The response rate shown on profiles is meant to show how likely it is that the member will respond to a request for a place to stay. Unfortunately, messages that are not requests for lodging also go into the feedback rate.
For example, I have recently received (multiple!) unsolicited private messages from a member who wanted to argue about some views I had shared on the forum. Anything I wanted to say, I said publicly on the forum, and I do not want to interact with this member over private message. I therefore had to answer with a single letter (".") just to keep my response rate up without encouraging him any further.
Also, one of my guests, after he got back home, wrote a long description of how his trip went and copy/pasted it into a message to all of his hosts. While it was pleasant to host this person, I'm not especially interesting in keeping in touch with him. However, to keep my response rate up, I was forced to type a few inanities along the lines of "Thanks for your message, I'm glad you enjoyed your trip." He probably wasn't even expecting a response from each individual recipient anyway.
Since private messages can include non-requests like the above, WS really needs a simple way for members to specify that a message in their inbox is not a request, and therefore can go unanswered without affecting their response rate.
True, and implementing some kind of official request has been spoken of as a goal for some time. What I don't get is why a member marked as unavailable to host still has incoming messages go towards their response rate. Surely this at least could be changed in the short term.
Our additional experiences with messages are:
-- a passing member needed a special bike tool at a sunday when our bikeshops are closed
-- somebody asked for specific information about our local environment, which was not available at internet
-- another member liked to know our personal, detailed experiences of the route of a certain trip we ever made.
I've never seen this as a burden. I agree that it would be neater to have them separated - like having more than one folder on an email account - but it would be way too complicated. When I get things like this, I just type back something simple and all is good. When I have a message that I really don't want to respond to, I just let it knock down my response rate. If someone decides not to stay with me because I only have a 95% rate instead of 100 %, well, I suppose I will cope. :)
The OP has it pretty well in hand... the "." response is best, when no other is appropriate :)
What really irked me was, when I had a conversation ( via WS) with a nearby Member - re a systematic approach to enhance our common value - that conversation counted as a Request; but I deleted the Message w/o realising that, and was then unable to " Respond" - sending my RR down (!!) . And I am a person very unsatisfied with anything less than 100 % ( well, for things as easy as a WS Response, anyway)
and as you might be able to tell, I find the "mandatory Subject line" feature here ( even when responding to someone's Thread) intensely annoying.
If you don't fill in a subject line, it just uses the first few words of your post. Just think, a year from now, your response rate will not include that person's post that you deleted. Or, at least I think that's how it works, that they all renew annually. Just go with the flow. :) None of this is worth being intensely annoyed about.
I find useless website features symptomatic of a lack of attention to functionality on the part of the designers.
Every one of these useless " mandatory subject lines" is a small distraction from the real business of the website and the organisation.
This organisation needs all the attention it can get....
Have a Nice Day !
Messages are not necessarily requests. I too would like to see this distinction added.