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Frequently Asked Questions

Introduction

The Warm Showers Community is a free worldwide hospitality exchange for touring cyclists. People who are willing to host touring cyclists sign up and provide their contact information, and may occasionally have someone stay with them and share great stories and a drink. All members agree to host others either now or in the future, but for some members hosting may be in years or even decades in their future.

In 1993, Terry Zmrhal and Geoff Cashman were the originators of this service. In 1996, Roger Gravel began updating and managing the Warm Showers List after he found that it hadn't been maintained. Randy Fay turned the list into a database-and-map enabled website in 2005 and eventually assumed the webmaster/registar role from Roger when Roger retired in 2009. Now a small but dedicated group of volunteers manage the site and communication with our members.

The growth of the membership and its worldwide distribution are shown on the Statistics page.

In recent years the Warmshowers.org Foundation was formed to improve governance and sustainability of the organization. It is now a US 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. It has a Board of Directors and all decisions and financial reports and similar information are posted in the Leadership Council section of the forums.

Fundamentals

This video screencast summarizes the process.

After logging in, visit the main page and either move the map (it's a regular Google map) or use the search capabilities on the left side.

  • Search by name or email: Enter a part of the member's name you're looking for. If the member's name is "Joe Rufus", you're better to just search for "Rufus", because he might be listed as "Joseph Rufus" or "Joseph A. Rufus" and then you'll miss him. (You can also search by email if you already have the member's email.) (image)
  • Search by location:
    • Choose a country. (image)
    • Optionally choose a town or state/province within that country. Start typing the first part of the name of the town or province and wait for the site to autocomplete. Then select from the list of towns. They'll be listed in order of population. (image)
    • Click the "map" button to go to the selected place or... (image)
    • Click the "list" button to get a list of members in order of distance from the center of the location you specfied.

On the map, red markers indicate individual hosts. If the red marker has a number in it, then more than one member is at that exact spot.  "Cluster"markers indicate that there are too many members in the area shown to display - if you click on a cluster marker you'll automatically zoom into the area that has all those individual members, or you can zoom in using any of the map's zoom tools. , so you need to zoom in on that area (using the map's zoom function) to see the individual hosts. (image)

After finding a prospective host, visit their profile page and contact them using the "Send Message" button on the right side of their profile page (image). Please make sure to read the entire page first, to make sure that the host fits your needs and you fit the host's preferences. Also, please do not contact hosts listed as "not currently available" for hospitality.

Well, we don't have very many rules, but there are a few.

  1. The member information on this site is to be used only for members to contact each other about hospitality , and not for any other purpose. People have graciously given their information for the purpose of arranging hospitality. (No B&B's or commercial hostels, no commercial uses at all. Thanks.)
  2. The WSL is for hospitality for private individuals (or couples or very small groups) touring on bicycles. Please don't use it for other types of hospitality - for your large group of teenagers doing a cross-country ride, or for your large-group fund-raising event (even though it's for AIDS or cancer or some other fine cause). Please don't use it for non-bicycle travel.
  3. Please keep your information up-to-date, and please be responsive . Every cyclist deserves to expect at least a response from each host contacted. If your information is out of date or you are not responsive, it can be very frustrating for a cyclist.
  4. Please log into the site at least once every year and check your information We request that you log into the site at least once every year to check your information and update it. Accounts that get out of date will be deleted (we'll send you a warning email first).
  5. When seeking hospitality you should contact prospective hosts in advance. And if your plans change please let your host know as soon as possible. Do not make arrangements with a host and then fail to keep your agreement, unless you contact them, of course.
  6. Hosts are not allowed to require any payment for the hospitality that they offer other warmshowers members. Guests may help out of course; you can fix a meal, bring some beer, etc.
  7. Businesses (hotels, B&B's, etc.) may not use the site for promotional purposes or charge members for the hospitality that they offer.
  8. Say "no" to any hosting request if you're uncomfortable or for any other reasons. For example, if you request notice, and someone calls you on the spur of the moment, just say "sorry, I have to have some notice, as it says on my account".
  9. Minors are not allowed to use the site. Sorry, for legal and liability reasons, you must be 18 years or age or older to use the site.
  10. Our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy are presented as separate pages. You may want to read them. The Terms of Use emphasizes that you alone are responsible for the choices you make when using Warmshowers.org, and that the Warmshowers.org Foundation has no way to guarantee your experience with any guest or host.
  • Please respond to contacts from members in a timely manner, whether you choose to host them or not. If you can't do this, please make sure your profile is marked "not currently available".
  • When contacted by a member for hospitality, read their profile and recommendations and decide whether you want to offer hospitality (you are under no obligation to offer hospitality!) Note that the link to the contacting member's profile will be in the email you receive from the site.
  • If you decide to offer hospitality, continue the contact with the member to make specific arrangements, and give them additional contact and location details if necessary.
  • Always provide feedback after any visit from a guest. This builds trust in the community. Normally it will be positive, but if it's neutral or negative, please provide it anyway.
  • Please read the article How to be a good host for more detail.
  • Before contacting a prospective host read their warmshowers account carefully. Be aware of the hospitality that they offer as well as any restrictions that they may have. Read their recommendations to see what others have said about them.
  • Show up at the agreed-upon location as you have discussed with the host. If you can't, please contact them as soon as you can. (No-shows have been a consistent complaint from hosts, and do damage to our hosting community.)
  • Ask the host what your responsibilities are as a guest. Are you expected to fix a meal? How long are you allowed/expected to stay? 
  • Guests should generally figure out some way to be responsive to the host's kind hospitality... bringing a beer, fixing a meal, telling good stories.
  • Always provide feedback (and thanks) to hosts by clicking the "Provide Feedback" button on their profile page. Note that although it's unusual, feedback may be neutral or negative. Your honest feedback helps build trust in the community.
  • Please read the article How to be a good guest for more information.

Use the “About This Member” section to tell your personal story. If you're hosting, what's special about your accommodations? Do you live atop a hill? Right off the trail? Near a bike shop? Are you an excellent chef, might you order pizza, or should guests bring their own food? If you're touring, where did you start and where are you going? Do you have a blog? Any dietary restrictions? Information like this can help prospective hosts or guests decide if you would be a good fit or not.

For most people a profile picture is very important. It does not have to be a picture of you, but can be a picture of your house, town, or bike.

Fill in the explicit questions as well as you can and as completely as you are comfortable with. You do not have to disclose your street address or phone numbers, but if you are hosting, the map should indicate where guests would stay within a reasonable distance.

Account Features

The entire Warmshowers community depends on your feedback about other members. We operate on trust, and it's easier to trust someone if you can see what others have said about them.

To provide feedback about a member, visit their profile page (use the "search by name or email" or other capabilities to find them.) Then click the "Provide Feedback" button on the right side of their profile page. (image)

Although most feedback is really just thank-you letters, there are times when feedback is (and should be) neutral or negative. If a guest might be a problem for other hosts or other members might not think a host was appropriate, please go ahead and say this. Feedback of this type is important to the community.

Neutral or negative feedback should be factual, concise, and deal with your actual experience, not your feelings or judgments about the other party. 

We do not allow retaliatory or tit-for-tat feedback. Please use the contact form to let us know if you experience this kind of feedback and we'll remove or moderate it. 

Changing your account

Log in using your current password. On the main page, you can click "Edit profile" (image) or you can go to View profile and click the "edit" tab (image). You can change it there. Click "submit".

If you have lost or forgotten your password, go to the request a new password page (image), which will send a link to you by email. You can click on the link (image) and you'll land on the page to change your password.

Just log into your account and go to my account and click on the "Edit" tab. On the Edit tab, Look down the page to the "Warm Showers Host Profile". There you'll find a checkbox for "Not Currently Available" (image). Click that box and nobody will find you via the map searches, and your profile page will say clearly that you're not available.

Please remember that this list is reciprocal hospitality, so you're expected to offer hospitality in the future (perhaps the distant future) even if you can't right now. (It's OK to go years, maybe many years, set to "not currently available". But someday...)

Make sure you have clicked "Save". Or maybe there was an error - look for the popup message telling you that. If you accidentally don't complete the state/province or country, zipcode, your full name, "about me", etc., your submission won't be accepted. Please read the error message and fill in the required fields. If you're still having trouble, send us a note using the contact form.

You can click the "Delete Account" button (image) at the bottom of the page when editing your account. Follow the prompts. Remember, if you just want people not to contact you for a period of time, you can just click the "not currently available" checkbox (image) on that same "edit account" page.

Account problems

Most likely the email went into your spam or bulk mail folder. Please look there first and search all your mail for mail from wsl@warmshowers.org. If you don't find it, please send a note to us using the contact form or just an email to wsl@warmshowers.org.

In this situation, you log into the site, but you get the error message "Access denied" (image). This is not the same as a message saying "Invalid username or password" (in that case, try again, or get a one-time login link sent to you so you can change your password.) 

If you log in and get the "Access denied" message, it's almost certainly because your browser is not allowing cookies. Nearly all websites require cookies to work in order for visitors to log in. Google has an article explaining how to enable cookies on most web browsers here.  

If you can't resolve this, you may want to use a different web browser, and install Chrome or Firefox. If you can't install Firefox because you don't have permissions on the computer, try Firefox Portable Edition, which doesn't require any installation.

Any program that blocks cookies on your computer or your network can cause this problem. For example, CA Security Center may block cookies in all programs. Try temporarily disabling your firewall and virus protection to see if they're the problem.

If you get "Unrecognized username or password" when you try to log in, you can get a one-time login link mailed to you by visiting the request new password page (image). Here you can enter your email address. It will send you an email with a link that you can click on to log in - and then change your password (image).

This one-time login link may land in your spam folder, so look there. And please add wsl@warmshowers.org to your "Approved senders" list or your address book to prevent that from happening.

Pictures are generally cached by your own browser (Internet Explorer or Firefox or whatever). Go to your profile page and hold down the Shift key and press the "refresh" icon on top of the browser (image) and it will refresh the entire page and you should see the new picture. Here is a screencast showing how to upload a picture and demonstrating the refresh problem.

If you can log in, you're a member. But you may be set to "not currently available", in which case your name won't show in most searches.

If you find that you can't log in, try getting a password reset email sent to your address. Just visit the password reset page and enter your email.

We do delete members annually if they haven't logged in for more than a year, and we delete members when they are consistently unreachable. In both of these cases we attempt to contact you first.

If you account has been deleted, you are welcome to create a new one at any time.

Website Tools

There's a writeup on using the map here.

First, please make sure that all your address information is correct. If you have provided at least a partial address, particularly with the postal code, that will usually give an approximate (and sometimes very accurate) location.

If that doesn't do it, please set your own location on the map. Click the "Update location" button on the main page (image), or the "Set location" button on your profile page (image). Zoom in or out, move around, and click where you actually live, and then press the "submit" button.

Other Questions

Send them on! We want this to be a great resource! Send your thoughts to us using the contact form. Also, please suggest your own entries to this FAQ, or leave a comment here.

There is also a forum for discussing feature requests and bugs.

Please let us know about all problems you have with the site. We're working hard to improve it. Of course, we're just volunteers, so it can take some time to get things fixed. Please send a note via the contact form with errors you encounter, problems you have, etc. Please do be patient with us. This is a big project and it continues to mature over time.

Note that our open bugs are on github, and you're welcome to look through them to see if yours has been reported. If you have a free github account, you can comment on those issues or help out explaining them, or just create one there.

If you have the time and are a native speaker of your language, with a good grasp of English, please contact us and we'll tell you what it entails. It's a fair chunk of work, and has to be maintained in the future, so you're signing up for a bit of a commitment. Volunteers have already translated the site into Spanish, French, Portuguese and German.  We only accept translation projects where the translator is willing to make a long-term commitment to keep the translation up-to-date.

When using the site in a public place, please click "log out" at the top of the screen when you're done using the site (image).

When logging in on a shared computer, do not check the "remember me" checkbox (image). 

Warmshowers.org is registered as a Colorado Nonprofit Corporation in the state of Colorado, USA.

According to the US IRS rules, contributions to Warmshowers.org are tax-deductible to US taxpayers.