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Is this allowed or not?

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WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Is this allowed or not?


We are travelling now in South America, enjoying very positive experience with WS hosts. However, we were surprised recently by a reply from some of the members to our enquiry about staying with them. We think this is something that touches one of the fundamental rules of this community and we would like to know your opinion whether it is acceptable or not.

The reply was:

"Para poder alojar a todos pedimos una colaboracion de XXX* que son approx. 5 dolares por dia para los gastos que cada uno hace de la casa... Electricidad, agua, internet, productos de limpieza y productos de uso comun.

Aquellos que no puedan pero consideren que pueden colaborar en otra cosa bienvenidos sean..."

Which roughly translates to:

"To be able to accomodate everybody we are asking for collaboration of XXX* which is approx 5 dollars per day for the costs that each one spends for the house... Electricity, water, internet, hygiene products and general use products.

Those who cannot, but are able to collaborate in other way, are welcome."

*XXX was an amount of the local currency.

We of course understand that hosts are in no way obliged to provide all the things listed there and in some places they could cost significant amount of money (to be clear, the place where those members live is actually expensive) but such outright asking for money seems to be against the rule of WS which says:

"Hosts are not allowed to require any payment for the hospitality that they offer other warmshowers members. Guests may help out of course; you can fix a meal, bring some beer, etc."

However the Spanish version of the rules sounds a bit more relaxed and could suggest that approximating the costs of living and asking to pay them in advance is a proper way of handling that:

"No se permite a los anfitriones exigir alguna cuota económica. Hoteles, hostales, etc., caen fuera del rubro de WS. Sin embargo, invitamos a todos los huéspedes a colaborar en la casa de sus anfitriones en lo necesario, preparar una comida o proporcionar alguno de los consumibles durante su estancia."

To spice things up, we sent our first request to people who had a family profile at WS and described themselves as cyclists wich quite a lot of experience. During the conversation which followed they changed their profile completely to one describing an establishment called "casa ciclista" and openly asking for the contribution on their main page.

Finally, we haven't visited them.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
You are correct, it is

You are correct, it is explicitly forbidden - please pass on the details of the member to admin:

As this is not being requested in their profile but in private messages, it may be worth giving some neutral feedback to the host detailing your experience, but in any case discuss it with admin.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Is this allowed or not.

I couldn't say, as I don't know the rules. But it seems the guy is just trying to get back a few dollars to help pay for hosting someone. Really $5 is very little,, its not like they are asking for a real room rental. I've hosted many people over the last few years, though I have never asked for anything and most folks have been a joy to host, it cost money to do so. I usually feed people pretty well, its a rare person who has ever showed up here with anything to eat or drink. Those things do cost a host money. And you being a touring cyclist know how much a person can eat after riding all day. There are times, I ask myself should I keep hosting, money is tight. Maybe this fellow is just trying to get a few dollars back.
Almost think it would be a good idea if Warm Showers had a policy, that if you stay with a host, you give them $5.00 or something like that. It would keep away some of the slugs, there are few, but I had a couple, eat, drink, leave a mess. It has happened, So I think The poor guy is not asking for too much.

Happy travels,

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
I agree $5 isn't much, so why

I agree $5 isn't much, so why go against the ideals of the community by introducing it into the equation? Hospitality exchange is about the exchange of ideas, stories, goodwill, etc, not dollars. The market co-opted version is called the 'sharing economy' - there are plenty of sites out there for anyone who wants to charge guests to stay in their home.

Additionally there is no obligation in WS to provide anything more than floor space or yard space for a tent - to offer anything above and beyond that is at the discretion of the host so I fail to see how charging guests would be necessary.

As for your final idea, it would be a shame to see the best functioning hospex community on the internet devolve into an AirBnB for bikes - certainly that would mark the end of my participation in it.

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$5.00 is the entire daily

$5.00 is the entire daily budget for a lot of cyclists in Eastern Europe. If WS had such a policy, I would not have got some of the guests I’ve had: they might have just stayed home because cycle-touring became so much more expensive. Or, if they decided to increase their budget by $5, they could have gone to a campground for the night for the same price and have some privacy.

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Sometimes rules don't help

I know a guy in La Paz, Bolivia, who was getting maybe 100 guests per year in his "casa de ciglistas", many staying more than one night.
He was bannend from WS because he asked for 20 Bolivanos (3 Dollars) per day.
For me it seems fair, when people take money for the fundamental costs, when they take so many guests.
Maybe its the same here? Living in a good area doesn't mean you also have a lot of money.
WS should be a bit more flexible, especially if the (rare) hosts live in not so rich countries.

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I know a guy who was miffed

I know a guy who was miffed at the reaction he got when he took a 2 dozen box of doughnuts to his local weight watchers group. WS is a hospex site for touring cyclists, I find it odd that people sign up presumably understanding this and then want to charge money (or host backpackers or those travelling in vehicles) when there are already an abundance of options out there to do these things. I would suggest that those who keep a running mental tab on how much their guests have cost them (again, nothing more than floor space needs to be offered) perhaps might not be cut out for hospex in the first place.

There are plenty of spaces on the web where one can charge to accommodate people, or where one can host travellers of all persuasions. The WS community is a little corner of the internet for bike tourers where the question of money does not enter into the interactions between hosts and guests - this makes it pretty unique and I (and I know many others) would like to see it retain it's identity.

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* ( asking for Cash contributions... )

I find it ironic that in the case of Third World situations, bicycle travellers - with enough time & cash to be able to get to exotic ( but often poor) locations - would be crass enough to expect free services from people who could never hope to make the reverse journey. I also appreciate Paul Harper's comments re the unique and valuable nature of the WS model. However, such high minded attitudes may be a luxury held only by people rich enough to afford "international class" bicycles and air travel !

In my own case, I explicitly state in my Profile that the "first night" is 100 % free , I don't expect even dishwashing. After that tho, I think Guests should start to pull their own weight. It doesn't always work !

Postscript ; good post, above, Gerald. I wish I could "Like" it, as eg on FaceBook !

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Is this allowed

There have been some valuable statements made since that first posting. As a member of the Board of Directors, I will ask why Warmshowers has to be 100% free. Why not have options to expand the hosting choices for traveling cyclists.

I am not speaking for the board, but I would like someday for WS to be a comprehensive website for traveling cyclists. Gerald and Bicycle Fish clearly that perhaps WS needs to look at different cultures and poorer nations differently with regards to the "free" part of hospitality. I agree. Mr. Harper wishes to send bicycle travelers to a different website for inexpensive lodging options for the traveling cyclist. My question would be- why? Why not have a separate space on the WS website for fee-charging hosts with perhaps a monetary limit of 5 or 10 bucks. Why can't WS be a "one-stop-shopping" website? If someone on an Adventure Cycling route created a bicycle dormitory for traveling cyclists and charged $10 for a small private room with a community bathroom and shower (similar to a campground), wouldn't you like to know about option for lodging if the only other choices were more expensive campgrounds or motels? Why would you quit Warmshowers over this? You have tens of thousands of free options for hospitality, just ignore the hosts that charge. Mr. Culver stated that for $5 someone could go to a campground. Where in the U.S., Canada or Western Europe can you find campground accommodations for $5? I may be able to pay $5 with my Senior Pass in a National Park hiker/biker site but I haven't found any commercial campgrounds that charge $5. Prices are going up.

It is unlikely that WS will stray from the "free" hospitality mission at least in the near future. I really think WS could become a more comprehensive website to serve the needs of the traveling cyclist. It may take a few years or more and require someone with the skill set to put it together. If done right it could be a valuable service to the traveling cyclist. We should not get locked into an ideological battle about WS being exclusively free. In my opinion, The long term vision of WS should be helping the traveling cyclist with hospitality be it free through a network of hosts or via information to obtain inexpensive lodging.

Thank you for your thoughts on this matter. It has sparked some discussion between a couple of the board members about how WS could evolve in the future, though this may add some unworkable complexities.

Louis Melini
Board of Directors-

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Then why not make WS a one stop shop for all travellers?

Louis your presumption regarding my motives is revealing. I am not arguing from my hip pocket, I have never used WS as a guest and it is unlikely I ever will for health reasons. I am arguing to preserve something that is the exception to the rule.

I would ask you to consider the ramifications of introducing money into the equation. What type of new members will that attract? How will it change the motivations of existing hosts? How will the guest host dynamic change? And member expectations? Volunteer motivation? How many man hours will be devoted to coding payment systems and dispute resolution?

I have used AirBnB on my travels - it's a very useful resource but it's just that a resource, an extra set of hotel options. I haven't signed in since I last travelled nearly four years ago. IOn those travels I found host guest interactions very different to what I have encountered in traditional hospitality exchange. I've seen other hospex communities lose the thread that binds them for various reasons (the megalomaniacal tendencies of their founders, venture capital's thirst for ROI etc) you'd be surprised how quickly it can all unravel, I don't want to see it happen again. I hope you have a better understanding of why I am against such a move and the reasons I will be looking for a new hospex community in which to invest my energy if it ever came to be.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
A site that tries to be all

A site that tries to be all things to all people destroys any sense of close-knit community. The more features you add, the more the site will seem too big and impersonal to the active members that make it work. As I've said before, I'm disappointed that some of the WS leadership seems completely unaware of how earlier hospex communities collapsed due to expanding the mission and alienating their members.

Also, your grand designs about a "one-stop shopping" site seem to me fiddling while Rome burns. WS as it currently stands, with solely the mission of free hospitality exchange, is getting more and more cluttered with inactive or unresponsive profiles to the point where it isn't quite unusable, but it is a giant hassle. If WS is finding it increasingly difficult to fulfill its core mission of connecting cyclists with hosts (for free), talking about adding new features seems a bit much.

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Spot on as usual Chris - and

Spot on as usual Chris - and yes, the elephant in the room , Rome burning, whatever you want to call it, I don't know how long I've been harping on about the problems of guests finding hosts here. Just how hard would it be to change the default status of new members from available to host to unavailable as is the norm for just about any other hospex community? This would at least stem the tide a little while the more difficult work of search filters etc is accomplished - I'm assuming there are no major objections to this as nobody has ever raised one the numerous times I've brought it up.

And, yes, wasn't there at least some kind of vague commitment given by the board (or a board member?) to familiarise itself with other hospex communities, their histories, failures and successes after some pretty extraordinary assumptions were made the last time we were talking about money on these forums?

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
"Why can't WS be a "one-stop

"Why can't WS be a "one-stop-shopping" website?"

Warm Showers has hitherto done just one thing and done it decently well. A "one-stop-shopping" site would probably do many things badly, and alienate earlier signups who miss the feeling of a close-knit community with a tightly-focused aim. It disappoints me greatly that nearly a year after I first suggested that you as a board member learn something of how other internet hospex sites went astray, you still seem unfamiliar with all that very important history.

"If someone on an Adventure Cycling route created a bicycle dormitory for traveling cyclists and charged $10 for a small private room with a community bathroom and shower (similar to a campground), wouldn't you like to know about option for lodging if the only other choices were more expensive campgrounds or motels?"

Actually, a more expensive campground or hotel is never the only other choice. There is always wild camping, and I'd much rather resort to that than see Warm Showers start to collect commercial establishments.

In any event, it would simply be encouraging laziness and greed for Warm Showers to allow hosts that demand payment from each guest that arrives. And it would destroy any feeling of hospitality exchange and community solidarity. Running a base for travelers that depends on some money being paid for rent and utilities is a long and venerable tradition in internet hospex, just look at the houses that the Academy of Free Travel or the Serbian Travel Club arrange all over the world, or the "nomad bases" that have appeared in Western Europe over the last decade. However, those are organized through fundraising drives or by people staying there choosing to put some money in a donation box, which allows more fortunate travelers to subsidize the stays of those less well-off. Such a method preserves the feeling of a non-profit community where everyone is welcome, and is that not what WarmShowers is about?

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Not to forget also the

Not to forget also the bothies of Scotland:

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
You seem to have made a few

You seem to have made a few assumptions about my circumstances due to the 'high minded attitudes' I hold. I will let that go through to the keeper, however let me tell you how I got involved in hospex. I became involved in hospex after dirt poor people in Ethiopia, Pakistan, East Timor, Congo, Brazil, Yemen, Guinea Bissau and many other places welcomed me into their homes, offered me water, a place to rest, killed their only chicken so as to share it with me and countless other acts of kindness without expecting anything in return. Those people inspired me. So I respectfully disagree that this attitude is a luxury of the rich, in my experience if anything, it is quite the opposite.

I am still interested to know what the final bill would be on enough floor space for a person to sleep on - I keep doing the math and it doesn't ever add up to more than half a minute's worth of sweeping,

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Forget the stereotype of the

Forget the stereotype of the Third World poor: a great deal (most?) of active "Third World" hosts are: 1) Western expats living in the respective country, who are quite well off by local standards, 2) the local middle and upper classes, who often make more money than foreign travelers – I know I've disappointed a few hosts in places like India because they were very wealthy and I, a simple hitchhiker or cyclist, couldn’t share the conversation on fine living that they expected.

But even "Third World" hosts can still use hospitality exchange to make a net gain, not a net loss, and without charging members directly for their stay. A lot of hosts use their guests for the opportunity to practice English, which they need to get ahead at university or work. Hosts in places like Morocco or Nepal sell the locally grown cannabis to their guests for a handsome profit, or they take a cut from what the guest buys at local handicrafts shops. Other hosts find it possible to make lucrative foreign business connections through their guests. And there are plenty of stories of host X and guest Y falling in love, with host X moving to a country that is better off.

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
is this allowed

Thank you for your replies. As I stated, my vision may prove to be unworkable for the reasons that you gave, but discussion of the topic is certainly worth exploring. As you pointed out, WS has many tasks to complete within the present framework before expanding its services. We should keep an open mind long term visions in order to assist traveling cyclists with hospitality.


WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Agreed, I was going to bring

Agreed, I was going to bring up that point about WS hosts in poor countries but ended up going off on a different tangent and having it slip my mind.

And... nobody is forcing anyone into a life of indentured generosity.

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Regardless of the amount

Regardless of the amount asked by a host, the spirit of Warmshowers is meeting people without asking for some money... However I can't find any TOU specifying the rule...

WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Try this:

Try this:
6. Hosts are not allowed to require any payment for the hospitality that they offer other warmshowers members. Guests may help out of course; you can fix a meal, bring some beer, etc.


WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Don’t most <i>casas de

Don’t most casas de ciclistas in South America charge people to stay there? So, it is no surprise if cyclists there sign up for Warm Showers and still expect payment from their guests. Maybe it would be good to add some special text to the Spanish-language signup page about this.

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It's certainly common and

It's certainly common and accepted. These are mostly places that are widely known about and are on popular routes, I don't see how WS is of much use to them anyway but yes a note on sign up in Spanish might be a good idea.

Unregistered Imagen de anon_user
Payment for WS in South-America

In 2013 we cycled during two month between Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. Very exiting experience, however...we also mentioned a lot of extreme poverty during our trip. This made us realize again how luxurious we live, even if people have a basic income,  in our western countries. 

We would not fuss about a couple of euro's for a stay overnight in South-American countries, even it was against the "rules of WS."


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WS Member Imagen de WS Member
Nobody has to host

It is not a duty to host, as I say to my colleagues and friends to explain Couchsrufing or Warmshowers: Everything is possible, nothing is a must, the rest is a honest discussion. AirBnB is not about sharing, it is a business! If someone in warmshowers takes money, then it is a kind of hostel service. Hostel and Hospitality? And normally you find the greatest hospitality in the poorest houses. I want to make friends, not money. I did that on Couchsurfing, Hospitality-Club and Warmshowers. That doesn't work with money. Hostels you can find on other web sites!

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