How many profile photos should users be allowed to upload?

There’s been some internal discussion and posts on here about how many photos members should be allowed to upload. Photos take up space and therefore can lead to a higher cost of operating Couchers. One idea is to allow more photos/unlimited photos as a premium feature. Just to get a feel for what people on the forum think, how many photos should members be allowed?

  • One photo per user is enough
  • At least two, one for the user & one for their couch
  • More than 2, but it should be limited somehow to limit operational costs
  • Unlimited - I wouldn’t mind if it was a premium feature

0 voters

Update: The team has already decided on this issue and will be working on allowing users to upload 2+ photos. :slight_smile:

Generally, would it be viable to rely on external picture hosting, like imgur or so?

In the past, looking for people on CS I found something like 3 – 5 pictures ideal. Not even necessarily of the couch, can’t remember having ever cared for a picture beforehand, of course I can’t speak for everybody.

Once I was hosted by a bloke in Vienna who would ask me some general things that would have been right at the beginning of my profile anyway. He excused himself for not having read it, stating that at some point he just stopped and now only decided whether to approve a request on the pictures alone. That strategy isn’t for me, at least not that rigourously; I did respect it a lot though.


I like pictures.
They are great to share and show a first impression on how one wants to present themselves.
I had fun in the past just browsing through them,
and to some degree it shows something about a personality.

Without judging, if I see for example a profile with mainly pictures of a person posing besides posh cars,
that alone already tells me we have much different interests.


I’ll write briefly please do ask me to elaborate if something is not clear:

  • Very low priority - high effort, high cost, low gain (you could link to pictures in your profile)
    *We could make it easier for people to understand how to make a link to their pictures using basically anything - Google photos, next cloud(for privacy concerned)
  • What is this premium feature? Could you elaborate what that means? Feels like we are commercialising the platform, I’ll be strongly against that.

Keep in mind that photos are an important part of the experience for many users, and it’d have to be done in a way that doesn’t force users to sign up for an additional service to upload photos (i.e. you’d have to have some serious integration to approach it in this way)

The forum is for expressing all kinds of ideas which we don’t limit, not to necessarily make concrete decisions. You can search for where this idea of allowing users to pay extra to upload more photos is discussed

Will do! Maybe it’ll be good in future to start hyper linking these ideas when they are mentioned, I’ll try doing that myself…

I agree, but I believe other parts are much more important and those users have other solutions, I feel like we should focus (especially coding and money wise) on HospEx specific features. I think it’ll be really cool to have a poll about this and see where the priority lies for other users I’ve seen the idea of having a poll on the slack somewhere but I hope it’s here somewhere as well. To the poll: I think telegram had a really nice poll - 4 options and you can rank them, they ended up implementing the most voted one first, what do you think?

I think this point is really important. Especially when we’re considering that there’s going to be a lot of language barriers both large and subtle, photos really provide a universal way for people to express personality


Photos are important for logistics and safety; You need to know what the person you’re meeting/hosting/surfing with looks like so you can identify the person at your designated meeting point.

But, if photos (including your profile photo) were hidden until a hosting/surfing request is approved, or until you add a person as a friend and exchange messages with them, wouldn’t that help eliminate (or at least reduce) the chance of someone being able to use the platform for dating or other nefarious purposes?

I think it could work like this: You could hide all photos on a person’s profile (including their profile picture) until you have messaged the person and they have (in some way) agreed to share their photos with you (for example by clicking “accept” on a couch request or meetup request). I think it also makes sense to allow friends you’ve added to see your photos.

But perhaps photos should only be visible to friends you’ve added after you and your friend have both exchanged messages at least once on the platform. This might be silly for people who have already met, but it would be better than just showing photos automatically after someone approves a friend request. If we were to just show photos after a person approves a friend request, that would just encourage people to add strangers as friends just so they can see their photos – which is a behavior we would want to prevent.

What do you think about these ideas?

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I prefer the idea that photos are a universal way for people to express personality, as @itsi suggested.

Your suggestions would link photos to considerations of trust and safety, but I would prefer to clearly see them belong to the creative side of a profile.


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I’ll be the first to admit that the idea I previously mentioned is an extreme approach to addressing the problem of people trying to use the platform for dating. I agree with both nolo, Friendly and Itsi that photos are important for personal expression and can in many cases help others get an idea of someone’s personality. So I agree that the downsides outweigh the benefits.

So, to answer the original question posed in this thread:

I think 3-6 photos is sufficient. I think the bare minimum could be 3:

  • A headshot (similar to a passport photo but with a smile!)
  • A travel photo / photo that expresses you (could be sorted in an album on the person’s profile OR used like the “cover photo” on FB)
  • A photo of your couch (should we allow people to add several photos in case they have multiple sleeping surfaces, etc?)

If we limit the file size or automatically compress them to a reasonable size, I think 3-6 photos is manageable. We could make adding more photos/creating albums a premium feature. I’d pay for that (especially if I could create/share albums linked to certain events!) and the money could be used to help us cover operational costs.


As of now, I’m thinking max 3 individual photos, and max 2 living space photos for a total max of 5. Not sure how that translates to cost tho.

This is worth exploring!


Photo gallery could be a perk, visible only to some users that have hosted/surfed several times (gamification).

This could be beneficial for activity, but also for creating a sense of community, knowing that your pictures are only visible to “real” members, or members that are trustworthy if you prefer.


The photos are not a bonus. They are not the strawberry on the top of the cake. They are not an extra feature without which the platform can function anyway. Photos are first of all a necessary feature related to safety as it increases the safety of both hosts and guests by allowing members to make better decisions when it comes to choosing who to meet. No matter how many words one can write on its profile, no matter how beautifully one is able to express itself through the words written on its profile, still those words say less about that person than the look in its eyes.
Because of this, photos should be visible to all members no matter if they are brand new, or members that have already accumulated several experiences.

3 to 5 photos are enough. Frankly I wont even look at the album. I agree with some people here that a photo can reveal a lot about one personality or a way of life. But if there is an issue with the operational costs then it should be limited


I like this idea. But I wouldn’t limit visibility but the option to upload. Let’s say: if you hosted/surfed hosted an event you can upload one pic from that experience. That way you’ll make sure that the pics are not dating intended, and that they show something relevant to the platform about the person: a pic cooking dinner with your host or taking your surfer for a hike says way more about how the interaction is going to be than a pic of the person doing something randomly and out of context, I can have a pic skydiving having only done it once and not planning to do it again, so it would say nothing about how interacting with me would be. And also they increase the sense of community as a bonus, because they would portray community members, and be a small reward for active people :slight_smile:

Other than that, 3 to 5 pics is more than enough for me, you can always link to any picture platform if you want to show more.

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I’ll echo that photos is an essential feature to this site. When I surf/host, they are usually at least as important as what they write in me making a decision to whether to send or accept requests. Feel like we should first identify how big of a problem this is cost-wise (both short-term and long-term) and discuss different ways to solve it, rather than preemptively making core feature changes to address what is essentially a cost-savings measure? There are other things you can do as well, such as limiting image size/quality and discarding the original image, or archiving old profiles’ images that is cheaper to store but requires some time to read from.

Also, I quite like how Couchsurfing (before it turned into paid, at least) and Couchers have profiles being public. I think if we want to make decisions to hide photos by default and only expose to certain people like your friends, such decisions should ideally be made upon privacy / security reasons, not just to save on server costs.

(Oops, this is an old thread and I’m just resurrecting it, sorry about that)


I always checked the pictures of my hosts or requests - too get a first impression of that person and to know what you are dealing with up to some point; next to the references it just adds up to the overall impression and safety: i wouldnt request/accept Some Dude with two female-only references and a picture where hes climbing out of a pool half naked (no joke, but most the spam “hi”, “hello beautiful” messages had either no profile picture or some with a topless dude on them)

But i totally agree: five pictures of couch and self should be enough :slight_smile:


Can’t wait to have more pictures to upload. Right now it is very hard to find that ONE picture that reflext you as a person. I always find it easier to have a little variation in profile pictures therefore people can see you as a traveler, at home, with other people, doing silly stuffs and so on.