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Politeness level of requests

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Politeness level of requests

There was a recent post "Warm showers has changed. It feels like airBNB? ". Though I did have the strange experiences of Sarah/Neil, yesterday I received the following request:

"Lodging
We are in Dresden. Is your lodging open for tonight?"

That was not a part of the request. That was all. I haven't seen anything like that before. Furthermore, though people were members for a few years, they had no picture, no feedback, little information, and set themselves unavailable until 2021. I saw the request to late anyway, nevertheless, I decided to refuse anyone who doesn't keep at least a minimum level of politeness in the request, e.g.

1. Starting with "Hello Dirk" or similar
2. Explaining briefly who they are and where they are touring
3. Asking politely for the accommodation.

I would be interested how others are dealing with requests. What are your minimum standards? Or am I just an ageing guy who doesn't understand that Twitter-like communication has become a standard since Trump is President?

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Minimum standards?

If you follow the WS-forum, you will see that the members are part of the normal life all over the world: very different.
Some people use undetermined standards as "the vast majority likes..., the common cyclist does....",etc., as kind of statement that you actually should adapt to that.

How people show their politeness in the contact between host/guest, probably depends on these personal standards.
WS proposes some rules in the FAQ. Just a guideline. Nothing more, nothing less.

If you are very clear in your conditions as host, you never can prescribe how potential guests approach you by mail.
It's simple: If you don't like the tone, you just reject the request.
Nobody ever has to host anybody and a host never has to explain why the guest is not welcome.
By saying "No", you are polite enough.

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I have been hosting on

I have been hosting on internet hospitality exchange platforms since 2003, a time well before Twitter. There have always been occasional requests like that – along with empty profiles – so I personally would not take this as a sign that politeness on Warm Showers is in serious decline. After all, if this is the first time you've seen this kind of request, it must mean that most of the requests you are receiving are more detailed ones.

I am sometimes reluctant to call those super-short requests impolite. Often they come from people with poor English skills, and that is about all they can manage in written form when they have to urgently sent out requests, but when they arrive at your home they are great guests. Inversely, some of my worst guests have been those who had sent me polite, detailed requests.

But also, sometimes people mistakenly treat hospex messaging as a live chat. If you had answered "Yes" or "Maybe" to what they wrote, they may well have followed up with a long description of who they are and what route they are following.

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Fantastic

We have just come across warm showers and it seems fantastic. I have seen so many positive comments and we have already had some great help and feedback about our planned trip.
I will report back when we return early in September (2017), but in the meantime, stay positive. Even if there are one or two who are not behaving as well as they should, report the incidents and don't let it negatively impact on this great idea and community.

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As someone else already

As someone else already mentioned it may be an issue of inadequate English skills. But even for someone whose English isn't very good that one liner seems a bit presumptuous and would make me feel like we're being treated like a hotel. If they were able to send a request they would also have had access to Google Translate to send a more polite message. I've been to 26 countries and, at least in the countries I visited, politeness standards were fairly similar and respectful.

The more personal and polite the request the more likely we are to accept. A one liner like the one you received would result in us most likely declining to host. The exception might be if they're obviously from an area where the language they're trying to use is not widely spoken; they have an interesting profile; and some positive feedback to mitigate the lack of communication/technical/language skills.

The three items you listed are extremely reasonable in my mind and have formed part of civilized conversation for a very, very long time. Or maybe that's just my German/Canadian upbringing.

I don't believe age has anything to do with it either. We're both in our early to mid 50's but most of our guests have been in their 20's and 30's and they, so far, have all been able to communicate clearly and politely in line with the three things you listed.

In the end, we're all individuals with our own criteria. So you set your own requirements in your own home.

...Michelle

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politeness seems cheaper

In a lot of countries this wellknown message is shown in (small?) restaurants considering the matter of guest behaviour.
A price list says in the language of the country::

Beer!!! € 6,00
A beer!! € 5,00
I want beer! € 4,00
Can I have a beer? € 3,00
Can I have a beer, please? € 2,00
Can I have a beer, please? (With a smile) € 1,00

Apparently some guests (all over the world) have to be educated again. Politeness has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge of the local language.
C'est le ton qui fait la musique.
Next to that: the body language.
Everywhere in the world.

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Regarding the language skill

Regarding the language skill comments - the request came from a US couple, native speakers probably.

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I stand corrected. "Is your

I stand corrected. "Is your lodging open?" struck me as a very non-native way of writing.

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If it came from a native

If it came from a native English speaker then they obviously weren't well schooled in basic courtesy, or they have a serious lack of understanding what this site is all about at the most basic level. I'm reluctant to even excuse non-native speakers since we have so much technology at our disposal that can bridge language barriers.

Being from the US doesn't mean they're native English speakers but I think your instinct to not want to host them is probably right.

This seems to be a very isolated incident and I wouldn't worry about it too much.

...Michelle

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> Being from the US doesn't

> Being from the US doesn't mean they're native English speakers

Their given names on their profile both seem English, their surname is European (non-English), but that doesn't mean anything. Their profile is in perfect English (as far as I can judge as a non-native speaker). In any case, they don't have serious trouble with the language.

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Now that's a pricing

Now that's a pricing structure I can live with. I wonder what the price would be if I, as a stereotypical Canadian, also apologize at the same time.

...Michelle

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Politeness

SUzy Prenger here - Ronnie's wife.  I love this list of charges for beer!  We are going to implement a similar list for the tutoring help I do with students, as they are rudely demanding at times! Thank you.

As for rude requests, happy to report we have had only one of many. Upon further research, we realized the message was not from a warmshowers member, but someone who had been given our email from another cyclist. We tend to decline those as, sadly, there have been a couple of bad experiences of others with those not really committed to the values of warmshowers. Cheers all.  And we will get to posting that picture. Our bad.

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Politeness

SUzy Prenger here - Ronnie's wife.  I love this list of charges for beer!  We are going to implement a similar list for the tutoring help I do with students, as they are rudely demanding at times! Thank you.

As for rude requests, happy to report we have had only one of many. Upon further research, we realized the message was not from a warmshowers member, but someone who had been given our email from another cyclist. We tend to decline those as, sadly, there have been a couple of bad experiences of others with those not really committed to the values of warmshowers. Cheers all.  And we will get to posting that picture. Our bad.

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I just had another thought.

I just had another thought. Maybe they are indeed clueless about Warmshowers and truly thought that this is a "lodging" site for a fee? In which case the one line request wouldn't be quite as inappropriate.

Just thinking out loud.

Anyway, time to move on and find that 1Euro beer.

...Michelle

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Agree

I have had about 3 similar requests (all three were from people who got my unpublished phone number from a previous guest they met on the road, one 3 weeks later.). Basically the initial text was "we are 3-6 hours out from Tulsa on our bike tour, are you available?" Don't define quantity of "we", no name, link to WS (had to ask how they got my number as I specifically tell prospective guests to contact me though the website where I do not list my number), etc. So after deciding we were "unavailable", I texted them back asked who they were, how many, etc. so I could see if I could help further. All three responded with variations of just "Thanks:"

I don't know if they were young, old, native, foreign, etc.. as none of them "identified" themselves further. To me, just sort of rude in that they "expect" it somehow. Even if this is normal behavior in other countries, people really should try to remember to "when in Rome, do as the Romans do". Sort of like when eating in some countries, it is considered rude for the restaurant staff to present the bill before being asked for it but here it is normal.

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If they got your phone number

If they got your phone number from a previous guest, they may have been under the impression that your home is generally open to any cyclist who comes along. One encounters these kinds of places occasionally: in South America there are the so-called casas de ciclistas, and several times on our long tour there we would meet a cyclist coming in the opposite direction who was keen to give us the phone number of the hosts that he had just stayed with, as he knew it would make things easier for us. In Europe I know a number of travel-obsessed or alternative people whose homes are open to any hitchhiker or cyclist who comes along – you don’t need to be on a hospitality exchange website with a "profile" and "references" to stay there. I personally would really like my own home to be such a place, so I keep my phone number on my WS profile and encourage guests to share it with whatever other travelers they think are coming this way.

So, when you began to ask questions, it may be that they realized there was a misunderstanding, that you weren't such a universally welcoming host after all, so they decided to simply say "Thanks" and make other arrangements. That's just my guess. Did you write to your earlier guest and express your chagrin that he gave your phone number out?

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Must admit, I am not "such a universally accepting" host

Christopher,

While I understand your point about the guest who offered my number (probably trying to be helpful) and possibly the impression I was some sort of Casa de Cyclist (CdC), which I doubt, my point is that the initial communication, which they initiated, was "I'm arriving in a few hours, are you available?" To me, that comes across as impolite and/or rude. I would never ask someone, or even SA's CdCs, that way. Since they did not offer any other information (at bare minimum how many), I felt under no obligation to host. After I said no, I then asked them in the same text about the other info in case I wanted to change my mind or steer them to someone/place who could possibly help, but go no response other than thanks. One did say who offered the number. The guy who offered the number was a nice young Australian. Perhaps I was "not universally welcoming" but I felt there was no politeness (be "welcoming" on their part) in their initial inquiry, only expectation.. No "Hey, I got your number from John Doe. I know it is last minute, but sure would appreciate it if you could host my girlfriend and I (or at least identify who "we" is) tonight. Thanks for considering, Joe Blow", just do you have availability. This is not SA or Europe, nor have I promoted myself as an alternative lodging facility. This is the USA, Again, When in Rome.

Unlike you, I do not desire "whatever other travelers" that come along. I have stayed in some of the alternative lodging facilities during my travels and while most are fine, a couple weere just creepy (blatant drug use, sex in the open, etc.) but they WERE a known alternative facility. This is my _home_, not a hotel or some alternative free lodging facility. I only want guests that will treat my family and home with courtesy, respect, & kindness in exchange for hosting them. It's called Manners and is something some people seem to be missing. Basically, treat others the way you want to be treated.

As you probably know, there can be some rather interesting, bizarre, or just plain totally-opposite-of-you people who tour. I have hosted in my 40 years of riding a wide variety of them. Before there was WS, there was a typed written list that would be mailed (not emailed as this was in the 70s & 80s) quarterly so I have been doing this awhile. Almost every guest we have had has been grateful and courteous. Even if I were a CdC like in SA, I would still expect guests to be have manners.

I did not write the previous guest, he really didn't do anything terribly wrong. However, those that stay with me now, I do ask them that if they meet another cyclist who THEY feel THEY would host to let the other cyclist know he or she is free to contact me via the WS website. Just show some manners. Best, John

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I daresay that most

I daresay that most communication to an open community begins with those very short questions. Why? First of all, SMS is not a medium conducive to longwinded salutations. Better to just quickly establish whether lodging is available, and then when you get there, then you can introduce yourselves and utter your effusive thanks. Secondly, if you are going by phone numbers received from another cyclist, a lot of such hosts are not even present on site at the time of your stay, or they are very busy and not very interested in interacting with guests. The only reason they stay so enthusiastic about hospex and give out their phone numbers is because they know how to maintain their personal space and not burn out. When touring, we have met several WS superhosts and casas de ciclistas proprietors like this, and I know loads more from other communities. So, why go to the trouble to make a long introduction in your first message if the host might not even particularly care about you?

Some of the people on this forum have very strong demands for politeness. However, it is worth remembering that your standards are not universal. I personally do not see anything impolite about ultra-brief requests. When I get a brief request, invite the person over, find they are pleasant company and appreciative, contributing guests, then who the hell are you to tell me this person is impolite and should have never sent out that first message? "Basically, treat others the way you want to be treated." Well, I definitely want to be treated with a minimum of formality – don't waste my time – and the guest can demonstrate their "politeness" or lack thereof after they get to my home.

"This is not SA or Europe. This is the USA, Again, When in Rome."

This is a curiously defensive response. You think there aren't any such hosts in the US? Many superhosts in Europe and the former USSR are affiliated with the Rainbow Family, with traditions that are ultimately an import from the USA with a dash of local flavour. Granted, I have never cycle-toured in the US, but I have hitchhiked there extensively, and found the same open communities scattered here and there as anywhere else.

Naturally, it's your home, your rules, and your lifestyle and that is all fine, no one is demanding that you be any different. But as I said, I think that the people who messaged you misunderstood how things work in your home. You are misassigning blame here. If someone gets a phone number being passed around, it's completely normal to assume that the host is cool and laid back, maybe even one of those hosts who gets annoyed by guests saying "please" and "thank you" too much. If the host isn't like that, then his phone number shouldn't have been given so freely, and you ought to direct your upset at that initial guest of yours who gave them your number.

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Christopher,

Christopher,

Your thinking gives me a good chuckle, bless your heart! I am not assigning blame. Just saying why I did not accept them, i.e. their lack of manners. I interpreted their limited text as very impolite though I agree they most likely did not mean to be impolite intentionally. Unlike you it seems, it is completely normal for society to expect people to show some local customs and manners regardless of how that person views the world or the person they are dealing wtih. I have traveled the world fairly extensively (51 countries) and not once have I interpreted someone being offended for me attempting to show manners and being polite. Come on, if you try real hard you can say it, the people were impolite. Best to you, John

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This isn't a matter of

This isn't a matter of different countries, this is a matter of different subcultures within those countries. "Not once have I interpreted someone being offended for me attempting to show manners and being polite." Well, come stay at my place, and I would look at you funny for being all formal. I willingly host the occasional middle-aged person with very staid, traditional "manners", but they are definitely my least rewarding guests. I can also still painfully and vividly remember the shame I felt over a decade ago when I first stayed with a hospex superhost, and he rebuked me in front of everyone for my saying "thank you" all the time: he wanted guests at his place to feel like they were in their own home, and being very polite killed the chill-out atmosphere he was aiming for.

"Come on, if you try real hard you can say it, the people were impolite."

As I said above, who the hell are you to tell me what I should feel about guests that I myself would have no problem dealing with?

I would expect you to have more understanding of the diversity of views in hospex. After all, you yourself write on your profile that you understand that guests are tired and you let them go do their own thing after dinner, while there are others on this very forum who expect guests to interact with them continually during their stay, and anything less would be rude. Just let people be themselves; if you don't like a request, you can always turn it down, but making judgements about the requester does nothing for the spirit of harmony and tolerance on this network.

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"he rebuked me in front of

"he rebuked me in front of everyone for my saying "thank you" all the time: he wanted guests at his place to feel like they were in their own home, and being very polite killed the chill-out atmosphere he was aiming for."

...hmmm, I obviously wasn't there myself to share that experience and maybe I'm missing some context or your definition of rebuke is milder than I think. But the way you worded it he doesn't strike me as being very chilled-out. Being uptight about someone not being "polite" is really no different than being uptight and sharply criticizing (definition of rebuke) someone for not being "chilled-out" enough. They're all very subjective notions and don't merit rebuking or shaming someone in front of others in most cases.

If someone can't feel "chilled-out" because someone else doesn't live up to their definition of "chilled-out", then maybe they're not as "chilled-out" as they think they are.

...live and let live

...Michelle

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No, in retrospect I was very

No, in retrospect I was very definitely in the wrong. After staying at a lot such hosts over the years, I learned that the specific vibe they aim for is extremely important to the long-term viability of the hosting, to a high thoroughput of guests, and also ensuring the project remains financially self-sustaining. Personally, I don’t mind if a few uptight hosts leave a hospex network because they complain that requesters are impolite. You could never ultimately rely on or trust those hosts anyway. But to lose a place that has hosted hundreds or thousands of people already, and you know they are always there for you? That would be a major blow to the traveling world. So, I am ashamed I acted insufferably towards that host and rocked the boat.

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Christopher,

Christopher,

You are as bad as I am when it comes to telling (judging) people how they should feel about the guests. Anyway, manners and being laid back vs. formal have nothing in common. You can have manners and be the most laid back easy going person in the world and you could be the most formal, etiquette bound, "staid, traditional" person and be a total jerk wiht no manners. Politeness and manners are never wrong. The example you gave is that you tried to do the polite thing and say thank you. The host publically rebuked (awfully harsh and poor manners) you and you adopted his wishes since it was his facility. You did the right thing. However, you are judging me as well but you fail to see that or are just hypocritical. Maybe you accept EVERY request, if so glad that works for you. I do not. I make some JUDGEMENT calls as to whom I will accept into my home. However, one very basic and generally accepted criteria in almost every situation by the vast majority of the world is to be polite.

I will let you get the last word, as I am now done debating with you whether the OP was wrong in his perception. In my opinion, he was perfectly right, the request was impolite.. If you disagree, that is what makes the world a cool place to go tour and meet others different than you.

Again, I wish you the best, John

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Basically, treat others the way you want to be treated.

Quote:"Basically, treat others the way you want to be treated."

Great proverb, great attitude in daily life.
I love that principle!

However, this only works if two people are in equal, or comparible situations.
A host and a guest are actually in an opposite situation.
The host offers hisher place confirming his idea´s and rules clearly described in the host's profile.
The guest accepts this host’s way of hosting.
Result: Two happy people in most cases. (Hurray for WS…!)

If this same guest is a host at home, he/she probably can have quite different, own idea’s, rules about hosting, also clearly described in the profile.

We, my partner and I, speak from our own, long experience.
We really don’t care what the host offers.
We often live on a minimum life style on the road and accept without any problem any minimum by a WS-host.
However, if I accept a WS-guest, I use “my way of hosting”.
And that is not “any minimum”. Clearly described in our profile and I don't want to change it.

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Just a thought

"Good manners never go out of style"

Philip Robinson
Seattle, WA

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Looks like ppl confuse airbnb

Looks like ppl confuse airbnb with couchsurfng/warmshowers a lot. They actualy asked you as if you are a hotel. Insane