Introducing Trustroots

Yay! Trustroots.org is now out of the first testing/bugfixing round. It’s time to join us and spread the word!

This post was originally published at Mikael’s blog.

Me and other hospex activists are creating a new volunteer based gift/free-economy project. While hosting will be at the core of Trustroots, it’s not limited to it.

Hitchwiki Hosts

This project started from an idea to create “Hitchwiki Hosts”. We were frustrated with CouchSurfing and later with BeWelcome not really moving forward, and thus we decided to act.

For now Trustroots is very simple. You can create a profile and see other travellers willing to host or meet on the map. Map format works great for hitchhiking and for rural hospitality.

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Eventually Trustroots will be “suitable” also for broader audience but at first we’re focusing mostly on hitchhikers. In the future you could join other communities such as “geeks”, “digital nomads” or whatnot. You could choose to host travellers from, say “hitchhikers” and “geeks” only. We’ve been running something called “hackercouch” for geeks inside GitHub. It’s a fun hack but shows well how there’s a need for all sorts of specialized hospex platforms.

Open source and not for profit

Trustroot is a non-commercial open source project with strong ideals, just like our other projects Hitchwiki, Nomadwiki and Trashwiki. While our wikis are projects for collecting knowledge, Trustroots will be the community platform for them. It’s not a startup.

Our aim is to create a more solid non-profit legal base later down the road. Hitchwiki is backed by German hitchhiking club Abgefahren e.V. and Trashwiki/Nomadwiki are independent projects run by Kasper, me and Philipp. Kasper and Philipp started Hitchwiki back in 2006 — I joined the gang in 2008.

Help us build this project

We will need a lot of help from everyone to test, code, design, plan, organise volunteering and legal base structures, and so on. Please let me know if you would like to help in any way!

For those wondering why I’m not helping BeWelcome anymore; I’ll be elaborating more about this later. In short; we were doing our best volunteering for BeWelcome. While it’s an awesome project, it has its problems behind the curtains. After a year or so me and many others left the project. We thought we can be way more efficient on our own.

I wouldn’t like to call this an alternative for CouchSurfing or BeWelcome (although it de-facto is), because it sets a little bit negative and rebellious tone for the project. Additionally in the future Trustroots might be more than just a simple hospex-map. I’m thinking in terms of combining data from our other projects, free ridesharing, borrowing bikes etc. But that’s the future and I have my long term vision:

Somebody said: “i would love to see hitchhikers leave CS and FB for their chats”. — I promise to work hard to make this happen. Might take a year or two but eventually, slowly. *

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Now go ahead and try Trustroots!

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…