Reputation system

Reading people’s posts it seems clear that:

  • We will somehow need some people with the power to moderate requests, messages, references

  • Nobody particularly likes the ‘ambassador’ system, they have too much power and are not transparent

  • Having moderators local to communities would be good

Based on this, I wonder if some kind of automatic (or semi-automatic) reputation system would work.

There’s actually one here on the forums! You can read here how you gain reputation and what each level can do.

Would something like this be a good idea? Where you gain reputation points by hosting, surfing, going to events and through references, or tied to the community standing system, and if you have a very high number of points, you help moderate in some way? What would the levels be, and what abilities would they have?

This could be combined with a non-local “safety team” that has the final say, but is more transparent somehow? A public list of reference removals/bans (maybe too much)? Forbidden from moderating people they know or things going against their friends (difficult to enforce)?

Maybe at some threshold of community standing you could have the power to do the things like moderating and editing. Without using the community standing system already though, it’s a bit hard to tell what that number would be…

Yeah I think this might be a good approach. We need some way to decide how moderators are chosen. Other ways might include democratically appointed groups in each community?

It’s hard to say really. It’d be good to have a broader conversation with communities that have structured approaches to see what works. Maybe we can even experiment a bit with different approaches in different cities.

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Reputation in a group is based on the values in a group.

What are the values of Couchers ?
This is not so easy to formulate, but we should formalize this as a group.
Only then we can reflect on a way to quantize how “much” a member reflects these values.

And it would be best to evaluate the Couchers(.org) values every x years or so, after all, everything changes and evolves in the long run.

Following the forum there seem to be three separate reputation/credit/community standing areas discussed right now:

  • this thread about reputation, probably automated like on discourse, and enabling users to moderation powers
  • a verification process, enabling members to host and surf
  • a reference system as an ongoing, unlimited ledger of trust

I wonder if it would be possible to integrate these three into one community standing scale/path, similar to the one on discourse, but with both automated assignments of credit and others that can only happen between members.

i would advocate integrating the reference system into this pathway and thus capping the positive effect of good references, probably not even showing the concrete number of references on the profile, but integrating it in the overall standing. so x number of good references necessary for a certain level. probably also x number of references within the last year to have a certain standing as active member. for this to work, references would need to have one binary option: would recommend/ would not recommend this member. and maybe decouple the written reference from the computed standing by having a guestbook where you can leave comments.

also for the sake of documenting and explaining how the system works, i would see a big advantage in having one integrated path.


I agree with the idea of integrating moderation powers with the community standing score. Perhaps it could be some minimum score or as you mentioned, some threshold number of good references. I don’t think we’d need to revert to a binary option reccomend/not reccomend, rather we can take our current plan of negative or neutral experience as ‘not reccomend’, and positive and great experiences as ‘reccomend’ for the sake of this calculation. Everyone could still be shown those 4 options though.

With any of these methods we create reputation levels that unlock different levels of moderator power. I think I’d prefer ‘moderator levels’ to reputation to avoid confusion with community standing.

We can integrate those two (moderation levels and community standing/references), but I think it’s important that the verification process remain separate. CS really watered down verification by combining it with other things, so no one cared about whether people were verified or not. We will also have situations where someone is verified (they are who they say they are and have no other accounts) but have poor standing. People may still choose to interact with these members.

This is already the plan! Anonymous scoring about experience with a publcally written reference

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What I had in my mind about integrating verification: So in case you have a trust architecture like on discourse, where trust levels/community standing could be a path like: new member – aspiring host/guest – recommended host/guest – and some kind of dedicated community pillar;
then verification could be one of the necessary achievements to be promoted to ‘aspiring host/guest’ level, allowing to not only be a member but use the platform for hosting and staying.

generally i’d be a big fan of a discourse style trust system… when discussing features and implementation it allows to have quite a clear distinction between the general direction and values of the platform on one hand (as reflected in trust levels) and all the particular design decisions on how to suppport them on the other (as reflected in achievments/badges)

i also think members should always have the option to leave a negative/critical reference. but when written references are somewhat decoupled from the computed feedback standing (and the recommend/not recommend feedback is compulsory, while the written reference is not) i think we could improve from the current system and presentation on cs by not presenting the references in a customer/product review style, but more like a guestbook.

i would see some advantages to that:

  • to me it seems generally more in tune with a hospitality platform
  • it could be a general feature of the platform, e.g. also allowing guestbooks for a city page, group page, a recurring event
  • i believe users should have more privacy control over their profile than currently possible on cs. so you could delete/archive/make private entries on your guestbook after a certain time, like after 3 or even 5 years. this would make more sense on a feature designed like a guestbook, than on a feature designed like a review page.

This sounds awkward to me… I would not take neutral as not recommend. I think neutral is… Neutral. Not good, not bad. An option in the middle knowing that it won’t have negative repercussions for the member would be very useful for example when you didn’t really get to know the person because the stay was very short or the schedule wasnto busy for one of the parties to hangout, or for those times you didn’t really click with the person, but you awknoledge that is just because you have different characters and that is a good member that would get along with someone else.
Just my 2 cents.


I have to say that I have a few references from when I was 18-19 that realllllly do not apply to me anymore that I wish I could get rid of :confused: Also, there are references that include me + another person, and maybe I don’t really want that other person referred to anymore, either. It would be nice if you could archive older ones (if you wish), I agree. They could still be seen but only if the user clicks on “Archived,” or something.

Agree with Adr1an’s thoughts.

Especially when one looks at tech subreddits it’s obvious how those are easily gamed by those who work on the various products by upvoting and downvoting replies.

The reputation system Lucas links to above is very interesting. Unsure whether it would be effective in building a hospex community such as this, but absolutely worth further investigation.

I understand where this is coming from, but I really feel that this approach prevents people from writing negative references. People don’t leave them because it’s such a public mark in the current system, so they feel too bad about doing it. Maybe we could include an option of a public mark, but I think the idea of always including that will run counter to the goal

I think this is the way

I see, so verification would be a necessary stepping stone to moderation powers. That’s a good idea. However I think people should have the option themselves as whether to host unverified people. Perhaps in default settings we can filter out unverified people from being able to contact hosts, with those hosts being able to adjust that setting themselves.

Good point!

I like the idea but I think it presents the same problem the CS reference system had: you end up not knowing how many people stayed but didn’t leave any review. And we already know people tend to skip leaving bad references, so you end up with a profile anly with good references, and if personal interactions are also used to compute te person total score, it will be confusing.

Let me put an example: let’s imagine a profile with 2 positive references, and a score still in the starting point. By looking at the profile it may look like maybe he met someone in a hangout and didn’t click, but he’s actually a great guest/host because the references praise him/her. But the truth could be that she/he hosted/surfed 30 people and 28 do not recommend, but if he/she goes to lots of meetings and is fun to hangout out with, it can easily compensate the score.

I belive references should be mandatory every time you host/surf, and if you didn’t want to leave a written comment it could just show the recommend/neutral/doesn’t recomend without comment. Many positives without any text are also telling.

Can you please explain why you think this approach would make it harder to leave a negative reference? To clarify: the approach is to allow people to separate the written reference and the score, making the score anonymous but including it in the calculation of community standing. This for many will make them more likely to leave a negative review because they aren’t worried about retaliation.

This is a good point and something we can think more about. One solution we’ve considered is to filter community standing based on context. For instance, you have a general score, but also if someone is considering surfing with you, they may have the option to only look at the score as calculated by other surfers, ignoring the others. In your example, they may have a general score of 75, but potential surfers would see that lower filtered score reflected around 50 because of the poor reviews.

We could continue this more specifically. An example to improve safety would be: a woman staying with a male host may have the option of seeing the score only filtered by other female surfers.

This idea makes sense to me, personally. It would be good to hear others’ opinions on why they think written references should or should not be mandatory.

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I like the idea of the mandatory “mark” on the profile, whether you gave/recived a reference or not.

The reference only system is failed because you never really know how many times someone hosted/surfed, you only know how many times they recived a reference. If the profile shows a record of all the stays (whether you recived a referecence or not) it would be super useful. If I see someone with 3 good references and 10 stays without reference, I will do the math and know he´s probably not a great guest.

This would also encourage people to leave a reference, because an empty one gives a bad impression :wink:


How about something like leaving an auto-generated message on the surfer’s or host’s profile if he/she did not leave a reference after 2 weeks? Just something simple and neutral like “Aleja stayed at Kelly’s place from 2 September 2020. This is auto-generated as a reference was not left.”

The only issue I see is that sometimes people are just too busy either with their life or while traveling, and simply forget. But hopefully the neutrality of the auto-generated message will make up for that, and prod them to leave references for future interactions.


What about a small penalty to community standing when you don’t leave a reference?

It could be mentioned in the reminder email.


Or we could just make it compulsory to leave a reference before you do anything else??

Edit: Ok on second thought, having a small penalty to community score is less dictatorial (lol) and reflects the role of references within the community (building trust). I think that’s a good idea @lucas!


Hey Itsi,

I’m commenting here bc I just listened to your podcast with Ken Flannery. (really liked it btw!) During your discussion about negative references you talked about how people don’t like to leave negative references for fear of retaliation or even just messing up someone’s reputation etc.

You mentioned a way of injecting randomness into the “score” at set intervals to obscure the reference from any given individual. I assume this is the easiest way to do it, but did think of an idea that might provide better representation:

There would be two parts:

  1. Calculating the user’s “score” by averaging all of their references minus one, chosen randomly. The reference that is not included in the average randomly changes each time they get a new references. I think this would obscure who left a less-than-perfect reference while still being pretty representative.

  2. To make #1 work, a user does not get a “score” until having two or three references. Until this happens, they have some sort of “pending” score (assuming none of the references warrant them being banned).

I have no idea how difficult this would be to implement btw, just tossing the idea out there.