Adventure Cycling Association Forum

Bicycle Travel => General Discussion => Topic started by: HobbesOnTour on November 28, 2020, 11:03:31 am

 
Title: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: HobbesOnTour on November 28, 2020, 11:03:31 am
Just to let people know that Warmshowers will be charging for their new app come January.
From their latest email:
1.The new app will be available on both Android and iOS and will allow you to choose a monthly fee or a once a year fee ($2.99 USD or $17.99 USD)."

I find this to be a retrograde step. Many hosts on the platform never have the intention of actually using it for accommodation - they simply want to offer it. Now, they'll have to pay for that privilege!
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: staehpj1 on November 28, 2020, 11:41:22 am
Just to let people know that Warmshowers will be charging for their new app come January.
From their latest email:
1.The new app will be available on both Android and iOS and will allow you to choose a monthly fee or a once a year fee ($2.99 USD or $17.99 USD)."

I find this to be a retrograde step. Many hosts on the platform never have the intention of actually using it for accommodation - they simply want to offer it. Now, they'll have to pay for that privilege!
I have not paid any attention to warmshowers lately.  We had some nuisance members bouncing from host to host basically just living in town and not touring so I set my status as unavailable.  I never used them as a guest much any way.  I am still a member, but have listed myself as away for a few years and have no plans of using them as a guest.  I wonder if it is only the phone app they will be charging for, and if so whether the services will still be available via a web browser without using the app.

I have considered just deleting my account in the past and may eventually do so.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: HobbesOnTour on November 28, 2020, 12:47:26 pm
My understanding is that a membership charge was introduced earlier this year applied to new and recently new members.
I thought that was a retrograde step, but the app charge will apply to everyone. I suppose existing longer term members could still use the web, but probably impractical for many and I wouldn't be surprised if that loophole was closed soon.

I was a host for years and have used it for accommodation just once.
It can be a useful tool for getting local info and I have tried that several times.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of inactive accounts.

 
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: jamawani on November 28, 2020, 04:13:20 pm
I dropped Wamshowers when there was a cyclist who had pled guilty to serious sexual assault charges.
He had been pledge director at a frat and the pledges were brutalized.
When I brought this to the attention of WS, the owner actually responded by saying, "It's not our job."
Although it may not be their job to background check everyone -
When something this serious is brought to their attention - when there are actual court records -
Then I think that is is their job.

I believe they represent the worst of internet ethics.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: staehpj1 on November 28, 2020, 04:45:40 pm
I have basically been inactive and just not bothered to delete my account.  I think the time has come to do so.  It never really worked for me as a guest.  We did have some positive experiences hosting until we moved to Tallahassee.  I thought it would be great hosting here since we are right on the ST and have plenty of space, but alas it didn't work out well.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: adventurepdx on November 28, 2020, 07:25:27 pm
Man, no love for Warmshowers around these parts.

I've been a member for ten years, and have used the service as both a host and guest. Most of the experiences I've had were good. Yes, there were a few "meh" ones and one or two sub-par ones. This is going to happen with the nature of this service. Overall, Warmshowers has been good to me and I've met some cool people through it.

As for the charge: I re-read the announcement they sent this month. My interpretation is that the mobile app will have a fee to use, however, you could still use the web (desktop) version for free. I'm guessing they need to charge a little for the app because it costs money to develop and maintain. They previously had a mobile app, but that doesn't work anymore. Yes, free would be better, but unless they get lots from donations or someone with deep pockets, charging for the app is a necessary evil. Of course, it would be better to contact Warmshowers for clarification about fees rather than complain here.

I'll keep on using Warmshowers (well, when COVID is done). It may not work for others, but that's okay.

Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: hikerjer on November 28, 2020, 09:13:45 pm
I've been a member for years and have hosted a numberof times. It's always been a good experience. Never had much luck as a guest. I think it's a valuable service if run right and $3.00 a month doesn't seem bad if you can use it on a monthly basis.  I'll keep it on the radar for furture tours and see how it plays out.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: Westinghouse on November 29, 2020, 01:56:22 am
Heard of it. Never tried to use it. It sounds like a good concept.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: HobbesOnTour on November 29, 2020, 09:51:57 am
That's shocking about the sexual assault charge! Was that person a host or a tourist? Is there anymore info?

To clarify, a charge was introduced earlier this year for all new members (and some newish ones) across all platforms.
As it stands, as a long standing member, I could, I suppose, use the web as opposed to the app. However, on tour, using a phone, that is unlikely.

I think the principle of charging is just wrong in a "goodwill" inspired community.
I'd have no problem paying - it's the demand to pay I have a problem with. There are lots of free apps out there. I'd have thought a focused app for bike tourers would offer an attractive platform for advertisers. Go ad free and support the community? Sign me up!

In fact, it doesn't "feel" like a community.
When there were app issues previously and people tried to use the Facebook page to communicate that was shut down.

Again, to emphasise this point: Should someone wish to open their doors as a host only, they now have to pay for that privilege. I cannot see how that can be justified.
 
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: staehpj1 on November 29, 2020, 10:47:28 am
As it stands, as a long standing member, I could, I suppose, use the web as opposed to the app. However, on tour, using a phone, that is unlikely.
Not sure I understand why.  Using a web browser on the phone works fine IME.  That said I can see other reasons why you'd choose to not bother.  I know that I bailed on warmshowers myself.

Quote
I think the principle of charging is just wrong in a "goodwill" inspired community.
I'd have no problem paying - it's the demand to pay I have a problem with. There are lots of free apps out there. I'd have thought a focused app for bike tourers would offer an attractive platform for advertisers. Go ad free and support the community? Sign me up!
Yep.

Quote
In fact, it doesn't "feel" like a community.
When there were app issues previously and people tried to use the Facebook page to communicate that was shut down.

Again, to emphasise this point: Should someone wish to open their doors as a host only, they now have to pay for that privilege. I cannot see how that can be justified.
My feelings as well and why I deleted my account.  Additionally it seemed to me as if the guests started to be freeloaders who weren't even on bike tours, but just bouncing around from host to host and overstaying their welcome.  To be fair I had only one of those before I shut down, but I spoke to others here who had the same experience.  I am not positive how much of the change is the location and how much it reflected a change in how things were going with WS but the change came with our move from MD to Tallahassee (a matter of a few hundred yards from the ST).

I never found the service all that useful as a guest largely because I tend to not know where I will stop until I am there.  I found that hosts largely wanted some notice and that is reasonable.  It just didn't fit my needs.  The only time I really know when/where I will be is arrival at the start and that is because of a ticket for a flight, but typically I ride right out of the airport unless it is a late flight (I did stay with someone in a case like that twice, but not via warm showers).  Also when I did try using the service I tended to mail a bunch of hosts ahead of time.  The majority never got back to me.  Of the remainder I felt like I let the majority if not all of them down because I wound up not staying with them.

About the only time I really found them useful was for the rare case where I had some logistical need upon arrival at the start of a tour, like a place to leave my soft case.  That would be an exception for me since my tours are mostly one way and riding right out of the airport, so I use a cardboard box.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: jamawani on November 29, 2020, 01:38:39 pm
The person in question wasn't "charged" he pled guilty to reduced charges.
It was never a question of whether or not this person had a serious record.
He was just out of college riding across country looking for places to stay.
All of the folks who had hosted him said he was great - handsome, charming, etc.
But I did not want to consider hosting anyone who had brutalized young students.

This is precisely the kind of thing that makes online sites like Warmshowers a potential major risk.
One would think that Warmshowers would want to prevent this - but then, one would be wrong.

The fraternity in question, Sigma Chi at the University of Nebraska, was suspended for 4 years.
For "hazing" even though the pledges were sexually assualted by a paid sex worker.
Sorry, but in my book that is the definition of rape.

https://journalstar.com/news/local/unl-suspends-sigma-chi-fraternity-following-hazing-allegations/article_22ca2490-94f6-5ecb-8e17-f157593eeaa1.html

http://www.dailynebraskan.com/news/unl-agrees-to-pay-to-alleged-sigma-chi-fraternity-hazing/article_497c8977-4e01-5a93-b250-62262539fb13.html

BTW - Sigma Chi is back in full swing at NU - it's all old news. Truly disgusting.
And Warmshowers is equally disgusting for basicaly saying "Predator, schmedator."
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: Westinghouse on November 29, 2020, 03:15:10 pm
From what I have experienced so far, my impression is that long distance cyclists are a good bunch of people. But, as the Bible points out so effectively, even the garden of Eden had a snake in it. Why is it so often the case that one person messes things up for everybody else? I am considering doing the ST this winter. I was thinking about using warm showers occasionally, but now I am not so sure. I do not need them and never have. I am a member, but have so far had no experiences. I would readily allow a bicycle tourist to rest here. I have bike tools. A bike shop is close by. Restaurants and food stores are all over But then again, there is that slight element of risk. As for myself, I am not worried about it.

I have not been open to guests lately. An old buddy of mine was in the hospital. He is applying for disability compensation. He worked all his life. He had an operation and was taking prescription meds and antibiotics to protect him from post operation infections. He got out of the hospital in pain with no place to go. I invited him here. I bought him plenty of food and gave him a private bedroom. That lasted 76 days. I took him back to Stuart three days ago. He should be fine.

I have not had any warm shower people contacting me and that may be why, because I have been closed to accepting a guest.

Here is a suggestion. If you are taken in as a guest, give your host $3.00. And I agree 100 % that charging anyone $3.00 a month for extending courtesy and hospitality gratis to a bicycle tourist is  crazy. I noticed WS were looking for donations to keep their operation afloat. Maybe people did not donate. I did not donate. There may be costs involved in keeping that organization going. If they cannot get enough in donations, they have to charge nominal fees.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: adventurepdx on December 03, 2020, 02:36:35 pm
While I definitely prefer things like Warmshowers to be totally free, I can understand why they may need to charge. There's definitely money needed to maintain the website, database, app, etc. They take donations, but it's probably not enough.

The positive angle I can see for charging a fee for WS is people will probably value it more. Having a cost in this capitalistic society, even if it's a small one, will mean that people won't treat it as casually. It could cut down on the mooch factor described above. And yes, there's even a positive in charging hosts. There are definitely people who may have good intentions when they sign up to host, then go on to ignore requests. It makes a network less valuable when there are all these potential hosts that are unresponsive. It is good that WS shows a host's response rate in their profile. But it may cut down more of the noise when hosts have to pay a small fee per month to be listed.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: adventurepdx on December 13, 2020, 10:34:44 pm
I just got an email from Warmshowers about the app and such. The pertinent info:

Quote
1. You will continue to have access to your user account through the website for free. The app is an optional upgrade if you prefer the ease of using an app. All current access remains the same for you through the main website. The app is not required and instead is an enhanced experience.

2. The app fee is USD 2.99 per month or USD 17.99 per year. This allows us to provide regular maintenance, bug fixes, and support to ensure you continue to have the best experience possible when using our technology.

The main website will continue to be available to you for all your touring and hosting needs if you do NOT wish to use the app.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: LouMelini on December 14, 2020, 01:07:47 pm
From 2012 to 2015, I was on the Board of Directors of Warmshowers.
 Regarding the sexual predator comment- during my time, anyone that was suspected of any criminal behavior had their profile eliminated on the website. There was an active "Trust and Safety" committee that primarily looked at any negative feedback reported by a guest or host, in addition to any other complaints that would potentially involve the trust and safety of Warmshowers. The comment "it's not our job" is, to say the least, is inexplicable, should not have happened. One post to this forum stated that the person had positive feedback but that person would have had their profile taken down simply due to potential risk.  I assume this incident occurred after my time as I am not familiar with the situation. I do not have any knowledge of how problems such as the report of a sexual predator is handled since I left the board. Given the mission of Warmshowers, it is, in my opinion, imperative that trust and safety of hosts and guests be maintained. I could go on regarding the other comments, perhaps another time.

Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: HobbesOnTour on February 05, 2021, 09:24:33 am
I received the following email from Warmshowers this morning.

Hello Warmshowers community!

Please take a moment to read this important notice regarding our new mobile app.

We recently discovered that an older, unauthorized mobile app was recently re-released without our consent. Security is our highest priority so rest assured that your personal information is secure.

However, if you have downloaded and used this FREE unauthorized app, it is accessing source code that we cannot guarantee will protect your data and your information could be passed to a third party without our knowledge. Please uninstall this app immediately (the text in the unauthorized app states that the app is not official and is created by volunteers).

While our team is working on this situation around the clock, we have temporarily suspended ALL mobile app access until the situation is resolved. During this time, please use our website to log in and access your account. We apologize for the inconvenience and will notify you here and on our social media channels when the issue has been resolved.

We appreciate your patience
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: staehpj1 on February 05, 2021, 09:51:13 am
They could be genuinely worried about your data or could be worried about forcing folks to use their for pay app.  I suspect the latter.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: HobbesOnTour on February 05, 2021, 09:57:40 am
A quick bit of investigating and it appears that the "old" app (still on my phone) is now the "unofficial" one.

My app was last updated on January 21. Where does that leave my personal data?

I have contacted WS directly, but it is beyond my comprehension that an official app can be "hijacked" by people unknown (although probably well meaning folks).

Given the nature of the service (connecting strangers) it raises a multitude of questions.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: LouMelini on February 05, 2021, 11:00:32 am
Continued issues with WarmShowers. Very disappointing news for a service that can be valuable to traveling cyclists. I will continue to host as I have, be a guest when I need to and follow the developments.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: jamawani on February 05, 2021, 05:47:10 pm
From 2012 to 2015, I was on the Board of Directors of Warmshowers.

Hey Lou -

Thanks for the work you did.
The incident I mentioned was probably in the summer of 2009 -
since the frat hazings took place in the 2008/09 school year.
I actually received a blistering response from Warmshowers' big honcho.
I had hosted a number of times but had never stayed with a host
because I tend to ride in the middle of nowhere.
But I dropped out immediately afterwards.

I continue to be on CouchSurfing.
I've had many lovely guests and am still in touch with some.
I have an alcohol-free house which has caused problems once.
I don't understand why some people push matters when it is clearly stated.
That is the nature of online hook-ups at its least dangerous.
Unfortunately, there is the potential for far greater danger.
I am sorry that the WarmShowers founder did not understand this.

Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: Ty0604 on February 06, 2021, 04:43:54 pm
I was excited when the Warmshowers app came out but bummed when I learned it wasn't free. I don't use it enough to justify paying for it. Perhaps on an upcoming tour I would download it and cancel the subscription after the tour.

I was really active on WarmShowers when I lived in Portland. We were close to a few routes and had several request a year. I haven't had a single one since I moved to metro Denver 3+ years ago.

I also used the app a lot on my first cross country ride but only once while riding Route 66 and once while riding from New Orleans to Charleston, mostly to take shelter from Hurricane Sally. A majority of the users I messaged didn't respond.

I tend to use WarmShowers more for information than looking for places to stay. Local cyclist seem to know the roads a lot better than anyone else.

@staehpj1 mentioned Tallahassee, which was a deadzone for us in September. We had a hotel for 2 nights but after arriving and seeing the crime going on at the hotel, we messaged a few host looking for information. No one replied and we stayed at another hotel near the FSU campus. It was last minute so I understand.
Title: Re: Warmshowers now charging.....everyone!
Post by: canalligators on February 06, 2021, 08:56:50 pm
As time goes on, I find myself less and less enamored with having a dedicated app for everything.  It takes up space on my lower-capacity iPad, and buys me little improvement.  The apps wind up swapping in and out, taking time.  And for the WS app, I can't imagine it adding enough improvement to warrant a subscription cost.  Furthermore, I mostly use it at home on my desktop, as I host more often than I am a guest.

And... IMO, mouse beats touch screen for 95% of uses.