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Is there an option to search for members by feedback, which is another way of looking for hosts with a proven track record?
In any case, thank you!
No, but there should be (along with sorting by last log in date and responsiveness). As the site grows we are taking on more people who aren't in it to host making it harder for guests to find those who are. Sorting by distance only tends to put people who couldn't be bothered marking their location at the top of the list. I know in my city at least, those at the top of the list tend to be newer members, with zero feedback and response rates of one third or worse. I think there need to be better mechanisms to sort the active members from the takers - too many reports of travelers not finding hosts in cities with dozens of members.
Now that we have the response rate for each member, which will grow more meaningful with time as members receive more messages, it would be great to be able to perform a search for responsive members in any given location. That seems to me to be one of the most helpful things we could do for travelers.
I love this site and all that it does, but I do not plan my tours around it. I think it is a mistake to set off on a journey, and then email potential hosts with an urgent need and expect to be hosted. That would be more like getting a reservation in a motel. This is a volunteer thing. Having ridden thousands of miles without WS, ACA maps, or GPS, I know that a big part of the journey is spontaneity, and learning how to fend with all the road throws your way.
It would be wonderful if everyone one who signed up for WS was a committed host, but that's just not the case. It would also be wonderful if prevailing winds always blew as they should, but as cyclists, we learn to deal when they do not.
I guess I could say I had more than 9 years of accumulated touring experience behind me when I signed up here having never used WS, GPS, Google Maps nor Lily the Pink's medicinal compound but I don't see what it brings to the debate. If this is a site to bring touring cyclists and hosts together surely any measure to make that easier would be a welcome addition. You would still be free to have all the spontaneity, randomness and entropy you like (or if its so good perhaps we could force more of it on people... we could have 20% of messages disappear and another 20% go to the wrong person in the wrong location).
Of course its an immutable fact common to all hospitality sites that there will be far fewer committed hosts than than those who just log in when they're travelling, so why not make it easier to find those hosts? I live in a city of 15 million people, its fair to say quite a lot of tourers arrive here feeling somewhat apprehensive for various reasons. We now have about 50 members marked as available for hosting I would estimate there are about 8-10 members from whom you could be confident of a response and reasonably confident of an offer of accommodation or assistance, so why not make it easier for cyclists to find those people?
This is how I feel, too.
I think that offering a list of established hosts who are actively available would provide the following benefits:
- Reward active hosts via the website
- Provide convenience for short-notice guests (hosts who are experienced may be more readily available)
- Incentivize passive hosts to become active hosts
- Create some friendly competition in high-population zones (by host)
I think that offering a list of established hosts may provide the following disadvantages:
- Active hosts may receive more attention than they want (Finding an active host now is luck of the draw, and maybe some people don't want to be the FIRST person everyone calls when they get to town.)
* A possible solution for this is for any host to offer a limit of guest encounters they will entertain in a given amount of time (week, month) and once that limit is reached, the host is removed from the list of available hosts.
In my limited experience, I respect the idea of spontaneity for those who choose that path, but would also like to see an option for people who just rolled into town, and may not have pre-planned their entire routes (so, lets say they're in town on a detour) and need on-demand access to a safe place to sleep.
It may be fun to find this for yourself, but then again it may not. Why not have an option to hit the website and find out if there are any reliable locals that you can lean on on short notice.
If you want to live by the wire, that's fine too!
Another problem is that as the site grows it becomes harder for new members in larger cities to host. There were complaints on Couchsurfing about this several years ago and they altered the search algorithm so there was a degree of (yes) randomness so that newer members had a chance of appearing on the first page near the top while also rewarding active members by (I think) calculating a score from data such as last log in, number of positive references, responsiveness etc... I saw my requests go down but that was OK because I didn't particularly want to deal with 4-5 requests a day. Its a difficult balance to reach but one that I think should be considered here for the future. Perhaps the default search order could be derived from a similar calculation with a degree of randomisation but also include options to sort by responsiveness, feedback, last login etc. Default sorting by distance from city centre doesn't seem particularly fair or useful to me for reasons mentioned above. It seems redundant anyway as we have map search.
I think in short I'm trying to say that the really is no perfect solution. And considering the vast array of people to sign up for Warm Showers, i am thinking that the present website works pretty well.
Absolutely! I don't disagree... The site does work, and it works well, and I am thankful for that.
That doesn't mean it can't get better. :-)
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