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Firenze Unconference October 2013 Meeting Minutes

Time and place

Sat, 5th Oct. 2013, 10:00-19:00

Sun, 6th Oct. 2013, 10:00-13:00

Santa Maria Novella Dominican Library, Florence, Italy


Throughout the unconference: germont, girandoliere, leoalone, maranza, shevek, sitatara (minutes), tuscanhobbit (organizer)

Saturday morning: nica80

Saturday afternoon: Samuele


Our workspace - the Santa Maria Novella Dominican Library



  • How do we show that the community is alive?
  • Problem of inactivity - why do people join but do not get active?
  • What's the purpose of BeWelcome and how do we communicate it? What is the image we want to give?
    • How to find a balance between fun and responsibility/respect? (BeWelcome is too much about responsibility and it looks like you're not allowed to have fun. What types of events are OK?)
  • Problem that people do not get requests and quality of requests is decreasing (everywhere - also on BeWelcome)

How do we show that the community is alive?

  • Improve start page - have interesting information (new activities, discussions) on top of start page. Have a changing banner to announce most important activities, etc. - example: http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk
  • Suggestion: Send an e-mail once a month to inform them about activities, membership growth, etc.
  • Give local volunteers the possibility to contact local members. That possibility exists but it's not easy to find out about it.
  • Show activity in groups correctly (activity is not visible due to group-only posts - it looks like the last post was, e.g. 6 months ago, although it was 5 min ago):
    • e.g. make location group posts visible for all BeWelcome members.
    • or remove "recent forum posts on group's overview page and on "discussions" tab give information about latest activity and why not all threads are shown if you are not a member.
  • Have a sticky welcome message in location groups.
  • Link local groups with activities in that location.

Problem of inactivity - why do people join but do not get active?

  • Make it easier to invite people to groups - give group admins the possibility to invite new members in that location easily. Possible solutions:
    • In the future people should be signed up for their location group automatically (with the option to leave).
    • Give group admins a list of new members in that location on the group's member admin page.
  • Create a video tutorial how to use the website. Put it on the tour pages. As an example, see http://www.goingnowhere.org/whatisnowhere/principles
  • Have a quiz before people can join (simple questions).
  • Coordinate activities in different local communities (e.g. worldwide Free Hugs campaign)
  • Offer a possibility to send out invitations for activities to local communities (you need a team to check for spam!)

Purpose of BeWelcome and what's the image BeWelcome transports to members and non-members?

Long discussions in forum give the impression that it's all about long discussions and not about having fun at all.

Negative first impressions:

Are we all just too serious?

  • lots of text
  • no pictures
  • website is not playful/feels poor
  • groups have no activity
  • endless discussions in the forum
  • there are no "nice" or "fun" things
  • you invite people to a party and this message is reported as spam
  • atmosphere of hate against CS - BeWelcome seems like a website for CS haters
  • profiles are empty (because after the experience on CS people don't want to put much data on another network)
  • it looks like you always have to be politically correct
  • can't find hosts
  • don't get requests

Ideas to improve first impression:

Yes, we were actually really having fun.

  • more pictures of nice and friendly people (current start page is improvement but pictures from BeWelcome activities would be nicer (with BW logo)
  • transparency is a plus - privacy should be covered in safety pages (safety is also about personal data)
  • explain processes and regulations in a fun way (e.g. comics, illustrations, using mascots)
  • showing activities on start page (at the top)
  • pictures in community news and newsletters, "testimonials" as CS had them

How to increase number and quality of hosting requests and reply rate of hosts

Everyone complains about not getting any requests. Community looks like it is not working. Realistically, with the current no. of members, we cannot expect a lot of requests though.

  • For rural hosts: Give them the possibility to invite travelers.
  • Introduce a button for hosting request (e.g. big red button) - i.e. make contacting people for hosting easier.
  • Allow people to set a flag telling "willing to receive requests" that last for 5 days (or even up to 14 days) and push them in the top of search results, in a different color.
  • The reply rate is very low and people stop writing requests (or send copy-paste requests instead). How can we make sure, hosts reply more (and quickly)? When they have "Yes" as accommodation setting they should be held responsible to reply.

Brainstorming to solve this problem:

  • Make sure that e-mail addresses work (changing e-mail address requires confirmation; already implemented?)
    • That's a first priority!
    • Will be implemented in Rox
  • Showing a reply rate for requests (we would need to split requests from messages).
    • System on CS shows that this is problematic and sometimes unfair.
    • We would not like this to be implemented on BeWelcome.
  • Show a value for reply times.
  • Not showing reply rate but using it in the background to sort search results (a value for reply time and rate). On the profile only show a vague categorization on profile (instead of percentage), e.g. bad/slow/good/excellent. Only count rate for last year; do not count last minute requests etc.Maybe do not base score on absolute numbers but mark "best" 25% of reply rates as excellent etc.
    • The details have to be discussed but we agree with the general idea.
  • Warmshowers has buttons to mark members as responsive/not responsive.
    • very subjective
    • maybe misused to mark someone as unresponsive you do not like.
    • We prefer the next option over this one.
  • Offer only offer one positive button to mark someone as responsive.
    • still very subjective
    • members might ask friends to mark them
  • Setting "yes" has to be confirmed regularly (e.g. every 10 days).
    • If you get requests rarely, why should you log on every 10 days?
  • When host gets request, he gets reminders until he replies or changes status (as e-mail).
  • Show numbers of requests received and replied to, considering only the first message and first reply.
  • "Please reply till" field in requests. If host does not reply, member can go on searching for another host.
  • If members on "yes" do not reply for 6 months, contact them with a reminder to change status.
  • Giving visible "rewards" (e.g. "medal" on profile) to hosts who hosted more than 20 guests etc.
  • Interviewing hosts and presenting them in newsletters (presenting hosting as a great way to participate).
    • e.g. in tour or newsletter

We will need to change the system when BeWelcome has more members/hosts. Currently we need a system to make sure that "real" hosts who actually reply to requests are found easily. Later, when hosts are overwhelmed with request, we need to change the system to make sure that the requests are more spread over all available hosts.