What tools can we give our users to help curb using the platform for dating?

You mean a dedicated topic How should we best communicate that Couchers is not for dating? or rather Should we try to educate misconducting users?

I see the first question as an example of “educating” (everything that happens before someone has the chance to display inappropriate behavior) and the latter as an example of “features” (when someone does something against the guidelines, how can that behavior be corrected).

So yes I mean the first, something along the lines of “how can we prevent inappropriate behavior?” (I’m still not sold on using the word “dating”)

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yes, i’d actually understand it as looking for a good partner. certainly not something that men urge on women haha …but i’m not a native speaker either

How does this sound:
“Couchers is a hospitality and cultural exchange platform, not for dating, hookups, or looking for your soulmate”

I don’t want to get too hung up on the wording at this point.

Maybe the topic of this thread should be “what tools can we give our users to help curb using the platform for unintended purposes?” People trying to use it for dating/hookups/etc is obviously one particularly challenging problem, but people trying to make money off hosting, spying on people/data mining, stalking, and commercial spam are all issues that we need to try to prevent.

So far we’ve talked about restrictions on photos, flagging, and messaging when introducing people to the platform. What other tools could we use to stop people from abusing the platform?

What’s wrong with my definition? I think “Couchers.org is not for seeking romantic partners” would do just fine. :slightly_smiling_face:

One feature we discussed elsewhere as a slightly different approach regarding messaging that we should consider is message requests, similar to facebook - this would be instead of/in conjunction with a spam folder. The idea is that if a person you don’t know messages you (not including for hosting which is dealt with seaprately), the message is put in a ‘message requests’ section instead of your inbox, and you have to accept the message before the conversation continues. Within message requests we can mark some as likely spam.


I think this shouldn’t be one of the first features we roll out for improving safety. As discussed in other threads like How many profile photos should users be allowed to upload? and Profiles for users, there are good reasons for being able to put up more photos, including them being important for communicating across language barriers.

I think if you’re suspicious of people with multiple photos, then that’s up to each individual whether or not they interact with that person. If we’re trying to stop people from choosing people based on physical appearance/attraction, wouldn’t this restriction put the onus once again on the people receiving unwanted attention rather than the perpetrators? Maybe I don’t understand your argument fully for how restricting numbers of photos can improve safety, so it’d be good if you can re-explain it.

Because of how much it would limit usability for people who are using the service correctly, I think it’s something we should revisit if it seems like a good next step after we’ve implemented the other safety features. Perhaps, for now, we can just state that ‘One photo is a good amount’ when creating a profile, but they’re free to upload more.

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Basically, my thought is that if you’re only allowed to upload one or two photos, you can’t show off as much. It sends a signal that the platform isn’t focused on how users look and is instead focused on making friends based on who they are as people.

Someone who’d come on and see they can upload as many photos as they would like can then say “well I want potential romantic partners to see how amazing I am at all these different activities I do like being shirtless at the beach and riding a cool motorcycle” and I think it’s just kind of tacky at that point.

Ok I see the point but I think there’s stronger signals we can send than that, for instance saying it explicitly and introducing people to the platform and community with a better process. I’d rather see approaches that won’t take something away from users that use it properly.

I also see a safety and usability argument for allowing more photos, because it gives people more information on the people they’re communicating with. From another thread:

If someone’s going to be using the platform inappropriately, limiting photos will probably not deter them, and at least this way people would be able to see their intentions if their photos look like a dodgy tinder account.


I disagree. I think a potential dating spammer who only sees space for one photo might be like “guess this isn’t the place I’m going to find dates.”

For the record, I never look at the photos of people I host beyond their profile pic. That’s mainly because I’ve come to find out that a lot of people just use photos to make themselves look more interesting. It’s the Instagram age and frankly a lot of the pictures don’t even match the person. We’re all citing anecdotal evidence here but I tend to believe people use pictures to exaggerate who they are and curate their life.

Regarding @pelgrim’s example, isn’t it too bad that we could make that call based on a picture? For all we know, the person could have gotten along fine with them - maybe their picture(s) just happened to have cars? I would never want people to make assumptions about me from my photos… because as I have mentioned before I think it would be shallow thing to do.

This is probably too speculative to go off, which is why I’m suggesting we look at implementing something like this further down the line after we see the results of other measures. We’ll then also be able to test it to see if the statement is true (e.g. implement in some areas, and see the results).

I agree with you completely on your points about photos, and they’re not important to me either. But from those other threads we know they’re important to other people, and even if instagramification is fake af it’s important for people to be able to control their own profile, I don’t think we should be controlling people there.

Well either that or it’s a call based on a profile description or a call based on the vibe you perceive from a reference. People are going to pick based on personality preference. If we don’t want that, we’d need to remove profiles, all photos, all written references and just assign people randomly to each other and only include safety data. I don’t think I’d like that platform.

What happened to just reading a good request and seeing a filled out profile and having positive references? I always felt I could tell a lot about a person from their request and whether or not they’d made an attempt to read my profile. I would be surprised if most hosts really worry about much else. The person requesting should be the one worrying about whether or not the host is a good fit for them, and when you’re in need of a couch (at least with current platforms), making sure they have the right personality is hardly high on the priority list.

I see what you mean though about how we may as well randomly match people. Odd thing is that it’s somehow already been happening due to how hard it could be to find a host. :see_no_evil:

Anyway, without drifting too far from the topic, I just feel that pictures in particular, since they show so many physical features of people are more likely to be the thing that fosters dating behavior. No one is going to send dating spam or single out potential targets based on what they wrote in their profile or their references. “Wow, your writing is so sexy” “your references are so beautiful”, lol.

In that sense, the less pictures the better for me :slight_smile:

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I agree with most said here. Just wanted to add that only one pic may not be enough, because some people love to choose weird profile pics where you can’t see the faces clearly. Which is OK, until we agree to meet for some activitie and I arrive and have no clue which one they are.

I do not agree with clothes shaming, but I’ve seen profiles in which the 3 pics where “sexy selfies”, you know, sexy or no clothes in the bed, or in the mirror, that sort of thing. I don’t shame anyone for taking them, I do too, but I would never put that on a hospex profile. It gives the wrong vibes.

How about a friendly suggestion about which pics are better, in a positive tone? Like “show your face! People that has never seen you before will try to meet in public spaces, help them find you easier” that kind of thing.

Regarding the report button, I said somewhere else: it would be useful to have a visible simple red button with a flag and the word “dating”. CS had the option inside the “report” menu and most people don’t even know is there or that it is a valid reason to report someone. Let’s make it clear: we want people making friends here, there’s already plenty of apps for other purposes.


(Sorry in advance for any mistakes, I’m not native in English)
Maybe you could use experience of others, who were dealing with, broadly speaking, abusive messages - like MMO games :slight_smile: There was an interesting “experiment” conducted by Riot games, based on priming. Basically, exposing people to certain stimuli, such as particular words, can influence their behavior ( source: https://www.wired.com/2015/01/inside-the-largest-virtual-psychology-lab-in-the-world/ or
So maybe kind of pop-up message in the tone of “Please, be nice and considerate” when someone wants to write a message? Or in the box for typing it should be “Type your message here. Please, be polite.”?
And I have read somewhere (but I can’t find it now) that with children “YES orders” work better than “NO orders” - so instead of “Couchers is NOT a dating platform” maybe something like “If you are looking for a date, please use a DATING SITE”.

Also, maybe it would work if generally there would be an unlimited number of messages one can send, but if they had their messages reported/flagged as dating spam/harassment/whatever they could be for some time limited to 10 messages a day, with 2 flags to idk, 3 messages, and with a third flag they would be silenced. A gradation of “punishment”. And a “parenting talk” message/mail, about Couchers not being a dating site, some people not wanting that kind of messages, being considerate etc.

And a filter for some words with a pop-up or sth saying things like “You have used a word ‘boobs’ in your message. This word may be considered abusive and you may get reported. Are you sure you want to send it?”


Hey Ania, welcome to the forum! :slight_smile: These are all fantastic ideas!!

Definitely gonna incorporate these. :100:

I wonder if this would be strong or effective enough wording though!

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Personally I don’t think there’s much point this if you can send requests to anyone. Plus, what if you want to meet up?

Yes!! Also timed bans - first offence, silenced for 12 hours, second time, 2 days, etc…

Regarding photos limit - how about we allow more photos, but only if there are other Couchers on it? Before being published it should be confirmed in the app by the other person on the photo. In that way we’d encourage sharing photos showing well spent time with the community, not an Instagram-like showcase.

Although to be honest I’m not sure if any very restricting limits on photos is a good idea. As some mentioned above - showing your skills and how you spend time on a photo has a lot of benefits, and it’s much more effective in showing who you are than just mentioning your hobby in the description.

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The puritan approach is BeWelcome’s approach.

For example, they initially put limits because they were so scared of freeloaders (like not sending more than 5 messages a day initially), and all kinds of other examples. 10 years after, the community still hasn’t taken off.

If couchers wants to differentiate itself from BW/TR it needs to grow as a community first, incentivize activity not limit it.


This is a really good point. I think our goal should be to strike a balance between incentivizing activity, being unequivocal about the site not being used for dating, and implementing safety features to increase safety and quality.

Additional ideas for tools and features to help strike this balance are certainly welcome.

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I think first time offenders should be banned permanently.
It may be the first time someone gets reported, but it was more than likely not the first time they did it (and didn’t get reported).
Stamp dating creeps out from the start and don’t let couchers.org get the dating reputation of CS.