Should we implement Single-Sign-On?

Well, I didn’t open the topic because I have a strong preference. It won’t affect me much personally, because as a volunteer on the forum I’m not anonymous anyways. But I also didn’t have specific cases in mind. As written, we discussed it in the volunteers team and surprisingly it didn’t receive much support. I also know we had members that were decidedly in favor of anonymous profiles.

Still, following the discussion here I think the best solution would be OAuth2, if it’s technically possible. So members could sign in with their app credentials. Or sign up independently. Their choice, just as @Bellatrix suggested:

@anon39654854, if you want your accounts to be removed, please follow our standard procedures: Send a message to @moderators right on the forum to remove your forum profile. And send a message to, using the email address linked to your app account, to delete your app account. That way there’s a clear request for us.

Though I’d actually take it as another point in favor for keeping forum and app separate. I think feeling comfortable or not discussing here on the forum is one thing. But how’s it connected to using the app? It has an entirely different purpose and usage, as @lucas already pointed out in the first comment.


Hey, I’m with you on finding some things rather controlling! But that’s the purpose of the forum, people discuss different ideas here and try to see what’s better. As far as I understand, none of what you are referring to is decided on, and your opinion can actually help shape the platform. After all, I guess we all overthink and get carried away sometimes :joy: But I feel everyone here wants to recreate the spirit of couchsurfing and is just trying to find the right way.


As for the topic of the discussion, I am for keeping the app and the forum separate because of the reason @lucas mentioned - it’s just two different things. I also don’t see why it’s inconvenient - I just press “community forum” on the app and go straight here.


Exactly. So let me follow you from afar and maybe come back later. @nolo, I will now follow your instructions.

It seems like we’re maybe moving toward some kind of consensus on this issue, but I thought I would just add that the concerns for privacy on the forum don’t have to be about anything particularly nefarious either.

To follow up on the LGBT example. Sometimes people are “out” to only certain people in their lives (some family/friends/coworkers etc. and not others). Someone might mention Couchers at work after being asked something like “What did you do this weekend?” Someone not even part of the conversation might overhear it and decide to look up Couchers because they think it’s a cool concept. Maybe they even join (yay!) and make a profile for the app and the forum too (double yay!). While browsing forum posts they see some of their coworker’s posts and blurt out “I didn’t know you were gay!” I mean it’s probably not the end of the world, but it might be annoying and something folks want to avoid.

And the whole LGBT thing is just one line of examples. There are all kinds of sensitive topics; experiences of sexual harassment being another obvious one. If we want to discuss any of these topics on the forum, it should be possible for people to contribute with some degree of privacy. Otherwise, we are just going to hear from folks who are comfortable telling the whole world about it.

And just to follow up on one more detail. I don’t think asking folks to limit the information in their actual Couchers profile is the answer either. Things like having a profile picture that shows someone’s face and all the rest of it are extremely useful in that context for increasing safety and building trust. I definitely don’t want to discourage people from disclosing things there just so they can share more freely here.


I just wanted to add that I love to see transparency from those who actually hold the power (if you want to call it that) in making decisions for Couchers and to see their motivations clearly laid out.

Transparency from the decision makers. Privacy for the users. A concept that is too often reversed these days.


ok, I’m definitely not ok with the fact that this discussion was the final straw for someone to leave our community, but I just have the capacity right now to answer the original question. I think it should be one log-in bc it’s easy (logging in to the main website was annoying, thank you for removing the log-in code from email). And I think a lot of internet ugliness stems from people hiding behind anonymity. That anonymity won’t protect someone with an honest critique from being banned by a vindictive admin - the vindictive admin will always find a way.
Better that we know who we all are, bc that’s part of building a community, and that we cultivate a power structure and culture such that admins aren’t allowed to default to vindictiveness.


I have never seen a discussion forum / social network with forced disclosure of identity to result in a more transparent culture. Instead, it makes some people afraid to speak up. It’s great that users like @anon39654854 is open with his life, but he also lives in France and probably has an inherent assumption that discussing such things is ok. There are a lot of places in the world where it’s not ok to freely discuss such things, and people who use Couchers will need to discuss such issues especially when discussing safety issues. Speaking of safety, what if a female guest had bad experiences with the site due to creepy male hosts (we all know this is all too common) and want to discuss freely the issues without necessarily tying her identity/profile? Forcing people to link their profiles will actually just means someone make a fake profile just to comment, unless you go check their ID just to allow people to make a profile, in which case I’ll just quit this site.

People will make shitty comments regardless. Trolls are gonna trolls (as I said, they can make fake Couchers profile), and public linking of profile is not a substitute for needing mods.

FWIW, I find that needing to make a different account for forum is quite annoying and counterintuitive. I would really like a way to make it easier to tie the accounts or automatically create one if I don’t mind or want the linking. I just think a forum without basic anonymity is… frankly put, a huge turnoff. My opinion is we should at least provide a way to be anonymous and not link to profiles publicly.

Edit: Just to add. I grew up in Hong Kong (but don’t live there now), and frankly, any kind of words you say can literally end up getting you in jail these days. I think as a global community, this site has a basic responsibility to provide a way for people to anonymously post (as much as reasonable) without forcing people to disclose their identity and full name.


How is this hypothetical? I know this is off topic for the single sign-on topic, but female guests dealing with aggressive male hosts had been an issue almost since day 1. Most hosts are great, but this has been a recurring undercurrent on Couchsurfing and a lot of female guests I host will iterate the same thing.

Not really. As I said, what happens in places like China and now Hong Kong is people who don’t like you would randomly scour through your public social media and screen cap comments they don’t find to be ok (let’s say you commented on Taiwan being a country) and out you on weibo or other Chinese focused social media and start an internet campaign about you. It’s really not that uncommon. Not saying this will happen to Couchers, but I don’t see why we would want to intentionally create an environment where it could happen.


If the Forum has a separate sign-on, then I will simply not use it. Won’t post to it, won’t read it, won’t acknowledge its existence.

That’s fine! I think most people will be the same, the want to surf/host and don’t care that much about the direction of the platform if it’s doing a good job.

(PS you did just make this reply and the sign in is currently separate :grin:)


Having two separate logins for forum and normal user is a bit an inconvenience, but advantages surpass a lot this inconveneince. so better keep them separate.
It helps a lot free speech.


Having just joined the community, I found it confusing that I had to create a login to use the forum when I had just registered for the app. It makes sense to have one, for ease of use.

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Thanks for the feedback Tara! And welcome to the community. :slight_smile:

Seems like there could be a best of both worlds here. What if we implemented single sign-on, but there was no way to publicly link the profiles?

But it’s nice to see profiles of those who shared them :slight_smile: Maybe profiles could be not linked automatically, but you could add a link if you wanted?