Welcome to issue #7 of Talk of the Town! We missed last fortnight’s issue, so I bring to you a four-week recap of the main points brought up, discussed, and debated in recent Community Forum threads! Check out the previous issue if you missed it, and we will return to our usual biweekly program from here on.
Forum Digest: October 14th - November 10th, 2021
Lots of interesting discussions took place this past few weeks—we are trying to capture the most important ones here.
In this issue, among others:
- Promoting hosts on community pages
- When and how to write a negative reference
- New updates and ideas for messages and notifications
- Who owns a reference?
If you want to contribute to any of the below discussions, hop on to one of the topics linked below or start a new discussion on our community forum.
What is being discussed:
- There are multiple situations where a host may want to promote themselves. This may be because they live in a lesser known destination, have a specific time window when they can host, or maybe a traveler wants to find someone truly off the beaten path, but doesn’t know how to find them.
- A ‘reverse’ Public Trip option where hosts could post that they are looking for a surfer in some specific area, time, etc. A Public Stay?
- An ‘exclude cities or urban areas’ checkbox.
- A tag that hosts can add to themselves along the lines of ‘I am in the middle of nowhere’, which can be filtered for in searches.
What is being discussed:
- Aside from blatant violations, when is it appropriate to leave a negative reference for someone and what information should you include? What challenges are associated with writing one?
- How do we account for the somewhat inherent power balance in hospitality between hosts and surfers? Surfers are more likely to put up with bad behaviour so as not to appear ungrateful or demanding, and thus might opt for writing no reference at all over a bad one.
- When a surfer does not respect set house rules, it’s better to first let them know their actions are a problem, and if it persists then you should leave a negative reference. It’s important to keep communication as open as possible.
- A detailed negative reference can help other people understand exactly why you decided to write this feedback and makes it much harder to refute.
- Couch surfing experiences are often not black and white, so there may be both positive and negative aspects to someone’s stay/host that are worth mentioning.
- You can now message anyone (without having to add them as a friend first). This is paired with a new flag button you can use to report messages and chats.
- The go-to help/FAQ page is live at Couchers.org/handbook. This is still iteratively being developed into a bigger resource, however it should answer most of the questions for now.
- Which notifications do we need the most?
- Should the email you receive when someone sends you a Couchers.org message include the message? Does it make it more convenient or discourage users from logging in?
- Notifications for events: is one weekly notification summarising everything enough or is it better to have individual ones notifying an hour before start times? In the future, this is likely to be customizable, similar to Facebook.
What is being discussed?
- In the context of someone leaving the Couchers.org community and wanting all their data deleted, who is the legal owner of a reference? Does the old user’s reference stay on the active recipient’s profile?
- On Couchsurfing™, neither recipients nor those who post them appear to own the references, as once published it seems the platform becomes the owner. Are references protected by copyright? Or can you archive, print or display them as you please?
- References should be the common property of the author and recipient and can only be deleted if both parties agree. However, giving the author (when they delete their account) the option to anonymise the references they gave may be a better approach to data privacy.
- As an example, the Couchers.org Forum currently provides two choices when you wish to delete your account. You can either have every single post you wrote deleted, or delete your profile but leave your posts. Could we have the same options offered in the actual platform?
Secret Santa is now in full swing and names have been distributed to all participants, so get to gifting before the end of the month!
Did we miss an important contribution you made to the forum between October 14th and November 11th? Feel free to privately message @marlies on the forum.
Written by Marlies. Published on 2021/11/10
Marlies is a Global Health masters student from Australia, currently living, studying and working in Denmark. She has surfed in Europe, Latin America and Asia and is currently hosting in the reconverted church where she lives in Copenhagen.
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