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The Safety Team takes care of members' safety.
- We are advising travellers and hosts on how to best maintain their safety.
- We are keeping an eye on whether new features actually improve members' safety or diminish it.
- We are handling and investigating abuse reports.
- We are contacting members involved in conflicts reported to the safety team.
- We are offering help with writing negative comments after cases of abuse.
- We are banning members from BeWelcome for severe, repeated, or blatant abuse.
The tasks of the Safety Team are very delicate and often difficult and the members who send out official warnings or ban members from BeWelcome will typically be prone to accusations and threats. We still believe that it is important for the BeWelcome community to know who is behind the Safety Team. In order to protect individual members of the Safety Team, messages will usually be signed with 'Safety Team' only, not the name of the person who actually sent it out. This also underlines the fact that most communication is being discussed within the team.
The current members of the Safety Team are (in alphabetical order):
You may know members from meetings or online contact and find them trustworthy. However there may be serious abuse issues that the Safety Team knows of and thus comes to the decision to warn/ban them. It is a common reaction of the members involved to point out their innocence. Please keep in mind that the Safety Team cannot defend its actions by disclosing information about the abuse to third parties.
How can I be sure that other members of BeWelcome are trustworthy? How can I get information about my potential hosts or guests? What is my protection against criminals coming to visit me?
Your safety is very important for us. That is why BeWelcome offers several features to help you make informed decisions about who you think is trustworthy enough to be your host or guest:
- A person’s profile is the most important place to get information about this person on BeWelcome. Essentially, it is a self-presentation and you should always keep this in mind. However, a profile can give you a first impression of that person, how he/she presents him-/herself and what are his/her interests, preferences and quirks.
- A profile may also include comments from other members as well as about other members. If you do not want to rely on self-presentation only, these comments will tell you what experiences other members had with this person. However, when reading comments, please bear in mind that for various reasons many find it more difficult to write honest comments about a not-so-good experience than to write flattering comments about a good experience. Comments may therefore not always tell the whole story, or never be written at all. In addition to the comments written about the member in question, also the comments that this member has left on other profiles might be of interest and reveal some of the member's personality.
- The section "Family and close friends" on the profile shows you who this person lives with or who are his/her best friends. This means that you will probably meet these people too if you are staying with this member. Check out their profiles as well to find out more about them too. This section is sometimes misunderstood and may include members who are not that close. The text will often reveal that. Please use this section only for relationships which are relevant for other members in the context of hosting.
- In cases of serious complaints against a member we might put a warning on that member's profile (or depending on the situation, remove this member from BeWelcome completely) to make sure you are aware of reported serious safety issues with this member.
Please always remember that your safety relies on your own judgment and decisions. BeWelcome is dedicated to helping you make informed decisions about hosting/staying with other members and to support you in critical situations. While we do what we can to help you, we cannot take any responsibility for your personal actions and the final decision and responsibility for your safety is yours. If you are nervous about hosting or meeting someone, don't do it. Always use common sense in protecting yourself and your property.
Each member contributes to keeping our community as safe as possible by reporting abuse quickly in order to prevent it from spreading. If you become aware of a member abusing the services or displaying misconduct, please inform BeWelcome through the contact us form or by e-mail to safety [at] bewelcome [dot] org and write a comment as appropriate to warn others who interact with that person.
For more information, please visit our Safety pages.
What is the purpose of comments, and how do I submit a comment about another member?
The purpose of the comment system is to let the community know what kind of experiences others have had with a member. Sharing one's experience helps other members assess whether they want to meet this person and if he or she is trustworthy.
It is important that members watch out for each other and keep the BeWelcome community safe. We therefore ask members to always write honest, factual comments about their experiences.
However, when reading comments, please bear in mind that for various reasons many find it more difficult to write honest comments about a not-so-good experience than to write flattering comments about a good experience. Comments may therefore not always tell the whole story, or never be written at all.
When writing comments for another member, ask yourself what information would have been useful for you or could be useful for others when deciding to interact with that person. If you need help with writing factual, honest comments, please contact us or send an e-mail to safety [at] bewelcome [dot] org. For additional information about your safety on BeWelcome, please also read our "Safety FAQ".
To leave a comment about another member, go to the profile of that member. On the left side of the profile page there is a link called "Add Comment". Click on that link, fill out the form and click on "Submit form" to publish your comment. Thank you for using this feature and helping other BeWelcome members make informed decisions!
Can comments be edited?
You can edit comments if for example you met somebody at a party first, but are their guest a couple of months later. We have decided to make negative comments unchangeable so they are very authentic and people trust in them. This is a matter of security in order to prevent recipients of negative comments to put pressure on the sender to get this comment changed. If you have some good reason for a negative comment to be changed or deleted you can contact us.
Spam and abuse
I found a profile that does not comply to the rules and the values of the site (e.g. there is a link to a pornographic website). Can you remove this?
Please send an abuse report through the contact us form or by e-mail to safety [at] bewelcome [dot] org and tell us the username of that member. We will contact the concerned member, and tell him/her to change his/her profile (delete that link). Links to pornographic web sites are often entered by a malware program running on the infected person's computer. Whenever that person fills in a form on the internet and there is a field to enter a URL, this program enters the link automatically - so it's not necessarily an abuse from that member. We will, however, keep an eye on them.
Can I stop messages from going to my e-mail account? For me it's enough to read them on the website.
There are different types of messages on BeWelcome with different possible settings regarding the forwarding to your e-mail account:
- Personal Messages: These are private messages from other members, for example requests to stay with you. To make sure that you always get these messages, even without logging on to the website, these messages will always be forwarded to your e-mail account. There is no possibility to opt out from receiving such messages. The idea of BeWelcome is to bring people together in real life and we consider a working e-mail account as one link to you in real life.
- BeWelcome Newsletters: From time to time (usually every three months) we send out a newsletter about developments on BeWelcome and in hospitality exchange. These newsletters will only be sent to your e-mail account, not to your BeWelcome inbox. If you do not want to receive the BeWelcome newsletters, you can change your settings in your personal preferences accordingly: For the setting "I want to receive periodic news about BeWelcome by mail" choose "No" and then click on "Submit form" at the bottom of the page.
- Notifications about local events: Sometimes, local volunteers may send out e-mails to local members about hospitality exchange events in the area. These notifications are not commercial, they are about BeWelcome events in your area or about hospitality exchange subjects. If you do not want to receive these notifications, you can change your settings in your personal preferences accordingly: For the setting "Notifications about local events" choose "No" and then click on "Submit form" at the bottom of the page.
- Notifications from BeWelcome groups: If your are a member of one or more groups on BeWelcome, you might have chosen to receive notifications about new posts in your group(s) when you became a group member. To disable these notifications, go to the respective group page and choose "Member settings" from the sub menu below the group title. There you can choose "No" for the setting "I want to receive e-mail updates from this group". Click on "Update member settings" to save your changes.
- Notifications from the BeWelcome Forum: You might also receive message from the BeWelcome Forum if you have subscribed to forum topics or tags. To review and change your forum subscription settings, please go to your "subscriptions page" and unsubscribe from the topics and tags you no longer want to be notified about (just click on the "Unsubscribe" button).
Safety tips for female travellers
If you’re travelling solo, consider staying with other women or with families.
Be clear about your boundaries and do not be shy about expressing them.
If a host or guest continues to overstep your boundaries, remove yourself from the situation and make sure you always have a backup plan.
Inform yourself about the cultural and religious values and patterns in the places you visit. Gender roles and expectations as to appropriate behavior differ widely across cultures.
Legislation concerning sexual harassment differs widely across the world. In some countries local authorities will be very supportive, in others you might not be taken seriously though. No matter how the local authorities react, please leave a negative comment in cases of sexual harassment to warn other female members of BeWelcome and contact the Safety Team: Use thecontact form or send an e-mail to safety [at] bewelcome [dot] org.
Please also read our general safety tips.
The community collected further safety tips for female travellers in our wiki library.
General safety tips
Review profiles carefully: Before hosting or staying with someone, take your time to carefully read that member’s profile. Read what the person says about him-/herself and the comments other members left about him/her.
Do not host or stay with members with empty profiles: We recommend to look for hosts and to accept guests with well filled out profiles only. The profile should contain an informative personal description and - if you search for a host - accommodation information. Additionally, a clear photo is a definite plus.
Communicate through BeWelcome: Use the messaging system on BeWelcome to communicate with other members. Do not display any contact details (e-mail address, phone number, or IM accounts) on your profile and do not accept requests outside of the BeWelcome messaging system.
Get to know your host/guest: Before you meet you host/guest, use the messaging system on BeWelcome to get to know him/her better. If anything remains unclear from the profile, just ask him/her for further details. Once you meet, spend some time getting to know your host or guest.
Inform others about your plans: Let your family or friends know about your travel plans and who you will be staying with, or who will stay with you.
Communicate clearly and directly: To avoid or clear up misunderstandings and boundaries being overstepped, communicate as clearly and directly as possible. If the situation becomes uncomfortable, politely address the issue to try to find a resolution.
Do not put your safety in the hands of others: Make sure you always maintain your faculties. Travelling can be disorienting. The use of alcohol or drugs can further complicate this. Do not leave your well-being in the hands of somebody else.
Have a backup plan: If you are staying with another member, always have a backup plan. Know your way around and where you can find the next hostel/hotel with 24h reception or an alternative place to stay. Have the phone number of a local taxi company and the local emergency number with you. Make sure you have the possibility to make phone calls or access the internet.
Have the emergency numbers of the respective country ready: General emergency numbers are listed in most guide books but we recommend having them readily available anytime (when you are in an emergency situation, you most probably won’t have the time to search something in your guidebook).
In an emergency situation, remove yourself immediately: If you feel threatened or harassed, get out of the situation immediately. Do not worry about being rude or inhospitable. Your safety and well-being is more important.
Leave comments: Leave comments about the people you met through BeWelcome to inform other members about your experiences. A negative comment is the most effective way to warn other members.
Report abuse and negative experiences to BeWelcome: Help us to keep the community safe by reporting abuse and negative experiences to the Safety Team: Use the contact form or send an e-mail to safety [at] bewelcome [dot] org.
What to do in an emergency situation?
If you find yourself in an emergency situation during a hospitality experience (e.g. you feel threatened or harassed or a crime has been committed), please do everything to get out of the situation as quickly as possible and contact the local police or a hospital. As a top priority, make sure that you are safe. Do not remain in your host’s place if you feel unsafe there and do not let guests stay at your place if they make you feel unsafe in your own home.
Once you are safely out of that situation, please make sure to warn other members by writing a negative comment and contact us to report what happened. We will need a link to the profile of the other member involved, a description of what happened, and any documentation you can provide – including a copy of the police report in case you made a complaint to the police. We will review your report and take action as soon as possible but a comment is an instant warning that can prevent others from having a similar experience with this member.
We can also speak to the police directly; please let them know that they can contact us any time at safety [at] bewelcome [dot] org.
What to do in an uncomfortable situation?
Sometimes a hospitality experience can become uncomfortable: You feel uneasy or something does not seem right? Maybe your host or guest communicates or acts in a way which irritates you?
We recommend that you immediately address the situation politely. Try to find a resolution by communicating clearly and openly. If the situation remains uncomfortable and is stressing you, remove yourself. As a guest, leave your host’s place and stay somewhere else (always have a backup!). As a host, ask your guest to leave your place. You are by no means obliged to stick to previous plans if the hospitality experience is becoming oppressive. Do not let an uncomfortable situation escalate to a real emergency.