Hangouts vs. Events

Which feature on Couchsurfing did you prefer?

  • Hangouts
  • Events
  • Neither/I never used them
  • I liked both equally/never heard of them

0 voters

Would love to hear your reasons!

I preferred events because it created a space for local likeminded people to meet up regularly, welcome visitors, and exchange information. Something to look forward if there’s a regular event in your city, or a place to usually make local and traveler friends if you’re traveling, especially nice if traveling alone :slight_smile:

I had no luck with hangouts because I found a lot of people using that feature were basically just trying to get a date. This was evidenced by people leaving a hangout if there were more than two people in it, or sometimes ignoring the hangout as soon as suggesting to do something in a group.

2 Likes

I think this is a really interesting topic. I’ve met a lot of people with strong opinions either towards Events or Hangouts, it seems to be a polarizing topic. One of the key reasons is that the Couchsurfing implementation made them opposites (taking away attention from each other), whereas I’m strongly of the opinion that they’re very similar features. Some Hangouts users swear by them, and some Event organisers say Hangouts ruin their Events. I think there’s a lot of ways to improve upon the current state, a basic one being by showing Events happening soon in the same screen as nearby Hangouts.

The concern of Hangouts being used to basically try to get a date is one I’ve heard a few times. It seems to be a very localised problem: in some cities it’s heavily like this and in others it’s very much not. It’s important to give the users the ability to filter away people that’ve been flagged by others as not using the feature for it’s intended purpose, or a similar feature.

4 Likes

I like the concept of Hangouts, but people were kinda flaky on them. I had more luck messaging people who had public trips listed (and also other travelers who messaged me via my public trip message).

I feel like the Hangouts feature needs a bit more thought and research put into it before debuting again.

1 Like

Not to mention debugging! Sometimes it would take minutes to send/receive messages, no so hot when you’re trying to coordinate something! :woman_facepalming:

2 Likes

I would suggest to “somehow” come up with an encompassing alternative that lies in the middle of two. Basically I call it something else, like a “happening” or “experience”.

To avoid abuse or people trying to use the feature as a misguided dating tool, I would use some form of mechanism design (based on ratings and reviews) that one cannot create happenings if their rating drops down below a certain level… I think this type of mechanism needs appropriate work and attention as it most likely will be useful for several other occasions on the platform.

1 Like

I LOVED hangouts!!! It was actually my favourite and most used feature of the app as I was too much of a pussy to do the ‘traditional’ couchsurfing and agree to stay with hosts I’d never met.

Hangouts are great because you can find people who are keen to hang out immediately (no need to plan ahead (as traveling can be so unpredictable) and so less flaky), and you find fellow travellers who are also alone and want to make friends! I have met some of my bestest friends on it, and often ended up staying at their place/had them at my place later once we had got to know each other!

Yes the dating thing was definitely a problem… but I got around this by only meeting with other girls (who were equally relieved to find a fellow female amongst the majority of male users), although I also had a couple of successes meeting with genuine guys!

I would hate to see this feature go just because of the creepy guys :(( doesn’t seem fair

2 Likes

I like the events too and have often gone to events with people Id met on hangouts that day (often I wasn’t even aware of the event if it wasn’t for them telling me), so in my experience they both complemented each other!

Its also nice to have gotten to know someone you met with one-on-one earlier that you can go to the event with, if you are a bit shyer like me it made everything way more comfortable and fun :slight_smile:

3 Likes

As far as events and hangouts worked on couchsurfing, I waayyyyy preferred events. Their hangouts feature was an abomination. That being said, I liked the idea of the hangout and, despite it’s terrible execution, I met some good friends over that function.
So I voted for liking them both equally because they both serve different, important purposes and I would hope to see them both be utilized. The events allowed for planning, for seeing things happening in advance, but the hangouts (attempted to) fill the niche of a bored person looking for something to do/people to meet immediately.
The main issue with the hangouts feature was that it barely tried to actually encourage people to talk and meet up. You would scroll through the availables, request to hangout with someone, they accept, a bunch of people request to join your “hangout group”, you accept them, and then suddenly the hangout feature was just full of a bunch of group “hangouts” all filled with the same people with subtle variations and pretty much none of them actually turned into meetups.
I think a more successful hangout feature would look something like this:

  • More robust options, wherein instead of just saying you’re “available to hang”, you can select types of activities you are looking to do, and then in browsing the hangouts you can filter by those activities when looking for other people
  • Limit on the amount of hangouts you can join. Once you join a hangout group, you should be unable to join any others unless you leave the one you are currently in. That way people will engage with what is in front of them instead of continuing to join other groups for a “grass is always greener” type thing.
  • Some way to tie reviews into hangouts. That way if you went on a hangout and the person/people turned out to be creeps or what have you, you had some way of affecting their reputation and warning other people. CS didn’t let you leave references unless you stayed with/hosted someone, or had them as a friend, so simply meeting someone through hangouts didn’t give you an option to report bad behaviour. At least, not that I remember seeing!
6 Likes

I used to use events a lot on CS but I actually switched to using Hangouts more recently and I have to say I actually loved Hangouts because of the spontaneous quality and how quickly you could meet up with someone. An event is limited to a specific time and place and if you aren’t available or in the right area you have to miss out, but Hangouts is more about finding people who are in your area and want to hang out right now. I found when traveling that this was very helpful because sometimes you just find yourself with downtime and no specific plans and you are excited to meet up with like-minded people. I’ve had some really fun times because of this feature!

I honestly think both have a lot of value for different reasons and, if possible, both should be available. I would personally use both.

4 Likes

Hi Trenton, hi Alexandra - welcome to the community!

Genius, wholeheartedly agree.

I personally wish there was some way to tie the two together, mainly because I found hangouts took people away from the weekly events I was hosting. Perhaps if your event was listed as a hangout while it’s happening, or something to that effect.

On a separate note, you can leave personal references about anyone on CS, friend or not, and there’s a way to do that for hangouts, too. The problem there was that after your hangout was over, it completely disappeared and left you no way to find the people there again (unless you had added them as friends or book marked their profile somehow). A big shame, imo. :woman_facepalming:

2 Likes

Ah gotcha. So a somewhat different problem but still a problem nonetheless haha. I do really like the idea of having the events currently happening, or about to happen that day, listed in the hangouts as well. I think that would be a grat cross-function

4 Likes

I will say between my heaviest use of the website (2015-2018) I only ever found 1 event (in Ft Collins, CO). It was cool, but I had waaaaaaay more success meeting people (including groups) with the meet-up feature on the mobile app.

Events are better for safety too, they can be organized better, ahead of time, and give ppl more time to come ready with a mask and sanitizer now in covid19. Events during covid19 shold better be in outdoors, like outdoor part of a cafe.

Hang outs to me were very abusive experiences. Only one out of 20 hang outs was not about dating 1-1. Even in a prompt hangout with 10 surfers I found out there was a lot of flirting vibe, whereas in events i experienced a lot less of that ‘‘vibe’’.

Because hang outs rarely have a specific goal (example: explore the old town), they also tend to be about dating whereas events tend (not always)to have a specific goal.

I would say even events had sometimes a dating vibe but only those done regularly in pubs with music and alcohol consumptions and no particular goal other than ‘get drunk tonight’. Event also done in pubs/bars but with a language exchange game, board games, or something more specific than ‘‘lets drink together’’ were safer/better and less ‘‘dating’’ vibes.

So, maybe, unlike the very liberal couchsurfing.com, do not allow ppl to make events that are like ‘’ lets meet and greet tonight for drinks’’. Instead ask users to organize events with more specifics than ‘‘lets drink together’’. But i may be too strict now :slight_smile:

THe hangout feature of couchsurifng:

  • eats lots of smartphone battery, a traveller doesnt want that
  • eats lots of data (if a traveller is not in a hotel with free wifi already…)
  • most ppl there want a hook up and the few who dont want a hook up are lost in the multitude of predators
  • hang outs dont work in small cities, in works only in capital cities although I suspect this is not a fault of couchsurfing.com but users of couchsurifng NOT KNOWING THIS FEATURE/NOT HAVING THE APP BUT USING ONLY THE WEBSITE.

And finally, some new users join couchsurfing only via their phone (via the app that is, not the website) so they see this feature and treat it like tinder-like. And thats how you get 20 men and 2 women most days.

Where i lived in a bit capital city it was also with 5-6 locals (all men) who hosted primarily women(!) and they were ‘‘stuck’’ int he hang outs, same phenomenon was reported from someone in reddit happening in Italian big cities in hang outs. Men who wait for a woman to appear in hang outs. Some hang outs had 1 woman and 10 men in it and to be politically incorrect now, some women like this attention but this is not the spirit of travelling meetups.

2 Likes

and because travellers are very busy and out of internet often, its useful to send automatic alerts to their emails about '‘events happening today and this week’ , maybe once every week only, like every sunday/monday and asking ppl to subscribe to a general events newsletter (to keep the tech simple) if they want.

2 Likes

This is a great synthesis of many of the problems with hangouts. If we’re going to include this feature, we’re going to have to be smart about it and find a way to structure it to eliminate these problems. Ideally we can find a way for people to still be flexible with “grab a drink” kind of hangouts (which a lot of people still enjoy), but find a way to get rid of that ‘date’ aspect that makes people uncomfortable. I think the community standing approach for member accountability may take us some of the way there, but more thinking is needed to get rid of those predatory users that wait for women to show up.

Anyone got any ideas there?

1 Like

Never used Hangouts but I am old school, so… I never really used the app.

What made the events great though, which is forgotten by many, is that they used to be backed up by a vivid forum, where people would cross reference posts and have real conversations. It was not just a link to the event.

4 Likes

to get rid of that ‘date’ aspect

Is quite a tricky one… If you find a way to damper and control the predatory aspect of the app, it will be beneficial for everyone.

However I don’t feel getting rid of the date aspect is the answer, because it is a natural part of life, especially in an environment where you share the same values of your pairs (traveling, open-mind). Getting rid of dating sounds a bit dictatorial to my french romantic ears :no_mouth:

2 Likes

You’re right, I should rephrase that. We need to get rid of the expectation of a date context from hangouts

2 Likes

I agree with Fab. I m not so old member as Fab but i was member before the hangout /app era. The events were more populated back then. Like 50 people in one event.Now , older members than myself, tell me its ridiculous to have an event with 3-4 people (for me its amazing if even 1 shows up!). Usually 10 ppl say they will come and only 1 shows up or 2… (i was organizing a few last 2 years in a BIG city, a city that according to old members had up to 50+ peole showing up on one event).

The local old members still continue meeting each other in a facebook group that they keep secret to outsiders. I dont like this attitude. THey claim its because they new members of cs are ‘bad’. I have met some nice new members who were not bad people. They also feel they helped’‘buiild’’ couchsurfing and their own creation was ‘‘stolen’’ from them in around 2012 I think? So maybe thats whyt hey prefer continueing events in facebook group.

That is why my vicinity couchsurfing seems dead in terms of events. THe old members still make events but in facebook for old local couchsurfing members AND THEIR GUESTS (cause guesting didnt stop, just events stopped being organized).

Im not sure if they know about ‘couchers’.

Would be helpful to buy ads in facebook and target audiences that say they like couchsurfing and this way they will see an ad about couchers… but it takes money and someone who has a lot of experience how to tweak those ads so that you dont lose money without results.

Back to topic, events are dead where i live. I tried to make myself some but had many harassers on me so i quit. I cannot deal with the possibility of one person ruining something i spend some time to organize so i quit them. The local community of older members loathes me cause i admited i had 2 profiles not used concurrently but still loathe me just for that cause they have profiles dating from 2010 or so and see me as typical imposter without giving me a chance at all.

Now I opted out of couchsurfing altho i paid the latest ‘‘pay to see your profile’’ fee cause i was curious what happens after covid19 restrictions removed (to my super surprise these old members who are only in facebook now are back partially in cs, so they will support cs and not embadon it and im not sure how happy they would be to also use couchers, and im afraid the ones who take a profile in every single hospex are the predatory ones).

I wonder if couchers are going to allow members to link their profiles to couchsurfing/trustroots/bewelcome to show their refs there? I closed my profile so i cannot use my ‘‘social capital’’ from hosting in cs but others may want to do that, in couchers, and if they cannot show theyr ‘‘hard work’’ in couchsurfing they may not want to start aknew in couchers?

But im going astray again.

Events are good to meet up and guide travellers even if I dont host them and during covid19 I think many hospex hosts and travellers will not want to host but just meet up. So finding a way to easily advertise events using this website and also IMHO email newsletters (nothing more direct that one email /week telling you the sum of your areas activity in couchers), would revive this tradition maybe?

THe lover boys and girls in couchsurfing killed this, with their endless flirtations. I spoke about this online countless time, im not against flirting, im against someone using hospex specifically and exclusively for finding a hook up.

THey show up in events hoping to hook someone.

I wonder how this flirty culture can shift to genuine traveller/global travel celebrating culture in events where flirting is not allowed in the open. If two travellers hit it off after the event, fine, but during an event i would like to see less personal question, less flirts, all these things can happen after the end of the event when often some ppl leave for their hostels together.

Thats why I said, if you can ‘‘force’’ users to make meaningful events and not just ‘‘lets have a beer tonight’’. It will make women feel safer if its ‘‘board games tonight at this famous board game cafe’’. Or language exchange cafe. or even if its for drinking, should have a topic of discussion like ‘‘we talk about our latest crazy trips’’. A predator usually will say something vague like ‘‘meet for chat and drinks’’ but i have met people who claim they wanna play chess and hit on you on first 5 minutes (disgust!) and even guys tell me they get disgusted if usually another guy do that to them (not all guys are bisexual?).

I hope couchers stress this is a network of travellers and perhaps nomads and market it to nomads alike backpackers. By the way, nomads will not stop travelling while backpackers may think it twice. So maybe market it mainlyto nomads who work from a computer and travel as a lifestyle of choice. I did this for a while as a student of an online uni, not as worker and it was amazing.