BeWelcome FAQs - Check-up and Update

[[Wiki.trustroots.org]] is an independent wiki with information for people who are actively exchanging hospitality.
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This page is written in the context of BeWelcome.

This page should be edited only by volunteers of the Support group or the "FAQ update" task force. at BeWelcome

It is important to regularly check and update our FAQs for BeWelcome users. Please use this site to

  • indicate that you have checked a particular section of the FAQs (by going to edit and inserting 4 ~ , which will display your username and the date)
  • mark an outdated FAQ by inserting OUTDATED
  • suggest better wording by inserting SUGGESTED WORDING and the text you suggest
  • Suggest new FAQs by inserting NEW
  • Ask for help by inserting HELP NEEDED

In order to get your proposals in green please add :

<span style="color:#009000"> 
 Your proposal in green 
 </span>

Contents

HELP NEEDED: New structure for the FAQ pages

Sitatara (talk) 10:34, 24 February 2013 (CET): In my opinion there are several issues with the current FAQ pages in general for which I would like to suggest some solutions here:
  • If a member goes to the FAQ pages, he/she currently goes directly to the first category "General Questions / Registration". This is confusing (the other categories are not subcategories of this but on the same level) and might give the user the impression that these are all the FAQs we have, although, in fact, we have a lot more which can be accessed by clicking on the respective submenu item to the right of the FAQs. I suggest to introduce a landig page for the FAQs which lists and links to all categories (and explains very shortly what kind of issues each category covers) but does not list any FAQs yet. This structure would make it clearer that we have several FAQ categories filled with many questions and answers.
  • The current FAQ categories do not cover all important aspects of the website. I suggest to change the names, sections, and sort order to:
    • 1. General Questions (about hospex, the concept of BW)
    • 2. Registration (how to join BW and specific questions which can come up at registration)
    • 3. My Account (questions about username, pw, e-mail address, reactivation, deletion, personal preferences/privacy settings)
    • 4. My Profile (how to fill out and edit one's profile, what different sections mean - overlaps with 3 and 5)
    • 5. Understanding Profiles (questions about all profile sections - what they mean; overlaps with 3)
    • 6. Profile Comments (detailed questions about comment system)
    • 7. Finding other Members (finding a friend on BW, finding members of a specific age group, with specific interests etc., overlaps with 7)
    • 8. Finding and Offering Accomodation (accomodation settings, member search, sending "requests", trips feature - overlaps with 6 and 8)
    • 9. Contacting other Members (messaging system, groups and forum)
    • 10. Groups and Forum (detailes questions about groups and forum)
    • 11. Other Cool Tools (everything which is special about BW: e.g. wiki - including wikis for groups, special relations feature, gallery, blog, trips)
    • 12. Safety and Abuse (saftey features, saftey tips, emergency information)
    • 13. Technical Issues (bugs, improvments, dead links)
    • 14. Organization and Volunteering (about BeVolunteer)


HELP NEEDED: General Questions / Registration

Sitatara (talk) 18:43, 3 February 2013 (CET): This section covers a wide range of questions. I would "clean it up" a bit:
  • Keep questions 1, 3-9 and (maybe) 11 (see comments there). Change sort order though: 4, (11,) 1, 3, 5-9. - Sorting is currently not working on the website. See trac ticket #1929. I will change to this suggested order once the bug is fixed.
  • Move question 2 to a "Safety & Abuse" section.
  • Move question 10 to "Profile" section. It's not an issue at signup.
  • Question 5 should be in the "Profile" section too, although in a slighly different form (something like "How can I change my profile into a family or several people profile?").
  • Copy question 7 to "Profile" section. Can be an issue later too.
  • Copy question 11 to a separate page linked in the "About" menu as first entry. Reduce the answer in the FAQ section to a link to this page.
  • Add a question here and in the "Profile" section about reactivating one's profile.


Is joining free of charge? How can you provide a service like this without a membership fee?

Yes, joining and being a member of BeWelcome is free of charge. The open source website is run by [1], a non-profit organisation of volunteers who created BeWelcome to promote "friendship and better understanding across boundaries". We encourage you to dedicate some time and contribute to the community through hosting, meeting other members or helping to run the site.
Although the website is non-profit and completely run by volunteers, we do have some costs (such as servers, domains, administrative fees, etc.) which we hope to cover through donations. For more information, please also read the FAQ about how the project is financed.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 13:19, 23 February 2013 (CET).


NEEDS REVIEW: 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 safetey 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.
  • Photos are important profiles elements. There should be at least one photo on which the person can be clearly recognized. When you meet the person, make sure it corresponds. Photos can also sometimes be more informative than a person’s self-description and tell you a lot about what a person is like, what kind of things a person likes to do and if you will feel comfortable.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The profile will also inform you if a person’s name and sometimes address has been verified. There are several levels of verification, you can read all about it in our wiki library: verification system or by clicking on the verification symbol on a person’s profile, which will also give you the detail of who has verified the member’s name and/or address, when and possibly additional comments.
  • 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 jugdement and decisions. BeWelcome is dedicated to helping you make informed decisions about hosting/staying with other members and to supporting 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 abuse@bewelcome.org and write a comment as appropriate to warn others who interact with that person. .

Sitatara (talk) 13:19, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.
I am not sure about the warning message from BW on a member's profile. I have never seen this on a profile, nor I am aware of such a feature. --Globetrotter tt (talk) 20:18, 7 January 2013 (CET)
Sitatara (talk) 10:13, 26 January 2013 (CET): I asked polyglot for feedback about this. He also suggested to include one point about the profile picture. What do you think about this (see below)? Btw, is there another address than abuse@bewelcome.org available for safety issues? safety@ or help@ would sound better in this context.
SUGGESTION for an additional point in the list of safety features:
  • Photos are important profiles elements. There should be at least one photo on which the person can be clearly recognized. When you meet the person, make sure it corresponds. Photos can also sometimes be more informative than a person’s self-description and tell you a lot about what a person is like, what kind of things a person likes to do and if you will feel comfortable.



Can anybody become a member of BeWelcome?

The minimum age for joining BeWelcome is 18. Other than that there are no restrictions - everyone who likes to travel, wants to share stories of his/her adventures, and would like to meet interesting people is invited to sign up. BeWelcome is a great way to meet friendly and like-minded people from all over the world. This website is also a significant resource for travel information and provides many tools that can help you to plan your next trip or document a previous journey.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 13:17, 23 February 2013 (CET).


How does BeWelcome work? What is it all about and how can I join?

BeWelcome is a hospitality exchange network. The idea is very simple: Every member of the network has a profile. Members can search for other members at their travel destination, check out their profiles and send them a message. Most members of BeWelcome offer hospitality to travellers and/or can show them around. If that sounds good to you, just sign up, fill in the form and submit it.
You will need to enter a username, your real name, an e-mail address, your birth date and your physical location (only city and country, no detailed address). Although this information is required for signup, your e-mail address, real name and date of birth will be invisible to other members by default. Only your username, age and location will be visible for other members (in your personal settings you can later choose to hide your age, too). After you submit the signup form we will immediately send you an e-mail to the e-mail address you provided and ask you to confirm your registration. Once you've clicked the confirmation link you can browse the site and use all its features straight away.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 13:17, 23 February 2013 (CET).


Is your service intended for families as well as individuals?

Yes, of course! Families are very welcome to join and use BeWelcome. To join as a family you have two options: (1) Either you create one profile for the whole family or (2) you sign up individually and link all family members' profiles by adding each other in the section family and close friends.
The latter option has the advantage that you can keep the information about each person (for example, hobbies, interests, gender etc.) seperate but still be visibly linked as one family. If, however, you choose to create one joint profile for the whole family, this information can get a bit confusing. Therefore, in such cases, we ask you to distinguish the interests, hobbies etc. of different family members on the profile.
We also have a group for families where you can find other families using BeWelcome or members willing to host/meet families.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 13:30, 23 February 2013 (CET).


Are couples required to register separately?

As a couple you have two options when joining BeWelcome: (1) Either you create one joint profile or (2) you sign up individually and link your partner's profile by adding each other in the section family and close friends.
The latter option has the advantage that you can keep the information about each person (for example, hobbies, interests, gender etc.) seperate but still be visibly linked as one couple. If, however, you choose to create one joint profile, this information can get a bit confusing. Therefore, in such cases, we ask you to distinguish the interests, hobbies etc. of each of you on the profile.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 13:30, 23 February 2013 (CET).


I have a second address and I can also host there. How can I inform other members about this?

At the moment you can only be listed with one address. You could add your second address to your profile summary and thus inform people about it. Please be aware, however, that you cannot be found in the city's list of your second address. In the long run we hope to be able to provide a better solution than that.

Checked by Sitatara 23:07, 4 January 2013 (CET).
Checked by Globetrotter tt (talk) 20:30, 7 January 2013 (CET).


Will other members be able to see all my personal data?

BeWelcome allows you to decide for yourself what kind and how much information you want to make visible on your profile. The only required information that will be made visible on your profile is your username and the city and country you reside in. You can hide your real name (or part of your real name), address, birth date, age, and gender. Since your email address will not be displayed for spam protection and other security reasons, members have to contact you through the site. All other information that you can enter in your profile is optional.
However, please keep in mind that the site is about making connections between real people and most people are very hesitant to reply to or contact users with empty profiles. For this reason, we recommend that your profile adequately presents your personality without revealing your private information such as your address or phone number.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 19:23, 13 January 2013 (CET).


I have just signed up for BeWelcome but I have not received a confirmation e-mail and cannot log in to my account. Can you help me? I would like to use the site as soon as possible!

Please check the spam folder of your e-mail account. It sometimes happens that automatic e-mail confirmation messages are marked as junk by e-mail providers or by the safety settings in your e-mail program. If you find the confirmation e-mail there just click on the confirmation link and you should now be able to access your account.
If you cannot find the confirmation e-mail in your spam folder either, you might have made a typing error when entering your e-mail-address into the signup form or something else went wrong. In this case, please contact us through the feedback form and use the category "Signup problem". In the field for your question, please shortly describe the problem and also add your chosen user name and the real name you entered at signup. Please do not send us your password. In the field for your e-mail address, please enter the same address as the one you used for signup.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 13:38, 23 February 2013 (CET).


I have lost my password. What can I do?

Get a new password here.
A new password will then be sent to your mail account. Please change the password soon to prevent abuse and to make sure you will remember your password more easily.

Checked by Sitatara 23:22, 4 January 2013 (CET).
Checked by Globetrotter tt (talk) 20:31, 7 January 2013 (CET).


What is hospitality exchange?

Hospitality Exchange, also known as accommodation sharing, hospitality services, and home stay networks, often refers to centrally organised social networks of individuals who trade accommodation without monetary exchange. While the concept of free accommodation could also include house swapping or even time share plans, it is associated mostly with travellers and tourists staying with one another free of charge. Polish sociologist Paula Bialski even calls it "emotional tourism", because meeting locals indeed involves a lot of emotions and maybe this is exactly how it differs from the mainstream package tour.

Since the 1990s, these services have increasingly moved away from using printed catalogues and telephone lines, but members often use Internet websites. These have grown exponentially since 2000 and as of March, 2007 over 500,000 people are registered users of these networks, which vary in operational structure, layout and geographic focus.

However, hospitality exchange offers much more than just free accommodation. Some members do not offer a place to stay, but instead provide dinner, a guided tour, tourist information or will help find a cheap hostel or alternative means of accommodation. Also those travellers who face most difficulties - like people with disabilities - find great opportunity and help in networks like BeWelcome, where members can both invite travellers with wheelchairs (according to the accessibility of their place) and use the search function to find the very same hosts.

Motivation and quality of social networking
Why do people join social hospitality exchange networks? The basic motivating factors for membership - and they very much influence the quality of later social exchange - include:

  • to meet interesting, open minded, people
  • to meet locals and to gain an insider view
  • to save money through the offer of free accommodation
  • the wish for flexibility and freedom of choice when travelling
  • to get contacts, pursue effective networking
  • to improve language skills

Factors influencing the quality of exchange within hospitality and culture exchange networks
Based upon those motivations the main factors which influence the quality of exchange have been identified to be:

  • the need to be ready and willing for interaction with other members
  • a friendly approach of members resulting in interest and curiosity
  • the mutual seriousness and effort put into the process of establishing contact between two members
  • an open and positive atmosphere within the network
  • an non-judgmental approach towards other cultures
  • a common ground facilitating successful communication

Opportunities, risks and limitations
But what are the opportunities, risks and limitations of how hospitality exchange networks can influence the quality of social exchange between host-guest relationships?
The opportunities include:

  • to discover culture and traditions through the eyes of a local
  • an understanding of cultures which can remove stereotypes and misunderstandings
  • broadening of education
  • promoting peace
  • make people care about situations and conflicts in other cultures
  • make them realise differences and help overcome them

The risks include:

  • incomprehension, misunderstanding and stereotype thinking based on individual experiences with members
  • generalisation of culture according to experience
  • ‘black sheep’ abusing the network (burglary, spam or dating)
  • failure to cope with confrontation of different habits and customs

The limitations include that:

  • hospitality exchange networks mainly address open-minded and curious people
  • a high level of tolerance is needed
  • members are not representative for entire culture
  • access may be excluded to some part of the community : lack of technical equipment, financial resources, old people, social prejudices

(Taken from a bachelor's thesis written by BeWelcome member kiwiflave.)

BeWelcome: one project, many target groups
BeWelcome is a project open to many different interest groups and backgrounds. Leisure travellers, ex-pats and business travellers, scientists, local communities and the tourism industry as a whole - all take advantage of BeWelcome.
You want to know more?

List of significant Hospitality Exchange Communities

  • BeWelcome
  • Couchsurfing
  • GlobalFreeLoaders
  • Hospitalityclub
  • Servas
Globetrotter tt (talk) 20:34, 7 January 2013 (CET): Not sure if this should be included in the FAQ. This is way too long.
Sitatara (talk) 11:23, 11 January 2013 (CET): (Nearly) the same text is available on: http://www.bewelcome.org/wiki/hospitality%20exchange. I think we could also just link to this page (and make some corrections/changes there). On that page there are even inks to translations of this text but I don't know if the translations are up-to-date. So, should we keep this as FAQ or not?


NEW: I heard that BeWelcome is an open source project. Where can I find the source and more information about that?

BeWelcome is indeed the first non-profit and open source based travel and hospitality exchange network. You can find more information and get access to the source by visiting our developer's corner.

Added to the website by Sitatara (talk) 18:48, 6 March 2013 (CET)


HELP NEEDED: Using the Site: Profile

Sitatara (talk) 18:29, 3 February 2013 (CET): I understand that this section should basically explain all parts of the profile. However, I think it would be better to separate this section into one part about the profile information and settings and one part about comments (we can keep one question about comments here and link to the new section for more information about comments).

My suggestion in detail:

  • Keep questions 1-7, 10-13 in this section but change sort order to: 2, 1, 5, 3, 4, 6, 13, 12, 11, 7, 10.
  • Between question 12 and 11 add one which explains the purpose of the "family and close friend" feature in more detail (see: Cool Tools, question 2).
  • Copy question 7 to a new section "Comments" and move questions 8 & 9 to this section. The "Comments" section should also include a link to a general Safety section and the following questions: "Can I delete a comment that I have written for another member?", "Can I delete a comment another member has written on my profile?", "Somebody posted a spam comment on my profile. What can I do?", "Somebody posted a false/slanderous/abusive comment on my profile? What can I do?"
  • Add new questions: "I deleted my profile some time ago. Can I reactivate it?", "How can I change my profile into a family or several people profile?" (similar to question 7 in section "General/Registration), "I have a second address and I can also host there. How can I inform other members about this?" (copy question 8 from section "General/Registration"), and "I have lost my password. What can I do?" (currently question 12 in section "General/Registration" - move from there to here).


How can I change my password?

You can change your password in My account > My preferences.

Checked by Sitatara (talk) 11:48, 11 January 2013 (CET).


How can I change my profile?

You can edit your profile in : My account > Edit my profile. You can change every entry and decide what you want to hide or set visible.

Checked by Sitatara (talk) 11:48, 11 January 2013 (CET)


HELP NEEDED: How can I change my e-mail address or physical address?

To change your e-mail address, please go to My account > Edit my profile and then choose the "Contact Information" tab. There you can enter a new e-mail adress. Click on "Save Profile" to save the changes. Please note that this e-mail address is the one we use to send you messages and notifications, so please make sure that you enter a correct address an that your e-mail provider and your e-mail safety settings accept e-mails from BeWelcome.
To change your location, click on Update my location on the same page (next to your address). Then, just enter the new address and click on "Save Location".

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 15:55, 23 February 2013 (CET).
Sitatara (talk) 10:33, 26 January 2013 (CET): If a members enters a new e-mail address is there no e-mail validation process? I really think there should be!! Since that's the only really validated information we ever have from a member, we should take care that we do not loose this so easily.


How can I hide/unhide my name or physical address?

Go to My account > Edit my profile. There you can choose the visibility settings for your personal information (mostly in the "Contact Information" tab). Choose your visibility settings and click on "Save Profile" to save the changes. If the changes are not visible straight away, please use the 'refresh button' of your browser.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 16:09, 23 February 2013 (CET).


How can I change my user name?

In general, we highly prefer that our members have a user name which remains stable over the time. That is why we do not offer any automatic possibility to change your user name yourself. However, if you have a good reason for a user name change, we can change it manually for you. In this case, please contact us, state your reasons for the change and the new user name you would like to have.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 16:09, 23 February 2013 (CET).
Sitatara (talk) 12:16, 26 January 2013 (CET): I think it would be really good to add this information to the sign-up page where you enter the user name, i.e. that user name changes are only possible through the support (so that people choose more wisely from the start, insetad of signing up with stupid names and then wanting a change immediately). Additionally, I suggest to display the user name on the "Contact Information" tab on the "Edit my profile" page (not editable) and explain there (very shortly) how (and under which circumstances) a user name change can be made (with a link to the feedback form). I think that's the place where people search for a possibility to change their user names. Btw. I find it very weird that we allow multiple profiles and also that people delete their profiles and sign up again (that's what many people seem to do when they want a user name change)! Because that's effectively undermining the current "no user name changes" policy.


How can I upload, change or delete my profile picture?

To upload, change or delete your profile picture please go to My account > Edit my profile. Although your profile can only contain one profile picture, you can upload as many pictures as you want into the "Gallery". The gallery is displayed on your profile too (at the bottom right).

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 16:09, 23 February 2013 (CET).
I think adding a link would be nice (this FAQ has to be written Bikepunk 06:25, 25 November 2009 (UTC): see also : Using the site : Cool tools / Gallery
[User:Sitatara|Sitatara]] (talk) 12:16, 26 January 2013 (CET): Agree! This should explain the gallery in detail while this question here should only mention it.


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 abuse@bewelcome.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!

Sitatara (talk) 14:08, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.
Sitatara (talk) 12:16, 26 January 2013 (CET): Is there another address than abuse@bewelcome.org available for safety issues? safety@ or help@ would sound better in this context.



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 do, however, keep the history of comments, so older versions of the comments can still be visible. 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.

Sitatara (talk) 14:18, 23 March 2013 (CET) 10:24, 27 January 2013 (CET): It seems that this information is not correct: see [2]. All comments are editable and the ticket was set to "wontfix" and closed. I just reopened the ticket and asked for a bug fix with high priority.


HELP NEEDED: Can I write a comment on myself?

No, it is not possible to post a comment on your own profile.

Sitatara (talk) 14:20, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.
Sitatara (talk) 10:43, 27 January 2013 (CET): We should add a few other FAQs about comments - for example "Can I delete a comment that I wrote?", "Can I/you delete a comment that somebody else wrote for me?", "I received an abusive/false/reputation-damaging/spam comment. What can I do about this?"



HELP NEEDED: What is a group?

Groups are a feature on BeWelcome which allows you to get in touch with other members and discuss specific topics with them. Every group has a topic (e.g. "Cooking") or is related to a specific location (e.g. "Berlin"). You can search for groups, join groups and create new groups here: Explore > Groups. We recommend that you join the group which is related to your home town to stay up-to-date about BeWelcome events in your area. Additionally, please join any group you are interested in.

Udated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 11:04, 24 February 2013 (CET).
Sitatara (talk) 15:37, 27 January 2013 (CET): It would be good to additionally add a link to a (not yet existing) question which explains how to join groups, how to leave groups, how to change one's member settings, how to administer groups etc. SUGGESTED WORDING: For more details about how to use the groups, please also read the FAQ about how to use groups.


How can I add a family member or close friend to my profile?

To add someone as family member or close friend, go to that person's profile. In the left sidebar below the profile picture you will find an "Add as family or close friend" link. Click on that link and fill out the form on the next page. Once you click on the button "Add as family member or close friend" there, the other person receives a request to approve this relation. As soon as he/she has done so, you will see the profile picture and your description about that person in your profile above the "Latest comments" section.

Updated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 10:47, 24 February 2013 (CET).


I have seen that some people have a profile in different languages. How does this work?

Every member can make several versions of his/her profile in different languages. To do so, go to your profile. In the top right corner of the page, there is a section called "Profile Translations". Click on "Add language" and chose the language you want to translate your profile to.
This takes you to your Edit My Profile page, filled with information in your first language. Just translate the texts there and click on "Save Profile" at the bottom of the page.
From now on, you can see and edit your profile in different languages. Whenever you are on your profile or your Edit My Profile page you can switch between your profile languages by clicking one of the available languages in the top right corner.

Udated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 10:56, 24 February 2013 (CET).


Who owns pictures that I uploaded to BeWelcome (e.g. profile picture or pictures in the Gallery)

The owner of any picture that you upload on BeWelcome does not change through the upload. So, if you are the (only) owner, you remain the (only) owner. You do, however, give permission to BeWelcome to use and display this picture on the BeWelcome website. BeWelcome cannot use it for other purposes - like promotion material or newspaper articles - unless you explicitly give your consent to that use (we might ask you).
Please note: If you upload pictures which you do not own, you must have the legal right to copy, distribute and display these pictures. Pictures provided to you by others, or made available through websites, magazines, books and other sources, may be protected by copyright and should not be uploaded, or otherwise copied, distributed or displayed on BeWelcome without the consent of the copyright owner or as otherwise permitted by law.

Udated to this version on the website by Sitatara (talk) 10:59, 24 February 2013 (CET).


How can I leave BeWelcome? How to delete my profile?

You can either set your profile to "inactive" or you can leave BeWelcome completely. For both options you need to login to the website and then go to "My account->Edit my profile->Delete profile". Setting your profile to "inactive" means that your profile remains visible but will not be included in a standard member search. Only members who know your username or have your direct profile link or specifically search for inactive members, will be able to see the profile. This will avoid members from contacting/disturbing you if, for example, you are not available for a while. A highlighted text box will be displayed on your profile warning other members that you are inactive. To choose this option, just click on the submit button, but do not tick the check box under the comment field. In case you want to leave BeWelcome completely, please fill in the comment box, then tick the check box below and finally click on the submit button.

Sitatara (talk) 12:02, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


HELP NEEDED: Using the Site: Contact

Sitatara (talk) 18:19, 3 February 2013 (CET): I don't find the title of this section very convincing (I wouldn't know what kind of questions to expect here). The questions are a mixture of several topics: getting in touch with other members, contact information, the messaging system, spam and some others which should definitely be moved to other sections. Maybe it's also better to split this section into several: one for the messaging system, one for finding members, one for getting in touch with them, move spam to an "abuse" section, move "contact information" to the "profile" section (maybe rename that one too).

My suggestions in detail:

  • Rename section, for example "Communicating with other members & messaging system"
  • As first question add "How can I get in touch with other members" and introduce member search, messaging system, groups and forum in the answer (with links to further FAQs about search, groups and forum).
  • Keep questions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 13 in this section.
  • Remove question 3 or move to a spam or abuse section but add a question about what to do about spam messages here and link to spam section for further information on spam.
  • Move questions 10 and 11 to a new section about finding members.
  • Move question 12 to "Bugs".
  • Add a question about "folders" for messages - e.g. "Can I create folders to sort/archive my messages on BeWelcome?"


How can I contact another member?

To contact another member, go to his/her profile. There, you will find a "Send Message" link in the left sidebar below the profile picture. Just click on it and write your message in the blank field provided and then click on "send". The member will receive your message in his BeWelcome mailbox but all messages will also be sent to his/her e-mail address.

Sitatara (talk) 16:30, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


Can I display my e-mail address on my profile?

By default, member's e-mail addresses are not displayed on the profiles. If, however, you explicitly wish to have your e-mail address visible for every member, please put your e-mail address in your profile summary. If your profile is a public profile, your e-mail will then also be visible to non-members and searchable by search engines. Please note that this will increase your chances of getting spam! An easy way to avoid spam is to publish your e-mail address like this: "name [at] mailserver [dot] whatever".

Sitatara (talk) 16:33, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


Can I contact members in languages other than English?

You can contact members in any language specified on the member's profile which also indicates how well that person speaks the said language. If you write to them in a language they don't understand, they won't be able to answer you.

Checked - Sitatara (talk) 11:32, 1 February 2013 (CET)


Do I have to provide my phone number?

You are not required to provide your phone number at all. If you don't want people to contact you by phone, just don't provide any phone number, remove it or hide it. We generally recommend to keep your phone number hidden. To choose your preferred visibility option for your phone number go to My account > Edit my profile and then choose your settings in the "Contact Information" tab. Other members can always contact you by using the secure message mechanism on the website and those messages will be sent through to your e-mail address.

Sitatara (talk) 16:39, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


REMOVED: How can I find out whether messages sent to several members were considered spam?

You will always be notified if messages were considered spam.

Sitatara (talk) 16:49, 23 March 2013 (CET): I removed this FAQ from the website because this is, as far as I know, not true in all cases. Please dorrect me if I'm wrong.


Where can I see the messages that I have sent through the BeWelcome website?

To see your sent messages go to My account > My messages in the menu bar and then click on the "Messages Sent" tab.

Sitatara (talk) 16:49, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


How can I delete messages from my BeWelcome inbox?

To delete messages from your BeWelcome inbox tick the checkbox in front of the message and then click on the button "delete". Alternatively, click on the message to read it and there is a "delete" button for this message at the bottom of the page. Just click it and the message will be deleted. Please note that deleting the message from your inbox does not delete the message from the "sent messages" page of the member who sent it to you.

Sitatara (talk) 16:49, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


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 forum if you have subscribed to topics or tags. To review and change your forum subscription settings, please to 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).
Sitatara (talk) 17:04, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


I'm looking for travel companions. Can you help me?

There are several options to find travel companions on BeWelcome:

  • The "Travel Companions" group: This group is specifically dedicated to bringing people together for travelling. If you are in search for a travel companion, join the group and post your travel plans there.
  • The "Travel companions" tag in the forum: We have a special tag for people looking for travel companions in our forum. By combining several tags (for example Travel companions - South America - May 2013) your post can be found easily by exactly the people who should read it. Of course you, too, are able to look for people planning to travel in the same area at the same time as you.
  • The "Trips" page: On this page you can both search for planned trips of other members and enter your own travel plans. So this page is a good starting point for finding peolpe travelling in the same area at the same time.
Sitatara (talk) 17:04, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


Are there any older people using BeWelcome? How can I find them?

Older people are not only very welcome on BeWelcome, they also already form an important part of the community. To get in touch with older members, you can, for example join the "40+ travellers" group or the "50+ group" or use the "Advanced Search" (click on "Advanced Search" next to the "Search" button) and enter a minimum age" for your search there.

Sitatara (talk) 17:12, 23 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version. Not sure if the term "older people" is really quite appropriate. Any suggestions for better terms?


How can I find other members' e-mail addresses?

By default, members' e-mail addresses are not displayed on their profiles in order to protect them from getting spam.
You can always contact members through the integrated messaging system. Clicking on the member's username will take you to the profile of that member. Once there,you will find a "Send Message" link in the left sidebar below the profile picture.. Just click on it and write your message in the blank field provided. Of course, you are always free to ask specific members for their personal e-mail addresses.
You might also want to check if the member you want to contact has an instant messenger username such as Skype, MSN, Yahoo or ICQ on the profile.

Updated to last suggestion, checked and corrected - Sitatara (talk) 18:19, 3 February 2013 (CET)


Using the Site: Accommodation

How do I find accommodation?

Go to the find members page and enter the name of the location you are going to visit in the text box (a country, for example, or a city). Click on "search" and you will get a list of all profiles registered at that location who currently offer to host other members. Take your time to review the profiles and read the information given there carefully. Then write a message to those members you would like to stay with.
There are also advanced options available to refine your search. To use them, just click on the link "Advanced Search" next to the search button and then choose the options which are relevant for you.
To extend your search to a wider area than the location you entered, you can use our map search. Go to the map displayed on the search page. Zoom in or out as required and then click on "Search using map boundaries".

Sitatara (talk) 10:30, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


How can I contact another member?

To contact another member, go to his/her profile. There, you will find a "Send Message" link in the left sidebar below the profile picture. Just click on it and write your message in the blank field provided and then click on "send". The member will receive your message in his BeWelcome mailbox but all messages will also be sent to his/her e-mail address.

Corrected to this version by Sitatara (talk) 14:21, 18 February 2013 (CET)


What is the usual duration of hospitality? Is there a minimum period of time hosts should be able to accommodate guests?

Hosting arrangements are up to guests and hosts to decide. Usually guests do not stay more than a few days with their hosts. As a host, it is important to communicate exactly how long you are willing to offer accommodation. You can specify this in your profile or treat each guest individually. Please note that nobody is obliged to offer anything, it is important that hosts feel comfortable with whatever arrangement they offer.

Checked Sitatara (talk) 14:21, 18 February 2013 (CET)


How long can I stay with my host?

This depends on the member hosting you. Some members specify the maximum length of stay of their guests on their profiles. You should speak to a member directly about anything not made clear in his/her profile. As common courtesy we ask you to respect the host's plans and restrictions and not to impose yourself on your host longer than he/she would like.

Sitatara (talk) 10:30, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


Will my host be able to accommodate more than one guest?

This only depends on the member hosting you. Some members specify the maximum number of guests they are willing or able to host on their profiles. You should speak to a member directly about anything not made clear in his/her profile. As common courtesy we ask you to respect the host's restrictions and not to impose more guests on your host than he/she is willing to accomodate.
If you are travelling as a family, we recommend that you join the "Families" group and the "Family Welcome Group" to get some advice or to find hosts through these groups. You can also use the advanced search options on the find members page (click on "Advanced Search" next to the search button) to search for hosts within these groups (enter the location you want to go to in the serach field and then select one of the families groups in the advanced search options and click on "Search"). Of course many members will be willing to host families even if they are not members in these groups. So, if you find someone who is willing to host several people but has not mentioned anything about families on his/her profile, just contact the member directly to discuss the possibilities to visit him/her with your family.

Sitatara (talk) 10:30, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


I need accommodation for a month or longer, can you help me?

As a member of BeWelcome, feel free to contact other members to make such requests. It is up to your potential host whether or not they feel one month is too long. You can also check their profiles to see how long they are willing to host other members.

Checked Sitatara (talk) 14:21, 18 February 2013 (CET)


I need a last minute host (for today or tomorrow). What can I do?

For some places, the local communties have set up "last minute hosting" groups where you might be able to find hosts on short notice. To find these groups, go to the groups page, enter the name of the place (e.g. a city) where you need a host in the search field, and click on "Search". Go through the list of results and if there is a last minute group for that place, join the group and post a new message there.
Alternatively, just regularly search for members in that location (by using the find members page) and check whether some members have included their phone number or Instant Messenger contacts in their profiles. If they have, you can contact them and ask them if they could host you on short notice or help you find another solution. However, please understand if some members do not feel comfortable with hosting somebody on very short notice.

Sitatara (talk) 10:46, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


REMOVED: Can you help me find a family to host my child for one year?

At the moment we do not offer this service at BeWelcome.

Sitatara (talk) 10:48, 24 March 2013 (CET): This doesn't seem to be a frequently asked question, therefore I don't think it's necessary to put it in the FAQs.


A member has contacted me and arranged a date for his stay with me. He/she never turned up though, nor did he/she notify me of any changes in his plans.

We recommend that you contact this member again. As there are sometimes communication problems, allow for a week or two for her/him to reply. If you still have not heard anything and you are sure that there was a definite date arranged at which this member was supposed to arrive, please post a (neutral) comment on the member's page since this is the kind of behaviour we do not tolerate in this hospitality exchange network. It is of course common courtesy to let your host know if you change plans and cannot stay with them. Members who do not show up should be aware that they inconvenience the host as well as other members who maybe were turned down in your favour. BeWelcome will not, however, get directly get involved because the comments system is perfect for exchanging this kind of information.

Slightly corrected Sitatara (talk) 14:21, 18 February 2013 (CET)


HELP NEEDED: Using the Site: Bugs, Problems, Abuse

Sitatara (talk) 18:34, 1 February 2013 (CET): I would suggest to totally reorganize this section:
  • Make a new section for Bugs, Feedback and Feature Requests and move question 3 to that section (plus add a few other questions there - like "How do I report a bug?", "I have a suggestion for improvement of the website. Where should I send it to?", etc.)
  • Rename this section, for example into "Problems with other members (Safety, Abuse, Spam)" and extend it massively (e.g. add tips for emergency situations, explain how to report spam messages, inappropriate posts, comments, profiles etc.). Also move (or copy) safety questions from other sections to this section (general saftey tipps from question 2 in section "General/Registration", some of the FAQs on comments - or have a separate section for FAQs on comments which should be linked to from this section).

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 p... website). Can you remove this?

Please send an abuse report to through the contact us form or by e-mail to abuse@bewelcome.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 p... 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.

Sitatara (talk) 11:09, 24 March 2013 (CET): Slightly updated; here in this wiki I am not allowed to spell out the p-word ;) - spam protection doesn't allow me to save the page.

I have found a dead link, a weird profile or another problem on the website. What should I do?

Please contact us, tell us the problem and we will try to find a solution. If there is an error message, please copy that into the bug report. Thanks for helping us!

Sitatara (talk) 10:15, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


HELP NEEDED: BeWelcome organisation in general

The order of the FAQ has to be changed, I don't know how to do it Bikepunk 20:21, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Sitatara (talk) 19:59, 3 February 2013 (CET): There is a bug concerning the sort order. I have reported it here: [3]
Sitatara (talk) 18:39, 1 February 2013 (CET): I would suggest to rename this section to "BeWelcome organisation and volunteering"

How can I help BeWelcome?

Being an active member is the first way to keep BeWelcome running. Keep it in mind.
Then, to help further, you have actually two possibilities :


Sitatara (talk) 12:40, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


How is BeWelcome organised?

BeWelcome is a project completely run by volunteers. The legal structure behind BeWelcome is BeVolunteer, a French non-profit organisation.

Note that being a member of BeVolunteer is not required to volunteer for BeWelcome. Long-term volunteers of BeWelcome are invited to apply for a BeVolunteer membership though.


A diagram would be more than welcome with : BoD, GA, Volunteers, members...Bikepunk 20:21, 18 November 2009 (UTC)
Sitatara (talk) 12:40, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


How is this project financed?

The project financially relies on donations only. Everything is based on volunteer work. Thanks to that we have very few expenses, such as server rent, domains, administrative fees, and security certificates and those need to be paid.
Our volunteers (including the members of the Board of Directors always pay their expenses themselves, so no donation money is used for accommodation or travel costs for volunteer meetings or conferences. If you have some good ideas about financing the project, you are welcome to post them in the forum or contact us directly. We believe in transparency. Our accounts are published once a year to be checked/agreed on by the General Assembly of BeVolunteer. During the year the Board of Directors - and the treasurer as the responsible delegate - take care of financial matters and are also your contact persons for related questions. More information about BeVolunteer finances and accounts are available on the BeVolunteer website.


Sitatara (talk) 12:56, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.


Do I need to become a member of BeVolunteer in order to volunteer for BeWelcome?

No, being a member of BeVolunteer is not required to volunteer for BeWelcome. Just get active! If you have been an active BeWelcome member volunteer for at least 3 months, you are invited to apply for BeVolunteer membership. Being a BeVolunteer member allows you to take part in the General Assembly (GA) and to vote for the Board of Directors (BoD). For more information about BeVolunteer and becoming a BeVolunteer member, please visit the BeVolunteer website.


Sitatara (talk) 13:02, 24 March 2013 (CET): Updated the FAQ on the website to this version.

TODO: Using the Site: Cool Tools

Sitatara (talk) 08:29, 25 March 2013 (CET): Add questions about trips and the gallery.


What is the "Forum" and how does it work?

The Forum is a central place for discussions on BeWelcome. It is accessible from the top menu Explore > Forum. This is the right place to find and start discussions which are relevant for the whole BeWelcome community (for example, ideas for improvement of the platform, discussions about procedures and practices on BeWelcome, announcement of big international hospitality events).

The Forum offers different categories to post in: "General", "BW Citizen", "Technical Help", "Politics". There are also geographical categories available, for local information and discussions we recommend posting in the respective groups though. Apart from posting in the displayed categories you can label your post with different tags to help other members find your post.

If you start a new thread in the Forum, the default visibility of that post is "members only" (i.e. all BeWelcome members can see the post). You can also choose the visibility "world" (the post can be found by search engines throughout the internet) instead. If you post in an existing thread in the Forum, the default visibility of your post follows the thread visibilty (i.e. visibility of the first post in this thread). However, you can change the setting for your own posts individually.

Please note that the Forum overview does not only contain discussions which are directly posted in the Forum but also discussion from groups you are a member of and even discussions from other groups if their visibility is not limited to group members only. If you do not care for general discussions and seeing posts from groups you are not a member of, you can click on "Show only posts to my groups".


Sitatara (talk) 19:04, 25 March 2013 (CET) Completely new version to put on the website.


What are groups and how do they work?

Groups are a feature on BeWelcome which allows you to get in touch with other members and discuss specific topics with them. Every group has a topic (e.g. "Cooking") or is related to a specific location (e.g. "Berlin"). You can search for groups, join groups and create new groups here: Explore > Groups. We recommend that you join the group which is related to your home town to stay up-to-date about BeWelcome events in your area. Additionally, please join any group you are interested in.

To join a group, just go to the respective group page and click on the "Join group" button there. On the next page you can enter your motivation for joining the group in the text field provided. You can also decide if you would like to get e-mail notifications from posts in this group or not. Please click on "Let me in" to finalize your application for group membership. In case the group is a public group you will be a member directly after this step. If the group is "moderated" your membership application first has to be confirmed by the group administrator.

Once you have joined a group, you can post new messages there, see all the discussions which took place so far, and change your member settings. To access your member settings, please click on the respective menu item of the group menu (below the group title).

If you start a new thread in a group the default visibility of that post is "group only" (i.e. only groups members can see your post). Depending on the group settings, you might also be able to choose a higher visibility, e.g. "members only" (all BeWelcome members can see the post) or "world" (the post can be found by search engines throughout the internet). If you post in an existing thread in a group, the default visibility of your post follows the thread visibilty (i.e. visibility of the first post in this thread). Depending on the group settings, you can change the setting for your own post individually.

The default language for group posts is English. You can also choose to post in another language, in which case you should explicitly chhose the respective language in the drop down menu below the input field. You can also translate your own posts into different languages. For this, first post it in one language and then click on "Edit", choose another language, translate your message into that language and save your changes.

On group pages you will also sometimes find a section called Related groups. This means that there are other groups which have a connection to this group - maybe a similar topic or some georgraphical connection. For example, city groups (e.g. Paris) are usually related to the respective country groups (e.g. France). As a group member you can add such relations too. Please use the feature responsibly and if in doubt, contact the group administrator(s).

A group administrator is the person who can administrate the general group settings (e.g. default value for visibility of group posts) and group description. This is alos the person who decides about letting new members in if the group is "moderated". If you start a new group, you will automatically become administrator of this group. Please note that group administrators are not the "owner" of a group and while they have a few limited moderation tools it is not their "job" to moderate the discussions which are taking place in the group.

If you find a post in a group which you feel is violating the "BeWelcome Forum and Group Forum Charter" you can report the respective post by clicking on the "Report to moderator" link in the bottom right corner of that post. This report does not go to the administrator of the group but to the "Forum Moderators", a small team of selected volunteers who

To leave a group you are a member of, just go to the respective group page and click on the "Leave this group" button.


Sitatara (talk) 18:50, 25 March 2013 (CET): Completely new version to put on the website.


How can I add friends to my profile?

BeWelcome does not offer a general friends list on profiles. However, there is a tool to link your profile with family members and close friends.

The idea of the section "Family and close friends" on profiles is to shows other members who you live with or who are your best friends. This section is sometimes misunderstood and used as a general friends list. Please use this section only for relationships which are relevant for other members in the context of hosting.

To add someone as family member or close friend, go to that person's profile. In the left sidebar below the profile picture you will find an "Add as family or close friend" link. Click on that link and fill out the form on the next page. Once you click on the button "Add as family member or close friend" there, the other person receives a request to approve this relation. As soon as he/she has done so, you will see the profile picture and your description about that person in your profile above the "Latest comments" section.


Sitatara (talk) 19:14, 25 March 2013 (CET): Completely new version to put on the website.


What is a "blog"?

The term "blog" is derived from "Web log." A blog is a kind of online diary with entries made in journal style. For more information on blogs in general check out Wikipedia. In BeWelcome you can use the blog tool to publish stories, ideas, essays, and even as a personal travel journal.


Sitatara (talk) 19:14, 25 March 2013 (CET): Slightly corrected and updated on the website.


How does the blog tool work?

To start a blog go to Explore > Blogs and then click on "Create blog post" in the action menu in the right side bar.

On the next page you can enter a title for your blog post, the text of your post, and tags (i.e. keywords for your blog post to make it easier for other members to find your blog when they search for specific topics). In the tab "Trips" you can link your blog post with a specific trip of yours (location and date). This way your blog might be found by members who are planning on traveling to the same destination at the same time. Use the tab "Settings" to determine who should be able to see your blog: everybody, friends only or maybe just you (e.g. if you want to use it as a private travel diary).

Sitatara (talk) 19:23, 25 March 2013 (CET): New version to be put on the website.


Does BeWelcome offer a chat?

Yes, there is a BeWelcome IRC Channel: #bewelcome on irc.freenode.net. Use your own IRC client or this webclient to chat with other BeWelcome members.

Sitatara (talk) 19:23, 25 March 2013 (CET): New version to be put on the website.