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 .