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Hosting unidentified travelers

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WS Member ユーザー Marcmkkoy の写真
Hosting unidentified travelers

I've gotten a few direct messages on my cellphone from people wanting me to  host, but when I ask for their WS username or profile page they go silent. I asked one person for a copy of their ID to verify them and they became indignant that I would ask for that.

Does anyone else get requests from people who can't be verified as WS members, and is it a bad idea to take people in who can't be verified as WS members?


Marc MkKoy

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WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Putting your phone contact

Putting your phone contact directly on your profile is certainly convenient for tourers to get in touch easily and there are members who do almost all of their arrangements by phone and sometimes never see the profiles of their guests. I would probably lean towards verifying profiles, as for ID that is entirely within your right to ask for - if people want to get indignant then they can look for somewhere else to stay.

As always the decision is yours as the host, just make everything clear on your profile so members know what to expect beforehand.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
If they are not willing to

If they are not willing to tell you their warmshowers name and profile page then I would feel there is something not quite right and would decline. Any genuine guest would have no problem with that. Everyone we have ever hosted has always had loads of good feedback.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
No phone number listed

Due to getting three such requests from non-WS members, I decided to remove my number as I have no way look into them via their profile.  They must contact me via the website then I give them my phone number when I confirm I am available.  Two out of the three were perfectly fine but one was a little sketchy (could host for only 1 night and became downright mad I could not do two or more nights) so that is why we deleted our phone number.  I now tell guests specfically to refer people they meet to WS and not give out my number.

I would say the vast majority of touring cyclists are fine (like most people).  However, since the stakes are much higher (compared to meeting them on the road) when they are in my home, with my family, and I have no way of "vetting" them without WS, I will not accept non-WS guests unless one of the other hosts in the region that I know has personally vouched for them.  That is something you should consider doing.  Introduce yourself to other hosts in a 75 riding mile radius.  That way if a non-WS rider comes through, I can text or call the next hosts before they leave and let them know my opinion on whether they should host or not since several hosts in my area are single women.  Conversely, they let me know this rider is OK to host.

Best, John

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
re: Hosting unidentified travelers

hello Mr MkKoy, 

I do not include my phone # on my public data-listing, so I cannot reply directly to your question.  I have been a host (& will again when I finally land) so here's my opinion -- 

it's your house, you get to let in, or not let in, anyone you choose to.  I have offered my spare room to non-WS guests.  that is rare.  if someone just contacted me out of the blue requesting a place to stay a few nights, and they were not a WS member, I would turn them down.  and I think requesting a look-see at some id is a great idea!  

"know your boundaries & stick too 'em".  that's what I say.  

tailwinds, Gerhardt Quast 

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Identifying potential guests

While we've got our phone number listed on our profile, we've not had the kind of problem you describe, but I would consider removing it if it became a problem

I have pushed back on more than one requester through the WS site that had very new or sparse profiles. In more than one case, when I asked for more background or suggested a profile photo, they didn't follow up the request, so I suspect there was something fishy about the requests.

As others have pointed out, it is your home, you get to decide who is welcome.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Don’t assume that if someone

Don’t assume that if someone doesn’t stay after you ask for their profile, then they must be some kind of evildoers. I’d like to think I am a trustworthy guest and a valued contributor to WS as a host, but I myself would avoid staying with any host who asked for my profile in response to an SMS request.

Why? Because if the host is naturally so suspicious of his guests, then I think that augurs badly for the stay. When I stay with another cyclist, I want to feel at ease like I am among old friends – just like I hope guests feel in my home, I don’t want to constantly have the feeling that the host is wary of me. Being under scrutiny like that is no fun on holiday. So, I’d prefer to just stealth camp that night or check into a hotel instead.

Similarly, demanding guests show ID has always been greatly controversial in the hospitality-exchange community for the same reason: why stay with someone who doesn’t even trust you? Plus, in our modern era, people are wary about giving up certain personal details beyond their real name – some of those suspicious hosts even insist on retaining a scan of your ID. Now, certain travelers might allow a huge impersonal corporation like AirBnB to have that kind of scan, but a lot of travelers feel it is ill-advised to let an ordinary host have that info, especially if the traveler is a female.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真

I don't assume they are evildoers. I simply have no information. I'm not so naive to think that is a good idea, that's all.

I'd love to start off with an air of old friends, which is why I'd want to read up a bit and inform myself of some of what the potential guest has been up to. I'd like to hit the ground running, so to speak, and have a basis for starting conversations.

I don't want government ID (which can be forged), or even need a real given name. I'm looking for a reputation within the WS community, which is a community I trust. Someone could have registered with WS under a pseudonym and I'd be fine with that and would respect that if they had built a positive reputation around that pseudonym.

Have fun in your anonymity in your bush camp.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
" I'm not so naive to think

"I'm not so naive to think that is a good idea, that's all."

There are other successful hospitality-exchange communities out there with no profiles or references, just a common cause and a list of names and mobile phone numbers or e-mail addresses. I have also been active in that broader hospex community for years and from what I have seen, the risks there are not significantly greater than on WS with its profiles and references. Indeed, WS was itself nothing more than a list of names and contact information at one point.

It is one thing if a host like yourself prefers a network like WS with more information available. But I think it is out of order to disparage other, more welcoming hospex activists by using words like "naive".

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
This ain't one of them

"There are other successful hospitality-exchange communities out there with no profiles or references, just a common cause and a list of names...."  Christopher, for some odd reason you keep thinking WS is like "other hospitaly-exchange communities".  Please, quit trying to disparage and change WS into something it is not.  It is a reciprocal BICYCLE TOURING hospitality exchange plain and simple. It is not, and hopefully never will be, a "welcome one & all" hospitality exchange.  As you so frequently point out, there are other hospex groups out there.  If you don't like WS the way it is and don't volunteer your time and resources to improve it (other than negative forum responses), you can always leave.

WS is a special hospex niche for touring cyclists who are members of its reciprocal community.  The OP was asking about WS members or at least people representing themselves as members, not some other hospex, so keep the answers relavent to WS, not just disparage, once again, WS.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
John, when WS has a known

John, when WS has a known problem retaining active hosts, your continual insistence that someone who has some criticisms about how WS is running should just leave, is destructive to the network that you claim to love. Do you want cyclists to have even less of a chance of actually staying with a host while they are on tour?

"It is a reciprocal BICYCLE TOURING hospitality exchange plain and simple."

Where have I ever talked about non-bicycle-tourers anywhere in my posts? Naturally, WS’s niche is that it is for bicycle touring. WS and its hosts can obviously remain focused on touring, while still noting how other communities have solved common problems.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
"trouble retaining active

"trouble retaining active hosts"? I'm not aware of that problem, but if it is the case, maybe it is because there are guests from other communities out there who don't seem to understand this culture of community reputation.

I've had only fantastic experiences with all the guests I've hosted who were generally upfront about sharing who they are, and the ones I've asked for a bit more information found other accomodations.

Seems to be working great for us. We are responsive and not overloaded hosts. I don't see the problem.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
"'trouble retaining active

"'trouble retaining active hosts'? I'm not aware of that problem"

This has been the subject of a large number of posts on the WS forum over the last year or so. Cyclists are complaining that they cannot find hosts, some have noted that response rates are steadily falling across the network. You can click around on the map and find that even many hosts who once seemed very active judging from the amount of feedback they collected, now have reply rates so low that cyclists shouldn't even bother contacting them.

"if it is the case, maybe it is because there are guests from other communities out there who don't seem to understand this culture of community reputation."

No, that has very little indeed to do with it. But read further in the forum and you’ll see this problem discussed in greater depth.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
I don't think that I (or any

I don't think that I (or any WS hosts) are naturally suspicious, but I like to know who is coming for dinner. If people only send an SMS message without properly introducing themselves, I think that is rather rude. 

Unfortunately, the new website does not make it easy. I cannot find where to send or read messages on my android on the web interface..

WS Member ユーザー Marcmkkoy の写真
Thanks for the input.

All good advice, but I have to say it should not reflect negatively on a host who wants to confirm a contact by an alleged WS members is, in-fact, a WS member. I don't think it's unreasonable to suspect someone could not have gotten my information and someone who has not taken measures to register at WS would want to use it for whatever reason. Anyone who contact a WS host about accomodations, representing themselves to be a WS member, should not be surprised when the host asks for their username/page. A random, "I'm passing through and want to stay at your house. I'm a member at WS."

Anyone could make a claim of being a WS member. I see nothing wrong with verifying. I could not even find the last person's email on WS, even though he swears it's there. That would be anissue with the site I guess. Thanks for the input.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
I see nothing wrong with verifying.

My father always simply stated: 
If things are ok, they may be checked.
If things are not ok, they have to be checked.

In other words: what do you have to hide as a friendly, trustworthy WS-guest? A host checking up data is by his/her action not less friendly either. Openness on both sides. WS loves open minds, open views, open identities, open interactions, open discussions, clear communication.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
But why would someone lie

But why would someone lie about being a WS member? In spite of manual "verification" of new signups, it has proven so easy for even malicious actors to create a WS account. Just look at the mass spam we got a few weeks ago, or that American thief-on-a-fatbike ("Matthew Ray" or whatever his name is) who has gone through a number of different profiles already.

If someone calls you at the number that you yourself decided to post on your profile, and they say that they are a WS member, the odds are overwhelming that they really are one. Now, whether they are trustworthy or not is something that you would have to decide for yourself after that.

Incidentally, I found that in West Africa and South America, cyclists often passed phone numbers of former hosts on. That is, you’d meet someone cycling in the other direction and he would say, "Are you going to town X? I just stayed there. Here is the phone number of my host there." A guest who gets your number that way probably won’t even mention WS, he’ll probably just say "I got your number from [name of former guest]".

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
...whether they are trustworthy or not....

...whether they are trustworthy or not is something that you would have to decide for yourself...

This is in my opinion the best sentence around the discussion. WS-members are a reflection of international society and whatever their legal principles are, it's quite common in our western culture to act accordingly.

During one of our US-trips a WS-host, not home for that night,  told us where the key of his house was. We could use his bedroom and all the other luxury...  Amazing example about trust!

The " American thief-on-a-fatbike ("Matthew Ray", as mentioned by Chris C., is the other extremity.

Freedom!  Check members or do not check them. All legitimate, personal preference.

Internet/Google is flooded by very personal information which is spread voluntarily (!) by people themselves.

A few mouse clicks and most members are an open book, presented by themselves.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
An important feature of

An important feature of warmshowers is host and rider feedback.  If someone doesn't want to give their username than most likely they worn't be leaving a feedback.
Not saying that you shouldn't host them but at this point they are not a warmshowers member.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真

This now comes to personal safety and commons sense.  If you can not verify a person's profile, do not set yourself up for a greater potential risk.  

I understand that for some people hosting in the middle of nowhere, there is going to be a certain level of trust just in the fact that someone has taken the effort to travel to your corner of the world.  That is not the case for those living in urban areas and on popular routes.  As trustworthy as we would like to be, not everyone is worthy of our trust.  Protect yourself.  I would not even advise hosting someone who does not have a clear profile picture.

And YES, ALWAYS LEAVE FEEDBACK.  This is an important "paper trail" and also helps you communicate reliability to other members.

WS Member ユーザー の写真

I have made the mistake just recently of allowing some one to call and not getting there name.  we were out of town but allowed him to use our house because it was brutal hot and rain storms coming.  we communicated several time via text and he did talk with our neighbor.  my irritation was that he didnt even leave a note of thanks or aknowledge he stayed here.  nothing was amiss but I did feel a bit taken advantage of and have only a phone number of proof.  My bad for not getting a name or verification on warm showers. 

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
By all means, do what keeps

By all means, do what keeps you safe, and let people know in advance what you require.  They can accept it or leave, especially if they know before they arrive.  Even when they arrive, both the host and guest should feel safe and happy or neither will enjoy the stay.   

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Timely Top

I came to the forum due to an experience I had this week that fit this thread exactly. We both tour and use WS as guests, and host When we are home. Hosts have told us (especially this year) that they need to check our profile. No problem. We have a descriptive profile. I also then provide our blog link as well. 

Last week we allowed a WS guest to enter our home 5 hours before we returned home. No problem. A few days ago, we invited a WS guest who got our name from another tourer to stay, and  to join us in plans we had for the night. We checked his profile before agreeing to host him, and he knew we were doing that. 

We have also invited tourers we meet on the street home to stay. 

So here is what happened. We got a request a few days ago that said not much more than that he needed a place and was touring trans am for a charity. Profile was equally vague. I said  we could not host him, and told him why. He had the opportunity to give us more info. Instead, he first sent a message saying he had a place and lots of followers. I figured he had a place and that was the end of it. 2 days later I got another message from him telling me we deserved bad karma because we didn’t host someone traveling cross country for a charity. He went on - continuing to say mean things around the idea that we HAD to host all requests. I politely responded telling him to read warm shower guidelines, that I didn’t need to invite anyone into my home if I wasn’t comfortable, and wished him luck in his travels. Today he sent another message saying he has stayed with WS all over the country for a week or a few days - to hell with profiles (his words) - etc. I simply told him not to contact me again. 

I take pride in our excellent feedback as both guest and host and was quite upset by this interaction. Has anyone else refused hospitality and had such an angry response. BTW., this is the 1st time we were available and said no to a tourer. We both felt uncomfortable and think we were proven correct!

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Did I mention he had 0

Did I mention he had 0 feedback?

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真

Looking at his rude reactions you may give him a negative feedback with the facts. On his turn he can write down his point of view at your profile. Members need to know both sides. Although we all present ourselves in different ways, there are worldwide accepted rules of decency.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Giving negative feedback

i considered this. At this point, I just decided it was not worth continuing any interaction. BTW., I am in a small town. I believe I saw him riding here yesterday - about 4 days after he requested for. I recognized him from his photo. I never really saw the importance of the photos before.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
...I just decided it was not worth continuing any interaction.

Feedback is valuable for others to get enough information about the person involved. Especially about this doubtful WS-member, whose profile seems not very clear. Enough reason to give us your opinion.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
first feedback negative might lead to account self-deletion

If the first feedback a member has is negative, it might lead to that member to delete their own account and start over. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since it resets their startup time, but may also lead to a fake account name and photo, which will be even more obvious for the next host who will post negative feedback.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
More polite the second time around

 If a member deletes their account and create another, hopefully they will be more polite and respect full the second time around. 



WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
This is why I think it is

This is why I think it is important that any hospitality-exchange host frequently read the forums. There has already been word of a strange cyclist in the USA going around “for charity” and being unpleasant. If I had got the request you did, I would have simply refused without even explaining why.

Unless you are trying to be apologetic that you cannot host because of a schedule conflict, “explaining why” isn’t usually worthwhile. If you tell someone you won’t host them because of some detail in their profile (or their lack of any profile details), often you will just get some bitter, insulting remarks back. Better to just answer “No, sorry, I can’t host at that time” and move on.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
No explanation necessary

i agree. Other hosts had told me they look for a profile with information about the person, so I thought I was being helpful. I did not include any explanations in further communications - and will not in the future, if I ever refuse again. This was a first for me (refusing a request) and I made the right choice.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
something’s not right...

We too have used the vague “sorry we are unable to host you at this time”.   When I get that weird feeling, I don’t even want to engage in any way.  Just today a request came from a “West Norton” who’s been a member for five days and had no identifying items in the profile (feedback? past biking journeys? home town? photo?) - all the things I usually look for.  Even how he phrrased his request seemed off. Something didn’t add up to me after having hosted a hundred or more guests in eight years of hosting.  I actually came to the forum to look for warnings posted about this individual.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
That's fine, you're the host

That's fine, you're the host it's your choice, but publishing the name of the member on this thread when he has done nothing more than give you a feeling something was off doesn't seem fair.

WS Member ユーザー Solaranarchist の写真
Hi Marc, yes today someone

Hi Marc, yes today someone called and said its 3 guys on bikes, and if i can receive them in  2 days from now. They come from a different country than my last guest but claimed they are 'friends' of his. I first was shocked that my last guest shared my telephone number with ''friends'' he meets onthe road (i assume the word friend here is used ''oh we met and chated at that hostel for a day or two...) and he told them they can call me instead of sending normal warmshower request. I was just SHOCKED at the lack of respect of my private data and myself in the end. My last guest knows very well i live in a tiny flat that barely has space for 2 ppl. He gave my number to them , them being THREE guys cyling together and on telephne they said they want lodging for all 3://://://  He didnt attach profiles links to the other two travellers so if i hosted them, i only see the profile of one of them. Is that safe for a woman living alone???? Most cyclists are nice and cultured people but I have to be a bit careful of my own safety? He doesnt care since he didnt attach the profiles in his application and for that application alone he was not so happy when i asked it in lieu of just calling me up and saying 'hey im friend of your last guest and i arrive with my 2 friends in 2 days are you able to host us?''?

I was not happy. I did answer though 'can you send a normal request via warmshowers and i will reply you there'.Just curious to see if aside being 'friends' with my last guest, does he and his other 2 co-cyclists have profiles in warmshowers ? He immediately did that but his voice went not-so enthusiastic so he didnt like that i asked a normal requests (hwy not????).

His profile has all positive refs.....  but i still cannot accommodate 3 ppl in one tiny flat/studio, plus personal reasons , so I declined.

But then also send an email to my otherwise perfect guest that he should not share my telephone with ANYONE i dont care how friends they are.. This was upsetting and my guest replied he will stop doing that but added a line I think could be interpreted in a not so happy way 'I thought you enjoyed hosting people'.   Oh?  should i feel guilty now for saying no?

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
You could also interpret that

You could also interpret that sentence in a positive way. Your guest enjoyed staying at your place and thought that you would enjoy hosting another guest.  

But of course you should not feel guilty. Especially when they came as a group of three.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Only getting requests to host when the app is overloaded.

The only requests I have received were during periods when the mobile app had to be de-activated. The first time in 2018 I got a request through the WS website but then the guy continued to SMS me even when I insisted he only use the website messenger. I researched the guy in social media. He was a local person with videos on YouTube and his words to me were pepprerd with verbatum passages from his videos.showing the local houses he had been squatting in and other local activities in the weeks before contacting me. He portrayed a small history of overnight cycling ,but was not on a tour. He had just ended a temporary job locally and his profile picture changed from a very grainy photo of a photo to one of him with his full size motorcycle after our initial set of conversations. Neither photo adequately portrayed his appearance. He contacted me again about the time the app went dark again last month. I reminded him I would only communicate with him through the WS interfaces...silence.  I find value in the community. I only wish I had known of Warmshowers before my 2015 tour in Indiana and Michigan. 

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Today people text as opposed

Today people text as opposed to email.  I have gotten a couple of requests to host via text message and on both occasions I have asked them to make the request through Warmshowers.  That has been done each time and I then replied both through WS and via text.  So far there have been no problems with that method.

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