Obstacles for representation in the community

on camera meetings: not everyone who travels has consistent high speed internet or the equipment. it may even be a great burden.
l will check out the women’s working group. at first glance l would encourge inclusion of people who identify not as women but would be exposed disproportionately to harassment as well, examples include but are not limited to trans people or otherly abled individuals

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I hear you on having good internet and equipment. However, you can always join with a mobile phone and your camera off. No need to be on camera, and no need for anything fancy. :slight_smile:

Yes, eventually we want as many groups as possible geared toward people of all different representations that we can have feedback channels with, but women was the easiest to set up for now. As well, we would need people who identify as those groups to lead such meetings and so on. If there’s one you’d like to do, or if you know someone who does, please direct them to us :smiley:

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see that’s the thing, the inclusion is about making the community attract and be friendly toward those individuals. the absence of bipoc, trans and otherly abled persons (for example) is directly correlated to their invisibility.

on the issue of technology/ connectivity, l do not agree that it feels/ looks fine to a would be participant if they do not have the technology, nor would they be perceived the same way by others in the meeting.
it’s not possible for someone to participate in a video chat if they can’t stream videos and have no camera. l draw a parallel that people don’t even want show up at school if they can’t afford Nike shoes. to someone who can afford to video chat, or have consistent access, this may sound like l am being difficult, but lack of access is very common. people continue to use IRC and other text chat based communication channels like Slack. it doesn’t suggest modernity to use video chats as the primary forms of meeting and greeting, it’s tech preference/ dependence.

I think the team has been doing as much as possible to promote inclusivity and include everyone, support communities of all types, and encourage participation. I don’t think there is an absence or invisibility. You can check some of the forum topics that relate, such as:

Should we have dedicated features for LGBT+ members?
“Preferred gender” option for hosting
Designing Search to support safety and diversity
What’s the purpose of the gender field?

These topics illustrate a bit how Couchers.org handles and approaches ideas from various groups and how friendly our tone is about it. Our moderation team isn’t as diverse as it could be, but we’re always open to adding more moderators of different backgrounds, too.

l do not agree that it feels/ looks fine to a would be participant if they do not have the technology, nor would they be perceived the same way by others in the meeting.
it’s not possible for someone to participate in a video chat if they can’t stream videos and have no camera.

Aw, I have to disagree with you. We run two weekly online social events with the whole community (and a lot of other volunteer meetings) and no one is ever excluded for not using their camera. Lots of people join on a regular basis (week 66!) who can’t use their camera (or simply don’t want to) and others who have a weak connection, and we are very happy to still get to know them and include them. It’s not a problem for our community at all. In fact, it gives the community perspective and insight as to how the world is coping with the pandemic and leaps and bounds in tech.

Either way, thanks for your thoughts! Got a bit off topic here but if you want to continue the discussion about the need for better representation/visibility or the use of technology in building our communities, I think those are two great topics we could start!

I wanted to write the same thing :slight_smile: Also, I wouldn’t say Couchers focuses on online events - that would be strange for a hospex website. Nor they are the only or even main way to express one’s opinion on the platform - this whole forum exists for that. Calls are just a nice opportunity for those who want to have a chat with fellow couch surfers.


l see there’s more than 1 person defensive about this. l’m not saying anyone is spoiled, ablist or the R word. l’m pointing out blind spots in the current state.

note that l am expending considerable time to put forth an unpopular opinion. and l thank u for ur time.

l observed this site being organized from a year ago, and there was always emails encouraging ppl to join video mtgs. By contrast, l didn’t even know this text forum existed until now. and l am jumping right in.

video chatting has been popular for 20 years. it’s what some people are used to & prefer. and it helps whoever prefers it to get closer as l can tell here. l understand why it’s emphasized. but a large population can’t do it.

these are blind spots. l draw another parallel, feminine hygiene products were designed by cis men. they had expertise, and took a lot of time & consideration to design and make them. but they’re not women. decades later, cis women invented the silicone period cup. l’m not questioning ur sincerity, or the sincerity of anyone building this. l present a perspective that is not being represented because of the current state.

these aren’t just covid times, they’re divisive times. l understand why ur defensive. these are not topics that can be discussed honestly without discomfort. hospex helps with getting rid of these divisions a lot. my message is simple: actively include, one way is to be more technology agnostic.

Our emails have always promoted the forums, too, sometimes highlighting the most popular topics of the month and quoting posts as well. :slight_smile: Lately it’s been toward the bottom of the emails, but if you think it’s getting too buried, maybe we can push it to the forefront more. If that’s something you think would help shine light on the blind spots.

I’m sorry if you think anything we said came across as defensive. I simply don’t want anyone to think that because they can’t use a camera they wouldn’t fit right in at our weekly online meetings, because that’s not the way we do them. We always try to engage with everyone who comes, even if they are muted the whole time and never unmute. Sometimes people write in the chat bar!

Again, it’s important to me that anyone who comes to the forum knows the facts about what we do. I wouldn’t call it defensive, it’s just being a moderator.

Your reason might not be that unpopular. Like you said, we are relying heavily on technology that not everyone has access to to conduct the development of the project and building the community. We rely on people who CAN use our app, forums, and online events to take the spirit of what we’re doing into real life, face-to-face situations. For that reason, I would say there’s no added value to being technology agnostic when we so much need it to do things like spread the word, recruit volunteers, and engage in real-time discussion - especially during a pandemic :slight_smile:

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I also think that technology is needed to connect people in a proper way when they are halfway across the planet, sending a letter is not beneficial here.
Although, I do agree that when people are closer together, there should be a more hands on / face to face approach with less technology.
That being said, the times I was in a meeting, I have had nice convo’s with people who I did never see (or sometimes hear).

About inclusion because they “hide” so to speak, although it might be hard because of previous experiences for some people / groups / cases, if they try to be more visible, eventually they will become accepted. (Sorry about my wording here, I got the feeling this sounds harsh and wrong where I didn’t mean it to sound like that)

If you really want to point out issues, I think a bigger issue (for now at least) is the language barrier, although many do speak English, not everybody does or does well enough.
I know they try to have the site / forum in different languages.

lastly I want to point out that there is no rule against being on a zoom call with more than one person on the same camera, what I mean here is, you (and we) are always able to or trying to help each other.