Servas Online started in the autumn 2016. Until 2019 more than 50 countries were maintaining their member data in Servas Online, for example (see https://servas.org/de/node/5851 ):
Argentina (278), Australia (697), Austria (260)
Belgium (401), Brazil (154), Britain (801), Bulgaria (26)
Canada (423), China (27), Croatia (17), ?Czech Republic (133)
India (174), Indonesia (33), Ireland (72), Israel (167), ?Italy (1416)
Latvia (10), Luxemburg (19)
Netherlands (273), New Zealand (298), ?Norway (118)
?Poland (140), ?Portugal (52)
Romania (25), ?Russia (100)
Slovakia (35), South Africa (66), ?South Korea (184), Spain (737), Sweden (363), Switzerland (278)
Taiwan (126), Thailand (38), ?Turkey (220)
However, some „big“ member countries are still missing in SERVAS Online (e.g. Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia).
Pros of SERVAS Online
1. All members
- are able to search for hosts online, using manifold search criteria
- may send messages and friendship requests to other SERVAS members
- may edit and print their Letter of Introduction
- may use the help pages available in different languages:
2. Country administrators
- can produce a PDF host list in SERVAS Online and upload it onto Dolphin
- can use the button „Export results“ to get a nearly complete export of their country’s data. This feature can be used to monitor from time to time whether entries have been changed, or to identify erroneous entries.
3. Data security
- data is stored only if it is necessary for the aims of our association (to find hosts). This corresponds to data austerity (Datensparsamkeit in German language)
- SERVAS Online does not store any sensitive data in terms of the General Data Protection Regulation of the European Union (no data about health, labour union, religion, sexual orientation).
- According non-sensitive personal data nor the social security number neither the full date of birth is stored. SERVAS Online only contains the YEAR of birth, name, addresses and profession in this data category.
- data transfer to https://servas.org is encrypted by HTTPS using a certificate officially signed by GeoTrust :
Issues of SERVAS Online
1. Issues regarding one’s own data
- language levels revert(ed) to basic on certain circumstances. This bug was not yet solved in 2017.
- Languages cannot be rearranged in „My Profile“ (although it is very easy to reselect the languages)
- the section „Letter of Introduction“ is only available in „My Profile“, if you are assigned the role „Traveller“ (in addition to the role „Host“). Please contact your country administrator, if you do not see the section „Letter of Introduction“.
==> in my opinion EVERY member (regardless of the roles) should be able to edit the section „Letter of Introduction“
- solved 2018-01: many of our members got the error message “Save previous block and edit it“ and did not get rid of it. Obviously, they clicked on “Edit” in a second block without having pressed “Update …” before. ==> this error message was rephrased in January 2018 by „You are currently editing another section of your profile. Please save it by clicking on the green update button before you can edit this one“:
2. Issues when searching for hosts
Issues regarding search queries:
- search criteria „Select a country“ offers no way to know beforehand whether a desired country is already in SERVAS Online ==> I suggest to add the number of hosts to every line of countries, e.g.
- search criteria „Able to Host“ currently does not work, e.g. a search for Danish hosts who can accommodate 1 person yields 79. A search for hosts who can accommodate 1 woman yields 13. P/persons/people intuitively include F/women as well as M/men and C/children. Therefore looking for 1F, I would expect to find also all members hosting 1 or more P – what currently is NOT the case
- there is no search history. You have to select your search criteria (especially the country field) EVERY TIME you do a re-search. However, a traveller is very likely searching many times for hosts in the same country, therefore the country field could show up the value selected during the last search.
Issues regarding search results:
- In the search result it is not clear whether you found a single member or a couple. When travelling alone this may be negligible, but when I travel with my wife we prefer to visit couples. There should be a clearly visible indicator if there is a second SERVAS member in a household!
- When searching for members, the lines „Number of persons able to host“ and „Day Host“ should be adjacent/close together in the hosting information (so that erroneous hosting information can easily be detected, with „Day Host: No“ but missing entry in „Number of persons able to host“)
- guarding the profile of a host found, there is no possibility to show up the location of this host in a map
- „Print List“ of selected hosts: attribute DH (day host) wasn’t printed in Dec 2017
- error „Unable to send e-mail. Contact the site administrator if the problem persists“ = „Die E-Mail konnte nicht versendet werden. Treten Sie bitte mit dem Website-Betreiber in Verbindung falls das Problem erneut auftritt“ when sending messages to members without email for notifications (2018-12-02), although there is a standard visible email address available!
3. Issues for country administrators
The issues are order by urgency:
- monitoring: we can’t see neither the last login of a member nor the date of the last update of a member’s data
- placement on the map is by default in the „center“ of something
e.g. the center of a maybe really vast „servas region“,
in the center of a whole country (as it is the case with Spain),
or even worse world’s (0,0) „zero point“ near Ghana (longitude zero on the equator),
or often also on road 3900 between Kansas City and Dallas in USA!
==> the default placement should be the center of the town of a member!
- PDF host list:
- list of abbreviations is missing
- „VAC:“ is by mistake always printed (in every member’s entry)
- my Skype account „Dieringer63“ is printed in the host list without context (the reader does not know, what the isolated text „Dieringer63“ should mean …)
- solved 2018-02-09: producing a PDF host list by using https://servas.org > Configuration > People > Members list (https://servas.org/de/admin/people/members-list/at), the last view pages were missing. I had to add them manually before uploading our host list onto key dolphin. This bug is not yet solved.
- editing: solved 2018-04: administrators are now able to modify languages, „live with“, „placement on the map“ of the members; solved later on in 2018: „Email for servas notifications“. Country administrators currently cannot interactively modify only the photo of members
- default settings:
- „Country“ could be predefined for country administrators
- „Currency“ of membership and eStamp could be derived from the country
- „Role“ of new members could be „Traveller“ and/or „Host“ by default
4. Issues in English translations
- „Family welcome: No“ and „Youth welcome: No“ sound harsh and insulting to families and young travellers. SERVAS Austria recommends „suitable for families“ and „suitable for young travellers“
- solved 2018 in German translation only: „geeignet für Familien“, „geeignet für Jugendliche“
5. Issues in German translation
- Gendering: button „Als Freund hinzufügen“ ==> „Als Freund/in hinzufügen“ or „Als Freund(in) hinzufügen“
- Printing a list of found members: the button at the top says „Alles ersetzen“ which means „Replace everything“ – it should be „Alle auswählen“ („Select all“)
Data migration methods in 2017
There were different ways to put the host data of a country into Servas Online:
- Migration from Dolphin to Servas Online: Some SERVAS countries that had their data in the „Dolphin“ system before used Janek’s Dolphin exports to Excel and Bernard’s import of this Excel sheet into Servas Online. Many thanks to Janek and Bernard for their work and help! (this method was used by Austria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Switzerland and others)
- Sample Excel sheet: Another possibility is to complete a sample Excel sheet with about 70 columns and to give it to Bernard for the import into Servas Online (as done by SERVAS Slovakia)
- Online: The host data can be filled in interactively by a country administrator using „Add an application“. I would recommend this method to SERVAS countries with few members. Last but not least, the data can be filled in interactively by the members themselves.
In any case, it is still necessary that the individual members modify their level of knowledge of languages and their placement on the map, because this could not be done automatically in 2017.
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