Some people around the community are expressing concern that there is too much time being spent on creating the perfect product when we should be just releasing something that can be built upon and iterated.
On the other hand, others are suggesting that we do need to make sure that the product is forward-thinking with all the features before it’s published, or we are at risk of hurting our reputation or turning people away from it.
A third argument is that maybe we can release a product that has some, but not all the features, just to get going.
I think it’s important for us to be able to design and user test what the platform will look like/features we’re going to incorporate, especially since we already have so many alternatives in the market. There’s really no point in releasing another half baked clone of CS that’s not gonna draw people.
Would love to hear other perspectives, especially from people who have experience building a product and iterating!
(Also, just to shed a bit of light, it’s really more the fact that we’re running on volunteer time vs paid employee time that drags out the process of building the product - the turnover rate for volunteers is pretty high and the time people can contribute fluctuates quite a bit.)
I’d say the answer to this is also very related to the current situation. I’m in Spain, we just have another state of emergency declared till may. There’s a general curfew from 11pm to 6am and people already don’t plan to gather within families for winter holidays. It’s also difficult to make travel plans just within Europe, as regulations change by the week. To make it short: I feel 0% urgency to see a new hospitality app right now
I’m still excited for the project! Seeing all the wireframes and planed setup in the user testing was great! Having more insight and possible participation in this fashion is all I’d need right now to feel we’re moving…
Greetings Emily, thank You for having coordinated this project so far!
As You may know, when a product is not a v1.0 yet - an unfinished product - but is still usable, it what is labeled as an “early release”. This usually is at a stage between an alpha version and a beta version. Usually the purpose of publishing an early release is to get as much feedback as possible from the users so that the development team can tweak it to address the user needs/expectations. Then after most of the feedback is gathered and the product is tweaked/improved accordingly to mirror the feedback from the users, a “beta” version is published. This is still not a finished product yet, but an almost finished product. At this stage between the beta version and the v1.0 there are only some small bugs to be fixed. Fixing those, finally the v1.0 is released. This is the process that I noticed “big” software application titles usually go through from the initial announcement to their final release.
The thing is that is not possible for the development team to collect enough feedback from just a bunch of experienced users, which is what we are here. In all this time since more or less July we tried to figure out what we want the product to be like. The next step is to see if what we made so far actually matches the expectations of the “market” or not. I give an example based on the prototype testing I did two days ago with @Kellyt: on a certain page in the app there was a map; while clicking around simulating I was searching for a host, it just came natural to me to ignore that map; then Kelly when she noticed it she brought it to my attention and I finally clicked on the map. The bottom line of this was that some user(s) suggested to put that map there, while to me in relation to the way it was natural for me to use the app for my goal that map in that location was just irrelevant. This is the reason why the next step is to publish it and to collect as much feedback as possible - so that then based on that feedback, the development team can further tweak/improve the platform to satisfy the needs and expectations of the users. How do we want to make an useful product otherwise? There is no way. We need real feedback from real users. We are just a bunch of people here. Sure, each of us in terms of experience in specific areas is a “monster”, and put together we are maybe stronger than what David was in his fight against the goliath, but still we are just a bunch of people insufficient to provide enough feedback.
The reputation is hurt when a product is either not functioning either when user’s expectations are very different than what the product is supposed to offer but is not offering. As long as the product offers what we advertise it for, even if in a limited way until v1.0 will be released, there is no reason to worry about the reputation.
I think everyone working on the product knows that it’s not going to be perfect when we release it. There’s going to be so much room for improvement, iteration and fundamental innovation. That being said, @Keni makes an excellent point that it needs to meet a certain standard for us to properly release this.
The platform is only half of what we’re trying to achieve here, the other is engaging and growing the worldwide couch-surfing community. We need the product to be good enough to go out and properly engage people and make them want to bring people onto it. Community leaders aren’t going to do that unless they see a future in this platform, and that is going to happen when we prove that it has all the functionality that’s necessary.
We also don’t want to be encouraging huge amounts of people to be traveling and staying with each other at this point in time. That would be completely irresponsible. The bright side is, we’ve got time to work on this!
I definitely understand the sense of urgency here. The first paywall on CS went up in May, but users with verification get one free year. That means in May 2021 all of those users will hit the paywall too. Of we want to capitalize on that, we need to have a usable platform that has notable advantages over existing options by then.
I am still active on CS. I just recieve like arround 3 requests a week now. But still… There already are new and old members that paid for CS. When speaking with them, they are willing to change, but right now they need the biggest userbase to even find host. They will not change for half baked version with less users though. But for better free version yes.
I HOPE you will be better version of cs and not just attract rich first world people but also think about those, that never experienced the paywall.
People running from paywall? No better look for the ones with old cs spirit. they will change just bc it is WRONG to put up a paywall. and all the other problems that are within cs like couchers mentions on the website. Take your time, but
I do agree that the ideal is to release the best possible version.
I also agree that we need a usable product by may21 when the remaining people hits the paywall. BUT:
This is a hospex. Even with the best app in the world, without a userbase in NOT usable.
I live on a very far away country, and it has happened to me to download a very good looking app, works great, but: there are zero users on my area. It´s completely useless.
I guess we need to find a balance when we can have even part of it (maybe the part that people can use nowadays with all the restrictions, like profile, events or hangouts? *edit to add: the city groups and pages also could be interesting reason for people to create an account and start engaging on the community) so by the time the “second wave” of CS exiles is out there the app already has a userbase that gives it a minimum of usability.
I completely agree with this. The first priority is getting city pages, events and profiles out (hangouts should come a bit later because they require more active people to be useful). That’s the basis for community growth
I do not identify myself in the “we” used in your statement in this specific post You made above.
The way mass-media presents all this CoViD-19 situation is just manipulative! The virus and the disease do exist, and in some cases the disease it is lethal, but the overall situation is by far less ugly than the mass-media and the governments wants people to believe.
Now I will write about CS in relation to me with the purpose to help some of you guys here have a more complete panoramic concerning some aspects: I have been using CS since 2009 every day; never used the Hangouts feature because it has been reported to me by several couch-surfers I met who gave it a try that most of those people who use Hangouts are usually needy people, boring, who have nothing going on in their lives, just a bunch of losers. All this time, almost 11 years by now, I never gave 1 cent to CS. When CS tried to manipulate those new members with “Verified members find hosts easier” I gave priority to those members that contacted me who were not verified and promptly declined every verified member that contacted me writing them “I prefer to host unverified members”. All this in sign of rebellion against the attitude of the administrators of CS. Now since May 2020 I am locked out my account. Since September I came to the conclusion that paying to CS the money they demand for the paywall is worth. I haven’t paid them yet because I don’t like the “annual subscription idea” so I am learning now how to give them the money my way, not their way. When I will finish speaking with my bank about this issue I will give them the money they demand for the paywall. Why? Because this paywall actually filters out all those people who joined simply because it was free but had no real interest in learning about other cultures, no real interest in traveling, no real interest in meeting people from other countries. So thanks to the paywall, those that will remain on the inside will actually be only those that truly have an interest in traveling and learning about foreign cultures. This is in theory. In practice it still needs time to be proven; time will tell if I am wrong or right about this. However, at least for 1 year I am willing to pay even just to see where is it going. I will pay.
Now you know that some old-school CSers are willing to pay.
P.S. Please someone flag my posts! I am getting bored if nothing interesting happens to my posts. And the name of that category that @Nolo or whoever created it, it shouldn’t be “Inappropriate”, it should be @anon46748786 given that it was me who made you make it
Idk… to me this theory sounds like saying that the quality of hitchhiking will improve when you have to pay for the ride, because only those that really care about hitchhiking will be ready to do so?
For what it’s worth, I’ve been ‘inside the paywall’ this year, because I have a ‘life time membership’ with cs (whatever that will turn out to mean…). I’ve not received a single request that sparked my interest to host and the few times I hosted it was requests coming from long time couchsurfers that contacted me on trustroots.
I’d even say trustroots works a charm for experienced users. But it really doesn’t support onboarding and guiding new users. The community features we want to build are also aimed at supporting the healthy growth of the community, that’s why I’m quite excited to see this have such an importance!
Thank You Manuel for your feedback - is definitely useful for all of us here to better understand what is the current situation of the hospitality exchange platforms in general. Knowing this allows us to better understand who are the type of users that we should target to become our members and in which way we can outcompete the hospex platforms that are already established since many years.
I take this as a statement that makes sense in the world of Hitchhikers, because paying for a ride is not hitchhiking. Hitchhiking as topic is off-topic in this thread with regards to the title of the thread, but if anyone here is interested, I can write here below a true story that happened to me few years ago about hitchhiking and expected payments.
Dont worry guys. i am currently building a couchsurfing clone and took the inspiration from here. To be clear: I don’t work at couchers. I am creating a competitor and it will be 90% like couchsurfing with some improvements. I will be releasing it in January next year.
Really impressive. Do you do it all on your own?
But dont worry! i think so far noone works for couchers as a paid job, bc all are volunteers here. Do you want to generate income with your clone?
Its already a small community here, so if you ever feel lonely in your cs clone, you are welcome to come back!
It will be open-source. Not planning to make any money from it. In fact, it will cost me money, because i have to pay the servers. I live in switzerland and make enough money, i don’t need to make more. I am driven by the fact, that a free clone of couchsurfing will ruin couchsurfing. I got banned, they won’t tell me the reason. Their support sucks. I am driven by revenge To hell with them!