If you have been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I have been a member of the Couchsurfing community. I have been a member of this community for a couple of years now, and I have both surfed in foreign homes, as well as hosted strangers needing a place to stay in Berlin. Couchsurfing, at least the way I understand it, is a hospitality exchange, where one not only receives benefit from the community, but also gives back benefit to the community.
Except that recently, it has been less and less so.
See, Couchsurfing has been around (the website at least) for about a decade now. And they have exchanged owners and transformed themselves from being a non-profit to being a for-profit company. And there have been plenty of changes that I honestly don't like. Somehow, there is the emphasis shifting from quality to quantity. Now, they have a Couchsurfing App which you can use on your smart phone, and so it makes finding a host easier, or so it seems. But seriously, the quality of the requests I get nowadays are just getting lower and lower that I find myself rejecting a lot of the requests that I get.
I get requests asking for a place to stay that same day. I get a lot of copy and paste requests, not even mentioning my name. I have set my profile up such that it would be evident if people do read my profile or not, because if you did, then you would mention one critical piece of information in your request, and if you didn't, then you probably didn't read my profile and just gave me a copy-and-paste request. I got a request the other day saying that his battery is low and only 5% remaining and therefore he had no time to count the numbers (there's a little math problem I have embedded). I guess I also don't have time for him.
In the end, I find myself accepting less and less requests, and rather, I find myself sending invitations instead. See, people can post open requests, and every now and then, I see who is coming to town, and if I find an interesting profile, I send an invitation to this person. I've hosted way less people this year than last year, probably because I have become pickier, but at least, the people we end up hosting turn out to be very interesting people, and someone who I don't regret inviting.
I guess I'd still remain a member, but seriously, the quality of the travelers has gone down, since I guess, more and more people just see the community as a free hostel, which is the opposite of what it actually is.