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Present all our worries to the board

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WS Üyesi WS Üyesi kullanıcısının resmi
Present all our worries to the board

Dear warmshowers members,

I have been following and participating in discussions on the warmshowers FB page and on this forums regarding our worries about the direction the organization is taking. Since I am also one of the active volunteers (only since 2 months) I am in close communication with Randy, the board and the leadership council.

Some people have applauded the recent changes, most didn't notice or didn't care, and some have been quite active in formulating their worries. The latter group, I call them 'the dissidents' (with a positive intention, I am one of you) have in my opinion not been listened to very well by the board and others. It seems to me that everyone who is loudly against the recent changes is a nuisance and good points made are easily dismissed (afraid of change; take up a volunteer position if you really care; this change is necessary; etc).

In the next board meeting on Friday I want to present the views of the dissidents. Also I want to investigate about how many people we are talking. Let us come up with a decent bullet list that I will present to the board.

All input is welcome and will be taken seriously.

Peter

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New subjects on website

Apart from taking on a lot of new members ( some of them of doubtful "quality", IMO), what else has prompted the changes ?

IMO, for quite some time now, the website and the FB group have featured subjects that are irrelevant to the original WS mission. I wonder if the "growing pains" of the last few months result from taking on that new material ?

I see no reason why the WS should attempt to provide information re visas, travel routes, hotels and general bicycle touring information - all of which are provided ( better) elsewhere.

I fully realise that these initiatives have been "popular" - or at least very few voices seem to argue this way. However, I believe that they represent a threat to the WS (and not an Opportunity!).

I'd like a "little WS", not one providing eg travel insurance, e-maps, custom bicycles, or operating an airline - even a bicycle-friendly one ! All those would be "improvements", but we will lose the old WS if we go that way.

Let's hope for a respectful debate.

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good point

Thank you Grace for your contribution to the list I will present to the board. I want to keep it short in the form of a bullet list. Can I summarize your point like this:
-Keep warmshowers simple, only connecting hosts and guests, nothing else.

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If it ain't broke and all that...

Hi Peter, I guess I am one of those quiet ones who have been watching but not saying anything....
Not sure where on the spectrum I am, but I like warm showers exactly how it is - I don't want it to be a go to place for cycle touring, spending time doing research for me is part of the fun (and a way to pass the hours at work!). The Facebook page is a great informal place for info, the rest of the net is at our fingertips and the world is for discovering on a bike!
Warm showers is an amazing tool, I am glad to have hosted and be a host (after a long long time with no one visiting our area we had two couples on two weekends just before we left for our trip). I would like it to focus on that. If there is a way to improve on the reliability of the users then fine, but I guess being so international this is hard - plus I always consider a warm showers night as a bonus, not a way to stay in a house every night of the trip.
I understand finance is important and I agree that those who run this amazing tool should raise money through its users. I personally think that after this money is raised then new users who want to search for hosts should have to pay a one off $20 (or something similar) as is done with helpx.com. I think there is a vocal minority fussing over the terms of what a member/user/donator etc should be called. At the end of the day, we have all been using this resource for free for some time, it seems fair to pay.

In summary, keep it as it is - i.e. about connecting cyclists and cyclists together for accommodation based on goodwill. Absolutely take on ideas about improving how this is done, but please remember that out in the sticks the internet can be crap so please don't create a flashy big website that will take forever to load! Stick to the original purpose and don't expand too much please!

Thank you, Sam and Sheena

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great input

Thank you Sam and Sheena for your input.
I will take your suggestions to the next board meeting.

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Several fund raisers, all at once...?

There seems to be plans for several different fund raising tools being considered simultaneously ...

May I suggest that any fund raisers be categorised and prioritised by overall "desirability" ?

My own preference ( based on my experience of another, similar "Not For Profit" social enterprise ) is for discrete and minimal "banner advertising". I have no idea how much $$ that would raise, but I hope the Board knows that figure.

Not least, implementing the most cost-efficient "new measure" FIRST will encounter the least Membership blowback.

If further revenue raisers are later required, the Board can put the case for them then.

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Present all our worries to the board

Hello Peter,
I am another "quiet watcher". So here's my $0.02 worth:
* WS exists to facilitate bicycle tourists assisting each other. In my experience it's now fulfilling this function.

* IF folks really want somewhere to post info maybe add a blank page that people can throw info onto. This could be handy for time-sensitive information that someone who has pedaled through a location might notice and identify as helpful to another cyclist.
Date the entry. Remove after (9?) months, or a year.
Part of the enjoyment I get from cycle touring is learning new things. (ie: I don't need to know everything about a place before I get there.)

OK, I guess that's all.
Gerhardt

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i am making notes

Thanks guys for the input. I am writing things down and will present it to the board before the next meeting on Friday.
Peter

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I don't think there is any

I don't think there is any need for changing WS. As someone else said already, it is part of the fun to prepare a trip and look for information ahead of time as it is fun too to not have all the information before starting the trip. It is part of travelling to encounter the unexpected. If not we would be travelling through travelling agencies and organised biking trips.
That's my 2cents say.
Have a good day.
Catherine

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first point

Hello Cahterine,

That is the first point on the bullet list I will send to the board. Because quite a lot of people have said things along that line.

Thanks for contributing,

Peter

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deadline is wednesday night.

I am working on a summery of all the concerns to send it to the board. The meeting will be on Friday 20th. I want to send the report to the board members a few days before so they will have time to read it before the meeting. Also, it is likely that i will be invited to the meeting to explain some more in a short discussion.
I have reread all the lengthy discussions on FB and here and taken all that into the summery as well. Everyone can still add to the discussion here, but the deadline for the report will be wednesday night.
Peter

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Hoping for the best.

Peter,

I don't have the time now to go into making an exhaustive list (and, frankly, have kind of lost faith), but you do have our multiple posts here and in FB to extract from, copy-paste the key words and concepts, and present to the board.

Basically, though, it's a matter of keeping it simple and inexpensive, avoiding unnecessary or superfluous stuff (that can be done or found elsewhere on the web). Streamline!

I think a list of such other websites/services could be displayed prominently on the WS home page, or under links. It's probably already there? I only use WS to find hosts, and to write posts like this when it comes to "existential" issues. For everything else, I go to other websites.

One last thing I would suggest: if the BoD decides to go the expensive, function-rich way, then please think also of having/providing a simple list, kind of like Craigslist. That would be a bare-bones rendition of the database. It might be a good idea to have that ready anyway, for when/if the complex overladen version becomes untenable. I think Warmshowers could work just as well as a simple database and bulletin board.

Thanks and good luck to all!

Ignacio

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Don't lose faith yet

Thanks for your input Ignacio.
I have found all your contributions to the discussions thoughtful and intelligent. I have gone through all the threads again and came up with a list.

Don't lose faith yet. Friday is an important meeting.

Peter

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I was planning on replying

I was planning on replying here, but was without internet for a couple of days - if you've gone through all the other posts it shouldn't be necessary anyway. Thanks for your efforts Peter.

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worries

Peter,
Sorry we have been in the forest and off the grid for a week. Could you please have them consider removing the donation status badge s ? Is public shaming or bragging really. necessary. ?
Thanks,
Jeff/Dotty Flint

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I second Jeff/Dotty question

I second Jeff/Dotty question

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report has been send to board

Thank you all for contributing, also through private messages.
I have send the report to the board members and the officers (Randy and Russell). Most of them have let me know that they received it. I am invited in the board meeting on Friday as well.

Peter

Unregistered anon_user kullanıcısının resmi
Board meeting

Peter,
How was your experience at the board meeting ? I'm sure you were a fine representative of those expressing their concerns on this thread. Hoping all went well. Update. us when/if you can.
Jeff

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board meeting

The board meeting was very interesting. The report I wrote (I am still figuring out how to post it here) was discussed for about 15 minutes. Some changes have already been made, see your profiles. Some issues will get more time in the April meeting. I really believe in the good intentions of the board members and the officers. For all of them the situation is new and everyone has to grow into that.

Peter

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Board Meeting

Peter,
Thanks for your time and the update. Please post a copy of your report when/if you can.
Thanks Again

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Donor badges be gone!

Donor badges be gone!

Thankyou WS board.

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a link to the report

Later I will post a link to the report.
First it is the boards turn.

Peter

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I am in the process of

I am in the process of planning a trip for the spring break and it really bothers me to have the donor's status posted on the host's profile. I don't care about wether people have donated or not it but I cannot help but see it. I hope that this feature will be withdrawn.
I especially don't like the sentence
XXX is not yet a donor member of Warmshowers.org.

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the report
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Tanks a lot for the report. I

Tanks a lot for the report. I hope it helps the board and WS.

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report

Peter
I want to thank you for the report. I got rather frustrated with WS as a whole, and hadn't been reading much on the facebook site, and none here.

I did however have a guest, that took me up on the offer of a day off. Then I had the chance to ride out of town with him, cause I was off.

For me, the whole idea of paying anything to host cyclists is absurd.

I make $9.5 an hour!

I will look around here on the WS site, and see if I can find anything else, I should be reading.

For right now, I just wanted to say

Thank You!

Moni

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Hi Moni, Here are the other

Hi Moni,

Here are the other threads relevant to the discussion in chronological order:

*Increasing Warmshowers Income Through Annual Member Donations
https://www.warmshowers.org/node/78970
*Keeping the discussion open.
https://www.warmshowers.org/node/85911
*Why does the site need to pay a large salary?
https://www.warmshowers.org/node/85988
*donation concern
https://www.warmshowers.org/node/86445

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minutes of April meeting

Peter, are there minutes from the April meetings for WS members to read?

Moni

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Leadership Forum has all this type of info

Hi Moni - The Leadership Forum always has information of this type.

The March meeting minutes are there.

The planned April business meeting didn't happen in April because Chris, the board president, was traveling, so the next business meeting is May 31. The agenda and minutes will be posted in the Leadership Forum as always.

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my thoughts

Hi all!
I'm a very active WS-member by means of hosting and geing guest on my tours but didn't contribute to the ongoing discussions yet. I'm quite concerned about how the discussion have been hold until now as the groups kind of talked past each other and this can't lead to anything.
This is why I wanted to thank you Peter to bring the accumulated concerns to the board (I know I'm too late with my contribution but the thread seems to be still active) - your attempt of getting away from this two-parties-debate to a more differentiated discussion is more favourable in my point of view.

I totally agree with the resulted report but also wanted to add one very important point to it:

As a central-european I wouldn't mind spending little money each year for a community I really feel connected to. But on my cycling trips I realised, and many of you realised as well i suppose, that the number of members in more "poor" countries on WS is really really low and as a traveller you change to other networks in order to get in contact to locals there. So the aim of WS should not be just to increase the total number of members (which I think is not really necessary in some regions as it is better to have less but more motivated ones) but rather gain the number of members in other parts of the world.
The current membership levels give the impression that you are not a valuable part of the community if you don't financially contribute - not really an invitation for potential members in poorer countries (there is already the fear that the “low standards of living” are not adequate for an international community like WS and adding this fund-raising campaign makes it very unlikely for many people to joint WS). That a website like WS causes some costs is of no discussion – but a task for our community will be to think of more elegant ways to raise this money in order not to frighten potential valuable members.

Another thing the community has to think of is that the unique feature of WS compared to other communities was its purity and simplicity – it was said quite often in this discussion. If that changes members have to ask themselves why to be member here and not e.g. join the “cyclists group” of another travelling network with eventually more members. With new future challenges (as higher number of members) we of course have to think about even simpler ways of dealing with them.
Beside the simplicity the “high quality” of WS was always the reason why to join there. On WS there is a quite big chance that you get a positive reply and that the members are really interested in each other. In general as a member you had the feeling of being part of a “big family” - we have to keep this spirit somehow in future and I think a good way of doing so is not copy the practices of communities lacking it.

One more thing about the quite controversial discussion about Randys salary:
Whether its necessary or not to have paid staff in the organisation is of course a matter of attitude and you'll find arguments for both sides. It's of course not very encouraging for volunteers to have a paid person as they are doing work for the community unpaid.
I really appreciate the work of Randy – the one time we had contact he really did a good job – but as the board realised that too much is dependent on him we should find other concepts of getting this work done: as said before on one hand to avoid it as much as possible by keeping things simple and efficient and on the other hand by “democratising” the remaining work (if there are more members, there are also more potential volunteers).

I hope we'll find good concepts for the future of this amazing community,
greetings,
konrad

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ongoing discussion

Hello Konrad,

That is a great contribution to this thread.

The call for simplicity has been huge after the poll of priorities of a few weeks ago https://www.warmshowers.org/feature_poll

In order to get more members in the developing world some people worked really hard to get about a dozen of translations of the warmshowers website. Of course this also adds to the work load and costs of running warmshowers. I agree that the donation campaign is not very motivating for people who simply can't pay. (Iranians and I think also Russians or not even connected to the international banking system, billions of others don't have credit cards or bank accounts). I have been present in some meetings and Randy always showed great respect for those people. Hopefully this will be reflected in future ideas.

My position in the whole discussion has changed. After I wrote the report and presented it to the board I noticed that groups were still talking past each other. I was quite active in the communication platform 'slack' that is used by the board and the other volunteers, so I followed a lot of the internal communication. Also there was lot of misunderstanding and miscommunication. However my efforts were not appreciated at all and I was told that it was better to leave that platform. My contributions were 'to negative' and 'always criticism' and that was annoying. So I left, which means that I also had to drop my volunteering position as coordinator of volunteers.

After a few months of reading and following all that is going on within warmshowers I have to say that I got more worried than I was before. Many of the points made by the so-called 'dissenters' have been proven right. It looks like warmshowers is moving in a direction that doesn't go very well with the low-budget world traveler that simply looks for accommodation. This is fair enough, but it definitely is a shift.

Peter

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I'm sorry to hear that. I'm

I'm sorry to hear that. I'm sure that I am not the only member who very much appreciated your efforts.

I was dismayed to see this old chestnut wheeled out in the minutes from the March 20 meeting:

'Some members assumed that because bike touring can be nearly free, Warmshowers.org must never need or request money for its support.'
[ https://www.warmshowers.org/node/88059 ]

Members have gone to great lengths to articulate their arguments and have responded to this charge every time it has been presented. Yet still it persists. The only conclusion I can come to is that it is assumed members are lying about the true nature of their concerns or that it is merely a resort to intellectual dishonesty as a substitute for earnest engagement.

'After a few months of reading and following all that is going on within warmshowers I have to say that I got more worried than I was before. Many of the points made by the so-called 'dissenters' have been proven right.'

Would you care to elaborate on what you were referring to in your last paragraph?