Drupal couch surfers - an idea

As Drupal events grow around the world, more and more people find meetups and conferences closer to themselves. However, traveling to bigger events like Drupalcons can still be a financial problem for many. One of the solutions for this is couch surfing, where you could take a couch from someone who has it available in the host city for an event. Of course sleeping at an unknown person's place can be problematic. However, if we consider you already go for a Drupal event, and drupal.org has a profile for people with attached data on their activity, it can form as a reputation system. At Drupalcon Copenhagen, we discussed that maybe it would even be possible to build this tool as a group on groups.drupal.org (but definition of what is exactly needed is best to be done first).

I don't have the opportunity to help and build this tool but thought throwing the idea out would be useful for others to brainstorm and possibly help the community by making it work. We already had a nifty slogan for it when module maintainers couch surf: "I'm using your APIs, may I use your couch as well?"

Comments

Matthew Slater's picture

There are already 3 groups on couchsurfing.net with Drupal in the title. Why not make a collective decision to use what exists already? If further integration is required, it can happen later.

Benjamin Melançon's picture

and a Drupal module for it.

But, to not prove an incurable case of Not Invented Here, we should consider the possibility of making a Drupal group at http://couchsurfing.org - with the guideline we list d.o and g.d.o IDs in our profile there.

steinmb's picture

We borrowed a bed in CPH from a then unknown Drupal friend. Even a hostel for a week can be expencive in a big city pluss it is a really nice way meeting new friends and learning new countries. 179$ a night in Chicago is to much for my little company that's for sure.

Let's get a group up and start building a tool :)

jhodgdon's picture

Randy Fay (rfay) is the maintainer of a couch surfing web site for people who travel by bicycle, warmshowers.org. It's (of course) a Drupal-based site, and I think it would be a good model/starting point.

Features that I think would be useful on this type of site:
- Register as host/guest and make a profile
- Set yourself to "unavailable" status if you are traveling (some other couch surfing sites have calendars where you can set your dates up in advance; on warmshowers it is just an on/off switch)
- Search geographically for hosts
- Contact people once you find someone in the right area that they'd like to stay with.
- Possibly in your profile say whether you'd be willing to host Drupalists for non-conference travel as well, and then when you search, specify that you are traveling to a conference or not. Alternatively, like the warm showers list, it could be stated in the guidelines that it is just for one purpose (in this case, just for traveling to conferences).

On the other hand, if it's just for DrupalCons, then I think this type of site would be overkill and it would be better if it were added as a feature to the particular DrupalCon's web site, or even just a forum topic, rather than having a dedicated site. But I think this could also be useful for people traveling to a regional conference out of their region (e.g. I live in Seattle, and I want to go to the Colorado Drupal Camp). So IMO it would be best to have a dedicated site for this purpose.

Just some thoughts...

dalin's picture

I'm a long-time couch surfer, but I've always chosen not to use if for Drupalcons. It just doesn't seem right to say "I'll be in your city for four nights, I'll leave early in the morning and come back well after you've gone to bed, can I stay on your couch".

Daniel's picture

Well that sounds awesome! I just formed an account the other day at couchsurfing.org and what you are talking about seems great!

Boris Mann's picture

Why not use the actual http://www.couchsurfing.org/ ? I actually know one of the original developers, and it is still a great tool. Just add "Drupal" into your description, and we can use it to search for each other.

David's picture

Gábor, Thanks for posting this.

One good place to start is the Drupal group on couchsurfing.org: http://www.couchsurfing.org/group.html?gid=2245

It's pretty quiet in there at the moment, but I personally met several Drupalcon CPH attendees who are also couchsurfers. So I suspect there are significant numbers of people with a presence in both communities, but they just haven't yet mobilized to more tightly integrate them. I think this will be really valuable for Chicago 2011. Did you notice the reaction to the announcement at the closing session?

"And we've obtained a special discounted rate: $179!"

" . . . (total silence) "

dasjo's picture

totally agree. i chose to couchsurf for drupalcon copenhagen and it was just a great experience. i searched for someone into web development and had great success finding my hosts, who have been incredibly kind to me and it's just a great experience to live with locals.

also when we had drupalcamp vienna, dereine from germany was living at my place.

so for future conferences we might consider asking local attendees to share their couches via couchsurfing if they like to, as like you say some of us run into financial problems with conferences getting bigger and more expensive

omissis's picture

I was thinking the same thing yesterday while havin dinner.. we should definitely do something about this :)

Janez 's picture

That is a great idea. $178 (this much is going to cost a room in Chicago) is way to much...

Ryan Dempsey's picture

Sounds like a good idea to me. I'd usually be wary of having strangers stay at my house, but in the case of a Drupal event, you know they are there for a reason.

chx's picture

I was always looking at couchsurfing (mostly as a host) but I could not convince myself to take a total stranger into my home. Now, Drupal contributors, that's different... and yes, don't reinvent the wheel (couchsurfing.org).

Samir Nassar's picture

If there ever are Drupal developers in Palestine (aka Israel) in need of a couch to surf drop me a line. Couch comes with Drupalisms, Middle Eastern hospitality and tea that flows like the rivers of Babylon.

Scott Reynen's picture

We looked into this for DrupalCamp Colorado. The problem is they don't offer any way to search for couches within a specific group, so the Drupal group there offers no functionality beyond forums on the conference site, and has fewer people involved. I contacted the couchsurfing.org staff asking about the process of contributing code to make group-specific searches possible, but never got an answer. They're apparently using an odd volunteer-driven, non-profit, but closed-source dev model.

We ended up just doing this in the forum, which seemed to work okay. It seems to me doing it on g.d.o. would have the same problem as doing it on couchsurfing.org; this is one of those tools where the value increases with the size of the network, and a group on g.d.o. will have fewer relevant people in it than something the conference website itself. It would be nice to have something a little more task-specific than a generic forum, though. What about adding this functionality to COD?

Kasper Souren's picture

Apart from the many technical issues (e.g. no way to "couchsearch" limited within a group) there are also organizational/legal/financial issues with the CS organization.

http://www.bewelcome.org/ is a more sound organization that only uses open source (GPL'd PHP code base). Would be more appropriate to use that instead of CouchSurfing.

Of course it would be awesome to have a Drupal way for doing hospitality exchange... So that anyone with some Drupal knowledge can quickly set up a hospitality exchange site (for any kinda subculture, not just for Drupalistas).

Forest Mars's picture

@Matthew Slater - there is a bit of a cleanup underway at g.d.o for stagnant as well as redundant groups. Perhaps the couch-surfing groups could be consolidated?

@Benjamin Melançon @Boris Mann et al - couchsurfing.org is a useful site but there actually are some advantages to a Drupal couch-surfing "club" most significantly as Scott Reynen noted, although you can set up a Drupal group on couchsurfing.org, you can't, last I checked, search with in it.

A Drupal based couch-surfing app would allow Drupalers who are comfortable with opening up their homes to other Drupalers to participate, without obligating them beyond this specific social community.

On couchsurfing.org they would have to respond to every single request from anyone with a accept/decline which could end up discouraging them from participating in the first place.

Kasper Souren's picture

We're trying to migrate BeWelcome to Drupal. One of the side effects hoped for is that it will be easy for anyone to set up a hospitality exchange site in Drupal.

Current effort going on at http://bw.guaka.org/ - you're welcome to sign up, say hello and help out :)

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