After about a decade of watching how reviews have evolved in many different web sites, and also witnessing how they have been [mis]handled in many cases, we can design a better way to do it from here on.
We want to accomplish some key goals:
One of the most important differences between our system and the past is that we will strongly encourage people to post reviews. We believe it is not good when people use a service of hospitality exchange, for free, and then do not give even the satisfaction of some constructive feedback. Yet, making the reviews obligatory would generate pointless and meaningless reviews.
Once a user posts a review to another user, that sets the post date. The review will not be public yet. The system will wait up to two weeks for the other party to post a review as well, and then they will both become visible publicly. If someone gives you a review and you don't post one as well in two weeks, you will have missed the opportunity to give that person a review.
Users can give each other reviews about events, hosting, and meetings that happened in the past. Even a distant past, as long as the review states the actual (approximate) date of the facts. The two week limit applies to the dates the reviews are posted.
Reviews cannot be edited, they can only be amended. But you can add comments to it. Responses and comments to reviews can be posted at any time, even after the two week period. We allow that because sometimes people like to post updates and augment the past reviews with additional info, based on new experiences. This way a user can't give a positive review and then later change it to a negative without the system showing the history of that review. Anyone will be able to see that it was one way and later changed to something else.
You can also post a private comment that will only be visible to the Safety Team and to the ambassadors that are looking at the review in case of a dispute. That will expedite the exchange of information in case of disputes and conflicts.
When a user posts a review to another user and that review is positive, everything goes the same way it happens anywhere else. It gets posted after the other person posts a review back (or the two week limit is reached), and that is the end of it.
When a user posts a neutral or negative review the rules are different. We must protect the possibility of posting a neutral or negative without fear, so we won't end up with the same situation we encounter in other web sites, where most profiles are loaded with positive reviews and everyone knows that if people could actually post their real impressions without fear the numbers would be very different.
For instance: When a guest (Susan) posts a negative review for her host (Richard), he is now blocked from posting any review to her, unless he wants to post a positive one. Instead, what he can do is post a response to her review. A response is not a review per se and doesn't count like one for the profile's statistics. So even if his response is negative in nature, it doesn't count as a negative review for her.
Reviews (and ammendments) can be disputed up to 30 days after the post date. After that period they are categorized as "accepted as is".
Imagine if Susan posts an accusatory review to Richard and makes untrue statements about the experience. In this case Richard will press a button on his profile to dispute that review and state his side of the story. That is all he has to do. Disputing a review will prompt the system to pick 3 ambassadors selected randomly from anywhere in the world to look at the case. The system will automatically block both Susan and Richard from messaging each other until the case is decided. The ambassadors will receive a report without any personal identifying information (no addresses, no email, no phone number, no links to external resources), but that report will have all the data directly related to the case: The hosting request if there was one, every message they exchanged, and all the statistics about their participation in the system (events, hosting, etc), all reviews they gave or received in the past, and all disputes that involved them as well. The ambassadors will also be able to ask questions to Susan and/or Richard to clarify any questions they may have. If the ambassadors see a clear violation of our values or rules, they can confirm the review, dismiss, or reverse it, and they can do it just by clicking. However, if the case is unclear they can move it to be reviewed by our Safety Team, and we will take a final decision. Neither Susan or Richard know who are the ambassadors reviewing the case. The ambassadors also don't know who are the other ambassadors involved.
This way the vast majority of disputes will be solved easily and quickly by a panel of people that are removed from the problem and have no personal interest in it. It will not take each one of them more than a few minutes to either take a decision or kick the case up to be handled by us, if necessary.