Verification process

So how actually the verification process should look like? I couldn’t find in-depth discussion about this on the forum, but please direct me if there is one. It seems like the process is described the most broadly on Community-first Framework and Improved Verification subpage.

Based on what’s on the page, I see the process like this:

  1. As a first step of verification, user provides last 4 digits of his ID/driving license/passport and his full name. I guess we do not want to really gather sensitive data, so we take only part of it.

  2. Whenever our user joins his first Couchers group meeting, hangout or perhaps is even hosted or hosts himself, he asks another person from the community to verify him. That person can do this by a special option available in the app, which would include scanning a QRcode of our fresh guy. Person who verifies, needs to put the 4 last digits/letters of the document and also check if photo, name and surname resembles the user :stuck_out_tongue:

  3. If everything is OK, the user gets a badge (or sth) of being verified.

The page describes something as “verifying score” is it different from reputation or community standing score? Wouldn’t it be too much scores for a profile? Here’s a quote:

Having a community member verify your account will add some percentage to your verification score, and you can repeat this a couple more times with different members. Your score will increase more if

  • The verification score of the member verifying you is higher
  • The ID you’ve presented is different than another one you’ve presented before
  • The member verifying you is from a different location and does not know the people that have verified you before
  • The ID is more difficult to forge (e.g. a passport with security features versus a driver’s license)

After verifying with three or more well-trusted people that are not connected with each other, you will be “fully verified”.

What do you think of this process? What would you change, improve?

When i started cs i was so shy and not confident. I wouldnt have joined Meetings full of strangers. There should be an option like

  • wants to verify- like wants to meet up in cs

or like the local guides mentioned in another topic, they should verify as well.

cant answer your questions as i understood it like you and do not have more knowledge. i think the score is bc you need more than just 1 member to verify you- like 3 i think to remember. but no idea if it counts further than…

But also dear couchers team, what if i am the only member from my country? Or they live so far away? How can i be verified than?

I think no matter how we implement this, even if we want the community to self-run in the future, we’re going to have to manually verify people in different cities first.

I think Hangouts or Requesting to Meet would have been a good option for 1-to-1 meet ups, after which people could request to be verified by the other party!

The community score and verification score should be kept as two separate meters IMO.

Users verifying that they are who they are is an important safety feature which CS really messed up with paid verification. It would help with isolating spam accounts, and make sure there is some form of accountability from users.

The community score is simply a measure of involvement on the platform - whether it would be an effective measure, that remains to be seen/tested. But there’s one thing I like about it - in the case that someone is verified but is a jerk or pervert, there’s the community score as an alternative indicator.

I’m just wondering how awkward it would be to refuse to verify someone… and if it would be accurate if done by community members. Companies usually have dedicated safety teams to verify users’ documents - these companies have more at stake (e.g. reputation goes down if an accident happens), while I suppose users of a platform wouldn’t have that kind of motivation to carefully inspect someone’s ID.

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I was thinking the same thing. As some point, someone somewhere will try to use a forged, fake or borrowed ID card to get verified OR pressure someone into verifying their ID.

How is the person verifying supposed to know if the ID card is real/legitimate or not? And even if they do identify it as a bogus ID, what do they do in that situation? What if the person is pressured, coerced or otherwise manipulated into verifying the ID? These are all valid concerns.

I think we can partially solve the first problem by cataloging what “official” licenses look like, which can be shown on the verification screen for comparison. However, this step probably would only catch obviously bogus forms of ID, and it would require us to store examples of IDs for each country and keep them up to date (probably less work than manually verifying each ID).

The latter problem is a more difficult one. It could be awkward or even dangerous to refuse to verify someone’s ID if you’re being pressured into it by someone you don’t really know. To help eliminate this risk there should be a “waiting period” after verification to give the person who is verifying time to report the person being verified if something shady happens.

For example, you could have the following steps:

  1. Person A needing verification meets person B, asks person B for verification and shows them their ID.
  2. Person B compares the ID from person A to the cataloged example of a “legit” ID, scans the QR code, and enters the ID# to confirm the verification.
  3. X amount of time later (1 hour? 12 hours? 1 day?) person B is sent a notification (email, push notification, etc) which asks them a series of questions about the verification encounter:
    • Did you in any way feel pressured into verifying the person’s ID (yes/no) --> if yes, please describe
    • Did the photo on the ID look like the person who presented the ID (yes/no)
    • Was there anything about the ID that suggested it might be fake, forged, or otherwise illegitimate? (yes/no) --> if yes, please describe
  4. If there are no issues/red flags, the verification is made official after some time (12 hours, 1 day, 1 week?) and the verification status is updated on person A’s profile.

By adding an “anonymous” element of verification that takes place after the encounter, it should help make it easier/more comfortable to reject someone’s verification in the unlikely event that it makes sense to do so.

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That is completely rational and useful, but the challenge will be to try not to make it too complicated with all this different types of scores (verification score, community stand score, and as far as I understood there will also be a separate reputation score, right?). Some people might be confused and have some mixed feelings about seeing three different scores they need to keep eye on and, perhaps, worry about. We need to try to distinguish the differences clearly for the users. Maybe we can hide verification score in the system, and just show verification badges to make it more friendly than % or numbers (for example bronze medal, silver medal, gold medal).

This is a great idea, but similar concerns appear in my mind like above. It would be a pretty complicated process for the user, which a lot of them won’t understand and may be very off-putting. I even think that the simple fact that you are being pushed into being verified by, in the end, a stranger, may be problematic for many. On the other hand we cannot bypass this. Verification and building trust always involve some doze of sharing sensitive data. It’s either a company which you don’t know and are not sure if they don’t gather and use your data, or a totally stranger you’ve met 15 mins ago :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, you will be asking to be received as a guest to a stranger too, wich means asking a stranger to trust you won’t trash their place or rob them. And the same as a host. I think it’s fair. You belive strangers should trust each other or not. If you don’t, then you should not request to be hosted or host :woman_shrugging:

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Fair point, I guess if someone decides to host/stay at stranger’s place, showing a document is not a big deal :joy:

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Couch surfing uses something called Sift to make sure the person hasn’t already been banned and is signing up again but ive heard people can beat the ban by not giving them much info, and or if they dont verify the identity. another way to verify users is of course to go by govt id or passport obviously if someone is a traveller they wouldnt prob have passport.

Sift and other 3rd party fraud prevention services can help somewhat, but they cost a lot of money and ultimately don’t fix the problem entirely. I think we can accomplish the same thing by implementing our own proprietary fraud prevention algorithm. It would look at a number of different factors and assign a fraud score which, depending on the score, would flag the account for manual review or block the account altogether. Both of these situations should be rare. Doing things in-house is more costly up-front, but will save money in the long run. We should avoid using 3rd party services as much as possible imo; we have to since we want to keep the platform free.

good… hope it works

I think there’s an easy way to make it not awkward - just allow users to revoke their verifications for a week or something.

So if you don’t really want to verify random event person, you can just do it and undo it when you get home and never have to see them again.

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I love this idea! We should probably allow (or require?) people to provide feedback as to why the are revoking the verification.

I guess there will also need to be some kind of time frame for verification, so you can not go to a big event and ask three people at once. I understand, that they should not be connected, but if it would be possible to get verified on one day, it could turn out disturbing for events. Maybe something like upmost one verification in a week? Or even longer?

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Yeah, I said the same somewhere. Makes sense also because it makes you be active and engaged for a period of time before being verified. Like a “trial” period: see what the community is about and if you are interested you’ll get verified.

There should also be some kind or rule about how many people you can verify at once. If you can verify 20 people at once I think the point also gets lost. I mean: the point behind verification is to tell the community that you are trustworthy. If I met 20 people at a meeting it’s very unlikely I got to talk with all of them. Maybe you can verify one person per day, or week, or month, except if you are hosting more than one person?

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Could we also make it that you can be verified by trusted surfer?

No offense, but when I was hosting in Japan, I had no interested in hanging out with other local CS members. In a country like Japan (especially in smaller cities) where English isn’t widely spoken, any English-based platform will not develop a good community locally.

How about we make unverified host available for experienced and trusted surfer with a warning that they haven’t been verified. Surfer can gain community points by verifying new hosts, and hosts have incentive to start without engaging in a community that may or may not exist.

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Yes! The idea is that you can be verified by any other verified member, no matter the situation.

So verification isn’t going to be a mandatory thing for using any part of the platform, just strongly encouraged, and we might even bake “must be verified” into the default filters for search to make the experience safer for new members. But of course it’s important to have these new experiences for unverified users, otherwise no one could ever join. I know my first CS experience, a kind host let me stay even though I had no references or verification, and that option should always be available.

It’s a good point that we need to encourage verification in various ways for different situations. One other idea we were thinking about (waaay down the line and of course optional for communities that want to participate) was a kind of “guaranteed host” ability for new users, where a new user could have one opportunity to meet up with a trusted local community leader who could explain the platform and ethos the ethos, and introduce them to a host who agrees to participate, and that way they could be verified through the process as well.

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I agree that it would make sense to put some kind of limit on how many people you could help verify within a certain timeframe. Perhaps if you are brand new and have no references, you can only verify a small number of people in a short period of time (days/weeks) but if you have been a coucher for a long time and/or have been verified many times and have many references, then you can verify more people in a short period of time – but still have some kind of reasonable limit. The question is what that limit should be.

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Just wanna share some personal thoughts connected to this topic, as an “ordinary” regular CS guest and host:
• my first reference on CS came from a “dinosaur cs-badge” friend, which helped a lot I guess.
• I did participate some cs meetups at the beginning, but after figuring out that most of it(especially in big popular cities) is kinda drinking parties, casual talks or dating-like meetings - I stopped. So if there is a mandatory to go there for any kind of verification I’ll probably refuse.
• As a privacy guy I would really careful with sharing or giving away my personal data, not cuz I have something to hide, but I don’t like an idea to be “sold” or “tracked” or profiled by some invasive third parties or FB like companies.
• some place, like remote villages in Indonesia, requires any kind of visitor to be registered for safety matter, so my host always warn me about it and kindly ask (if I wanna stay there) to provide passport information or copy for local authorities. Which is understandable. In some cases host (and they did mention it in their profiles) asked me to show my id (which I don’t mind) to make them feel safe.
• I did though phone number verification on CS. But I do understand that in certain situations it wouldn’t serve as a good criteria for trust cuz it could be easily changed especially if u r world traveler.
• and even if u got verified there is always a room to play a “human card”, cuz we all different and some people would give u a door key straight away and with some u still have to build up a trust road.

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Maybe a first could be some sort of linking a e-mail and/or social profile (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, …) to your account. You make account and get some message on the other platform from someone who is already verified/moderator on the forum and you have to reply back with some sort of computer generated code you get when you make up your profile.

Second could be receiving a text message form a other local member with a code you have to fill in on the website. This way you can lock a separate way to contact someone just in case the website or internet is down in a region. Will be handy for travelers to know they can contact the host if they run into a problem or don’t have internet for some time.

Third should be some verification with some official document. I too am a bit afraid to just share this kind of personal date online but maybe it could be done at a event, by hosting some already verified member.

A small logo showing the level of verification on a profile would help surfers to see quickly which profile’s are 0%- 40% - 70% - 100% verified.

As long as verification isn’t required, I don’t see why people are so concerned about their data. Just don’t get verified, then.If you don’t want to vouch for someone, don’t be nervous or awkward about setting boundaries. Just say no, explain why if you feel like it, and move on. Most don’t vouch after only one encounter at a meetup, and that’s reasonable. Also, don’t vouch for someone if they feel “iffy”. You know what I’m talking about.

In the meantime, there’s no fool-proof way to have people be verified, so implement the system and see what happens. Have form, have people show their id OR have someone else vouch for them, or both. Some people can’t get ids, for a lot of different reasons. Just don’t have people pay for it, because money shouldn’t get to decided if someone is legit or not.

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