CEO Tony Espinoza Responding to CS Users in Ambassadors Group

WHAT IS A CS AMBASSADOR?

“Ambassadors” are CS users that have been selected by CSHQ to have a special yellow flag designation and text on their profiles. They are basically CSers that have been longtime voluntary cheerleaders and evangelists for the CS website. They do not automatically have any special powers or functions, though they are generally very involved in their host city. They typically host a large number of surfers, act as a referral source in emergencies and mediator in user disputes, organize local events and couch crashes, moderate on message boards, and communicate directly with CSHQ about users’ concerns.

Before the new CS Ambassador Guidelines, which were released in or around March 2013, ambassadors were free to criticize the CS website, talk about safety issues created by the website and within CS, and share both their positive and negative experiences with other CS users.

WHAT IS THE AMBASSADORS GROUP?

The ambassadors group is a message board that is currently public for anyone with a CS account to read without having to join the group. Only ambassadors are allowed to post in the group and the group is moderated by CS employees.

AMBASSADORS GROUP CHANGES FROM “PUBLIC” TO “PRIVATE” AND BACK TO “PUBLIC”

Around the time Don Shine, one of the Berlin ambassadors, was banned, the Ambassadors group was changed from “public” to “private” by the company. This change means that non-Ambassador users could no longer see what was being posted there. In addition, the group’s page lists new guidelines, including the perceived loyalty clause: “Couchsurfing Ambassadors do not actively discourage other Couchsurfing members from continuing to use the Couchsurfing site in their profiles, events, Place Pages, Groups, etc.” Under the list of guidelines, it says “Failure to adhere to these rules can result in the dismissal from the Ambassador Group, as well as the removal of the Ambassador Yellow Flag from your profile. Appropriate Ambassador behavior will be evaluated at the discretion of Couchsurfing staff. If you choose not to abide by the Ambassador Guidelines, we invite you to email …@… to request your Ambassador Flag to be removed.”

As of March 13, the Ambassadors Group was changed from “Private” back to its original designation of “Public” and therefore is visible to users without the “Ambassador” designation. The guidelines, including the one that’s perceived as a loyalty clause, are unchanged.

CEO TONY ESPINOZA RESPONDING TO CS AMBASSADORS IN AMBASSADOR GROUP
https://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=2125

Please see the links below:

“Direct Discussion with Tony Espinoza (CEO)”  https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14262863#post14270267

“Tony Espinoza (CEO) Discussion – Week 2” https://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2125&post=14288458

WHY IS THE CEO RESPONDING IN THE AMBASSADORS GROUP AND NOT MORE PUBLICLY?

While the CEO is publicly responding in the ambassadors group, where any CS user can see it, it does not appear that the ambassadors group is widely known or viewed by non-ambassadors and therefore the vast majority of CS users. In addition, by being a place where only logged-in CS users can read what he is saying, it’s possible that this is an attempt by CSHQ to speak to users in a way that is not easily viewable by non-CS users and a belated attempt to contain negative feedback to the CS website, and is therefore a public relations tactic. For example, the CEO could just as easily post intended website fixes/changes on CS’s official blog as well as react to member’s concerns there or through mass direct messages, but as of now, this has not happened.

 

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