Should we implement Single-Sign-On?

We’ve been referring to this for a while now, suggesting it’s a given we’ll be implementing single-sign-on for the app and the forum. But when we recently discussed it within the volunteer team, all members chiming in were actually happy with the separate setup. So it might well merit a dedicated topic.

So what does single-sign-on imply?

It means authentication is handled by one single provider for various services. In practical terms for our case: Signing up will only be possible from the app and will log you in to the forum as well. The two profiles only need to share the authentication details. So you can still set a different picture and other details. But you can’t login to the forum without having a profile on the app.

What are the advantages?

The main advantage is ease of use. You don’t have to log in twice and handle different credentials. We could also automatically link profiles. The current profile link on user cards needs to be set manually and often results in broken links.

What are the disadvantages?

The forum is for meta discussion about the platform. It should encourage civil, but uncensored expression. Members might feel restricted when their contributions to the forum are necessarily linked to their app profile.

I also wonder if we need everyone that signs up on the app to automatically have a forum profile. It could be good to have a little hurdle here, because the expectation is that members are explicitly interested in contributing to a meta conversation.

Are there alternatives?

We could have single-sign-on, but make the public link to the app profile optional. So members could decide whether to show it on their cards. It will still be visible to forum staff though.

We might also be able to just add the app login as an OAuth2 provider to access the forum? It’s possible on the forum software, but I don’t know about our app setup. In practical terms: you could login with the app credentials. But it’s not automatic and you could still sign up directly on the forum as well.


I think the main complaint now is that on the landing page you can go to either the app or the forum. We are planing to integrate the app into the landing page. Once this has been completed, will people still not like the separate forum account?

I like it separate because it’s two different things. The app is for hospitality exchange. This forum is for talking about couchers and the app.


I have a few questions:

Why not a single profile (the app one)? Are there advantages to two profiles, or drawbacks to a single one? This confuses me, esp. why have possibly different pictures on the app and on the forum.

This also confuses me. How might they feel restricted? This is probably related to the first issue.

I like to know who I interact with, and I also like people I interact with to know who I am. This is why I’d prefer the link to the app profile to be set by default (or that there is only one profile). For example, I read a thread on permaculture and healing yesterday, and the main contributor doesn’t have a link to his app profile; searching by his forum nickname on the app didn’t lead me to who he is. I find this uncomfortable.

I completely agree with this. Most app users will just like to host and be hosted, and perhaps enjoy other features. Only a minority will be interested in debating and developing.

Another thing: I used ‘app’ like you to speak of the part devoted to couching, but as a matter of fact it is also accessible from computers, which is what I do now. Several people may also prefer this, so perhaps one should not focus only on mobile/tablet developing. (Sorry if this is a misinterpretation.)


Don’t look further than BeWelcome to see how the ‘meta’ forums can make the rest of the platform look bad. If there is freedom of speech, forums will always attract the most extreme posters. It is not the case here yet but as it grows it will probably degenerate at one point. IMO keep it contained in a separate forum, and inside the platform proper, only groups that are relevant to community building like city groups.


I have no specific opinion on the decision of single-sign-on but it is my firm belief in the spirit of transparency that we stand by what we say. We can change opinions and such, but overall we need to accept responsibility for what we say and do.

Having said that, if the issue is people feeling restricted or limited in speaking their mind; it’s my true belief is that if they aren’t speaking it out in the open, they are definitely speaking about it behind the scenes. Humans are strange like that.


This point resonates with me. If such a link was required, I would probably just stop using the forum.


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I still don’t get it. How might they feel restricted? Especially, in your case you have a link to your Couchers profile…

Thanks for pointing that out. I didn’t choose to have it that way, and I don’t remember that being there before, although I suppose it’s possible I simply missed it.

I’ll offer just one hypothetical that I hope proves the general point that people should at least be able to decide for themselves.

A Coucher is gay/trans etc. and lives in a place where it is not safe to be “out” as such. They feel comfortable with a hosp ex profile that has details like where they live and a description of their house so long as it doesn’t out them.

They also want to participate in the forum and share their experience using the platform as a gay/trans etc. person but only if that is not connected to the above information.

I think there are lots of other examples along these lines.


I get half your point but am still not very convinced. I am gay and don’t like to advertise it on my Couchers profile. On the other hand, if I discuss LGBT issues here by giving my experience, what should I fear? That negative-minded people from the forum should use it to out me? Admittedly, there is no safety issue in my country (France). But it is a matter of trust in the community, no? Moreover, I have control on the degree of privacy I put on my Couchers profile, and if I live in one of the countries you evoke, I can very well give minimal details.
Conversely, I feel people who don’t link their Couchers profile are hiding and I don’t feel comfortable with it.
Maybe you or others can give different examples (e.g. nolo, who first suggested the issue).

*Anyone/Government/Bad actor with an internet connection.

It’s simply false that anti-LGBT hate crimes don’t exist in France.

i.e. limit them, which would be unnecessary if they can be separate.

Let’s not forget the scope of the forum. I find it hard to believe anyone could be genuinely “uncomfortable” reading a post about the functionality/location of the search bar (to take a random example from the current front page of the forum) without knowing a poster’s location, occupation, educational background, typical schedule, if they have kids and what the house those kids live in looks like… etc.

Leave it to users to decide which personal information they share in two separate contexts. I don’t think this should be controversial.


I thought you meant institutional danger (you quote government actors). Anti-LGBT hate crimes exist everywhere in the world. Are you teaching me about my own country?

Not in the logic of the example you gave.

I gave an example with

where the main contributor made very strong points about his issue, yet remains anonymous. I find it important because this forum is here to shape what Couchers is to be, so I like to know who is talking.

Hostile government actors on this forum, or viewing this forum, seems a bit paranoid to me.

I just read over that thread, and I personally don’t find any need to know more personal details about that user (or any of the other users in the thread) in order to understand the points they are making.

If you think a user should provide more information about themselves because it is relevant to the scope of the thread, (e.g. they are making claims about what is technically feasible on the platform and it would be good to know clearly if they are on the developers team or have some special expertise in the matter) simply post a reply asking for such information.

If your interest in a user’s undisclosed personal information is merely of interest to you personally and not relevant to the scope of the thread, I believe you have the ability to message them, introduce yourself, and politely ask them.

If they are not comfortable sharing more personal information, I believe they should be under no obligation to provide it to you.


Not in your country. But what if you had to travel through an area where that is an issue? What about people that lives in areas where that is an issue? They wouldn’t be able to give their POV in the forum without being exposed. Also: there’s probably a reason why you don’t put it on your main profile, even if it’s just a privacy preference, by linking them you make accessible on the app info that you specifically choose not to include. That may be ok for you, but maybe not for everyone.

Also: let’s address the elephant in the room. Some people may not feel comfortable voicing a critique to the app if that’s linked to their profile. We’ve seen enough retaliation in CS to people that were critical to be wary. I think by allowing anonymity Couchers is allowing a safe space where you can express your discomfort without fearing retaliation or a block. I respect them a lot for this. It’s a very honest approach to being open to hear what everyone has to say, even if it’s not a good review. It’s a simple waybof saying “we are not going to block you for disagreeing like CS did”.


I am sorry but for me this is completely illogical. You respect a lot the administrators because they give you a way to avoid being blocked by them for your disagreement, by allowing you to hide your Couching profile???

Anyway, I am obviously isolated here and since this is quite important to me, I think it is better that I leave you. In this discussion and on other things I have read on this forum, I don’t find the couch surfing spirit that I was trying to get back. (I respect the fact that you are all well-intentioned, and that ‘couch surfing spirit’ may mean different things to different people. Also, you have been working on this project for more than a year while I only came 2 months ago.) Can an administrator be kind enough to remove my profile from the Couchers site, and this forum? My Couchers profile is linked in my forum profile.

Before leaving, another thing: I don’t know if it is good that everybody on the internet can read these forum discussions from the homepage
without being registered on Couchers. I discovered it this morning, by trying it on a browser and a machine which don’t have my login. (I cannot access forum profiles, a fortiori Couchers profiles, like this without being logged in, however.) In particular, CS is likely not to take your development very kindly if I judge by the way they were censoring any reference to similar platforms when I was still there. Even less since you confront them squarely on Couchers’ main page. Yet you offer them total access to the construction of your platform.


Hi @anon39654854! I’m sure the other admins will be fine with removing you from here and the platform itself, but I just wanted to say you’re not alone in your opinion, you’re just in the minority. I for one welcome your viewpoint and agree with much of what you say. I’ll be sad to see you go.


what is the couchsurfing spirit in your opinion and how is not aligned with it? [probably off-topic question but I’m curious]

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For me it would be sad to see you leave. From my perspective, that’s tge beauty of the “couchsurfing spirit” : getting to know people that have different points of view, exchanging ideas, and learning that even if we do not agree on everything, we can still be friends :slightly_smiling_face:

I do agree 100% with you that the forum shouldn’t be public. See? We do not disagree on everything. I hope you decide to stay.


I also agree with you on this point. I know, profiles are not visible but all messages and profile pictures are open to the whole wide internet. Not my favourite thing in the world.

I have read through this topic because I used to be clearly in favour of a single login. But I have come to agree with most of the arguments that were made for keeping it separate now.

I still find the double login mildly annoying and I’m wondering if there’s a possibility to combine the two but still keep the signed up accounts separate? What I mean with that is, people would still have to explicitly sign up for a forum account (they would need to be logged in to the Couchers main platform to do so) and then the two accounts would be linked to a single login. But there would be no need to have it automatically link to your Couchers profile from your forum profile and there would be no automatic forum account creation for everyone.
Just to get over the double login. But as I said, I only find it mildly annoying and maybe that’s too much effort for a small advantage. I definitely agree with all the points about keeping it more separate than other platforms have done.


Emily and Aleja, thank you for your good words, but I don’t think it will work with me. Let me try and answer couchguy who asked

Too much desire of control, governed by fear. Two examples: this thread (I know, it will confuse some of you), and this one:

where, for me, the issue was unnecessarily raised for hypothetical sexual worries.

I can probably find others, but since I leave… This type of question was also discussed here:

The couch surfing spirit, for me, is not to try and prevent the negative, but to try and encourage the positive.

Of course, these are just discussions and the end result may not be that controlling. But I don’t feel comfortable at the moment. I might come back in a couple of years when you have gone beyond the beta phase.


@anon39654854, I totally get what you’re saying, but this is a meta forum, people are nerding out on some topics, but that doesn’t mean the actual users of the platform will be extreme and “controlling” as you say. It’s up to us old users to bring the CS spirit.

I actually agree with you to some extent, I think couchers should recreate CS without any change, build the community first and fix the problems when they occur not before.

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