Private profiles stifle growth

People are generally not interested in joining communites with opaque membership such as Couchers.

CS making profiles public was smart because users were inadvertently growing community by simply sharing how great it was through pictures, reviews, and storied bios.

That’s why I joined - I was able to scout out people with profiles that looked real and amicable in the places I wanted to go.

Fully private profiles by default prevents exploration and stifles platform growth.

You can make this change and prioritize privacy. Make private profiles the default if you’re feeling prescriptive OR make it a forced choice, explaining the pros and cons of the decision.

Even better, but understandly, more work - allow us to choose specific parts of our profile to share publicly, privately, or just to friends.

Right now the only growth you’re probably getting is from people who are very curious and open-minded and/or people who have already used CS or similar platforms.

Private communites scare people. If I had no idea what the CS community was like before stumbling upon Couchers, I would certainly NOT sign up without being able to at least preview a few profiles (and places!) like I could with CS.

Seeing friendly faces makes people feel safe, welcome, and excited to join the party. Couchers already has the best front-end, name, and domain of all CS alternatives. A transparent community could be the last major key in unlocking it’s growth potential.

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Curious - I don’t see anywhere where I can make my profile private. Does Couchers have opaque membership? I haven’t come across any private accounts that I can’t see. But maybe you mean something else? By public do you mean that it was possible to look at people’s profiles without an account?


pretty sure he means public as in viewable without an account and therefor searchable (on Google)

CS used to have an option to make your profile public/private like that


Yes, it seems all profiles on CS are private. While I think the default did change on CS a few times, I’m fairly certain there was always an option to be public.

Couchers has opaque membership - you cannot view profiles without joining.

TL;DR: Not seeing profiles without making an account makes you less likely to make an account.

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Really? I would think that makes it more likely that people make an account.

Not sure I agree. Profile privacy before signup had no bearing on me signing up whatsoever. I’ve asked around my Couchers friends too and apparently, this was not a major factor for them either.

Nevertheless, I don’t see why an option to make your profile visible to people who haven’t signed up would be a bad thing. I suspect the devs have got higher priorities right now though.

Probably not. This is why social media and dating app ads (which are usually well-tested) and even CS’s landpage (at one point) feature people.

Seeing the community makes it more attractive to join.

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I think it might be important to only ask people who don’t already have experience with a couchsurfing community. Otherwise, they may already be comfortable with how they work so it wouldn’t have any bearing on their decision.


It really depends on what the devs prioritize. A public profile option might be great for growth if that’s important to them.

This part I definitely agree with. I would absolutely love to see us have some active users (who volunteer for it) with faces and names featured on the main landing page as well as on our Couchers social media accounts and anywhere else it would make sense. I think these would be even more effective with a slight “testimonial” angle where we could have a face, name, location, etc. alongside a “why I host” sort of thing. Or a host and a guest that actually just stayed together side by side sharing how awesome their time together was or whatever. Perhaps we could be inclusive of the “Events” side of the community too and highlight that in some way.

For some reason I thought we already had a little something in this vein, but when I looked at the landing page and other pages available to folks without logging in, it does feel kind of faceless and empty, so thanks for noticing that and raising it here. If someone wasn’t referred to the site by word of mouth, I could definitely see them asking, “Do people actually use this site?” “Are they people I would enjoy being around?” Lots of text of about how it all works and what we stand for, but not much in terms of names and faces. “The Team” page is a nice start, but there should be some stuff on the landing page as well.

Do you think something along those lines would accomplish what you’re looking for?

From the latest Couchers update I can see we are still looking for:

•PR Manager
•Social Media Community Manager

so probably part of the issue is we still need volunteers to help make that sort of thing happen.


Besides the demand on “dev time,” I can think of at least two possible areas of concern for having such an option.

One would be from a server/resources perspective with web crawlers/personal data miners and the like as well as just individuals who have absolutely no intention of ever actually using the site all creating extra demands on the site’s resources and our (donated) dimes. Also, I know I’ve seen devs mention elsewhere that the search tool in particular as it currently exists relies on some third-party tools that have certain conditions for how they are used in good faith and all that (I might be botching the terminology/details on that, sorry). Maybe a dev who is more knowledgeable on these topics could chime in whether these are worthy concerns or things that could be addressed?

Another area of concern would be around how it might affect how our community is represented. Would the people who agree to the “public” option give a good sense of the broader community and it’s diversity? I wouldn’t want prospective users (and I’m thinking especially of people who might have greater initial concerns around safety here) not join because they only see a set of mostly thirsty-looking white guys and think that’s all there is because those were the only people who felt comfortable toggling a “public” option.

Something more along the lines of user spotlights on the landing page that are curated by a marketing team would prevent that.

And I would just add that my experience with other large social networking-like sites is that although they do have some “real user”-type content available to users without an account to lure new users in (which we don’t and should have in some way), they are also constantly bombarding users with “login or create an account” popups/walls that hide large chunks of their network/content too. So I do think they must find that an effective strategy as well.

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A fair point. How would that work? How would they be asked?

IMO the model should be similar to instagram: users can choose to have “private” or public profiles. Personally, I wouldn’t want to have a public profile.

P.S.: it’s “private” with the quotes, cause nothing on the internet is really private. at best, it’s “private for now”

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Complete agree. We discussed this a plan for the future, being able to customize how and to whom your profile is shown. Personally I can only see it helping our userbase grow if there’s flexibility in how your online presence is managed.

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