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Why I am thinking of quitting Warmshowers - terrible communication from most "hosts"

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Why I am thinking of quitting Warmshowers - terrible communication from most "hosts"

Since being on Warmshowers the last 2 years, we have hosted more than 200 people and met some great cycle tourists. However, I am getting just about nothing out of Warmshowers in terms of being hosted. The majority of people I write to never reply. Or if they do reply it is long after I have already gone by, a week or more after I emailed them. I reply to people within a day of receiving their emails and usually sooner, particularly if they are relatively close. It seems that the developing situation is that no reply means "no". If this is the case I think I am done with the system because to me no reply means "impolite" - you are always waiting and hoping up till the last minute that they just got delayed and haven't got around to replying. It also means that you have to flood everyone in an area with a request as if you ask one by one you will certainly never get a yes. The impression I am getting is that most people on Warmshowers are looking for a free place to stay but not a system in which to reciprocate.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Not all Reciprocate

Several people leave WS every year at the end of their tour, done with the service and do not stay involved to host.  These people have no intention to recipricate.  There are also several people every year who are no longer cyclists, or never were cyclists, but sign up to host cyclists because they have an interest in doing so.

Make your WS experience what you want it to be.  Pace yourself as a host and do not let yourself get burned out.  Warmshowers was originally meant to be offer occasional supplemental accomodations.  As more hosts have dotted the maps, some members started to use WS as a stepping stone from location to location, moving away from the origins of bicycle touring adventure.  This is usually reflective in someone's profile (one clue; "Not available to host until 1/1/50").  

Please, participate in WS and enjoy the experience.  This may mean being more selective in your criteria in who to host, and nopt have expectations about being hosted when traveling. 

WS Member Chris_A's picture
To me it is clear that there

To me it is clear that there are many non-active profiles on warmshowers. Two pieces of advice when asking for a host: 1. Try to find someone who already has some (positive) feedback, and, maybe even more importantly, 2. ask someone in whose profile you see that he/she has been active on warmshowers very recently.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Totally agree ..

with your second point.

But for that, it should be possible to add 'last connection time' in the filters ..




WS Member WS Member's picture
Re: 'last connection time' filter

Jean Pierre, no. It should not be a filter because inactivity does not say someone is not listening.

Look at people like me. I am not active on the WS website. Normally I don't use it, sometimes I don't log in for several month. But in less than 60 minutes I register a request and answer because WS routes the requests to my mail.

A really good filter could be the percent of answered requests. Next week I am on tour again and during my research I see:
- (0 responses to 6 requests over the past year)
-(0 responses to 5 requests over the past year)
-(26 responses to 31 requests over the past year) = 84%
- (9 responses to 10 requests = 90%)
- (14 responses to 51 requests over the past year) = 27%
- (0 responses to 6 requests over the past year)

Kick out the 0% people, who do not respond, from WS immediately after one year of membership. Noone will miss them. My experience is that nearly every request I get, is a request which is worth to be answered. It takes two minutes to answer - and I often say no.
Create a filter for the percentage of responses. If I could filter out the people who responds more than 30% would be very helpful because my intention on WS is to meet the 'real' cyclists. These people are rare to find.

cu, Kai-Peter

WS Member WS Member's picture
I joined Warmshowers a while

I joined Warmshowers a while back, and have observed pretty much the same thing as you. Initially I sent requests to just one or two people and waited for a response, but quickly realised that this approach simply didn't work and that the best thing to do was to 'flood' requests to a lot of people simultaneously and hope that a few reply, i.e. to fish for responses. Personally I respond to all requests (although I'm not exactly submerged by them so it's not a problem), but it appears that a lot of people simply don't bother.
That said, it's not something that's specific to Warmshowers - when I advertise stuff on a small ads site I sometimes get enquiries which I respond promptly to and then 'the line goes dead', or one-line messages for stuff I've listed along the lines of 'I'll give you such-and-such in cash' (usually a fraction of the asking price), no 'Hello' or any other unnecessary forms of politeness (I initially responded, now I just bin such messages).
I guess some people consider that in the websphere they don't need to behave in the same way they would do when dealing with someone face to face, so politeness and courtesy can be done away with :-(

WS Member WS Member's picture
"Flake Factor"

Before the days of Meet-Up! I belonged to an online outdoors club.  I hosted several kayaking and social events.  All of us leaders learned to consider the "flake factor"; members who would sign up to several events on the same day and later decide which ONE to choose (rarely bothering to contact a leader or drop off the event).  

I do believe people in general have learned to de-personalize others who are only an image on their phone or computer screen.  This goes far beyond WS.

BTW, Good manners never go out of style.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Don't go


The same behavior can be seen with CouchSurfing, I was getting requests for people not even checking where I live (35km away from Geneva in Switerland) and sending me template requests which I would reject right away...

With WS, I have been lucky and always got responses... I would not send requests to person that didn't connect for a long time.

Despite have a very badly unorganized online form, being a part of WS is being a part of a community. I like being a part of it, and nevermind if other use it in a bad way, what is important is the opportunities of meeting new people.


WS Member WS Member's picture
Changing mentality?

As stated above by different members we may conclude that during the years the reaction pattern of hosts ànd guests change. WS is a reflection of our society where individualism influences general behaviour. As a WS-member for over 15 years  - and having cycled my entire life - I can confirm most of these matters. It's not a complain, just a finding. Too bad if WS-members are annoyed, but good to post these opinions here.

As said many times before in previous forum discussions: Present clearly your way of hosting , read thoroughly the guests profiles and feedbacks, look at the response rate, the last time the guest checked his/her account, give room to your gut feeling and don't hesitate to post an appropriate feedback. As guest you will have to adapt to the slowly decreasing responsiveness of hosts. During our travels we often approach just the locals living along the road to put up our tent, or ask them to use their barn, instead of going through the hassle of doubtful  (=no?) reactions of WS-hosts. It's a choice.

Everywhere are friendly, hospitable people. The purpose of WS is nice, but you don't need members to have a roof over your head every night.Be flexible.Around every corner is a dry place. (Unless your demands and expectations are very high...)

WS Member Keith Gabriel's picture
Terrible communications from most hosts

Well said , I agree , after returning from the UK I found  hosts wanted a weeks notice ,   One had moved addresses to a diferent city. My experience doing the End to End  was it took up a lot of time and no positive results, As a cyclist if you are casualy cycling about and not concerned with getting there it seems fime , we have hosted a few times already the guests have been more casuall cyclists (first timers) who seem to build there day's around where they can find free spaces to stay, One  spent more time on busses than cycling. 

I think Warm Shower would do better going for quality hosts as aposed to quantity , It looks impresive when looking in a area and seeing lots highlighted , thats about it .  

WS Member WS Member's picture

as has been said before ad nauseam : make the "Default" setting "unavailable' AND remove " unavailables" from any map. They are a waste of Travelers' time

WS Member WS Member's picture
I agree entirely!

I've found it really difficult to get hosted when we travel in Europe.  The most success we have had is when able to give weeks and weeks notice due to the request being for the first or last place on a trip and therefore had an ability to give an exact day.  That said we've also had a very poor response, or no response at all when trying to find hosts even weeks out.   This happened lately when trying to find somewhere to stay in Portugal/Lisboa.  We either had no reply or the reply we had was very curt and unwelcoming.  I've hosted quite a bit and found most people I've had as guests have only given us a couple of day's notice at most, and at times only a number of hours, but that's the nature of the beast I would have thought. We resort to using AirB&B and have had fabulous experiences and welcomes; most notably lately from a woman, Margarida, in Lisboa who stored our bike boxes and ferried us to and from the airport and really put herself out for us!!!  Other AirB&B hosts have been very welcoming too but of course they are getting a fairly good income from being welcoming!  It has cost us a bit for accommodation in the proces but fortunately we can afford it, but would rather use Warmshowers to meet like minded cyclo tourists around the world.  I think this is an issue Warmshowers admin need to address as a lot of people seem to be on the register for their own benefit without wanting to host/give back!!   Partly due to this I am currently marked as "Not available"!

WS Member WS Member's picture
It's just too big isn't it?

A recent communication to everyone proudly said 'we're increasing by 100 members a week' 

Put that into perspective, that's 5200 / year

The largest other hospitality directory for cyclists out there is based in Germany and has 5000 members built up over many years with a sprinkling of International contacts. It costs about $15/year to remain a part of it and a book is produced every year with names and maps. We've used it a few times as have a reciprical arrangement with the UK list and it works well. 

The concept of warmshowers is great but it is a comparitively recent list in the cycling world swallowing up the orriginal 2 to 3 US lists. 

What you have now in my honest opinion is a list that is frankly far too large because the genuine visitors who will recipricate are being drowned out by those that simply wish to use it in a non hosting capicity. In effect the whole network is being maintained by a core of dedicated people who want to host and I would think that they would have been on those orriginal lists.

So to the warmshowers directorship, you have a problem. If you continue to proudly claim that you have a zillion cyclists on the list then the experience of those that genuinely hold the values of reciprication will be so diluted that they will turn their back on the very thing that makes this idea such a good one and after a terrible year in 2017, having hosted for many years, I'm at that point.


WS Member WS Member's picture
New Membership

I have served as Registrar for the organization for about the last 4 years.  This means I review a report of new members daily (Presently, Seth and Farid also help review new membership).  We drop to about 35 new members daily in December, and peak around 200 new members daily in July.  I can tell when an article is written about WS because membership in a certain region will spike for a few days.

I hear your concern.  It was just too easy for anyone to sign up to WS and then never host and never tour., thus being marked "available", just taking up space on the map.  Because of this, things have changed: We have fully expanded the profile when signing up.  It takes much more thought and effort now to create a new profile for WS.  The minimum wording has been expanded from 15 words to 50 words.  New profiles with nonsense, or "filler words" are instantly deleted. Most profiles without refrences to traveling by bicycle are deleted.  For-pay hostels are deleted.  I must say that since we upgraded the new membership template, the quality of profiles has drastically improved.

Lastly, we are about to delete all members who have not logged into the site in the last year.  We perform a yearly purge (we send out notices to all who have not logged in for 1 year or longer and ask them to do so before making this deletion).  Last year we deleted about 30,000 inactive members worldwide!

We understand your concern as share it with you!  The best thing members can do when searching for a host is to look at "response rate", and give all hosts/guests feedback.  Low response rate tells the world the member is not active and a high level of feedback says the opposite!

WS Member WS Member's picture

Great to see you are on top of it and doing the best you can.

To Duncan, yes it isn't Warmshowers fault, it really came to prominence with the internet age, something the 'orriginal' lists didn't get to grips with, so starting a new one would simply go back in time. In the case of the German list it's not on the internet, you need to pay an annual fee and that's what keeps it as it is, Warmshowers is different, they each fill a niche

It sounds like Ken at al are making a real effort for the benefit of the list, so thankyou.



WS Member WS Member's picture
That's all true, but it's

That's all true, but it's hardly the fault of Warmshowers. As such sites become more popular, there will always be some bad apples in the bunch, and there's not a great deal that the site administrators can do about it. Potential hosts/guests should leave feedback so that potential hosts/guests can judge whether a member is reliable or not, since that's about the only indicator that can be provided. I admit that I initially found the very low response rates a bit offputting, but that's the nature of the beast I guess and it hasn't stopped me finding some great hosts. I also confess to personally never having hosted anyone yet, not because I don't want to reciprocate, but simply because every time I could have I was away cycling myself or otherwise unavailable.

The site may not be perfect, but at least it exists - I guess you could leave the site and set up another one with a shiny mission statement declaring that only 'true' members who really want to reciprocate will be accepted, but at the end of the day there's nothing stopping it facing exactly the same drawbacks that the Warmshowers site is faced with now after a few years.

WS Member WS Member's picture
finis ?

Can anything more usefully be said here ? 

WS Member WS Member's picture
No answer

I really enjoy hosting cyclists from all over the world. I achieved a 2500km trip from Paris to Oslo and was not able to be hosted a single time. I tried a few times but was discouraged by the time consuming process: in large cities, one has many potential hosts but it takes a long time to read their profile and/or get to their answering rate. I suggest (for the second time) that the answering rate be included in the pop up when you click on a place on the map. It would save a lot of time.

Another thing I might do would be to refuse to host anybody that has an answering rate lower than 60 or 70%. I am not too fond of this solution but I am getting fed up. Hopefully I will fell better in a little while and reconsider, but it is really too bad that so many members don’t bother to answer.