visited numerous meetings and I hosted, met and surfed with some 300 friends. And as a NMW greeter, I greeted more than 91,000 new members - telling them useful info for a hood start here...

5 years ago I was (still am) a member of HC and CS and I happen to have a CS guest from California when the CS servers crashed. It was no big thing to convince her for HC. But meanwhile Veit has screwed up HC also. And since few people know about BW, that option is not a real one?

Basically I feel betrayed of all my 'heart blood' that I invested here. I always kept away from 'the politics above' here in CS, as I claimed - that hosting and helping here 'at the bottom' makes more sense. But I don't want to work (voluntarily) for people like M. Zuckerberg - but what can we do, besides stealing CS database to create a FREE CS site?

Sad,
Christian
(just my 2 cents)

Posted December 6th, 2011 - 3:28 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
"And since few people know about BW, that option is not a real one?"

I'm not an advocate for BW. But I remember quite clearly tellng people about an unknown search engine called google. I remember being told it would never work against the established engines, why would anyone switch?

Posted December 27th, 2011 - 10:37 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"Basically I feel betrayed of all my 'heart blood' that I invested here."

I just received a message from someone I met three years ago traveling in Argentina. She was extremely upset and felt very bad that she only found out today that CS is no longer non-profit. She had recently recruited three new users to CS and told them it was non-profit. Now she is writing to all of them setting the record straight and apologizing, and signing up for BeWelcome, although she is getting ready for a new job and extremely busy.

That's the kind of people I like to have as friends. People who know right from wrong and aren't fooled by all the mission, vision and happy surfing talk.

Posted March 4th, 2012 - 11:31 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
up

Posted March 8th, 2012 - 12:29 am from Norwich, England
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Posted September 12th, 2011 - 1:05 pm from Moscow, Russia
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Posted September 12th, 2011 - 1:38 pm from Berlin, Germany
This member profile has been deactivated

Post removed.
Posted September 12th, 2011 - 2:37 pm by from Moscow, Russia (Permalink)
This post has been removed by the user.

Deleted Post
Posted September 12th, 2011 - 8:11 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 12th, 2011 - 9:46 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Merci pour l'analyse, Yves.

Malgré l'effort que tu y as consacré, ne comptez pas sur une traduction car l'analyse, sans comptez tes conclusions, sont truffé de tellement de generalités et de méconnaissance du droit américain que l'effort me semble futile.

Regards.

Posted September 12th, 2011 - 10:09 pm by from Southampton, England (Permalink)
I'll translate the conclusions of Yves' message (can't stomach the whole message right now...)


"Which conclusions can we draw from this:
1) From the legal point of view, the status change is effective. Unless you have a lot of time and money, there is no point going to court
2) From the moral (or sentimental) point of view, everyone is free to think, say and behave as they wish

As for the evolution, which solutions are available?
1) Some members leave CS, others stay. Unless the 3 million (this is a fake number [note by translator]) leave at the same time, this is an utopic solution. Investors don't plan on the short term, but the long term
2) The 'dissidents' decide to create an alternative organisation. How long until this is up and running? how to keep things going in the meanwhile? How to transfer the data?
3) The dissidents decide on a joint action to disturb the system. There are many possibilities. The only limit is the law.
But I won't go in too much details about those possibiliites, this is beyond the scope of this analysis"

Posted September 12th, 2011 - 11:13 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 13th, 2011 - 8:41 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"Méconnaissance du droit américain
Ce n'est pas un cours de droit, mais l'analyse d'une situation."

I think we'll agree that your contribution isn't a course in law, something I didn't myself claim, even in a facetious manner (ie its your own straw man).

My comment goes to the fact that the unqualified and definitive language you use is filled with enough generalities, mis and disinformation and questionable conclusions to make its usefulness even as an analysis questionable, and even troubling as to its aims.

"Méconnaissance du droit américain" & aims

"Quelles conclusions en tirer :
1) Sur le plan juridique, le changement est effectif. A moins d’avoir du temps et beaucoup d’argent, il est exclu de faire une démarche en justice."

"Mais je ne peux pas détailler ces possibilités, car cela ne doit pas rentrer dans le cadre de cette analyse."

I don't think I need to develop the point, except to comment on your partiality.

In fact you further demonstrate your theme with your parting question :'Mais est-ce ce que la majorité des membres le souhaite?'

Just who are the majority of members, ywc?

CS Corps can continue for quite a long time to come completely ignoring members, as it has for years now. It doesn't matter whether surfers are finding hosts, and hosts surfers, as long as the numbers can be presented as a success to investors to bring them on board. Then Couchsurfing will have to live with the consequences which have been sufficiently developped elsewhere.

I believe that it is in the interests of power hosts, as well as surfers and casual hosts, to reduce the appetite of the second round of investors for CS. In the short term, by Casey's own admission, the revenue stream will come from new members. That means explosive and unmanaged growth in membership. Casey and Benchmark need that to sell to the second round, then it's no longer their problem.

CS has more than enough of the revenues it needs to operate. What it hasn't had is the motivation to deal with the problems of even organic growth. Investors won't solve that, the only expertise they have is how to make money for themselves.

CS has enough trouble dealing with the problems generated by organic growth in membership. The unneeded investments only give the right to these investors and create the need for much higher future revenue growth.

I agree with you that thankfully yes, it is relatively simple to through a monkey wrench into the Venture Capital dynamic. And we are organising precisely to bring Casey& Co back down to earth where surfers and hosts meet.

Posted September 13th, 2011 - 12:51 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 13th, 2011 - 2:26 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"Stop talking about (which is) from the past and take care of the future."

YWC you may noticed that a good deal of persons on these boards attempt to obfuscate on Casey's incorporation gambit on all levels, perhaps in order to convince members that Casey's actions are justified, and that nothing can be done about it. Those posters must be replied to with the facts as known while correctly framing the problems at hand to maintain the momentum of the group "We are against CS becoming a corporation"

Perhaps I simply misunderstood your contribution, and you may feel I have been needlessly abrasive in doing so, but I feel your original contribution contained errors in fact which needed to be corrected, the most important being that Casey has managed to execute the incorporation legally. Nothing about that process is as certain as that.

Please note:

"And we are organising precisely to bring Casey& Co back down to earth where surfers and hosts meet."

I hope this answers your concerns.

Posted September 13th, 2011 - 3:49 pm from Bogota, Colombia
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Posted September 13th, 2011 - 4:04 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 13th, 2011 - 4:27 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"Why details of the process, since it is done?
The process is legal.
It is a fact, not an acceptance.
Nothing is more important than going to the future."

Son, I will simply repeat " Nothing about that process is as certain as that." For the moment we don't have enough information to determine your assertion, as it'll only be proven legal if it is tested before a judge.

You appear to suggest the future of the CS Community can't be built on the efforts of the past, so I suppose my initial reaction to your bluster was correct. Have have it your way.

Posted September 13th, 2011 - 4:30 pm from Bangkok, Thailand
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Posted September 13th, 2011 - 5:16 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Yves, I am also surprised by many of your statements while at the same time making disclaimers relating to the little knowledge you have of the facts and US law.

CouchSurfing International was incorporated as a New Hamphire non-profit company on April 2nd 2003 and the bylaws clearly state that in the even of a dissolutions assets need to be destributed to a charity or to the government.

May I suggest you read the bylaws (sorry, in English):

https://sites.google.com/site/cskbase/incorporation

Then of course followed the federal 501c3 charity application which was rejected.

Once you have the facts, let's discuss and draw conclusions as to the legality and what can be done.

Posted September 13th, 2011 - 7:31 pm from Bogota, Colombia
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Posted September 13th, 2011 - 11:41 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 14th, 2011 - 6:41 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Yves, that's the point: We don't know how they managed to operate as a for-profit corporation using the assets from the non-profit organization. Apparently they cut some deal with the NH authorities allowing them to do so, taking the assets including the website code and database with them by paying their back taxes with penalties and perhaps some lump sum and establishing a scholarship amounting to peanuts (1.3% of 2011 revenue). If that involved dissolution or if they keep the non-profit as an empty shell, we don't know. Would love to know what they did, but they are not telling so far. There's another skype call scheduled for today with users who are used to asking tough questions, so at the minimum we should be able to find out what the evasive answer is.

They never had a functional independent board with an outside member.

At the moment there are only 3 board members of the B-corporation which legally is a normal for-profit C-corporation: Matt Cohler from Benchmark Capital, Dan Hoffer (co-founder) and Casey Fenton (co-founder).

Posted September 14th, 2011 - 10:27 am from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 14th, 2011 - 11:21 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Unfortunate indeed, especially considering that not only Casey had this information but it was public knowledge for years, and posted as the original post of this thread on September 2nd.

This is as good a place as any, together with Brainstorm - Redefined.

Posted September 14th, 2011 - 2:35 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 14th, 2011 - 2:50 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
This group here has the most members and recent posts at the moment. It would appear to be the best place.

The Brainstorm groups had for years discussed these issues and since it has been years, it will be difficult to copy everything over here.

Both raise a lot of questions to which often unfortunately only CouchSurfing International has the answers and we rely on them for the facts to avoid speculation. They have not ben very good at it so far.

We cannot prevent others from creating their groups and discussing elsewhere.

The CouchSurfing Knowledgebase archives the essential official documents and communication.

What specific information are you looking for?

Posted September 14th, 2011 - 4:17 pm from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 14th, 2011 - 6:06 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"there are currently only four directors in office on 5 required (according to the law of New Ampshire).

This can be interpreted as a breach of the law, and therefore any decision taken by the board of directors, (again according to the law) can it be tainted by law?"


Only three apparently at the moment, according to Casey Fenton.

Not sure the law of New Hampshire still applies, another good question for Casey to answer.

For the group, again, this seems like the best place with 2232 members as we speak. For coordinated action, I'll pm you.

Posted September 15th, 2011 - 6:25 am from Tourlaville, France
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Posted September 15th, 2011 - 7:23 am by from Mechanicsburg, United States (Permalink)
Currently posted to every group(25) that I belong to. Thanks, much.

Posted September 15th, 2011 - 8:12 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
The available tax returns for the other years are here.

Posted February 26th, 2013 - 10:54 am from Girona, Spain
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Posted February 26th, 2013 - 11:02 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
En español tienes eso: http://couchwiki.org/en/CouchSurfing_conversion_issues#Espa.C3.B1ol

Y en portugues: http://couchwiki.org/en/CouchSurfing_conversion_issues#Portugu.C3.AAs

Posted February 23rd, 2013 - 12:19 pm from Girona, Spain
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Posted February 26th, 2013 - 7:56 pm from Girona, Spain
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Posted September 21st, 2011 - 4:43 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Anca, if you want to bump a thread, this is the one.

Posted September 26th, 2011 - 8:38 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
up

Posted September 30th, 2011 - 10:52 pm by from Paris, France (Permalink)
up again

Posted October 1st, 2011 - 12:13 pm by from Berlin, Germany (Permalink)
Bump!

Posted October 13th, 2011 - 12:00 pm by from Berlin, Germany (Permalink)
Up!

Posted October 15th, 2011 - 10:34 pm from Basel, Switzerland
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Posted October 15th, 2011 - 10:35 pm from Basel, Switzerland
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Posted October 15th, 2011 - 11:44 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
"Did you not know that the IRS refusal letter is available here? Or are
you more interested in conspiracy theories than the actual information?"

There is a redacted version available at the site you mention, with all financial information and all names removed. While it is possible to guess about certain of the names, the numbers are impossible to guess. It remains a valuble piece of information, but it is certainly not the complete document, which CS has in its possession, and has refused to release.

David Vaughn

Posted October 16th, 2011 - 6:18 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
"it is certainly not the complete document, which CS has in its possession, and has refused to release."

Which Casey Fenton promised to release on October 9th but still hasn't.

Posted December 2nd, 2011 - 12:09 am by from Paris, France (Permalink)
Almost two months later still no news of any of the documents of which Casey Fenton said he would release them or he would check if they could be released.

Posted December 2nd, 2011 - 6:53 am from Tourlaville, France
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Posted April 18th, 2012 - 10:18 pm by from Zurich, Switzerland (Permalink)
Thanks, well done!

Posted February 23rd, 2013 - 12:07 pm by from Belgrade, Serbia (Permalink)
Felt like putting this UP back.

Posted February 25th, 2013 - 10:41 pm from London, England
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Posted April 12th, 2013 - 10:30 am from Munich, Germany
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