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Vetting potential guests

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

My experiences with WS have so far been positive, but there is always the possibility of an unpleasant or incompatible guest coming to stay which may make for an awkward stay. I've also hosted people from Couchsurfing, and the experiences there have been more negative than positive, so I am far more selective in allowing people to stay from CS.

Do you do anything to try and ensure that potential guests will work out? Is it appropriate to ask that they provide you with interesting stories from the road? (Because this is the only thing that I really want from them.) Entertain me!

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真

I had an occasion once to decline a potential guest's request simply because he was very new on WS and had little information posted. So, I made a point of riding out to meet him, tho he didn't know it. After a few minutes of visiting John and his dog, we were riding to my house together. He had not read my response to his request.

Ppl who expect to be hosted should have enough info on their bio page for the host to get a decent idea of who they'll be hosting. With my first email contact, I include a link to my CGOAB stuff.

Googling a name often produces interesting info, tho the odds of getting a hit on a potential guest are slim.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Vetting guests

I also take the time to view their WS profile before saying yes and look for links to blogs or websites where they are posting about their trip. Another technique I use is to only offer out tenting in our back yard, but then offer indoor accommodations if all seems well after we meet. This is especially important to me if my spouse is not home at the time of the stay.

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

All valid points.
Another one is if the guest has stayed at a few places, but the hosts have left no comment. That would be suspicious.

It may be a good idea and email the other hosts first to get a "real" comment.

We too live in the middle of nowhere and oddly, have had quite a few guests, most very good. We have learned to read between the lines of profiles and previous stays.

From now on we do say, a one day limit, to cover ourselves and would know within an hour if it'd OK for them to stay longer.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
No comments, suspicious?

Hmm... I just do not understand that logic.

Particularly in light that MANY hosts have been members for a very long time and still have no comments... and have proven to be wonderful and experienced WS hosts when I visited them.

Also when somone is new to WS, it takes time to acquire recommendations, pro or con, so by boycotting those without comments because of your own 'suspiciousness'... you basically negate their potential good intent and hospitality.

By the way... the only "sketchy" hosts I ever had came with several glowing recommendations... go figure.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
I agree with Kathryn

I completely agree with Kathryn.

I joined WS about 1 year and 6 months back, but never got an opportunity to host anyone, though, interacted a bit with few guests/cyclists, but our timings didn't match.

One WS member I recently hosted, was not through WS but through

First guests/cyclists from WS I'm going to host probably from today, a couple requested me to be their host, they are coming from France.

I turned down two guys from Canada, who would have come after few days from now on, because they were 20 year olds, and their email clearly let me know that they were not quite genuine

So, the point is, we do get very less chances of hosting someone through WS, so references are not there mostly on members profiles. Even a couple which I'm going to host from today have only one reference.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
negative feedback

This is definitely a problem and I can't think of any way to deal with it. Does anyone have any ideas?

I've had three negative experiences on WS (all of which have stuck in my head) and about 100 positive ones (most of which I don't remember). What kind of feedback would YOU give when a guest -

1. is lovely and friendly, but was a health nut and made me feel uncomfortable when he was talking about cruelty to cows as I got the yoghurt out of the fridge.

2. tried his hardest to be nice but just annoyed me to heck - he started talking as he came in the door and didn't stop until after he left. US politics mostly, and a lot of inane comments on my country. I'm sure others would have loved him. I didn't.

3. two guests arrived and it was VERY clear that they had just had a major argument - one was morose but tried to be polite, (not very successfully) the other was rude and I noticed her crying once or twice.

In none of these cases would I want to leave negative comments - they weren't "unpleasant" enough guests - , but nor would I want other people to have to put up with them.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Hi Kathy

Last experience of mine was bad too, sorry to know that you also have had a bad experience, but I think, leaving negative will only create more tensions and problems for us as well as them.

For future, what I have thought and implemented is, I'll just host 1 guest at a time from now on, instead of hosting 2(couple). Maybe you can host 1 person too and edit your profile to select only 1 person to host.

My first experience with a Warmshower member was great, though, I hosted him through another community, as he was single.

This gave me an idea after I thought that if one guest is there, chances of personalization is more, as we both give more attention to each other rather than the guest getting distracted with their partner or me getting distracted and/or unable to handle 2 guests well enough.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
There is always the "neutral" option in feedback.

One of the things the designers of the new site attempted to build into the system was greater flexibility. In the past we only had "recommendations," which carried the connotation of, well, recommending only.

Now we have "feedback" with positive / neutral / negative options. Those three options are only a top level description so members can see, in one glance, how another member is perceived by the community.

Those positive / neutral / negative ratings have to be supplemented by our own text comments. These text comments flesh out the positive / neutral / negative rating, just as these comments provide a better understanding of the situation.

Out of the 60-some tourists I've hosted, a few were neutrals - minor behavior things that irked me but nothing beyond that. In the future I may have to leave "neutral" feedback. When I do, I'll be sure to write why I'm doing so.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
partially negative and completely negative

Hi Kathy,

I just joined Warm Showers and I'm trying to figure out the rules and people’s expectations of me when I will be someone's guest. I just read your forum post on vetting potential guests. It sounds like a lot of people will write positive reviews for someone, unless they are an outright thief, con artist, abusive, violent or a criminal. I agree with your sentiment, that it would be good to have another category for reviewers to use, when they find the person unpleasant company, rude or are just using them for a place to stay. Maybe, they could have four levels of experience instead of three.

3.partially negative
4.completely negative

Then, partially negative would not work against them so dearly or make them feel like it was the death of their membership with Warm Showers. It also wouldn't make the host feel unsafe or awkward to write a 'partially negative' feedback. Hosts would be dissuaded from writing a completely negative feedback on a member, because it might come back to haunt them. I don't expect anyone to follow this suggestion. I'm just writing an idea down.

I'm a long-term vegetarian myself, so I don't have much sympathy for you regarding situation no.1. I don't want to try to punish anyone for being honest. But, I guess if you have no sympathy for any animal suffering or any of the nastiness in the industry, if you tell your guest that and he is intelligent, he will realize that all his talk will fall on deaf ears and maybe he wouldn't waste his breath.

For situation no.2, I think most people find talking to help ease uncomfortable silences. Did you try to set him at ease and let him know that you wouldn't be critical of him if he just relaxed a little? For situation no.3, it didn't sound like it was an attack against you. I don't see what was so awful about it that you would hope to warn other guests about them.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
non member

I received a phone call from a man who got my phone number from WarmShower. I agreed to host but now that I am trying to research his referrals, I do not know if he is a member. Should I be nervous? The only member that showed up with his name is supposedly on a trip in Europe (Sept). Is there a forum I can go to if this goes wrong so I can let potential hosts know to watch out for this contact?

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Hi Anne

Hi Anne,

I will like to ask you here, as to which country code was it of that phone call? Did the phone number start from 91?

There are many Indian underworld guys along with their counterparts in different countries these days since some years, who joined CS(Couchsurfing), and then scattered on other hospex communities too. So please beware of them.

I want to ask you and other Hosts here, is it required for all of us to leave our phone numbers so openly for anyone to call us and misuse our phone details??

I think, it is dangerous for anyone to leave their phone numbers on their profiles. It will be better, if we can provide our phone numbers after some interaction via emails on warmshowers before giving our phone numbers.

Don't interact with that person again, who is not searchable and not found on Warmshowers. Also, try not to host or interact with people with new warmshowers profile as they could have just built the profile on warmshowers to satisfy their vested interests.

I recently turned down a request from 2 Canadian guys, who built up their profile recently and sent me a request, which exposed them to me very easily.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Evil doers

No doubt WS and CS are both ripe for plucking by resourceful, determined crooks. Have to a very determined crook to go to the trouble of showing up on a bicycle. Easier for Couch Surfers.

Might be a bit cautious about a newer WS member with sketchy info/no feedback. My post near the top talks about how I did that with one guest. Worked out just fine.

If I should get a call from a potential guest, I'll tell him/her upfront that I'll get back after vetting on WS. If not enough info there, I'll call and offer to meet the rider somewhere neutral before committing. If still uncomfortable, I'll offer to show him a good spot to camp.

Always best to email a potential host before phone contact.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
After nearly 13 yrs of

After nearly 13 yrs of hosting, my experiences are for the most part positive. Even the encounters that are not the typical..I don't fault a WS member for being new or not having any feedback. My thinking is that if they *are* new, maybe they are a clean slate and will develop good guest practices from having a good stay here. I share stories about previous travelers and subjects vary..Usually, the payoff for me, is the great spirited conversations. (We avoid topics about religion and politics...can get too polarized)
Had a rider here yesterday who was absolutely a negative. I am a mid way point in rural area, so it's not uncommon for riders to ask if they can take a rest day here. But this rider was not riding his bike much..he was just using his bike for short rides to his next place to crash...No conversation, horrible table manners, stayed on his iPhone in our presence. And the clincher was that he lied about his previous Warmshowers stay with another host (a friend of mine) and then I find out he stayed *there* 4 days. I confronted him about the blatant lie..I asked "why did you lie?" and he just avoided, and lied some more..
I do what I do here with a good heart and open mind..this guy obviously somehow thought that Warmshowers was just something for him to use like a homeless shelter. This morning I knocked firmly on his door, announced that it was not presently raining and that it was now 7am and I wanted him out by 8am. He was gone in less than 15 minutes and didn't bother to say goodbye, no thanks, no apology, no nothing.
This is all so weird because his blogspot is well written and from that writing, he seemed like he would be a pleasant, albeit novice guest. I did notice that he tended to stay longer at hosts than usual, but this time of year in New Orleans, (Mardi Gras) that's not unusual.
I host hundreds of cyclists a year..and I'll be glad when some good company shows up and reminds me why I do this..
His account is now deleted. He is riding in the southern part of the country, presently. His initials are S. M.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
Blog Info


Do you feel comfortable posting the url to his blog so others can check him out?

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
I was Sam Miller's host in

I was Sam Miller's host in Baton Rouge, the one Perry refers to when she says, ". . . he lied about his previous Warmshowers stay with another host . . .."

Here is the URL to Sam's blog:

A word of caution - he writes very differently than he acts.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
That would be a huge

That would be a huge UNDERSTATEMENT.. He DOES write very differently than he acts. Somewhere in that blog there is a link to his writing, the one that he writing as a project and it is deranged babble..

There is something strange about this guy. I don't know if it's drugs, or pychosis, or some sense of entitlement, or just plain bad manners, or a combination of all of the above.
But regardless, he is on the wrong path to be a cycling tourist..I personally think he is more akin to a wandering, aimless bum hoping to stumble on a writing career..and I personally think he read on the internet about WS and said "Aha...that's how I'm going to eat and sleep my way" But I also think that he has no social skills. No skills or even desire, to "connect" with others...

When I had concrete proof that he lied about about his previous stay, and I point blank asked him why he lied about staying FOUR stays at "mayabikedude" in Baton Rouge, the guy didn't flinch..The scary part of all this is that he was perfectly comfortable being dishonest. Now, in his defense, here he is in the home of a middle aged woman who has suddenly got her hackles up. But...I call 'em like I see 'em. Always.

I would love to be a fly on the wall and see how this guy progresses.. I love people, I love learning new ways to see things and events and reactions..and my gut has always served me well..

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
I think I have figured one of

I think I have figured one of the components that I *missed*.
Yes, I read his profile, yes, I read his blog..well written, no overt warning signs.. his traveling, he NEVER mentions his hosts. And in light of the fact that he stays multiple days (over a week at the Mardi Gras season in New Orleans) I did not pick up on the omission. I should have. He stayed long term (in bicycle touring terms) and never had anything to say about his hosts. Does this wretch realize what an effort it is to open your home to strangers? It is usually a pleasant effort and very rewarding.

And prior to his arrival, I DID check his Warmshowers feedback, but only two lukewarm positives. While he was here, and I checked his feedback again, the less favorable review showed up. That's when the proverbial sh** hit the fan.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
I ask people to friend me on

I ask people to friend me on Facebook or show me their ID on arrival. No idea how smart this policy is, but seemed reasonable to me. I hope to be friends with guests, but my better half is nervous about this concept, so I don't promise a bed, just tent space in our large yard, or spot on our country porch. Only had one guest, a polite xc rider who was also an Iraq vet.

I knew the Cookie Lady for 30 years, and wish I was as naturally hospitable as she was- what a fearless soul she was.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
facebook? Why would that matter?

I dont do those "make it up/say whatever" sites, maybe because I prefer a more selective audience and depend on warmshowers profiles as being more focused... but I have no problem showing my ID if someone ever actually asked.

I keep updating my ws profile as I go and usually have a current, recognizable photo for such a purpose... something I do wish more hosts would tend to also... vetting does work both ways... even when there is a lack of "feedback" available.

Isnt that why we have the profiles function in the first place?

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真
Good point

You're right of course, facebook is an awfully silly place, and a good profile here would be a big help. Then again, a brand new profile with no details doesn't mean the person isn't a terrific guest, either.

In general, it would be nice to establish a comfort level with each other. I don't care how you vote, or if you FB-LIKE something, so maybe I should change what I am saying there... but... this is my family, and this is my home. I want everyone to feel safe, so I absolutely don't want this to be anonymous. If someone won't tell me who they are because they don't trust us - golly, why do they want to be here with us?

40(?) years ago, I met two young, exhausted women with full panniers on tour on a wet day as I was getting on my bike to go home. My home was 20+ miles away, so I loaned them my office for the night (sole proprietor) after maybe 10 minutes of chatting. I had to ride back home, so I took off. When I arrived back at work the next day, I found a sweet note expressing their gratitude. It was easier for me to trust them than it was for them to trust me - I get that. I can still see one of their faces looking at me sideways, and I just said "Hey, please just decide either way, I won't be mad, but I need to hit the road." They were embarrassed and said OK, but it made sense that they would doubt me, I understood completely. It took faith. I am glad they did, as they were able to get out of the weather and walk to a nice diner. Nothing special, just able to relax. Kinda wished I could have stayed and chatted with them, they probably had some stories I will never hear.

Anyway, sorry to drone on, my age is showing. Is my request for ID too impersonal a request? I feel like the only ones who REALLY don't want to tell me who they are might not have very good intentions. Am I being a grumpy old geezer now? Hmm, maybe. Should I rely on the profile here being vetted and accurate?

I appreciate your candor.

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真
vetting guests

i have been hosting for 3 riding seasons now. A total of 25 folks so far.
i can honestly say that i have enjoyed everyone of their stays. They would all be welcome
again if they pedal this by here again.
I would also add that most of them i have agreed to host before i read any reviews about them, some have not had reviews because they are new to WS, others I have read their profile after I agreed to host them.
Maybe it is because of my location, the riders that ask to stay are geniune long distance pedalers and if they have the ambition to get this far, I know they are going to be someone i would enjoy inviting into my home.
I have never regretted joining WS and opening my home to folks with the gumption to explore the USA by bike.

Unregistered ユーザー anon_user の写真

To combat the entitlement culture that is a seeming trend in the making, we are being adamant that we are guaranteeing a safe place to camp and a warm shower. We do not pay for food and we do not do laundry any more. There has been too much abuse of these things that we have significantly put the brakes on that activity. Personal manners are a high priority with us. If you're rude and cavalier with what we offer, there is the door. Don't let it hit you in the butt on the way out. --John& Donetta Demirjian, Las Cruces, New Mexico

WS Member ユーザー WS Member の写真

I recently updated my profile with this:

On initial contact, please have verifiable references such as an active WS account, an internet journal, FB page, phone# of a previous host, etc. Otherwise, I'll want to meet you in a neutral location before agreeing to host.

WS members looking for a host should expect no less, and should provide vetting info on initial contact, especially if their WS profile is new and/or light on info.

BTW, all of our experiences with WS have been positive.

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