People using Couchsurfing for dating/hookups/casual sex

I dont like this cause in I had issues with constant suspensions because i got a team of haters constantly reporting my profile. Even couchsurfing safety team told me this. I also had one of them (an abuser member i met in public who was for some reason against me for speaking up about abuse in couchsurfing), tell me in PM '‘we will bring down your profile as often as possible’’. And the AI has allows this hater and his friends to actually mass-report and disable my profile every now and then, so this is one reason i cannot be member of anymore. The safety team say they cannot do something since its because of their software…

So AI can be good but if users now how to manipulate AI it can be very bothersome both for the user and allow abusers have some fun/tweeks with it too:/

@anon29844220: that’s a good point: we are working hard with some experienced community leaders on how they think moderation should work, and how we should build it, so we don’t end up relying on mindless bots to ban people.

I think what @lucas was referring to was to have a joke thing next to where you write a message to other people, and if you write something creepy or whatever, the thing would say “I don’t think that’s a very nice message” or something like that. Not just an automatic banning AI!


Aha ok sounds good AI+human factor in :slight_smile:

Hey folks,
I am a researcher in the Tourism Department at the University of Otago. I love the discussion on this topic and points made so far. My research has mostly concentrated on the well-being of guides who identify as women in the adventure tourism industry. However, I have travelled extensively by using couch surfers and warm showers while doing cross-country cycling trips. Based on several anecdotal reports that I have had from friends who identify as women, CS has been quite problematic for several of them and I was told of some horrific incidences that never lead to anything when they reported it to CS. I am not sure what the best approach would be to ensure everyone feels safe on this new platform, but I must insist on the importance of thinking it through before the launch. I love some of the suggestions pointed to already (e.g., AI detection of ‘creepy’ message, ensuring references that can be anonymized…). I would suggest making sure that a team is able to respond to victims of assault/inappropriate behavior. This team would make sure to follow-up with the host or guest and not hesitate to ban them. I message emphasizing that this in not a platform for meeting people intimately or even for dates. This message should be very clear and not buried through tons of text. Feel free to email me if you would like any elaboration on these ideas/research about this. Cheers, Patrick, (


Hey Patrick! Hello from Kaitaia :slight_smile:

Thank you for sharing your experience and anecdotes. I’ve been talking with many people about the issue over the last few weeks (And indeed, since I started CS 13 years ago) and your points can’t be emphasized enough. Women turned away from CS in droves because of the behavior of some people in the community. Many women I know personally gave up on it without even hosting/surfing ONCE due to messages they’d receive or a lack of other women on the platform in general. I know of people who were otherwise a great fit for CS not trying it just because they heard other women’s stories and were to afraid to join. I also think CS did next to nothing to curb that problem.

Some members of this discussion have pointed out that prevention is important, while others seem resigned to the fact that creeps are going to creep. I err on the side of preventing predatory behavior as much as humanly possible. Even one person who starts sending out dating spam to 100 people could ruin it for an exponential amount of others.

Quick edit: I think it goes without saying that I and probably other female members who’ve voiced their concerns here are speaking on behalf of women we know; we ourselves are likely equipped/unfazed to deal with predators, don’t mind them much, or perhaps even enjoy the attention, I’m not judging. The important thing is that there is a large swath of potential users that don’t have a voice here because they didn’t put upWith/accept/experience the stuff we may have for whatever reason, but they deserve to be heard just as much as we do.


Interesting discussion here :blush: Think (already mentioned and proposed on the main site) some anonymous feedback with the reference would work the best in combination with member rating.

Maybe it’s an idea to have some local representatives/ambassadors so after the anonomous feedback they can try to handle and moderate the situation locally?

Now on the CS website the safety team is dealing with it by they don’t know what’s happening 8000km away since there’s always two sides of the story. This kind of worked before on CS when local ambassadors could still send/warn messages to the local community. Got for example some messages not to host this guy with profile link since he robbed another CS’er (and updates about his new fake accounts). Or maybe even better some kind of automated tools integrated for the local ambassador/moderators? As well if somebody got flagged with anonymous feedback for dating purposes, (let’s say three times?) the local ambassador will contact him/her and can eventually suspend their account if needed. (maybe the safety team needs to approve it in case the local ambassador will misuse his/her power?)

Only sidenote is that you’ll need an active local community to get this work and maybe some clear protocols to follow and an overall safety team to supervise it and correct where needed.

And for sure some more things to add or overthink?

1 Like

I think this is absolutely the way to go. Where possible, moderation tasks should be delegated to community members. Another reason for this is because it’s scaleable if implemented correctly. There’s a lot of anecdotal evidence that CS can’t handle all the reporting and moderation.

1 Like

I’d support that approach as well. Keep in mind that no matter how careful we are, involuntarily we still might end up with a bad apple as “ambassador” some day. In the beginning we should be alright; but if we reach a certain size we’d need some team at central to hold ambassadors accountable, too.

1 Like

@frleon, As proposed and mentioned, maybe there should be a safety team even on top of that in hierarchy? So maybe the team needs to approve it when members get suspended or their profile deleted. Or perhaps there’s better ways to deal with it?

On (the old) CS there were cases were ambassadors deleted negative references for their friends. So the power of local ambassadors should be for sure limited in some way.

wow, they can do that?
i left a negative on a ambassador who slandered me with copy-paste slander across groups, that im an imposter, a thief, and that nobody should meet me. I left a negative ref about his slander campaign and it was removed sameday. which is pretty impressive (and scary).
In some cases rumors arrived to me that particular ambassadors harassed sexually young girls. Especially wealthy ambassadors making parties inviting young tourists. BUt wheni asked the victim of such a case to talk to me (i was new member back then and had freaked out) she did notreply to me nor did she log in ever again to her profile, haha, its now like 10 years old profile without any login ever since she wrote on her own profile that she was sexually touched in an ambassadors party by the ambassador himself.

when i joined couchsurfin, i was in a hostel, I told the other women inmy dormitory that im going to join couchsurfing and they all said that its '‘dangerous’ to do so. they were from different countries so they couldnt have a view that is coming from ONE culture only.

Ther e is a blogpost online by a Polish couchsurfer who says very directly that she never had any experience in cs as female solo traveller without the host asking in some way or another for sex. She did not elaborate and from the text it doesnt seem that it bothers her much. BUt she did write this down on her blog.

If sexual invites are so prevalent, and happen even before mutual adult courtship takes place, then couchsurfing is akin to ‘‘survival sex’’ which is a disgrace for any community that respects itself and humanitarian values in general.
THERe is a video in youtube where a homeless girl says she used couchsurfing to find shelter and her host usually asked sex in return which she complied to avoid sleeping on streets again until the could not put up anymore with the sexual demandsa nd horrific insults from her host/rapist.

For all this, pm me if you need links. For ambassadors, i would say its a bad idea. Having a local rep maybe its better as it happens with servas?

Having a local rep for bureocratic reasons. HE/she/they take care of things and in return have a badge on thei rprofile. THey should have enough free time, perhaps they are retirees, and they can devote to volunteering to build up trust and a community. BUt how do you know they themselves are trustworthy inthe first place?

I guess someone who receives a lot of INTERAL (Not public) good refs , maybe 20 minimum, which describe how he/she/they help other members, that person is candidate for local rep. I WOuld hope you avoid the slang used by cs ‘‘ambassador’’, as it got bad in cs…

Local rep or Local contact or LOcal coordinator maybe?

The idea of ambassadors never sat that well with me. Like individuals that acted as the gateway between the users and the service providers and thus wielded a lot of power. Also no one really has a clear idea how they’re selected. I think a much better model would have a city organised by a team of ‘organisers’ who are highly involved. We could list them on the city pages you mentioned. We can really redefine what leaders look like: what they can provide, how they’re selected (and make this transparent), how users interact with them. We can also make it easier and less of a big deal to stop being a leader. People move on, and there should be a seamless process to update leaders in a community


Think that’s a great idea!

As @itsi mentions, ambassador are now chosen by the company and are a representative of the company CS. If there’s gonna be reprensatives or so they should be representing the local community and not the company. And should be chosen in some way by the local community or maybe automatically as @itsi mentioned to avoid abuse of power.

1 Like

Yes why most ambassadors in cs is unclear how they are selected plus they keep their status as ambassador it seems for ever. Rotating it would be more democratical and would allow for less abusive behaviours from ambassadors as they know they will only be an ambassador for 1 year or so. Plus it can be used as a way to mobilize users to be active members, not just hosting peole but making events. If it rotates by verified members only who have hosted minimum 15 travellers or met minimum 20 travellers and they have no heavy internal bad reviews, then it could even be a lottary game between trusted members to mobilze them to do more than hosting. If they are having a workload or dont want to be put in the spotlight to do than hosting travellers, they can just shift it to the next. Just making suggestions here inspired by the idea of not having permanent ambassadors. Any type of permanence in a position of power will eventualy lead to abuse when one things he/she is unacccountable or they are friends with other powerful members (other ambassadors, who in couchsurfing even have their own closed to other member group where slander and any thing else not really ‘nice’ could be going on, without the victims of the slander or whatever being able to get involved or read it).

Such ‘‘my friends and I have the say’’ mindset is one of the reasons couchsurfing died.

1 Like

Funnily enough I remember meeting a girl from an Eastern European country that specifically went to Couchsurfing meetings to pickup Black guys because that was what she was into and she was quite open about it.

I think rather than creating a website that acts as everyone’s nanny, have options that people can tick on their profile that specifically say you’re not comfortable being hit on, etc and then when someone searches for a host they’ll see that this was so important to you that you ticked that option and they’ll be far less likely to do anything that offends you because it’s clearly marked on your profile.

I think that’s better then the profiles you see that begins with the words “This is not a dating site”


in my country and culture, when a girl gets annoyed by a guy who tries a flirt and she’s not interested, she just kicks the guy or gets away.

you are hosted by a guy, he makes a pass at you: you leave. Done
you host a guy, he does the same, you put him out. Done.

a hospex is a listing for hosters and travelers to get in contact, nothing more.

As a woman I can tell what you are saying is NOT true, in any country or culture in the world. Is actually completely disassociated with reality. I suggest you have a real conversation with a woman before making this kind of delusional comments that disregard our problems as non existent. Thank you.


of course it exists. All girls I know, know how to get rid of an annoying guy. No idea if the phenomenon is measurable by sociologists and stats, but it’s certainly minor, most guys don’t have dating or romance in head. So there are the ones who are the more or less harassing type and the dangerous ones, and these ones, you can just mark them with a bad feedback, but that’s not the capabilities nor the job of an hospex to go around doing preemptive social police. A hospex is a virtual tool, the rest happens in real life and is to be dealt with as is, like people do deal with any bad issue and if needed by local police.

the real problem is instead that if you get hosted by a guy who is seriously harassing (he doesn’t get back to normality when told) you have to incur expenses for hotel, unless you find an adhoc replacement hoster. If you are the hoster, you kick out the guy. But again, what happens in real life, this or rape or robbers or serial killers, is outside the scope of an hospex, excepted for blacklisting or deleting profiles afterwards.

1 Like

Well, that sure solves all problems we’ve got.

No, seriously: On CS in particular there are way too many users just looking for hookups, and that’s bad because there’s such a stark asymmetry between horny surfers and hosts who don’t want these guests. If everyone were on the same page there wouldn’t be a problem.

In the end it depends on how we’re fostering the userbase, which actively of course can be done only so and so far. I’m pretty much agreeing with @archer that I don’t want a nanny site with a global policy, but having a clear and moderate way of action in cases of actual problems would already make us better than CS.


Maybe it would still make sense to discriminate different scenarios and split up the question on how to deal with them? Like

  • When receiving unsolicited advances in your inbox, which options would make you feel in charge/empowered/not being put off using the platform?
  • When having been advanced upon by a host/guest in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, which options would make you feel supported/safe/not totally put off by hospex?
  • What kind of support by the platform would be helpful in cases of bodily harm/criminal acts?

exactly, so how about a policy that this isn’t to be used as a dating site?

… but why not… because you still want to be able to use it for dating? I don’t understand. Everyone deserves to feel safe and comfortable using this app, and that would include the assumption that my host/tour guide/couchsurfer/person I’m meeting up with to travel with will not hit on me/make a move on me/proposition me. I don’t think some of you guys understand how much of a problem this is and how much of a barrier this is for 50% of the population to enjoy couchsurfing. Being with a stranger in a foreign country, or letting a stranger into your home puts you in a vulnerable position, and I think we deserve this kind of basic respect.

If you end up really liking someone… why don’t you wait until after you’ve hosted them/showed them around etc and then message them or whatever?! Can you not keep it in your pants for long enough to show them the respect of not risking making them uncomfortable in your home/hometown? We are talking about common decency here, not nanny rules (although it may feel like being a nanny considering some men’s attitudes).

It doesn’t matter that one of your female friends wanted to use it for dating (why wouldn’t you given the environment lol). It doesn’t give men the excuse to say “well SOME women in Cs want to be hit on!”. In the vast majority of couchsurfing situations and people we don’t. If we did, we would use tinder. Or go to a party. Or literally anything else. Or meet up with the CS person again in a different context! :thinking: Couchsurfing with strangers involves too much trust and vulnerability, can you at least wait until you know someone a BIT better.

Right, so wait till it happens (which it will inevitably will a zillion times) and then do something. I get what you at saying here but I really dislike this attitude. This does not make us feel comfortable using Cs as we still know it’s likely to happen as nothing has been done to prevent it. This is exactly the reason many women won’t use couchsurfing. I agree repercussions are important too but since when was prevention not better than cure?

*Also sorry for my gendered language I understand sometimes this issue is the other way round, but I am talking from a females perspective here and I think we can agree this is the majority of cases.

I too have actually dated someone from couchsurfing. But this person was not meeting with the intention of dating and DID NOT make ANY kind of move on me during our first meeting. It wasn’t until later after messaging and meeting up a few times later things started to happen. It’s really not that hard. If you want instant gratification this is not the place. A policy doesn’t need to say you can never make a move on people again but there are times and places it is really important that you don’t. And this is what I think would really make couchers stand out from other sites :slight_smile: