It’s genuinely nice to be nice

Way back when, in the dim and distant past, when smartphones were still only a dream…

CouchSurfing crashed, Casey wrote the famous “so long folks” letter. The community rose up and said we want this to continue. We value our gift economy, we want to keep this journey going. It started in Montreal, then continued in Nelson. There was a sense of possibility in the air. The sky was the limit. Here we were, a community of maybe 100k people dedicated to free exchange.

Ideas abounded, from the practical to the downright wacky. People wanted to build all kinds of weird and wonderful things on top of a fundamental premise, a gift. From the gift of a place to stay for a night, to the gift of a ride somewhere or an hour’s wifi.

That’s where it started.

A lot has changed in the last 7 years. Smartphones are the norm in much of the connected world. CouchSurfing is getting its ass kicked by Airbnb. Facebook has won the web.

The fundamental premise remains. It’s genuinely nice to be nice. CouchSurfing and Airbnb have proven that there’s a fundamental trust between humans. Given the right circumstances, millions of people will welcome a stranger into their home. Fundamentally, people are good, and at our very core, we trust each other.

Our vision is to build systems that enable that latent trust between humans.

Will you join us on the journey? There’s a signup form in the sidebar…

12 Comments on “It’s genuinely nice to be nice

  1. I’m not asking for justifications, but I am curious why you decided to start from scratch rather than using the existing non-profit BeWelcome.org which has principles that seem to echo yours and which already has a base of committed members? Is division better than unity in this case?

    • Actually me, Callum and Kasper were all volunteers at BeWelcome for a while. Callum & Kasper as Board of Directors and me as a developer-designer.

      Diversity might be good when it comes to hospex (look at Warmshowers.org for instance) but more over BeWelcome and Trustroots have quite different approaches on developing features/leadership/team work. At BeWelcome stuff intends not to get done or changes are really slow.

      I can elaborate more reasons behind why I left BeWelcome at my blog later on.

      • Thanks for the reply. I guess you can see how things don’t always go as fast as you think in the volunteer world. Only three weeks to reply. I’m looking forward to your future blog post, which I assume will go into decision making in depth. Please see my other question below.

        • Har har. :-) You’re right, sorry. We aren’t “officially” out yet so I wasn’t following this channel and email alerts weren’t working. All good now.

  2. A non-profit hospitality site that truly works is much needed and long overdue.

    Wishing you all the best for success. Site looks wonderful so far.

    – Rat

  3. I see you’re looking for volunteers to help set up a legal structure. I assume one goal will be to assure people that Trustroots doesn’t take the exploitative dishonest route of Couchsurfing.

    Have you given any thought into in what country you will establish that legal structure?

    Will you take the Couchsurfing/Hospitality Club model of a closed core group controlling the organization? Or will you get entangled in democratic decision-making processes like BeWelcome.org? Or will you open membership to all site participants? Or?

    Since you are asking for volunteers, and promising to ‘think differently’, to not make the same mistakes as the pioneering groups, it would be nice to hear what direction that process will take – to avoid unfortunate future surprises. For the moment, the rhetoric sounds quite a bit like Couchsurfing. In fact, even they are announcing the “New Couchsurfing” where everything will be rosey.

    • Yup, you’re right, this needs more elaborating. I guess it boils down to these lines; we’ve got high ideals just like BW & years of experience running other big volunteer projects (like Hitchwiki). What happened to CS & HC is sad.

      Regarding the country; probably some European country, except not France. ;-) We’re “running” Hitchwiki from Germany.

    • “attentive HospEx supporter” seems to know more about myself than I do. Since that person has decided to hide their identity, I’ll simply try to clarify some of their misconceptions.

      First thing, the only name associated with Trustroots I recognize is Kasper. I recognize him from the CS Wars, where he was trying to keep CS honest long before I joined the battle. I hold him in upmost respect. I respect the honesty of the others in answering my questions. My questions were completely honest and essential questions in this field.

      Concerning the relationship of any of the TR people with BW, I have no knowledge of that. I know very little about the history of BW, and the knowledge “attentive HospEx supporter” attributes to me are completely false. I am still much more involved with CS – mostly in the area of combatting their lies and trying to increase safety in the entire Hospitality sector.

      My contact with BW began when people were exploring alternatives to CS and many people were saying that the same thing could happen to BW as had happened to CS. I researched the bylaws of BW, just as I had before with CS. I was able to see that the French legal structure (with which I am very familiar with, having started several associations and helped direct others, including some with million euro budgets) did not in fact allow BW to be stolen by capitalists.

      And I did indeed offer my services to BW to try to further insure that BW has a rock solid structure to prevent anyone from monopolizing control or selling out.

      As you can read above, I enquired about the same issue for TR. But since I have been told that TR will likely establish its legal identity at some time in the indefinite future in Germany, and since I speak little German and have no experience with German legal structures (except for working for a couple), I doubt I could contribute much. But I would be willing to look at English translations of the bylaws, when they are written, or discuss the legal and structural problems whenever.

      Concerning the slowness of the BW decision-making structure, I mentioned that myself above. “Attentive HospEx supporter” seems to be confused.

      As far as “legal framework”, people familiar with HC & CS have seen how the 2 major players in the field both betrayed their membership. If you believe this is a fake problem, you are sadly misinformed. Even if the people now in charge can be trusted, that does not stop future manipulation, nor as we have seen with BW, the sense that a for-profit future could to in the planning, evn if it is legally almost impossible.

      By “base of committed members” I meant thousands of people who use BW to host and to guest. (Much less than CS.)

      I see no necessary conflict between non-profits pursuing similar goals. Being a member of Amnesty doesn’t stop me from also working with other human rights organizations.

      • libertedeparole:

        I would be willing to look at English translations of the bylaws, when they are written, or discuss the legal and structural problems whenever.

        Thanks! I’ll let you know when that’s possible. I don’t know when exactly and where (might be or might not be Germany) this will happen but possibility to deal with stuff in English is high on the list of requirements, alongside electronic stuff and low bureaucracy. NL and Germany are both good in this way, France on the other hand isn’t that great.

        Thanks for discussion guys, just remember to keep it polite and on-topic.

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