Filter out low-quality messages

Note: Some replies in this thread have been moved from an existing thread.

I completely overlooked that aspect of it, as I guess I’ve gotten so used to it on all social media platforms I never even thought that it’s something we should try to address.

Just as a sample, have a look at the messages I’ve gotten that fit Eileen’s description (in just the past five days).


As opposed to actual CS requests, there’s no easy/low effort way to dismiss these people, though you can “flag as inappropriate.” But are these messages really inappropriate? I can’t prove they’re on the site for the wrong reasons. But do men usually get these kinds of messages, too? It’s just low quality stuff that clogs up the site - and is a huge turn off for many female users, unfortunately.

Side note, I bet @aapeli could run a code for not allowing any members to send messages with just “hello” “hi” “hey” or hybrid “hy”, and show a warning that says, "Are you contacting this member for the right reasons? Remember, this is not a platform for finding dates. If you’d like to introduce yourself to another member, you might want to add some more details.’’

Too condescending? :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yes, I think a message upfront in a welcome email might be helpful to remind people of that. Thanks for sharing your experience!

I think rather than being too explicit, we can add in a minimum character or word count for introductory messages. That might help deter the “hy” messages (I loled btw :joy:) and also help tackle the low effort messages a little. “Remember, this is not a platform for finding dates” is a liiiiittle condescending and assumes the intention of the user.

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I think it’s fair to be condescending to someone who writes “hello” as their entire message. I mean, they are clearly misunderstanding the site if that’s the effort they are putting in… and they should get a talking to, quite frankly.

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Hmmm I’m not entirely against the idea of a “talking to”, but maybe a prompt that’s more general and palatable like “Reaching out to introduce yourself? Take a look at Emily’s profile (link) to start a conversation! Remember, Couchers is about forming sincere friendships across borders” or something that’s triggered based on a minimum word count? So it doesn’t, once again, assume the intention of the user yet achieves the goal of reminding them to put in more effort. And I thiiiink that might help deter the creepos that spam “hy” to every female on the site - just by raising the hurdle of how easily you’re able to send a message.

In hindsight, I kind of understand why Couchsurfing implemented the message limit now haha. Except that somewhere along the way, it seemed to become an opportunity for them to monetise the feature…

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What if there was a way to set filters for your inbox?

This could be a setting in your preferences to show only “messages over 100 characters” and everything else goes to a catch-all spam box.

Some people might like getting a hundred of these low-quality/low effort messages, so filters you’d have to turn on manually (they wouldn’t be activated by default)

And this could also extend to other areas, like “only receive messages from verified users” or “only hosting requests from [insert gender here]”

From a moderation standpoint, I’m assuming we will want to lighten how much policing/moderation needs to be done by giving the users some tools as a first line of defense.

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That makes a lot of sense Nate. I like your angle of giving the user control over the messages and requests they receive. Could be a happy medium.

I do think that Eileen’s point still stands, however, and that people who sign up who then start receiving these kinds of messages could be turned off from using the site. They may not realize the customization of stuff (or the need for it) and then get the impression it’s full of low effort/dating spam people.

@kellyt Personally, I don’t want some dude who wrote “hello beautiful” to me to get a warning that he should make a better effort or check my profile more than he already did (ew). I want him to be warned that It’s not a dating site, or better yet, go back to Tinder where he came from :rofl:

I can’t think of a single other intention that person would have for writing such a message.

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Yeah, but how do you effectively filter for a message from a creepy dude that says “hello beautiful”? If it was me, new to the platform and unaware of the character limit, messaging something like… “Hey Emily! How are you? Just wondering if you’d like to attend the event at X tomorrow?” which is under the character limit, but getting a reminder that “Remember, this is not a platform for finding dates” I’d be like ??? pretty confused haha.

Once again, I’m not against a reminder to counter this, we just need to find a better way to either a) better filter for these messages, maybe through text filters like @lucas mentioned or b) have the reminder copy be more appropriate to the type of filter, which is easier imo.

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100 char limit was just an arbitrary number :slight_smile: I think realistically, we could find a better one (or filtering by number or types of words). The idea would not be to notify the sender, it just gives the recipient the option of never reading these sorts of messages if they don’t want. It doesn’t get deleted. If they want to check their “spam” (or whatever we call it) folder, that’s fine. A solution like this works pretty well for unwanted emails, and note, senders don’t get a message that their email was marked as “spam” – This would give them the opportunity to defeat the filters, and then you have more problems.

But also I believe people who send out “hey beautiful” are inherently lazy and basically playing a numbers game with the lowest possible amount of effort. Add any more steps which create additional work for them, and they might go back to swiping left & right :stuck_out_tongue:

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Yes! thankyou <3

I think it would be better if these messages were automatically blocked (or deleted), I can’t think of why anyone would want to receive these messages. Also not only does it give a bad impression but genuine messages of people with good intentions are then hidden amongst the crap, both because they are harder to find and also being sandwiched between several “hello” messages makes a genuine message also look like someone could just be wanting some. Which then makes me much less likely to give the poor genuine sender a fair chance, also less inclined to meet with the opposite sex in general and feel comfortable staying with hosts = less using of the app.

I think the gender imbalance of active users on couchsurfing reflects this. (although this is not just about the DMs but definitely a contributing factor!)

And haha yes definitely!

What if there was a minimum character-limit? That would immediately help filter out these low-effort message senders, wouldn’t it? And the expectation, as far as it seems to me, is usually to say something about yourself and your trip in your introduction message when trying to find a host, anyway.

Although I suppose that could easily be bypassed by these same people just making one longer message template and copy-pasting… but I would bet fewer people would put in that effort than the amount who just throw random “Hi’s” around.

And to answer, as a male, I definitely have never been flooded with inane messages. I don’t think I’ve ever received an opening message that wasn’t descriptive and intentional :upside_down_face:

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I would be a bit concerned if the senders are unaware what filters the receiver decides to apply. Especially if it’s things like only receive messages from a certain gender, a verified member, or even minimum character limits, it would be better, in my opinion, to let the sender know those filters are in place so they can decide to not spend time crafting a message and then waiting for a reply if they aren’t going to meet the qualifications. That would be extremely unfair and probably lead to the illusion that there is just a really inactive userbase with people never getting responses because they are unaware that their message isn’t even going through in the first place due to secret reasons.

I don’t think you can compare an in-app messaging system to email, as email is a much more open-concept communication system and you can literally be bombarded by spam messages by millions of companies, fake or real, AI, marketing scams, etcetc. And the MO of email is significantly different - a vastly wide range of contents and intentions to emailing - than a dedicated messaging system in an app dedicated to a traveling lifestyle, where forging real connections is the basis of its existence.

I also think it should be very carefully considered what kinds of filters can be set. Setting character minimums is a filter I agree with (so long as the sender is made aware of the minimum), but most other filter types, such as gender and verified member, can end up damaging the community and would go against what I perceive as a fundamental aspect of the couch surfing community - a mind open to new and interesting connections and being there to support each other in our travels and journeys. The community would become too segmented if someone could just decide “I never want to see any messages by a male-identifying person.” I know your message says “only receive HOSTING REQUESTS from [insert gender here]”, but I think it’s really important to emphasize the distinction that, even if blocked from sending a hosting request, one should still be able to send a regular message, so that there is still access to the community in some form, especially in areas with a low user-base and few alternative people on the app to engage with.

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