Whose is a reference?

Said in other words: who is the legal owner of a reference ? the author that wrote it or the person that is mentioned on it ?
Or once published both become the owners of it ?

This is interesting in case a person retire from the community and want all its data deleted.
For sure a published reference is a data owned by the poster, but since contains personal information about another person even this person get rights on it.

So for sure a person that has received a comment from someone that eventually retired has the right to ask that that comment be removed, but has also the right to have it retained on the recipient profile (without poster name) ?

What a comment that mention a third person ?

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Does it even have to be a rights issue? If people want something taken down and both parties agree, then surely it can just be removed amicably? Where one party doesn’t agree to it being taken down (if, for example, they left a negative review), then surely it is in the interests of the community that this review stays?

Having said that, if someone leaves Couchers, then I don’t see why their writing should be left around either. Shouldn’t the removal of all traces and connections be an automatic thing that happens when people close their accounts?

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Been thinking of it myself when CS came with the “contribution”. Several people I hosted deleted their profiles or been deleted and I lost some references before I had a chance to archive my profile. This is the reason why I still do have a profile on CouchSurfing. I have written hundreds of references and I want people to have those references. If I delete my profile (or will be deleted) the platform will delete all references I have given, too.

Obviously (at least on CouchSurfing) recipients do not own the references and the original posters don’t own them either. Once posted it looks like the owner becomes the platform because they have power to edit or remove it. References are not protected by copyright law so you can archive, print or display them as you please. Nobody really owns the references.

Here on Forum I noticed you have two choices when you want to delete yourself. You can delete every single post you wrote and leave no trace or delete your profile but leave your posts. It would be nice to offer the same in the Couchers App for references. If I wanted to delete my profile, I wouldn’t mind for the recipient to keep the reference I gave them.

Having an entity, whether is called reference or another way, without an owner it is something strange.
You may have more than one owner, it might be common property of the whole universe, but cannot have “no owner”.
The example you did was clear.
If one person leave the community its post disappears.
In case of reference this wpoukld involve also another person, that could have an interest to have a certain reference, even if anonimized.
Think about three references that i had for the same day by three different guests: two were extremely positive, one was negative. If you read the three togeter you immediately see that one thing that made unhappy one of the guest was in reality made in the interest of all the 5 present, and he was unhappy just due to a misunderstanding.
If you remove the two good ones remains only the bad one , without a way to understand the reason.
Or it is possible that one special reference pointed on one feature of hospitality that the host want to be known, but for any reason cannot tell explicitly. even in this case removing a reference could make a damage to the host.
So my idea is that refererces are common property of bot the author and the referred one. and can be deleted only if both parties agree.
At a legal level a reference is intellectual property of the author, that gives an unlimited right to use in the platform and the same, not revockable to the referred person, so who as received a reference has the right to use unlimidedly, until it wants, otherwise it should have the same right to stop the use of one unwanted reference.

On every website, social media or forum: YOU own the content but by posting on the website you also give license to use that content as written at the website’s terms and conditions.

So the content is all yours but… if you can’t edit your own reference, can’t delete your own reference, and your reference can be wiped down without your or recipient’s consent you don’t really own this reference from my very own perspective.

If you really want to own the reference, you need to publish it on the website of yours, have it printed out, write in down in the guestbook etc. Otherwise you must be OK with what you signed up by posting the reference on the website that you don’t own.

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This is an interesting topic! How do we strike a balance between protecting the data rights of users and also protecting the safety of other users?

For example, let’s say person A does something “bad” to person B and then person B leaves a negative reference. We wouldn’t want to delete that negative reference if person B deletes their account, would we?

In my personal opinion it would make sense to keep the references when an account is deleted, but give the user who is deleting their account the option to anonymize the references if they want to.


The only reason to leave a reference on a site is to have them availbale to other people.
So a reference have to remain in a site until le owner is part of that community.
So came the question if a reference is only of the author or also of the addressee.
Look at the example made by Jesse.
Said that an anonimized reference loses almost all of its value since out of context, not knowing about who left it is useful only in a few cases (i did as example one of them).
Well. if that negative reference was left not for objective reasons but for subjective reasons (example: a person that has left mostly negative reference and has received many other bad ones) or has been left by someone very unexperiences that had high expectatives (once i got a negref because “host had not come to the bus stop to pick us by car” - It had not never arranged ), refer to something that has changed (example: “the host’s mother was extremely rude with me” when the host later moved away from family) ?
or when a reference was left due to a bad one received, pointing all the worst events in the stay when normally would have ignored ?
This lead to another question: on CS if the other guy delete account you lose your references in and out too, if you do it one way there is the risk that the object of a reference could not say its version.

But i had figured also the other way: the reference of the person that left was nice and fair, and the recipient want to retain, sometimes because it is part of a group of references that can be understood only when read all together.
Example: A is the host, B is one guest C is another guest.
Reference from A: “H is a good person, but my stay at his home on Easter 2022 was allucinating, were another couple in the nearby room that for three days every night was noisy, staying up with music until 2 or 3, so I was always tired for not sleeping, only on third day after they left I was able to rest.”
Reference from B: “I was there with my girlfriend for Easter break, but he is not a good person, every morning he was complaining with us for staying up until late in the evening: well we were in vacations, not in a convent, we had to leave after two days to look for another place”
If you read B without A you can have some doubt on who had the culprit, if you read the two together it is clear what happened.
so if A after a few not satisfying experiences leaves the community the references remain unbalanced, so H would prefere to have A retained, although anonimized.