Localised or International Interest Groups

Hi guys! I’d like to find out a bit more about how you used Groups in CS.

  • I used/interacted in local groups
  • I used international interest groups
  • Groups are useless!! #*$^#&

0 voters

If you could, please elaborate exactly on how often you used them, what you talked about, etc.

From user research and what I’m seeing on CS for groups right now, I am inclined to only having local interest groups (e.g. “Dungeons and Dragons”, “Football fanatics unite!”, “Amsterdam mummies”) as they seem to be the ones that are actually useful and have productive conversations on them. (A la facebook groups, those are done extremely well in a local context)

For international interest groups, please change my mind if you disagree!

I’m interested to see if people are interested in groups that are regional/national but larger than their own city. For instance, I might be interested in “Football Sydney”, but it’d be good if there were things larger than my city like “Football Australia”. Also something like hitchhiking groups, I can see something like “Hitchhike Turkey” being useful where people can exchange tips.

What does everyone think? Leave groups to only within towns/cities or have more general ones that anyone can join/be invited to?

My favourite group on cs by far was Funny negative references :partying_face:

So I don’t know how to vote here and I wonder how’s the general understanding? On cs everything was called a group. But I’d refer to a lot of them rather as discussion topics and see groups related to people coming together irl.

Or maybe we should #*$@& groups and talk of topics and communities?

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Hmm I’m not too familiar with this. When I was checking out groups on CS, I used the Find Groups tab under search. (See below)

I remember talking to @MamaBloss during a user research call and she mentioned people posting stuff on groups such as “Need last min host” or “I’m coming to X City on Friday, anyone wanna hang out”. So I assume these are groups which have a local context to them. When I say local groups, I mean that on the Couchers platform, we would tag groups according to location so that it would show up on local pages, instead of being a completely separate entity (international/generic groups).

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I’m a big supporter of groups, use them extensively, and co-moderate two.

Groups fell off the radar for many people because they do not exist in either app—only via a web browser. I primarily use a computer, thus, I participate.

A lot of old-timers lament the fact they are not available in the apps.

When I was new to CS, I studied the two international groups “advice for surfers” and “advice for hosts.” They were literally like a university course that helped me understand how things work.

There was also a public group in which Ambassadors answered questions from members. You could tell from reading the responses that there was a lot of accumulated experience, wisdom, and tips being shared. CS removed that group recently, much to my dismay.

In the international category, there are interest groups to help travelers around a single topic. Examples are vegan, hitchhikers, motorcyclists, ride shares, women travelers, 50+ travelers, LGBT, cooking and language exchanges, etc. I think it’s brilliant.

On the local side, I co-mod my city’s last minute/ emergency group (which is how I know the issue of unwanted sexual advances crosses all lines). A group may appear inactive, when in reality it’s not. People who need to escape a bad host never post publicly. Instead, they reach out to a mod privately. I’ve rescued many or referred them to other local hosts I knew.

The other group I co-mod is for local events. Why a group? As an event organizer on CS, you can only invite your friends. A much wider/larger group of locals subscribe to the group so that they can get event notifications. A lot of communal dinners came together this way.

This double system, event posts plus a group listing all of them blasted out to all subscribers, helped us build an active, engaged community.

There are also local groups for people who hike, play sports, etc.

So, with all due respects, I don’t see any downside to groups of all stripes, flavors, and geographic scope.

This is an interesting observation. Some groups are in fact discussion topics, and some revolve solely around geography (but even then, there are sub groups — people in a city/area/ region who play chess, like to go dancing, or do yoga).

International/generic groups can be extremely insightful, as mentioned above. Some of my favorite non-local groups have had the best interaction. Off of the top of my head, topic examples include how to write a good request, how to handle a bad experience (host or surfer), artist and musician discussions, or even religion when traveling. And recipe exchanges!

They are all organic, community builders. People come together and self align.

CS’s main weakness is that it does not delete groups that become inactive.

@kellyt, I would respectfully and strongly ask you to reconsider.

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Thank you for taking the time out to explain all of this! I’ll read it in detail later. It’s very useful and I would love to hop on a call with you to understand how exactly you used them - will drop you a message soon!

Don’t worry, I’m not saying that we should remove Groups completely, just want to get some insight from users on how to build them effectively :slight_smile:

We could start with local communities organising events and city pages on the hospitality app.

For more conversations and topics, we could start on a forum like this one, because it offers tools for easily re-arranging content. So we could offer a flexible stage for groups and topics to materialize.

Atlas Obscura does something along these lines. They have places and experiences on their website and then all of these get an automatic entry on their community forum. Like:

Ollantaytambo Ruins
Community discussion of Ollantaytambo Ruins

This way the two areas are connected. Additionally there’s room on the forum for a variety of other conversations, that are not represented on the main site.

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I am one of them! It’s such a hassle to check my groups now.

Like Nolo, I also wasn’t sure how to answer the poll. All three answers apply to me :slight_smile:

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I like groups.
Localized ? Meaby.
We’re not living in Gent (Belgium), but we’re part of a group which has the name Gent in it.
The group tries to meet up every month, and although it’s never overcrowded, there is enough people from outside Gent showing up, including us, who even at some times need to find a host to let us stay the night over.

What I want to make clear: don’t restrict if it comes to “localized” groups based on geography.

Anyone had constructive experience with international interest groups ?
I tried in the past, but never meeting people always end up loosing connection with people over some time.

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I like local groups because they allow people to come togheter in real life.

Regional groups are also very useful when traveling.

Something important to consider would be that, al least in the begging, there won’t be that many users, so fracturing into too many too specific groups may be counterproductive. Maybe some kind of mixed system could work, like city groups and labels or hashtags to filter by interest or topic?

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As detailed in a previous reply above, yes.

Many served as incredible sources of information, experience, and wisdom.

It’s not necessary to have a face-to-face meeting to derive value and connection. I still exchange messages with several, and I have chatted with some on Zoom.

@Jesse discussed this last night, especially in the context of ridesharing.

I’ve also set up a network of hosts in nearby cities. When one of us has a great surfer that we recommend, we notify hosts in other locales. Most of us, but not all, are located along the same interstate highway (autoroute, motorway). Surfers who are not flying on airplanes usually follow somewhat similar routes east, west, or north (there is no south at my location).

One host and I have exchanged 10-11 surfers.

So, yes, there is a role for regional connections.

I would counsel everyone to think very broadly. Is there any downside to users making organic connections?

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No, there’s no downside, it’s all about that! :+1:

Connections, linked profiles, short-lived groups, trips, travel companions, how to move around the world with a light ecological footprint,…

I feel there’s so much potential for new and creative ways here and they’ve not been picked up by a hospex platform so far! …maybe we should have a wild thoughts category?

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This is a good point. It’s not just a discussion group, but a way of letting other people know what you’re interested in and serves as a place for people to connect and organize together.

Could we accomplish the same thing with tags within our profile? For example, if you’re interested in backpacking, you could click on the backpacking tag and either search for people who are into backpacking or find a backpacking forum. Of course anyone could create a backpacking forum, and add tags to the forum like “backpacking” “chicago” “outdoors” “camping” etc.

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I thought every category is a wild thoughts category ahahah.

On another note though I think all the interest groups on CS would have been a lot more helpful if they had simply ported them to the app properly. Like @Aleja mentioned, regional groups would be more useful while traveling, but if they’re not accessible on the app, it’s not so useful anymore.

I also liked the idea of a mixed system so that the community doesn’t fracture into millions of subgroups early on. It could also help in curbing the number of groups people make in each city. “NZ Rideshare” isn’t really necessary if you can easily search for “rideshare” inside the NZ group. But that would be a really huge undertaking to achieve.

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I also liked the idea of a mixed system so that the community doesn’t fracture into millions of subgroups early on. It could also help in curbing the number of groups people make in each city. “NZ Rideshare” isn’t really necessary if you can easily search for “rideshare” inside the NZ group. But that would be a really huge undertaking to achieve.

I have to say I haven’t used CS groups in a while so maybe this feature was already there or planned, but I think for more “general” interest groups it could be useful to have a geographic hierarchy (general/continental/national/regional/city) that the user can use to tag threads.

For example, let’s say there is a “boardgamers” group, probably people will join this group just to show interest in this particular topic, but browsing the threads in the group will be probably uninteresting because either too general (“what are your favorite games?” - assuming anyone is interested in discussing this on Couchers) or too location specific (“what are the best boardgames conventions in Germany?” and I’m Argentina). Or probably some threads that could be location-relevant to the reader will be from months back and will probably pass unnoticed.
So sometimes when browsing these “general” groups I felt like I needed to filter out thread not relevant to my location or that I was missing them because they were in some subgroup or local group.

If we could find a useful way to tag threads in a group to a location/region/country, the same thread about a boardgame event could appear in the Boardgame Berlin/Brandenburg/Germany group (which would then be created automatically - but that probably needs quite some maintenance to keep groups tidy?), thus making it easier for someone planning to travel to a specific location if there’s also something interesting nearby. Or maybe I’m backpacking through Germany or Europe and this information will not appear in either national groups or in local groups I’m not checking.

At the same time, the post could maybe also appear in the Berlin Group with the tag “boardgames” so people that are not super into boardgames but could be interested would see it as well?
And also the other way around, if I ask in the Berlin group something related to boardgames, make it appear in the Europe/Germany/Brandenburg/Berlin Boardgames Group.

Or maybe make it optional to cross-post. What’s important in the end is to deliver topics to readers both based on location or interest. This would probably make groups quite “liquid” and a bit high maintenance tho. Upside is that you could populate quickly different groups with content and stimulate users to keep expanding them.

Could we accomplish the same thing with tags within our profile? For example, if you’re interested in backpacking, you could click on the backpacking tag and either search for people who are into backpacking or find a backpacking forum.

I also like this idea a lot @Jesse. I think as long as you leave some free text area for people to talk about themselves and if they understand why it’s useful to fill in tags, they won’t feel like Couchers is trying to overprofile them.

To do this anyway you would need a preset of interests to connect profiles to groups and to tag threads with interests, and allow submissions of interests to add. I find it fascinating but I don’t know how much work would it take to find the right balance between tagging and letting users free to add their most obscure interest. Just an idea :blush:

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Fantastic! You’ve really thought through all of this. I was thinking of the same concept of using interest hashtags in place of groups - coupled with a geolocation on each thread (according to the OP’s hometown), it would solve the problem of having to define them as local or international groups since you’d be able to filter for both interest and location.

Exactly!

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I would love to have a “Search for travelbuddy” group!
And a sucess storry group!
both internacional

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I like the idea of a group for finding travel buddies! Maybe we could even build a feature similar to “public trips” but for finding travel buddies. Right now “public trips” on CS are for people to post their travel plans and a host can see that public trip and offer to host them. What if people could also indicate “looking for a travel buddy” and then other travelers who want to join could send a “travel buddy” request? Is that something you think people would use?

Mods feel free to split this into a new thread, but I think they problem with groups as they’ve been/are being used is that they’re a freeform place to put anything which you couldn’t achieve with another part of the site.

For example, a boardgames group, a city group, a find a travel buddy group, why are these all groups? To be this isn’t very good design - it would be better if those things had a place.

Maybe we should think about what the types of groups were, what they achieved, and how that can be done - maybe some will indeed be groups in the end.

To start of with, there’s interest discussions, geographic-based discussions, geographic interest discussions, travel partner finding…

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I think we shouldn’t look too much at cs groups as a model to study. In a way, cs groups took off in the desktop-only, even pre-facebook age of the internet. Today there’s a whole different landscape for community and groups firmly in place on the web already. I can imagine that groups will be embraced in some way, but I suggest we don’t try to lay out the tracks for that.

As written above, I’d propose starting out with a very narrow focus on the platform and establish some space for local communities and events. At the same time, link this to exactly a freeform place on a forum, where it’s not costly to make, break and rearrange things as they come. We’ll also have detailed insight on usage on a mature forum software. And if it takes off in certain directions, can always think about how to integrate that more closely on the platform itself.

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