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 hospitality networks was marked by many unfortunate incidents. None of the safety mechanisms in place were reliable, and sexual abuse (although certainly under-reported) was shockingly prevalent, thefts, scams, and accidents also happened in significant numbers, but sexual assaults was by far the top concern.
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 more than just a few. Someone with just a single review, or only a few, may not inspire much trust, but someone with large number 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 for a while and were very well liked. It is unfortunate that the practice was abandoned. We intend to reintroduce it and revitalize that practice. When you vouch for someone you are effectively introducing someone you know to another person you know. That act carries a lot of trust and responsibility, and it empowers the person you vouch for with plenty of credibility. We think vouches are as important as reviews, if not more.
The credit card verification system, also called address verification, didn\'t have any real value towards trust and safety. It has been basically a pointless "safety" feature that doesn't improve safety for anyone.
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:
Ultimately your safety, as a user of any network, is in your own hands. We strive to provide you with tools to make better decisions. A no-nonsense approach that is data driven is a lot more helpful than meaningless measures, like credit card verifications.
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