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!! #*$^#&

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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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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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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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I agree but I don’t think this is a problem. No matter what platform we design, I’m sure there’ll always be features that we can’t implement or won’t have thought of. I see a lot of value in groups as a general framework for any kind of organisation and discussion, so nothing gets left out just because we don’t have that feature. I think going down the path of categorising all groups will end up being quite prescriptivist, even if we’re able to capture 95% of the groups in other parts of the site.

Because they’re general, groups can also be a source for innovation. If we find a lot of groups being created e.g. roadtrip groups then that’s an indication that we should consider building in that feature.

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Hi Kelly, Here are my thoughts about the groups in Couchsurfing. I was a member for about 12 years and had a lot of luck with the city groups when they were functioning. For example , let’s say Hugh and I wanted to invite people to a barbeque here in Adelaide… a quick post to the Adelaide group and we’d have people interested. For our 25th anniversary, the same thing. It was a brilliant way to connect with flame eaters, a one person band, dancers etc. Likewise when we travelled. We could post to such and such a city group mentioning I do magic and Hugh sings. We’d get nice responses and good sociable times of sharing. (We do a street theater of a bunyip act)
There are a number of chit chat groups on Couchsurfing. I’d like to mention particularly 50+ travellers and Advice for Hosts. About 2 years both were threatened with closure unless they were moderated. A gentleman called Florian, the head of Trust and Safety in Couchsurfing was in charge of this push for moderation of groups. I guess his name has come up before and he could be called upon to verify what happened and why. This came about through a long period of name calling, political posts, baiting, goading, derailing of threads, religious vilification. The groups were finally moderated, but the feelings there kept getting inflamed through repeated religious and political threads. In 50+ Travellers group the moderators changed with the weather, such was the frustration. Those who were strongly politically inclined used to circumvent the moderator and report those they didn’t agree with as “Trump supporters” " misogynist" “religious zealot” etc. to Florian.Very often people were suspended as a result of the secret reporting going on.For example, a Pakistani host was regularly goaded that he was a woman hater as in his household women were separate from men. He was suspended many times . The irony was that he did quite a lot of hosting and his accusors did little or no hosting. But were (and still are) nimble communicators with the Couchsurfing trust and safety team. It would be unfortunate if groups were allowed to evolve in this website along similar ways.
Probably it would be worthwhile if groups were asked from time to time to show how they work to bring about real life meetings and real life hospitality. If it happens that a group evolves to be a political clique of an echo chamber perhaps the usefulness could be questioned .

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