Edited Nov 23 to change the title from a commonly used pejorative term to "Overly Opportunistic".
As long as I can remember there have been rumors of guests who were overly opportunistic, living off the system, eating people out of house and home, inappropriately using the site, unlikely to ever give back. However, I haven't experienced them, and rarely hear first-hand stories. So I decided to put up a survey asking people for their first-hand experience.
Some notes first. I read through all the comments and they were very much appreciated:
- Nobody is expected to reciprocate during every part of their life. Most people have a long period in their youth when they can’t. All are asked to reciprocate with hosting "someday".
- Based on the comments, people have different ideas about what a "leech" might be. Some think it’s people who are unprepared as they travel, depending too much on the kindness of others. Others think it’s people they don’t expect to reciprocate with hosting. Others, those who eat too much. One host reported 75 guests, 70 they’d invite back, but 15 were leeches.
- A few hosts seem to have much higher standards for their guests than others (or far worse experiences than most), including the one that hosted 25 guests but wouldn’t invite back 15 of them. Another host (obviously rounding) reported 200 guests, 100 who wouldn’t be invited back, 25 leeches. One who hosted 30 would only invite back 10. I’m a bit taken aback that with those experiences people would continue to host.
- This survey was for members who have hosted guests, most having hosted many (the median number hosted was 10)
- One or two mentioned they fear "tit-for-tat" feedback, especially when traveling themselves. Note that we watch for tit-for-tat feedback and don’t allow it, and you can contact us if you think it has occurred.
OK, some numbers:
- 225 people responded from the Facebook Group and the Warmshowers.org site postings.
- Together they hosted about 3859 guests
- Of those, they would invite back 90% (3480) (They would not invite back 10%)
- 276 total guests (8%) were labeled as "leeches" by their hosts
- The median number of guests per respondent was 10, average or mean number was 17.
- 62% of respondents had never experienced a guest they would call a "leech". 38% of respondents reported experiencing at least one "leech"
- 56% of respondents say they would invite back every single guest that has ever stayed with them. 44% have had at least one guest they would not invite back.
- 64% of the respondents are careful always to leave feedback
Noting that this is an unscientific (if valuable) survey, I take this away:
- Although most hosts will eventually have a less-than-satisfactory experience, the vast majority of guests are good ones that would be invited back.
- Although there might be many definitions of "leech", only about 8% of guests would be categorized that way by the respondents. That’s a pretty small number compared to what you might hear in conversation. And many people said in the comments that they could have avoided those by reading their profiles ahead of time.
- There are an awful lot of awfully generous hosts out there!
- Most successful hosts count on the feedback of others to inform their choice whether to host or not. (Gathered from the comments.)
- Feedback is the most obvious way to filter out the leeches that do exist in our system. Most people read feedback from previous hosts and use it to determine who they will host.
If you’d like to view or process the original data feel free to copy it and slice and dice it as you see fit. I removed the comments as it seemed they were intended to be private.
The survey questions, now offline, can be viewed as they appeared