Map Search improvements

Hey all, I’m Kenny. I just got going on Couchers and met Itsi in NYC to have him on my podcast to talk about the site. I’ve had some ideas, so wanted to start with these two.

On “Map Search” if the first thing I do is try to filter by “Can Host” I’m prompted to “specify a location to use this filter.” I should be able to do this without specifying a location, and just peruse the map and see where hosts are (and not the “can’t hosts”). For example, I might be in Miami and traveling up the east coast to New York - I wanna see who’s hosting in between without having to check cities one at a time, and also not miss out on hosts in smaller towns because I didn’t know to search them.

My second suggestion is to merge “Can Host” and “May Host.” It’s the same thing. Really, everyone is a “may host.” Having both options adds confusion, both in the minds of hosts who have to choose which status applies, as well as people searching. Most people will filter their search with “Can Host,” which will leave all those who chose “May Host” invisible in the vast majority of searches. (I know you can filter with both selected, but many people won’t figure that out, and shouldn’t have to).

That’s it for now, a couple of easy fixes.

In the future, maybe there could be an extra feature where a host could indicate a temporary “eager to host” status which would float them to the top of results and highlight their marker on the map. As a traveler, this would be a nice signal to see, and make you more likely to send a message to a host even if they haven’t gotten any references yet. You’d at least know it wasn’t someone who just created a profile for kicks, but may not actually be interested in hosting. The “temporary” aspect would also let you know they’re “eager to host” as recently as just a day or a week ago.

Happy days, keep it going!

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Hey @kennyflannery ! Awesome podcast btw :slight_smile:

Thanks for your feedback! There are definitely improvements that need to be made on the map search. Fortunately, there are plans to address some of these issues as development continues. In general, you can expect continuous improvements as we move forward. With that being said, we’ll make sure to make note of this!

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That suggestion for map search would be great, and so I am also looking forward to any upcoming improvements.

About this second point though, maybe we should invite some further discussion? Perhaps a moderator could even do some magic and move it to a new thread?

Just a few initial thoughts:

First, I’d like to hear more about how the three choices of Can/May/Can’t host came to be (and Want’s to/Open to/Can’t meet).

I agree simplicity often has it’s advantages, so if the reasons for the increased specificity aren’t very strong, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying just a Can/Can’t option. (I think that’s what BW has currently? Has it always been that way? Are there lessons to be learned there?)

For me personally, I have used all three hosting options since the beta launch, and having the options felt intuitive for me and had the desired effect.
Can host: I get more requests and they come in fairly regularly. Great for when I have tons of availability and I’m stoked to host as much as I can.
May host: I get only a few requests sporadically. Great for when I’m really busy but still can host for a weekend here or there. I probably wouldn’t have the time to properly respond to “Can host” level of requests, so if this wasn’t an option I would probably just do “Can’t host”. :slightly_frowning_face:
Can’t host: I have never got a request so far with this one. Working as designed!

Also from the guest side of things, I do enjoy having some indication of how likely I am to get a response/acceptance from the hosts I’m reaching out to. I think the “May host” option might play a nice role here too. Also, sometimes I’m not in the mood for a superhost-with-100-references kind of experience, and reaching out to a “May host” with few or even zero references can feel like a nice change of pace.

An “eager to host” option or similar is an interesting thought. In some ways it would just be a change in semantics to Can Really host/Can host/Can’t host. If it had that temporary quality though that you suggest maybe it would be a little different. If such an option existed I would probably use it sometimes. It does raise another set of questions for me though around the “superhost” effect. I know diminishing that effect and spreading the hosting around more evenly is an important goal for Couchers, and altering things along the lines proposed might influence that to some degree.

Anyway, I’m curious to hear how others feel? Is “May host” a good option to have? Should we get rid of it? Improve it? Is there some entirely different way to approach the hosting availability issue?

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Loved the podcast!

I strongly agree on the first point about the map.
And the “eager to host” idea sounds pretty cool.

Thanks, appreciate the feedback! We’re working on redoing the map page in the next couple of months (it’s relatively high priority at the moment but there’s a few more important things). This will include a better filtering system where you can just see everyone in the world that matches the filter.

Also I do like the “eager to host” option!


BeWelcome has a binary choice of can/can’t host, but also lets the host choose between ~10 levels of Hosting interest.

I believe it was introduced in 2020, or 2021, and I’m not sure how it works exactly, but if my memory serves me right, I think it influences the search algorithm.
Although I’ve not had enough requests to see how it plays out in practice, this is the solution, so far, that appeals most to me as a host.

Personally, I have tried using the “Maybe” option on Couchsurfing™ in the past, and come to the conclusion that it’s never something I’d choose as a host or a guest.
It seems the people who send the best requests don’t have time to spend a speculative request on a “Maybe”, whereas the copy+pasters might just fire through the whole list.

So as a “Maybe”, I got mostly poor and sometimes average requests. All the great ones came when I showed more enthusiasm for hosting. But perhaps it works differently in less popular/active locations than Amsterdam or Manchester.

Thanks for the extra BeWelcome info. I just had a second look at it as well. My understanding is it basically just lets a host self-select how high up they appear on the list-style search results, but only if the prospective guest doing the searching has selected to have results ranked by hosting interest. Hosting interest is the default choice, so presumably most people would have them ranked that way. Guests do have a variety of others choices though for how to rank the list of hosts.
host order

For map searches though, every host is essentially equivalent. The default search just shows a dot if someone “can” host with no further availability information. You can check a box and have it also show “can’t” hosts, which then appear as a different color dot. Hosting interest is not displayed on someone’s profile or anywhere that’s visible to a guest doing a search as far as I can tell.

Which brings up one potential downside from the guest prospective even for the list-style search. There’s no real sure way to tell how available the hosts are. There’s a vague sense that those at the top are more likely to be available, but what if all the hosts in some locale get busy and set their hosting interest to the minimum? They would still appear in a list exactly the same way as if they all had it set to the maximum. Seems odd to not have some way to convey that information to the guests doing searches.

One thing I really do like about the way the BW map search works though is that if you click on any given host pin it quickly and clearly shows the number of guests the host can accommodate. Currently for Couchers you do get some “quick facts” or whatever you want to call it about the host, but that’s not one of them. So you have to click to open the full host profile, then click again to select the “home” tab where you can see it. And if you didn’t open that profile in a new tab, using the browser “back” button sort of resets the map position/zoom level from where you had it.

You can actually choose a filter for “number of guests” for the map search, which I guess implicitly gives you that information. Except, lots of hosts haven’t set a number for that field, so they just don’t appear at all when that filter is enabled. In fact, my location has about 30 users currently, several of which are “can hosts” and several more “may hosts”, but I’m literally the only one who shows up if you use that filter! Even if you set it to 1 guest.

I prefer to set up my hosting status on Maybe. Had in like that on CS, on TR and have now on Couchers, too. Whether I will host or not depends on the request I get. I feel like “May host” isn’t promising anything to anyone.

When I had “Can host” on CS and declined the request, some people even asked me “Why do you have on your profile that you Can host, then?”. But I have never gotten any aggressive response on “May host”.

In the end Can or May are indeed the same and I agree they should be emerged in the filter search.

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I know it’s early days with Couchers, but anecdotally in my case, it’s actually been the opposite for whatever reason. When I was on “Can host” I got both thorough and not-so-thorough copy/paste requests. On “May host,” I’ve only gotten thorough and personal requests so far.

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I would prefer to still have both “can” and “may” options. I understand there are people who host almost anyone, so “can” is their choice. I’m quite picky with the requests I get, so I usually go with “may”. Wouldn’t like anyone to write me “Why do you have on your profile that you Can host, then?” if I decline their request, as sb has to @michaela

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Yes, at least on CS “can host” tended to mean”will probably always host you no matter what” whereas “may host” expressed a more selective process. I can confirm what @michaela and @phaula are saying too :slight_smile:

Last time I did check, I was living in Belgium, however, when I try to put in Map Search the location Belgium, I didn’t show up.

I suspect other people got a similar issue.
I know that it starts with the first 50 and when you scroll down more show up, but this doesn’t seem the issue here.

Hey there,
I found this topic on the map search improvement and I wanted to share 2 things a bit irritating when using the map search :

  • the need of specific location to enable the filters (as previously said). It really problematic when you don’t know exactly where you go,
  • the automatic movement of the map when clicking on an icon (not centering, just moving the icon slightly right)

In the filter “last active” it might be interesting to add “2 months” ?

But very efficient tool, thx for your effort
I don’t know if it’s the right place for such a comment though

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Locations on Map Search (sometimes) do not make any sense. Used to live next to Utrecht, entering just that will obviously return Utrecht, but why the flippin’ l does “La Chapelle-sur-Erdre, Les Crétinières, Pays de la Loire, France” appear in the drop-down? I know, well sort-of, about the soundex algorithm, and this may be used here (is it?), but here it does not make any sense…

Another feature I’d like to see is “persistent filters”, I don’t want to see profiles of users that have just signed up “because”, only to never show up again, and like on every other (C$, HC, TW, BW) there seem to be a fair amount of them of them, so I always looked for people who’d logged on no longer than a month ago. Saving that preference would be ever so useful!

They are working on the futures, but they can’t do all at once.
One of the futures is the “hide” inactive users what you did suggest.

Like you did say, I noticed too that the search location is odd sometimes, like when I give my exact address, it still says I am not specific enough.
But again, they are working on it.

That being said, thanks for your suggestions.

From my experience on hospitality sites, Can Host is often quite different from May Host. Can Host means the member is in a position (or the reverse, of course) to accept ‘surfing’ requests from new contacts.
A designation of May Host would seem to indicate that this person, while they probably Can Host, might not be in a position, at the moment, to ‘leave the lights on’ but would like to keep that option open for another timeslot, perhaps in the future, at a time that matches the ‘surfer’s’ needs.
A linguistic tweak to the Can/May paring might be appropriate, but I can see good use for some discrimination between two situations.

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That’s a good point, i hadn’t considered that benefit of the “may host” option