What 'extra' features are important?

Obviously messages, couch requests, reviews and a good way of searching for hosts is the basic minimum.

But what other features did people use?

Events - I think everyone agrees these are very important! Could almost be a minimum feature.

Groups - I was in groups but I never used them much at all. But I know when they were effectively abandoned by CS, there was a lot of disappointment!

Hangouts - I also never used this. I heard it was largely Tinder-lite (a CS problem in general!), but also people had some great experiences with it.

I think all of these can fall into the minimum features we’ll need to build. Groups and events are critical if communities want to use this platform.

Groups may have just fallen off the map on CS because they weren’t incorporated onto the phone apps. There’s an important lesson there that if we want something to be used, we have to make it available on phones.

I personally loved hangouts, but I understand that not everyone did and it definitely had a creeps problem. I think we should be able to think of a better way to go about it.

There’s room for a whole bunch of other features that we can incorporate too, even if not in the first version. I think what trustroots does with their map is very useful, and I’d personally like to see a better way to organise short or long trips with other users, independently of events. Of course we’d have to think about any additional features to make sure they don’t interfere with the main goals.

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I agree with Itsi about the groups - you can’t access them on the app, making it a chore to check them. But the groups had other problems, since they didn’t function like typical forums (no way to upvote/like posts, do a search, quote a previous post, etc). Groups with better functionality would be a big plus, and they are vital to building communities!

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Did people like the Public Trip function on couchsurfing.com?
I had great experiences with it to find company for short road trips that were difficult to organise traveling alone, but it was often difficult to get in contact with a host and keep on top of updates, particularly if the post had a ton of comments. The design of the interface also made it hard to distinguish it from Events in general and a lot of people used it (sometimes very successfully) to find hosts in big cities without having to send out personal requests.

Whilst I loved Hangouts, I found it problematic that you would scroll way down the page and keep seeing the same person/people in 5+ separate Hangout groups. Any way we could keep this from happening so you wouldn’t have lots of inactive chats? Also keeping a chat after it expires for the people involved!

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I can’t say I used public trips very much as a surfer because I felt that it attracted the wrong kind of users (kind of predatory and offering something like going out for coffee/drinks instead of an actual couch); I’m a blond American though so YMMV.

On the flip side, I did use it to find surfers in need of a host or who hadn’t found my profile naturally through the search, especially when I had a surfer cancel or whatever. I’d like for that feature to still exist :slight_smile:

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Good point about the ton of inactive hangouts. Maybe we can find someway to funnel people into a smaller number of them.

I loved that feature! Especially since couchsurfing limited the amount of new messages you could send in a week, I found that, in bigger cities, the public trip function allowed me to find hosts (them reaching out to me) without exhausting my message limit as an unpaid user. Also for hosts who are keen to host travelers, it’s nice to have that option for them to seek out people hoping to stay in their city, rather than only wait for travelers to message them first, which the public trips encouraged.

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Yes, I can second this. Sometimes I have declined a bunch of requests because I didn’t feel like hosting or thought I’d be too busy. Then it turned out I had free time and no requests, so I used to trawl public trips to find people I might like to host. I used it as a host and think it was a pretty underrated feature for hosts.

The drawback to public trips is, as a surfer, you sometimes get the wrong kind of invitations, i.e., messages like “can’t host you, let’s meet for a coffee”? Which is largely unhelpful (unless you wrote you were open to just meeting up with people - not looking for a host). I’m not sure I’d use public trips as a surfer in all locations (looking at you, Morocco), but it came in handy sometimes, no question.

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Always didn’t like that function since it’s promoting indirectly freeloaders in some way. On the old website of Couchsurfing you could see how much invites people get in the public trips. So all the young women would get 10+ invites :see_no_evil: In my opinion the members should put some effort in sending a personalised request. And yes please, no limiting in way of sending requests/messages :blush:

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As a feature I would love to see the kind of old city pages of Couchsurfing back. In the old days you could find so much useful (travel) information and discussion on these pages. Always used it when I was travelling, unfortunately CS killed it by introducing their new website in 2015 without informing their community. Sure you guys can even make a better version of it! :smiley:

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We’re discussing a new implementation of that over here, it’d be great to get your thoughts on it.

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Right but, in counter, you, as a host, are not obligated to offer to host someone with a public trip. If you would rather them request you, then you can by all means wait for someone to request you. But plenty of hosts want to be able to invite travelers, because they are equally as excited about the cultural exchange aspect.

I’m not going to lie, the majority of my couchsurfing stays were because I made a public trip and hosts invited me. I do not think this is freeloading behaviour in the slightest because, whether I make the request or they send the invite, I would still do just as much exchange. It didn’t change the host-traveler relationship, it just allowed more opportunity for the initial connection.

Also, that seems straight up weird and creepy if you could see how many invites other people got. I did not know that was a thing and I definitely don’t think that should be a thing. I don’t even understand what the point of that would be haha.

Personally I found that helpful for making friends in the city/town I was visiting :stuck_out_tongue: Although to be fair, I would hope for a message more like “I can’t host you but I would love to show you cool parts of my city”, that’s a tad more exciting than coffee

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It was so as a host you would know if the person is probably still looking for a host or has had enough invitations. It also exposed the fact that women would have like 10x more messages than men.

Regarding being invited for coffee/being shown around, when I got messages like that I just took it as dating spam. I’m out here looking for a couch, not a dude to spend the day with.

Loved groups!
I find language exchange groups amazing. This is how I met many great people whom I still speak with today.

The flipside is that everyone and their uncle could create a language exchange group, which lead to countless people creating the same thing.

Another thing was that the majority of these groups are whatsapp-based, which meant you had to publicly post your mobile number so a moderator could grant you permission to participate in his or her group.

This lead to idiots adding me to groups i didn’t know of, weren’t interested in and didn’t ask for. (I have some interesting stories here haha)

Anyway the niggles aside, I think groups are a great way to gather like-minded people, whether this be language exchange aficionados, motorbike fans or food lovers who want to socialise.

Hahaha, lol.

I agree, and on that note, maybe there could be a messaging system that could allow you to message everyone in a group at once somehow, like a whatsapp group, but through the app instead.

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I think it’d be cool if for every group and geographically based community there’d be a group chat. Like if you arrive in a new city, you automatically get added to the city chat. Could be fun to experiment with.

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I guess as travelers, a lot of you are familiar with lonely planet and their website.
“The thorn tree”, a free discussion forum all about asking and sharing traveling information and tips would be great.
I know CS was to a very small degree used for this purpose, but it was not something that was as organized as the thron tree.

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Maybe a possible solution to this could be having these groups on apps such as discord where you don’t have to share your phone number with people just username, or maybe sharing it with moderator privately if that is possible.

Discord would be an option, but Whatsapp is far more common and accessible. I for one don’t like having to install yet another program or app to do something that Whatsapp is perfectly capable of.
Skype, Zoom, Discord… All wonderful programs, but I can do without all the ballast slowing down my pc or mobile phone. (admitted I’m lazy and not particularly tech savvy)

Anyway it was the way phone numbers had to be shared publicly within groups that sometimes created unwanted side effects. No need for that if phone numbers were only made visible to moderators allowing people into groups. Unless a future couchers app would feature an extensive chat app, but that would be like reinventing the wheel.

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Does nobody here use Telegram? :sweat_smile: I’m surprised cuz I thought it was getting pretty big. We were thinking Telegram and Facebook Groups could be a good combination for more urgent stuff requiring immediate attention (such as regarding safety) and FB groups for the not-so-urgent community announcements etc.

If there was a way we could implement Groups effectively, it would be good to start everything (guides, messaging, posts) on the Couchers app entirely. Otherwise, once we bring people onto external apps like Whatspp or Discord, it’s going to be a hard time getting people to be active in a Couchers group. IMHO!

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