Ambassadors are back

Active members can nominate themselves, or others, to be appointed ambassadors. By nature, Ambassadors spread the word about Voyagers World and are encouraged to be role-models. Exemplifying our Core Values, hospitality exchange and paying forward.

In addition to spreading the “Gospel” among members, they may choose to greet new members, help with questions, organize and promote events, and are likely to be the first point of contact for members. Their status as ambassadors is indicated in their profiles.

While the ambassador program is laid out as an appreciation program, it is a status that many members value, and strive to obtain.

At Couchsurfing.com, ex-CEO Tony Espinoza excluded a significant portion of ambassadors from the program in 2013, we feel that was a major mistake! One that we are determined not to make. Ambassadors are the power behind any community like this. They can link to, and upload to the site, valuable information that will benefit all visitors. Most pages with tips about how to be a better couch surfer, and other great information that later became parts of web sites like Be Welcome and Couchsurfing.com, were actually written by Ambassadors first.

Many ambassadors are bloggers themselves. There will be rules in place, and the resources, for those ambassadors to share their information pages and articles directly from their posts into our info pages.

When you travel you are probably not interested in lists of the best Golf Courses, expensive restaurants, or bus tours in the area. You don’t use those services. But, if you did, it would be easy to find that information on the Internet. What you really want is the stuff that only other couch surfers and friends know about: The hotel hot tub in Miami that you can use for free after hours, the free tour of a nuclear bunker in Prague, the awesome hitchhike just outside of Innsbruck not listed in any tourist guide because there are no stores and no paid tourist attractions along the way. You want know the private parties, the special events that make up the most amazing experiences, and will never be listed in the local Sunday paper. You will find all that here.

Three-person integrity

The two-man rule is used in safety critical applications where the presence of two people is required before a potentially hazardous operation can be performed. This is common safety practice in, e.g., laboratories and machine shops. Some software systems enforce a “two-man rule” whereby certain actions (for example, money wire transfers) can only take place if approved by two authorized users.

Similarly, many banks implement some variant of the two-man rule to secure large sums of money and valuable items. Under this concept, unlocking the vault requires two individuals with different keys if the vault is secured by a key lock system. For bank vaults secured by combination lock, one individual will know half of the combination and a second person will know the remaining half. At no point will either person know the other person’s half of the lock combination, requiring both persons to be physically present in order to unlock the vault.

As an extension of the broader rationale for the “two-man rule”, regulations for some companies or not-for-profit organizations may require signatures of two executives on checks. These rules make it harder for an individual acting alone to defraud the organization.

We are going to apply a THREE Person Integrity rule to all drastic actions taken by ambassadors. When an ambassador decides that a user has been acting in such a way that seriously violates our terms of use, or goes contrary to our values, he/she can decide to ban that user. That decision, however, is always sent to two other ambassadors for confirmation. Those two ambassadors are always chosen randomly from our database of ambassadors all over the world and only ambassadors with no connection with the person related to the case are chosen. Those two additional ambassadors receive a full report about the case and if they all agree with the action, the system will ban the user.

If the ambassadors are not unanimous about what action should be taken, they can choose to move the process up to be reviewed by our management team.

Choosing new ambassadors

On the matter of choosing ambassadors, it may sound like it could end up being a popularity contest. It is easy to fall into that trap and end up with what we call “the Kanye West effect”: Very popular, but still being pushy and acting like a douche. It would be great if the locals could choose, but sometimes the most popular person doing a single event is not cut out to be an ambassador. There should be other considerations. You don’t want someone to be an ambassador who will start using such a power to be rude and obnoxious and piss off people in the way they respond and reply to others.

This is not a simple thing to solve, and the selection process has to be done by humans. But only by humans that are very committed to the values of our community and will be careful in selecting ambassadors. What the system can do is suggest ambassadors to be candidates. That can be done based on statistics about hosting and participation. But ultimately, the decision has to be taken by a person.

There will be three ways to become an ambassador:

Self nomination: Those that are already ambassadors elsewhere will be able to request that status and we will look into their profiles, messages, groups, take a close look at how they conduct themselves and how they manage situations. Generally, the best ambassadors today and in the past will pass this selection process without any difficulty.

Recommendation: Ambassadors can recommend others to be ambassadors. Then they go through the same process but with the added “point” that they have been recommended.

System selection: Our system will, from time to time, suggest names of people based on how they use our site and how they participate: How often they host events and guests, location, etc. These people will be invited, and if they are interested, will go through the same scrutiny described above.