We have been members for around 6 years. We learnt about Warmshowers when travelling. We were hosted 3 times whilst overseas. For the last 4 years we have been active hosts. Mostly we have had great experiences. I did start to see a trend of what I felt was freeloading as opposed to the social aspect. After reading and posting on a forum I updated our profile message and got a bit more selective. Things have improved.
I've noticed is a large growth in membership. However I believe the ratio of hosts has decreased. Currently it is less than 40%. I'm sure it was more like 50%. I may be wrong. I also note the statistic is skewed as a number who are traveling are listed as available. I found this out when trying to find some hosts for a trip I'm planning and i note a number of requestors are listed as active also even though the are newer members on long trips.
I'm also hearing people are not joining as the responses are too low. I've seen some forum posts and I've also met touring cyclists who I think would be great hosts in the future say this.
So what does this all mean?
Is growth good? In my opinion growth needs to be managed and active hosting somehow needs to be encouraged. I think there is a risk that good hosts get put off. Warmshowers is based on reciprocating what is provided to you.
There is no magic bullet.
New memberships are automatically set to not available.
Compulsory fees, with fees based on availability and / or hosting rates. This clearly would take some administration. But perhaps fees could fund the required administration.
I'd love to know what others think.