After hearing about couchsurfing.org from several people over the last year or so, I finally checked it out. According to the web site, couchsurfing.com is a free service, although they encourage you to make donations. The site's rhetoric goes on to make quite a big deal about the virtues of sharing. However, before you can use the site, you have to make a $25 minimum donation.
I have $6.
But that's not my point. My point is that the word 'donation' has a meaning, and implicit in that meaning is the concept of 'optional.' When a donation is required, it's called a 'fee' or a 'price' or one of a few other terms.
I really don't like dishonesty. Although couchsurfing.org claims to be a non-profit public service, somebody's making money off of it--probably good money--which is fine, as long as they're honest about it. But they're not honest about it.
I know of another web site that has never generated a penny of revenue but is still able to operate and give something new every once in a while, thanks largely to one true donation, in the form of web hosting, from Net Acceleration. I'm pretty sure the creator of said web site would appreciate donations and a little more general support from the site's visitors, yet all support remains (and will remain) optional.
Couchsurfing.org, you disappoint me.
Time to go back to California.
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