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The Rise and Fall of Couchsurfing
Posted June 16th, 2013 - 1:17 pm by from Krakow, Poland (Permalink)
something to share


Posted June 20th, 2013 - 2:39 am from London, England
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Posted June 20th, 2013 - 11:29 am by from Krakow, Poland (Permalink)
yes, but there are still people with cs spirit :)
or new people too, not all are like that, but a pity, that actually the most are like that

Posted June 20th, 2013 - 1:35 pm by from London, England (Permalink)

As a newbie (Member for about 3 weeks now) I find this group and the threads interesting as it gives me some insight into CS both past and present.

It's hard for me to say I'm upset about it being for-profit - sadly in this day and age, businesses need to survive and whilst it's easy to keep things "non-profit" when the community is small, there comes a time when it just isn't financially viable anymore.

Hosting websites, especially one of this size, requires money - believe me - I work in IT - it's not cheap to host and support and keep something of this scale running. I was actually more surprised when I joined to find it was free (Unless you get verified) - given the nature of the sight I was waiting for the "Thanks for looking, now give us your credit card details if you want to use it" message.

Like other social media websites out there, the success and growth and "image" is just as much to do with the community. The people behind CS are not forcing members to act the way they are, or encouraging only certain types of people. They have provided the tools, and it is the members own free will that they act the way they do - some extremely positively, and sadly some negatively.

So whilst with some of the comments I've read, I agree CS *may* have made decisions that are not always in the best interests of the members, you can't blame CS on the actions of the members.

I find the blog that you posted interesting, however I do feel the tone of it is blaming CS for something that is clearly out of their control.

I have seen lots of posts about guidelines for keeping yourself safe, acting in the sprirt of CS and suggestions on how to conduct yourself as a host. I believe CS are doing the best they can but there will always be those that spoil it.

In the last 3 weeks, I have hosted 7 guests now - every day I am innundated with requests and in the majority come from females in their early 20's

I have no issue hosting females, and I would treat them with the same respect as anyone else, my main reasons for declining have been either because I'm already hosting, or because I don't feel that I have enough references etc on my profile just yet to re-assure them that I'm an OK guy even though it was them that contacted me. You could therefore turn this argument about Males/Females against me as I'm a gay, and openly have this on my profile - maybe that's why I get a lot of female requests because they instantly feel safer. Who knows...we are a strange race at times and I don't think we will ever truely understand each others quirks and personalities. You just have to follow your instincts.

So, what am I getting at...in truth I don't actually know...but so far my experience of CS has been fantastic - all the surfers I have hosted have been fantastic. Long may it continue, and I hope everyone elses negative experiences over the past few months or however long it's been, take a u-turn and things pick up for you.

Maybe CS needs a way of flagging profiles in a more effective manner rather than just being able to leave a "negative" experience...

Posted June 20th, 2013 - 3:40 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
Chris, thanks for admitting that you don't have all the facts.

"Hosting websites, especially one of this size, requires money - believe me - I work in IT - it's not cheap to host and support and keep something of this scale running."

Non-profit CS, which had as much site functionality as today's site (some would argue it had more), had $2 million annual income. It used much less than half of those resources to run the site.

"They have provided the tools, and it is the members own free will that they act the way they do - some extremely positively, and sadly some negatively."

Actually, virtually all the "tools" were provided by the non-profit. Since the various for-profit CEOs have taken control, the site has gone from disaster to disaster. I spoke with the present CEO for over 6 hours, he admits that the changes put into place by for-profit CS, both before and after his arrival, have been disasters. He simply hopes to improve things at some vague time in the future. This with the goal of all present investors being able to sell CS at a profit sometime in the future.

Many of the world's most important organizations are non-profit. Rather than that being a problem to their success, it is a key.

Posted June 20th, 2013 - 4:39 pm by from London, England (Permalink)

Thanks for the clarification on that, but I still stand by my comment that regardless of what the owners of CS did/do/have done to the site, they still cannot be held to blame for the behavious of some of the members that is being alluded to in the blog posted in the OP!

Posted June 20th, 2013 - 4:56 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
"they still cannot be held to blame for the behavious of some of the members that is being alluded to in the blog posted in the OP! "

I'm not sure what post you are alluding to, but Tony Espinoza, the CEO of CS, told me that he is shocked by the abuse he is aware of on CS, he is shocked that CS has not done more to combat it, and that he has and is changing policy towards abuse, hoping to put into places effective measures that former for-profit and previous management had not pursued.

He says CS and himself as CEO ARE responsible for making changes. He says the level of abuse that is reported is unacceptably high, and that he is certain that the level of unreported abuse is much higher.

He notably insisted that both references and vouching are ineffective tools for dealing with abuse, and that they give a false sense of security to members, something that CS management has never been willing to admit previously.

We will see what concrete form his statements will take.


Posted June 20th, 2013 - 5:30 pm by from Dijon, France (Permalink)
Chris, there is a lot of history here. It would be difficult to bring you up to date. But I think you are underestimating the problem, as well as the potential for the organization to respond to it.

But just as an indication of the history, are you aware that one member of the inner circle of recent top CS management is wanted by the police of two countries for sexual abuse charges related to his work at CS? That this person was protected by CS central management from negative references?

Are you aware that CS management refused to take any preventative action against reported rapists unless they had one - or even two - police reports in their possession?

According to Tony Espinoza, the present CEO, he or his team have directly contacted some such alleged abusers, and these abusers have often essentially admitted their acts. Espinoza expressed the idea that preventing a significant number of sexual predators from victimizing CS members was relatively easy. (Obviously he made no claim that they could be 100% effective.) Until recently, CS has in general refused to take such action.

Caveat: I am simply reporting what Espinoza told me about CS actions. I have no personal knowledge of what changes have been made or how effective they are. But I did get the honest feeling that Espinoza was serious about the issue and that he was personally disgusted by the situation he discovered when he arrived at CS Corporation. But based on the "disastrous" (to quote Espinoza) implementation of various recent changes on CS, I am not overly confident in management's capacity to effectively deal with issues.


Posted June 24th, 2013 - 8:45 am from The Hague, Netherlands
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Posted June 25th, 2013 - 3:33 am by from New York, United States (Permalink)
It is not ok that the founders walked away with millions after selling the site, because the value of the site came from the free work of thousands of volunteers.

The value of the site came from the "donations" that many made to the site. I did not donate the 25 dollars, but I think the time I put helping translate the site is worth more than that. Check the rates of a translator... min $0.10 per word.

But people did this, because we (naively) thought that it was all for the greater good. No one in their right mind would work for free for Facebook or Google (well... maybe I should take that back).

Of course there were always freeloaders. But making the site so easy to join, from faceboook and many other sites, inevitably will bring people who are not so interested in the hosting/traveling part. Because Facebook is not a travel/hospitality site.

It is a shame.

Posted June 26th, 2013 - 10:55 am by from Sevilla, Spain (Permalink)
Thanks Carlos for putting it so clearly. I couldn't agree more.

Posted June 29th, 2013 - 10:55 am by from Newcastle upon Tyne, England (Permalink)
I have been a CS host since 2009. I have hosted well-over 40 surfers. As well as offering them a place to stay I have provided them with maps, a free-phone, food, a washing machine and local knowledge. I don't say this with any sense of pride. It has been a personal joy to host each one of my surfers. I say it only to point out that, arguably, hosts are the backbone and essential element of the CS concept.

For me two things have happened that have all but destroyed CS.

Firstly, the shift from surfers contacting hosts to hosts contacting surfers. Imagine hotels all over the world contacting people who were going on holiday and asking the holiday markers if they wanted to sleep in their hotels.

The hosts are doing the surfers a favour. As such, a bit of effort by the surfers to approach a host with a personalised request is really helpful in deciding who the host wants to take.

On a practical note, it also allows me to receive email alerts informing me that someone wants to stay at my place. The system now works against the alert system. As such, both the host and surfer are losing out because often the 'just-thrown-out-there' request are seen too late.

As prove of this: I normally host about 10 surfers per summer. This year, I have had two.

Secondly, a clue to the site's existence is in the name. It's a site that helps people travelling find a place to crash for a night or two. Its not called 'lets all get together for a bike ride or some other activity sexual and or non-sexual' dot org. :) The layout of the site puts the reason for the site's existence at a lower priority; making both the surfer and (more importantly?) the host having to look harder to link up for the purpose that the original site was built.

I will continue with my profile and willing accept surfers, but I am very unhappy with the way CS has turned out. Thank God for http://warmshowers.org (what CS used to be)

Posted August 18th, 2013 - 4:22 pm by from Winooski, United States (Permalink)
I am so disgusted that cs is turning into a typical money-grubbing enterprise. I'm out.