Could we prioritize hosting when proposals come with a purpose of Volunteering on Permaculture and Healing?

Priority to couch requests to potential volunteers regarding Permaculture & natural therapies

Hi Matrix, welcome to the forums! Maybe you could elaborate a bit on what this post is about? The couchers app isn’t a volunteer exchange platform.

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I know the purpose of the platform is general hosting or surfing, and my proposal may be regarded as “out of focus”.

Nonetheless I think it’s worth it to give this new platform a focus on a new kind of PURPOSE, to be less on the selfish side and more on a new vision of traveling as a way to grow, learn and help others and the environment, mainly considering the planet’s current crisis.

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That certainly a great purpose! But if you focus on it, you have a service like Wwoof. And yes, that’s actually out of focus for this platform.

If you think ecological awareness should be part of Couchers in another way (not volunteering), we can change this topic. Else I’ll close it.

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I didn’t know your opinion is as powerful as being able to close it without discussing it, that sounds rather authoritarian. And, I’m not proposing to devote the whole platform to ecological awareness and volunteering, all I am saying is to make a system where a priority for hosting is given to such type of proposals as traveling with those purposes in mind


I’d say that’s actually just a very complicated way of saying Volunteering, no? :wink:


Not as simplistic as that. Assign priority to hosting requests when they come with proposals of volunteering in environmental and healing issues

I personally think that raising environmental awareness and action as issues is a great addition to the conversation!

If you want to bring it up as purpose, there’s already a topic on values and identity. Or open a new one with an open question or other idea.

But Volunteering will not be part of this platform. That’s not just my opinion and it’s not helpful being ambiguous about it.


Okay I understand what you’re asking for now. While I agree with you that environmental awareness is an important topic, and we should all be doing our part, giving couch priority to volunteers would be outside the scope of’s intended function.

Also, it’s not really a workable idea. The thing is, we as the platform cannot ultimately decide who a host does or does not choose to let into their home. Individual hosts have the power to impose that priority themselves, for their own homes, but we cannot impose that priority community-wide.

So no, we can’t give priority to volunteers. That being said, I think it’s a worthwhile discussion to have about what else the organization can do to contribute to environmental sustainability. Things like community-led beach clean-up events on the event page come to mind as a feasible option. Or messaging built into the system to remind users to consider the environment - especially since they are guests traveling through other people’s homes.

Do you have other ideas on how we, as a platform, can help tackle environmental issues, especially in regards to traveling?


Not ambiguity at all @nolo, you sound like you alone can dictate the rules of what is allowed or not here, I repeat, rather authoritarian behavior, mocking CS.

If you read me well and without fixed ideas, I propose not to make volunteering a purpose of the platform but rather an incentive to be more easily hosted.

@Trenton, thanks for taking the time to understand my proposal and for being open to discuss how to increase awareness regarding sustainability.

Meanwhile, as a platform, we could still have a ranking system of potential guests, according to certain “values”, without taking the freedom of the host to decide, just by offering a tool to help in the evaluation of that potential guest.

How would you propose this ranking system be implemented? What would it look like? What on a user’s profile would be used as the basis for the ranking? How would we stop people from abusing the ranking system and altering their profile so the system boosts them up the priority chain more?

I think “ranking” and “priority” are the wrong way to look at it. It could be alienating to a lot of travelers. I know your intention is to encourage people to be more sustainability-minded, but this kind of system to me would unintentionally punish people for not doing volunteer work, or make potential users feel like the platform is not for them if their intention isn’t to do volunteer exchange, and therefore not sign up.

Fundamental to the platform is that the only expectation for hosting/surfing is cultural exchange. nothing monetary or labour-based can be worked into the actual system.

Hosts are still able to read a surfer’s profile and reviews to determine what kind of person they are, and based on that a host could prioritize someone who seems more environmentally-conscious. A host could also put into their own profile their own values to try to attract the kinds of surfers they want to host.

What other tool could we implement to help host’s find and evaluate those surfers without making it a system-wide imposition?


@Trenton very interesting questions you bring about. I will try to stretch it a little.
I do think the ranking systems would be for both sides, hosts and guests: trying to be better hosts and guests, in terms of the environment. In a way, think of a platform that existed some years ago “Sustainable Couch”, based in Austria. Maybe, as you say, this could be well taken care of just by the profile and Couch request descriptions. Maybe it could be a system of “badges”, just to make it more apparent, instead of a ranking, as such.

Perhaps, it’s just wishful thinking, nonetheless, I will love to think more and have some ideas in that respect from concerned people… The fact is that being based in Brazil and watching what is going on here makes me want to try to change it…

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Hey! This is an neat idea that we could explore in the future once the base structure of the platform is up. Do you think that the idea of interest badges/filters would help match hosts and surfers like these?

I seem to remember CS having interest tags, but I’m not sure if they actually incorporated it into the search function.

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I can’t see it going well with ranking or rewarding individual members. I think we should limit this approach to trust and safety.

But I’m all for embracing Caring for the environment as a general value. It’s actually a value that should be part of any contemporary project and we should find a variety of ways how to support and encourage it!


Just because @Matrix has proposed something outside out intended scope doesn’t make the idea not worth hearing. When I first met the team I proposed all kinds of wild ideas. I think on this is the more discussion, the merrier, as long as we’re not detracting from the rest of the platform’s development.

Ultimately we want to build something better than Couchsurfing so we might need to think outside the box a little.


I can’t see what’s your problem with rewarding a certain type of behavior in members, both hosts and guests.

A badge represents a distinction for acting according to certain rules or standards and helps in guiding both guests and hosts into a better matching (like Tinder haha :joy:) plus, in this case, it hopefully helps to enhance the environment

It’s not about rewarding behaviour as such. The entire standing approach is based on that. It’s that the central distinction for the platform is whether a member is recommendable and respectful as a guest and host.

If we introduce other qualities and give a similar weight to them, we blur that picture (Else one believes that these qualities are intrinsicely related to being respectful and recommendable as a guest or host).

If we introduce these badges and give less weight to them, there is certainly a lot of options how to do it. But it would be a secondary distinction, like sharing interests. And then it seems not so convincing to limit it to your suggestions. Someone can be caring for the environment, but also a good cook, a great conversationalist, there’s so many qualities…

That’s why I said I believe it should not be introduced to distinguish individual members or relations between members. We already have central qualities there. I’d rather suggest looking for ways how the platform and the community on the whole can support and encourage caring for the environment.


@nolo It’s exactly that! You said it! How can we encourage & support caring for the environment?

You also said “Else one would need to you believe that being environmentally conscious is intrinsicely (sic) related to being respectful and recommendable”, and it’s right, @nolo, it SHOULD be like that, but, is it?

It’s a bigger issue (a survival matter, as we can see in the current earth health crisis) than just being a good cook or great conversationalist, which you also brought about in your (fallacious?) arguments.

It is a beautiful goal and many organizations (CS, as well, indeed) have this in their precepts, but is it true that they are helping in attaining that goal? In what I have seen, this has been widely used as a mere marketing mechanism.

You also said, if I understood you well that “If we introduce these badges and give less (I would say more) weight to them, there is certainly a lot of options how to do it”. So, probably you are much better qualified than me to tell us how can this be done! Why don’t we do it?

There have been several attempts to do this internationally and I mentioned before a platform that existed in the past, which tried to give weight to sustainability, and it’s unfortunately not among us anymore:

There is also an international organization worried to make tourism more environmentally and ethically responsible:

That’s why if we care and are really serious about helping the environment, we have an excellent opportunity here, a new platform is a gigantic tool to make a difference and thus, to make this platform different, as Emily said “Ultimately we want to build something better than Couchsurfing so we might need to think outside the box a little.“

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@Matrix , I’m as much concerned about climate change as any other progressive person, but the notion of priority ranking for those who volunteer seems to hijack this whole effort at building a new HospEx platform.

And, why not animal population control? Or homelessness? Or education?

Wrong group. I support those efforts, but see them as fundamentally different than HospEx.


I get that you’re passionate about this issue, and even an activist about it, but this is the wrong organization for this. It’s HospEx, plain and simple.

This remark is uncalled for. It’s an attack.

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