a “this is not a dating app” message at the start for new users?
I respectfully disagree with you here Kellyt, I think this is exactly the problem. The purpose of couchsurfing is for meeting new people and making connections - yes, this might sometimes turn romantic or into a hookup as things naturally do in real life when you meet people. But when people use it with the INTENTION of finding romance/sex is when it becomes “creepy” and I think totally inappropriate, and is why using the app can be uncomfortable and unappealing for so many people.
I personally have had several negative experiences with couchsurfing - not necessarily cos the guy was “rude” or “lewd” to me, but because his intention was to meet women and so there is an expectation that this is a date, and then sometimes sex is expected later and then you are in a very uncomfortable and unpleasant situation (especially if you are alone with them in a foreign country!!!). Not to mention countless messages and friend requests all from men which makes my inbox look no different to tinder! It makes it very hard to trust people, and I have heard similar sentiments from many of my female friends.
I agree with Lucas, and think there should be a clear message for new users that this app is NOT for dating, highlighting the importance of this in order to make others comfortable. If two people meet and then happen to get along like magic then that’s great but it should not be the purpose of the app for anyone, and first meetings/hostings of people should be tread with utmost care in this regard (ESPECIALLY if you are the host or the local ‘tour guide’, as you are in a position of power as such, in which case hitting on your couchsurfer is probably never appropriate).
Ofcourse you can’t control people and it will no doubt happen regardless, but having some kind of message like this to new users at the BEGINNING and throughout might make a lot of people think differently about their actions. I think a lot of people would just react mad and defensive if they receive a message like this afterwards.
After all, most “creeps” are just misguided and they may not realise they are doing anything bad.
To sum up my long argument (sorry)
- It’s not about overtly creepy or gross messages. Although these do happen occasionally, for the most part it is just a hundred polite introductions (all from men! ), exactly as you would receive in a dating app :).
- People need to be told not to use this as a dating app to make people think twice about how/why they use the app
- This could be perhaps a pop up message to new users? part of their introductory email? Part of the main ethos of the community with frequent reminders? Like when you go to send a DM or accept a couchsurfer?
- Prevention over punishment