Improving safety for all

Given the nature of hospitality networks, the basis of inviting strangers into private homes, safety is an ongoing and paramount concern for both the guest and host.

The first few years of Internet-based couch surfing communities was marked by unfortunate incidents. None of the  safety mechanisms in place were reliable, and sexual abuse (although certainly under-reported) was shockingly prevalent, even among "trusted" ambassadors. You can read more by following this link.

There are mechanisms used in couch surfing web sites that have claimed to increase security and trust. These were visible on member profiles for potential hosts and surfers to view. Items like personal reviews, others vouching for them, and even a credit card verification system.

We believe that reviews are relevant, when there are many. Someone with just a single review, or only a few, may not inspire much trust, but someone with large amounts of reviews cannot have possibly faked them all. Nobody can abuse and misbehave for too long without eventually getting a bad review.

Vouches were taken seriously on couchsurfing.com and were very well liked. It is unfortunate that the practice was abandoned.

The credit card verification system, also called address verification, didn't have any real value towards trust and safety.

We believe that reviews are very valuable, but not sufficient by themselves. We will be implementing well tested strategies to improve the safety of our users. Here are a few of them:

We will make it easy to bring to our site all reviews you have, from all linked sources. We will have effective ways to rate their reliability. We believe the best way to improve safety is by having a trusted and easily accessible repository of reliable reviews.
Nobody will be able to keep the status of ambassador without clearly stated standards of safety and verification.
It is paramount to allow users to feel safe and be able to post negative  reviews without the fear of retaliation. We have designed mechanisms allowing discreet, and objective, peer reviews of reviews making sure credible negative reviews are protected, that unsubstantiated bad reviews don't affect their targets, and that reviews are easy to search, view, request, corroborate, and that review conflicts are resolved quickly.
We designed effective ways to stop abusers from deleting a profile when they get bad reviews, just to resurface as a new user elsewhere. Our team has plenty of experience in detecting this kind of behavior.
We allow linking to outside resources that allow a person to get to know another person better and, consequently, build trust with them, even while there still may not be many site profile reviews. This will benefit users that are beginners at couch surfing and have easily verifiable public profiles, like artists, professionals, athletes, etc.
Our team is building the statistical tools to show how people behave over time. That is the most reliable and effective safety tool possible.