With the "digital nomads" breakout session at DrupalCon Portland still on my mind, I came across an intriguing blog post today by Nithin Coca about the so-called "rise and fall" of Couchsurfing.
For me, one of the big takeaways from reading the post is I learned that Couchsurfing.com went commercial last year. Nithin Coca's argument is that as a result of its commercialization, its business model makes room for "quantity over quality" and the site and its community has gone downhill. Some of the inter-related issues that he brings up are:
- His experience at a Couchsurfing meetup was that attendee ratio leaned toward more socialites and fewer travelers and hosts;
- Trust between Couchsurfing.com travelers and hosts has diminished over time;
- A gender imbalance has always existed on Couchsurfing, but the treatment of women has worsened over time.
My feeling about our Drupal Hospitality Network (and the Drupal California Travelers Program) is that because our groups are already deeply connected to the Drupal community, we're automatically solving those issues:
- We have a strong, global community with individuals who are active contributors;
- Having public profiles on Drupal.org creates visibility, enables communication, helps establish trust, etc. — our members are less likely to flake, as that may affect trust in one another and our working relationships;
- Our community appears has a healthier gender balance than Couchsurfing.com (at least from my reading of Nithin Coca's critique).
What I'm left with now are questions. What kind of lessons can we learn from Couchsurfing.com that would make our Hospitality Network even better? Is there a uniform message or badge that we can put on our Drupal.org profiles to show our involvement? Is there interest in building a new website that recreates the best parts of Couchsurfing and AirBnB but is specifically for the Drupal community?
Discussion is welcome both here and at https://largerobot.com/articles/finding-a-couchsurfing-com-replacement