The couchsurfing website was officially launched in 2004, four years after Fenton made his trip to Iceland, and even though initially the growth was not as fast as anticipated with just about 6000 members but in a year it grew drastically to about 44000 and members growing and joining from all over the world.
Being a member is absolutely free with an online registration form and the main idea behind the couchsurfing experience is the fact that after you buy a plane ticket you need an accommodation and what better way than to stay with a local. Of course this exchange may be confused with house swapping but in this case the local or host will usually be in the house or an apartment and it is all worked out through the site, and it is free, in the sense that apart from gifts to thank the host or maybe even some grocery shopping no money should be asked.
For better safety for both parties, the host and the guest, once you register there will be a verification of your information such as your name and location, references and vouchers to better protect you, and the site has a full page on tips as well for you to keep in mind.
Since the site is completely non-for-profit organization it mainly makes money through donations, and even though they ask for $25.00 they will accept different amounts even a dollar because it still will make a difference, and if you had a positive experience they strongly recommend you posting it on the website.