We have been members for around 6 years. We learnt about Warmshowers when travelling. We were hosted 3 times whilst overseas. For the last 4 years we have been active hosts. Mostly we have had great experiences. I did start to see a trend of what I felt was freeloading as opposed to the social aspect. After reading and posting on a forum I updated our profile message and got a bit more selective. Things have improved.
I've noticed is a large growth in membership. However I believe the ratio of hosts has decreased. Currently it is less than 40%. I'm sure it was more like 50%. I may be wrong. I also note the statistic is skewed as a number who are traveling are listed as available. I found this out when trying to find some hosts for a trip I'm planning and i note a number of requestors are listed as active also even though the are newer members on long trips.
I'm also hearing people are not joining as the responses are too low. I've seen some forum posts and I've also met touring cyclists who I think would be great hosts in the future say this.
So what does this all mean?
Is growth good? In my opinion growth needs to be managed and active hosting somehow needs to be encouraged. I think there is a risk that good hosts get put off. Warmshowers is based on reciprocating what is provided to you.
There is no magic bullet.
New memberships are automatically set to not available.
Compulsory fees, with fees based on availability and / or hosting rates. This clearly would take some administration. But perhaps fees could fund the required administration.
I'd love to know what others think.
that's very true! and many members just created accounts and never checked them again. Warmshowers warns them by sending 2 emails annually, if they do not respond to requests. or their last seen is 2 years ago :D
anyway, I do my best to inform my friends check NOT CURRENTLY AVAILABLE if they're touring. even a few touring cyclists and hosts died last year. I informed the WS support team to put them UNAVAILABLE!
We are in the process of redesigning the profile page. More information will be required than the current "15 work minimum". I am also the Registrar and review all new profiles daily, so yes, I clearly see this problem! How ever, it's going to take some time for the technology people to put together the new profile edit page. Please be patient.
WS Board and Registrar
This is a process common to most hospex networks and has been spoken about a number of times on the forum [eg:
-Member growth and retention | Warmshowers.org
-Host searching filters | Warmshowers.org
Successful communities usually start out with a necessary coterie of idealistic members to build them, then as they gain traction and functionality increasing numbers of members are attracted to them for more utilitarian reasons. Yes, the ratio of active hosts will tend to decline and yes this can spiral into a vicious circle with hosts being overwhelmed with requests and giving up. If you look at BeWelcome, a hospex site with similar member numbers to WS but with a different history (it really started to grow when it took on new members looking to build a community the right way after Couchsurfing fell apart) I would say outside of a 500 mile radius of Brussels it is still essentially at the early stages of this evolution, that is there are a lot of hosts waiting around for not many guests.
This will always be a difficult balance to get right, but you have mentioned perhaps not a magic bullet but a very effective and easily implemented remedy that would be a good start and that is to set all new members to unavailable by default. This is standard procedure in all hospex communities I have been involved in, and it is something I have requested here numerous times over the past 2 years or so with almost no response (I believe this is the first and only reply I received: https://www.warmshowers.org/comment/8693#comment-8693 ). In that time WS has seen nearly 50,000 new members, the majority of them will not be intending to host, the majority will not have changed their availability status - was it really worth accumulating all those false positives just to boast we have nearly two thirds of our membership 'hosting right now' when most reliable metrics from other hospex sites have reported this number to be consistently under one third of all members?
With what can't be more than a day's woth of coding WS could stop annually accumulating literally thousands of members who have no intention of hosting being marked as available to host and clogging up search lists, and yet somehow it still has not been done for reasons that have never been explained.
Warm Showers was originally built on a platform that was intended for about 5,000 members. It has long outgrown this platform, which makes it very difficult to manage. Coding of this is not as easy as it seems (or as it should be). The Board is currently looking into the future; assessing current and upcoming needs and hope to build a new platform that will be easy to manage. Once this is done, we can put less effort into the widgets of the system and more energy into building a tighter networking and hospitality community.
If anyone is telling you that changing the default status for new members from available to host to unavailable is more than a day's coding (and I'm being generous calling it a day's coding) you are talking to the wrong people (and the number of members has no bearing on the difficulty of this task). This never should have been the policy to begin with, the folly of it was pointed out multiple times over the previous two years:
Nothing has been done in that time (neither has a counter-argument been proffered) and WS has since then accumulated an enormous number of members (they must easily number in the tens of thousands) who joined not intending to host at the time but are nevertheless marked as available. Those members now clog the maps and list searches of WS tourers looking for hosts.
As if this didn't make it hard enough to find genuine hosts, the list search is now spitting out all members marked at 0 degrees longitude and latitude before listing the members in the locality that was searched for. I pointed this bug out over 2 months ago [ https://www.warmshowers.org/node/126632 ] when there were two members erroneously listed at the top of each search - that has now extended to nearly 300 members (almost 6 pages):
That bug report has still not even received an acknowledgement from anyone at WS.
Paul, if you or anybody else in the community has the experience and expertise in helping with the technical aspects of warm showers, and would like to volunteer, please contact the board: [email protected]
Sorry, I'm having trouble getting a straight answer on this specific issue. Are you saying that WS recognises the problems brought about by the policy of signing up new members as available to host by default, that this needs to change but there is currently nobody with the technical expertise to effect this change?
I just tried Searching "List" for my [ Australian] State ...no results found
I searched for " Adelaide" [ the principal city here] and got a long wall of text and links, apparently extracts/ introductions from members' ( usually prolix) self-descriptions... I appear NOT to be listed in that Wall, probably b/c I don't mention " Adelaide" in my Profile, on the grounds that it is a conurbation more than 80kms long, and listing yourself as " Adelaide" is pretty useless to a cyclist.
Anyway, that "wall of text" is pretty tedious to Browse. I can't see myself getting much out of it, as a wannabe-Guest.
It seems from the above that reversing the default to " not available" is recognised as a good idea BUT is presently beyond the capabilities of the management.
Has management ever called for help on this ? I mean, in a BIG Public way ..? While I can think of numerous improvements I'd like to see, I can't think of one better than this for attention.
I am unable to assist technically, but if I knew this was in some way a priority, I'd ask around my contacts. FWIW : I think a Call Out at the FB group might ( possibly) enlist some useful support, more so perhaps than here.
Edit : add " public"
'It seems from the above that reversing the default to " not available" is recognised as a good idea BUT is presently beyond the capabilities of the management.'
That's a possibility though probably the least likely of all scenarios and I'm really not sure how one could reach that conclusion from the vague and evasive answers above. Perhaps somebody from WS could clear up the confusion, which of the two following scenarios does WS currently consider preferable:
A) New members are signed up as unavailable to host by default.
B) New members are signed up as available to host by default.
I think you're looking at the wrong search . The topic is the list search by location not the keyword search. You should appear there sorted by distance from city centre - another counterproductive idea which is pushing all those (non) hosts who signed up without marking their location to the top of lists - just skip the 6 pages of people who don't live in Adelaide who appear first.
Ok, "full screen" makes a slight difference ...
So I search "by State" [ for my own Australian State] and the Results include someone in Texas... looking further, I see it looks like a random assortment from all over the known world. ( screen shot on request...)
I won't be using that again anytime soon.