Allow references to be edited

I greatly appreciated seeing references left by surfers; couches and those who attended meet-ups or events. Reading the references providers info and the “feeling” of the member or event. I liked being able to contact members directly for more info. It is about safety and comfort. I like that references could eb changed as the situation/ experience changes. Comments welcome, svp.

@SafeVoyage please could you say a bit more about what you’d like forum users to comment on? Are you just saying some things that you like about references? Or is there something else?

I wonder if there’s already a space for general conversations and thoughts about references already on the forum.

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I gathered that @SafeVoyage wants references to be edited over time? Interesting idea that we have chatted about in other threads but definitely not in the plan for the time being.

Let me know if I got your idea wrong at all @SafeVoyage!

Nothing against allowing references to be edited especially when a reference is written in haste or the experience has evolved based on further interaction or reflection over time. However, I am not sure if this will encourage recipients of negative (or less than glowing) references to try and get the referee to modify their reference.
But I do like the option for the referee to provide an update if their experience has evolved. Perhaps allow for a reply-like feature where the referee can add/attach a reference to an existing one. This will retain the history of the interaction and still tell a living story.
What is the current behavior? Is there an option to leave a fresh reference for each surfing transaction?


@zrazzaque like a reference thread?

Yes @gjw . Two things though. 1) It might be technically easier to allow a reference to be editable and let the author edit it in any fashion they wish 2) Otherwise, if it is a thread, only the original author should be able to grow it. The recipient, in my opinion, should not be able to counter.

@zrazzaque yes, I can imagine how threads where users can keep a public conversation going could lead to war. Isn’t that what Twitter’s for? Making it editable and expandable for both parties would possibly enhance the above issue, rapidly doing away with its usefulness for people trying to determine trustworthy hosts / surfers.

Could we have a consent system? You can edit a reference for somebody if the other person consents to there being a change (if with or without showing the recipient the changes would be visible before having the choice would be another debate).

In this case you could easily fix typos or add little details that you forgot for your hosts or surfers. You could communicate to the other person in hindsight “hey, I forgot to mention that you helped me with the dishes the second day, would you like me to add?”.

In case of negative references I do think that persons should write these very very carefully and always consider your post as a one-time-only. Even though there might be the system I described above you probably don’t want to communicate to much with a person you had a bad expierene with and some people would even try to contact you to fix a bad reference for them if they know you can change it. But then you should be able to block those users.

what is the rationale behind not allowing references to be edited? or the place where it’s been discussed before?

well, one day I left a bad reference on ebay because I got scammed in the product I bought. the seller had only positive references. Once I left the bad reference I got harassed and threatened by the seller. when I reported this to ebay and didn’t get any support I changed the reference into a positive one (more as a f* you to ebay than to this user).

Behaviour like this is one of the reasons Couch Surfing didn’t make references editable. If you leave a bad reference to certain ppl and leave the option for it to be editable those persons will start to harass.


I do agree with this. It’s just way too tempting and doesn’t do the platform much good if the objective of references is to give people confidence in the people they meet.

Personally, I never had a problem with CS references being uneditable, although in the end, I had a tendency not to put the effort in for situations I felt have been not entirely positive. In other words, I only wrote reviews when they were positive.

My thinking was that if people would see a disparity between the amount of people a person had hosted and the quantity of reviews. And then make their own minds up.

Probably not that useful though.

well, you can only see how many people a user had hosted by the number of references. there is no way of seeing how many persons a user had hosted that haven’t left any references

Ah, I see you’ve noticed my disparity between reality and imagination! :upside_down_face:

But why don’t we see how many people a person has hosted? I guess it’s not particularly useful information.

my bad, I missed the conditonal nature of your statement :wink: well there are already lots of different suggestions of having a more complex, just and useful reference system (check out other threads). I guess the discussion here is just about if there is a fix reference should it be editable or not.

No worries. I think your above idea of a consent based approach to reference editability is strong. I can imagine that references default as uneditable, but there’s some kind of toggle which users can both agree on that permits editing.

I would welcome references to be edited only for typos and minor adjustments but I am against editing the “storyline”. I am an old couchsurfer so I do remember the times when references were editable and I also remember upset couchsurfers who weren’t satisfied with the references they received and would COMPLETELY changed their own references out of revenge. I do like that now you can only see references once they’ve both been written which minimizes vengeful references and also pushes some people to be more honest instead of writing fake positive references considering the fact they won’t be able to edit it later.

I quite like @Niklas’s idea that for editing you would need the recipient’s consent. Something like receiving an “edit request” with the full text of newly updated reference and by clicking on the button the reference could be accepted (or declined). A solution for correcting grammar, typos, adding something you forgot etc.


@michaela I wonder how it would be possible to only edit for typos. Perhaps if you toggle the “edit request”, it allows the other user to edit their reference how they see fit. But, if it looks like the edits are pure vengeance, the original version has been saved, which can be brought back by untoggling the edit request.

Edit reference consent can also be set to be single use, meaning there’s one chance to do edits and for everyone to agree.

Or another option would be for one user to submit their edits to the other for approval.

That was common but what about CSers who had a reference war and then after some time made peace and removed them? that was also quite common. With permanent references petty disputes stay on the profile forever.

@couchguy maybe there’s an option for everyone to just walk away if they need to?

Ok, I’ve had this situation: a surfer took some of my things without asking (which I didn’t notice) and informed me after I had already left a reference. Would I like to change that reference? Certainly yes. Would it be a good idea to ask for his consent? I don’t think he’d give it.

So I agree that editing references could be useful sometimes, but I don’t think it needs the other party’s approval. I’d rather say the safety team (or maybe local community builders) could study the case and decide