Now this may be a long story, so strap yourself in for this bumpy ride. Buckle up! I am a member since 2006 and it has been a glorious time between then and 2011. I will be citing some sections of an Internet article which is written and published by the original author Nithin Coca in 2013. I completely agree with his observations, which is also how I have seen it through my own eyes, however I only agree with a fraction of the comment section. It blows my mind that still that many hosts failed to see the problem back in 2013, if they didn't see the problem in 2013 I highly doubt they see it today. If you haven't read his article by now, I suggest you go look for the rise and fall of couchsurfing on his website.
""The new open couch request feature demonstrates the problem clearly. It is a place where references matter little. I've been shocked to see men with 40+ references still seeking a host, while girls with no friends, no references, and bare-bones profiles getting 3+ invites*.
Is that the Couchsurfing spirit?"" (Nithin Coca, 2013)
*3+ invites meant the girl has received way more than three invites, but since three is the limit the indicator could show, you couldn't tell how many it actually was. But take it from me, much much more.
This is how it was back in 2013, now they sort of have removed this indicator but the issue remains the same. No surprise: Only girls get hosted, only guys host. So if this doesn't meet your criterion, or simply put you are a male looking for a (female) host, you are very likely to succeed. Anything else isn't going to work. You're a male who puts up an public couch request, you can wait until the cows come home but no one is going to invite you. You're a male who tries to stay with another male? Well, let's just talk about a practical example now, shall we?
"". I do NOT host males! Just saying. I have hosted only 80+ people but in reality I have hosted around 400 (females) from all around the globe over the past 4 years
As i have had at least 40 requests from men since i last wrote "i dont host males" i feel i need to write more. If you are male, boy, man, have a penis+testicles or you are travelling with a female do not request as it is a waste of my time answering and I have better things to do in my life than reply to (?) heads. Ta!
I have received a certain amount of hate mail from other males because (i assume) I host only women. To them I say, w t f is wrong with you when you want to abuse me for this. Get a life! On the cchsrfing site there are females who only host females, men only host men, many people do not host children or pets and there are many men who state they host "all" but if you look at their references you may notice that the majority or most will be(surprise, surprise) female. It's the hosts home and whom they want in it is entirely their choice so fk off back to your caves if you don't like their choice!"" (from someone's profile, 2019)
Let's look at one particular quote again from that section:
"" if you are male, boy, man, have a penis+testicles or you are travelling with a female do not request as it is a waste of my time answering and I have better things to do in my life than reply to""
Un-be-lie-va-ble!. He just blatantly admits it and in a very blunt way at that, which speaks volumes. And then he tells us to get a life. I rest my case, I don't need to say anything else. Now, couchsurfing was never about these kind of gender discrimination which was optional and uncommon, it is about meeting people, sharing and exchanging culture. That's already bad enough that CS approves this kind of discrimination (btw why is a profile like that not banned by CS), but now it is up to the female surfers who can make a statement, make a big clenched fist against gender inequality and boycott this type of unacceptable behaviour. Subsequently, what happens: quite the opposite actually. This man has over 140 references from females! Instead of be vehemently opposed gender discrimination, the females just go with it and eagerly take advantage.
So we have established that surfing as a male is almost next to impossible, then what's hosting gonna look like? I haven't received any request from a single female since 2013 (which is when the open couch request was introduced, so now you know why) but in five years there was actually one: a 35yo woman from Serbia who I agreed to host. I provided her the best information, how-to-get-to tips in lengthy e-mails and I noticed that after some back and forth communication there was no more response but the sound of crickets. The day of her arrival had come at last, but there was no sign of life from her side. So I dropped it and paid no more attention. A few weeks later I wondered what happened to her and checked her profile to find out she probably couldn't resist the offer of a lonesome middle-aged female-only hosting female-crazy man who wouldn't mind paying for all her expenses, restaurant dining, admission fees, tours, train rides, flights. I am dead serious here, this is what I found out in the reference she left on his profile! Holy smokes, I was stunned, are you for real? This is where someone should step in, someone should take action as the gender inequality is becoming disproportionate.
Think about this for a minute: do we males have to accept this as a part of life's rich tapestry, is this the natural order of things? Does every female in the world have to be treated like a princess while males get nothing and have to beg for everything? Imagine if it was the males only who could find hosts and hardly the females, just think about it, it would lead to a global outrage, feminist organisations would be offended, it would lead to political debates to shut this site down, but since it is only the guys who can't find hosts, no one on this planet seems to care.
Why is couchsurfing ridden with gender inequality? One might say is that the genders are imbalanced, and that the females are simply outnumbered, but in fact the ratio is almost pretty even. This is because most female profiles are set to NOT HOSTING which means the profiles cannot be found with the search function. The only way to find these profiles is knowing their names or receive a couch request from them. (or randomly check all the female profiles from some Italian bloke's reference section, then you'll see it too) Because they are NOT HOSTING they aren't bringing anything to the table. In fact, I have seen numerous profiles from girls that signed up solely as a method of free traveling and when their trips are over they never log back in again ever. They are the worst offenders when it comes to taking and never giving anything back to the community. They don't want to get involved! Hey couchsurfing are you listening, do something about this.
But that's not all, we are just getting started:
""Before the event, I joined some surfers for dinner. Immediately, I noticed this was unlike any other Couchsurfing meetup I'd ever been to. One girl had never used the site as a guest or host, only to meet people to go drinking with. The guys had barely traveled, weren't interested in talking with me, and didn't actively host in New York. None of them seemed like real Couchsurfers.
At the meetup, it got even more strange. Upstairs, in the dark, loud, and unfriendly room, was a group of nearly two dozen guys, all American, and a single girl, surrounded by guys. No one came up to welcome us, and the atmosphere felt stifling.
"Man, where are all the girls?" said one of my dinner mates.
I left only 20 minutes later. That didn't feel like the couchsurfing spirit. Not at all. Little did I realize that site, which had changed my life, had itself changed for the worse."" ( Nithin Coca, 2013)
In the past I've joined fantastic events. You never had to worry about traveling solo, because one could attend weekly meetings, join mountain hikes, beach barbecue parties and what not. I too, noticed a complete change from 2013 when I attended the meeting in Barcelona. No one seemed like genuine members anymore, hardly anyone seemed to host or even have a profile for that matter, random guys would have this "why the heck did you have the nerve to strike up a conversation with me, who do I look like, Liberace?" in their eyes, so this man said. Excuse me please I gotta go to the public convenience. Guess what he didn't come back and the first thing I saw him do looking for females and talk to them instead. Great, humiliated me really good. I believe that was the time when I first realised that meet ups now had a completely different purpose.
Some months later I was traveling in a big city with a female friend. I still shudder to this day when I think back about it. I noticed when my female friend was right away jumped upon by the hordes of males while I hardly could speak with any of the other attendees, who were mostly thirsty males. So in the end my female friend made a remark about it that I must have spoken to two persons at most for the entire evening, and yes for the most part I stood alone with no one to talk to, whereas she was received like some kind of celebrated v. i. p, she enjoyed the attention and failed to see that in fact, she was that girl surrounded by males, as Nithin described.
And I am not finished. Let's talk about CS groups now, which was another way to meet people.
Travel companions from around the world, was a perfect opportunity to travel and find a travel buddy. Answer this question please: what's the most important aspect of a travel group where you can find like-minded travelers for like-minded travel destinations? A search function? Why, of course! Yes! And what did they do? Remove that function? This made the travel companions group completely useless, because no one is going to read every page out of 400 in search of travelers for the same destination. Subsequently members have begun to write their requests as open as possible which almost doesn't give the impression they are serious about it. In order to attract attention and replies, subject fields are often like this: Europe 2020 looking for travel mate. It's currently very unlikely that you'll find travel mates this way as people looking for travel mates don't dare to be specific anymore.
But you might say, well that's just the behaviour of the members and has nothing to do with couchsurfing who isn't accountable. Oh yes they are, oh yes indeed make no mistake about this. CS makes this possible, CS approves this, they approve everything I have described above. Furthermore, why are empty profiles still allowed, why are made-up names and anonymous names allowed (how paradoxical is a verified member with a made-up or a missing last name? What does the word verified mean to anyone? How is that safe, and how can you take that serious?), why are empty profiles full of one-liners and cliches allowed? Carpe diem, favourite movie: pulp fiction. Give me a penny for every time I've read that, it's getting really old! And because so many members don't fill out their profiles you cannot search for hosts with similar interests! Why are troll-accounts allowed (there is a P. Enis from Copenhagen, I am dead serious) why are dubious profile pictures allowed (topless males in sunglasses deliberately looking away from the camera, picture downgraded to black and white on purpose. And if you haven't noticed by now, they are the order of the day) why can't there be a more fair system (you can't surf until you have hosted once, which in no way is a harsh disciplinary action as the demand for active hosts is high, from there on you can surf ten times after having hosted three times) gender equality (if you only host females that's fine, but then you can only surf with girls) (if you host both genders, than you must host some males after your last five female guests). This is only a slice of the suggestions that CS should at least consider to improve. But I guess it will now always stay forever how it is the wrong way. As Coca concluded: more members, less community, less positive experiences. That's just the way it is.