For active hosts like Simon in Clara, Ireland, Couchsurfing is “an exchange of ideas from other cultures, fostering an understanding between people of different ethnicities.” When he moved to Clara 6 years ago, he didn’t have any family or friends in the area, but “by hosting travelers from around the world on Couchsurfing, I am never alone and have discovered new friends from around the world that I would never have gotten to meet any other way.”
For Simon, Couchsurfing is about the people. The stories he tells are all about the connections he made while hosting and traveling – and now, his profile does a better job of doing just that, too.
**We take your safety seriously and continuously work to improve the Couchsurfing experience. Check out what we have been doing to keep the community safe in the section below.**
We believe that you should be the focus of your profile, so we’ve added some new features to highlight your Couchsurfing experiences and tell your travel story. Your profile is now more about you than ever, and when you make meaningful connections with the hosts and surfers you encounter, that will shine through on your profile.
Your map (mobile only) is a way to show off all of your Couchsurfing experience at a glance! The more you host and surf, the more shaded regions you’ll have in your map. Checking the map on a potential host or surfer’s profile is a fun way to find out if they have hosted or stayed with people from the places you’ve hosted or stayed. You can get a sense of someone’s Couchsurfing experience just by looking at their map.
Along with hosting and surfing references, we’ve been collecting praise about your Couchsurfing experiences and now your profile will display it! This is a way for you to highlight and reward the great experiences you’ve had. The praise you receive is prominently featured on your profile so other Couchsurfers can learn more about you, too.
Reading references is a great way to learn about a Couchsurfer, but because people have mixed and varied experiences, we removed the “positive” and “negative” designations going forward. Instead, your reference highlights when you say you would stay with or host someone again. You can refine your view with a new filter on the reference tab. We also introduced reference responses to allow for follow up or explanation where needed.
A note about safety:
In the past several months, we have made a number of changes to our safety processes and systems. Some are small, like improved clarity of site content. Others are internal, such as the refinement of internal processes, policies, procedures, and detection. And many have been both visible and significant, such as:
- New Reference System – Members are often hesitant to leave honest assessments of their experience due to a fear of retaliation. No one wants to risk an undeserved stain on their reputation driven only in response to honest feedback. In October, we moved to a “double-blind” reference system. A double-blind system is one in which neither reference is revealed until both references have been left, which allows people to leave honest assessments without risk of retaliation. This is also why we no longer allow references to be edited.
- Private Feedback – Added an option to leave Private Feedback to the Trust and Safety team within the Leave a Reference flow. This is presented in cases where the member has indicated that they did not feel completely safe during an experience. Private Feedback allows our Trust and Safety team to be more proactive by enabling them to investigate and take action more quickly when risk is identified.
- Tags – After a stay, members can now select tags that represent their experience. These tags can be used to highlight awesome traits or identify potentially risky ones.
- New Member Profile – The new Member Profile provides a quick view of a member’s experience. The new profile also better highlights the relevance of Host/Surf references.
- Leave Reference Reminders – Members are now prompted to leave a reference, increasing the rate at which references are left.
We believe these changes will result in more references, more honest references, and more risk inputs to the Trust and Safety team. This update builds up on this foundation as we strive to make Couchsurfing a great place to visit and safe way to travel. We have received a great deal of feedback and will continue to refine these systems in the coming months.