How to Read a Profile

Knowing how to read a Couchsurfing profile well can help you have more positive experiences—and fewer negative ones. It’s not enough just to check out someone’s taste in music! Be familiar with all the different parts of a profile, and know how to read them thoroughly and carefully.

References

This is a great place to start learning about a member. How did other members find this Couchsurfer? Is she the life of the party? Does she love to talk politics? Do her neighbors stop over for dinner every night? You'll be surprised at the things you can learn.

  • Read every reference. Even if a profile has many references, each one has unique and valuable information.
  • Look for face-to-face references. You can learn a lot more about someone when you meet them in person than you can by chatting online . The icon on a reference will show you how two members know each other.
  • Look for specifics. It's nice to know that "Joe is very intelligent," but then again, everyone likes intelligent people. You can make a better personal decision when you hear that "Joe taught me all about quantum mechanics." Don't see any detail? You can always write to another member to ask them more about the reference they left.
  • Take negative references seriously. Look carefully at the facts. Do both people share the same opinion about the negative experience? Is there more than one negative reference? Do they describe similar incidents? Could the disagreement have been a clash of culture or identity? Do you think that the behavior described would bother you if you met this person?
  • Pay attention to the context of each reference. Of course Kate's school friends love her, but does she make a good guest? Look for references relevant to how you plan on interacting with a member.

Words

References show you what other members think of a Couchsurfer, but that's not the end of the story. What is the member's own perspective? Not every member has a lot of references, but everyone has the chance to describe themselves.

  • Read for personality. The things a member considers important about himself, and the way he chooses to describe them, show a lot about his personality. Is he funny or serious? Outgoing or shy? Modest or boastful?
  • Look for detail. A well filled out profile gives you much more information to base your decision on. It's also the sign of a considerate member who wants to make sure you get a good sense of who she is.
  • Can you accept this member's perspectives? Statements that may be considered offensive are not removed from CS profiles. Why? Because they help you make an informed decision. If a member seems to be looking for a date, expresses prejudice towards a group of people, or makes other comments that seem out of line, consider carefully whether you will be able to find common ground.
  • Find a basis for friendship. Some of the most meaningful Couchsurfing experiences come from meeting people who are very different from you. That said, you do need to pick someone you think you can spend time with. Look for something that can spark a connection: a shared interest, a type of humor, or something you think you can learn from this member.

Pictures

Picture albums aren’t just for fun—they can show you a lot about a person's life and personality.

  • No photo? It helps a lot to know who you're meeting!
  • Browse through all the photos. Picture albums are a window into a Couchsurfer's life. Maybe all of the photos are taken at night and show big parties. Maybe they're all calm, outdoor scenes. If the photos look like places you'd like to be, there's a good chance you'll get along with this member.

Icons

The icons on a profile can give you a snapshot view of a Couchsurfer. When you're doing a CouchSearch, they can help you decide which profiles to give your attention to.

  • The couch shows if a member is excited to host, able to host, sometimes able to host, can't host, can't host but wants to meet, or currently traveling.
  • The verification bar shows if a member is fully verified, partially verified, or not verified. You can also recognize verified members by the check next to their profiles in CouchSearch or on their pictures in other places. Learn more about verification.
  • The hands show that a member has been vouched for. The number shows how many vouches he's received. Learn more about vouching.
  • The flag shows that a member is a Couchsurfing Ambassador. Learn more about Ambassadors.
  • The "Pioneer" symbol shows that a member supported Couchsurfing in our earliest days, when we ran entirely off of member donations.

Remember, the most important thing when reading a profile is to give it your full attention. Even if you only have two days to find a couch in your next city, or if a member seems perfectly nice in her Couch Request, a careful look at someone’s profile is a step you should never skip.