Are bots being used to beat the 5 appl rule?

Bots are perfectly feasible.
When I’ve posted items on Freecycle I find I get almost-instant replies which don’t mention the item - I tend not to respond to those.

Unfortunately, given the 5-application limit, spending 10 minutes on writing an application is too time-consuming. Popular opportunities can reach their limit within 3 minutes, sometimes even before I receive the first notification about the opportunity.

You can definitely spend 10 minutes writing an application IF you’re lucky enough to see the listing, and then open the Application window BEFORE it reaches the 5 limit.

Then you can take plenty of time, as your application will still go through. The key is…you do have to spot the listing BEFORE it reaches the cut-off of 5 applications; otherwise you won’t be able to open any application window… That’s my challenge: getting there before number 5 has hit Submit

Yes, something is very wrong!

But to you cancel them to allow sincere applications to come through?

THS should impose a minimum time between opening the application window and submitting the application. Even a short time (ten minutes) would be a way to defeat the bots. Other advantages:

  • There would be time to read, to consider, and to craft a well-written application
  • Lots of sitters could apply to popular sits
  • Popular HOs would get lots of applications.

Something is seriously wrong with the system. Can THS determine who/ where these bots are?

Those bots would be used by sitter accounts. The HOs can see them (but they cannot be certain if the application came from a bot).

I do not know if THS can monitor such patterns, but I suppose they could see the activity from an account. If an account constantly is refreshing the search page and all the time sends near-empty applications within 30 seconds, then it is probably a bot.

1 Like

In this day and age, not much “figuring out” is needed. There are apps for everything today. :wink:

Browser automation apps, among others, can easily handle the entire job for you. In fact, these apps are commonly used as they are extremely helpful in collecting data, performing various clicks, and accomplishing millions of other tasks in no time at all.

I believe this was not initial intent of THS but automation has created a problem here. It NEEDS to be addressed. Are these good sitters, potential for abuse of THS HO. I see this happening in great locations, like Rome, Madrid, Milan, Florence, Barcelona, Vienna … can THS not surveil these applicants… their veracity.

Yes… more than probably!

No, they are not. The bots can only be prohibited (and are by some states/jurisdictions) if used for fraudulent activities, which is not the case here

They can, either themselves or use detection services but it would be a waste of time and money as there is nothing they can do to prevent/stop it

Based on everyone’s comments, I think HO should be made aware of bots, empty applications and immediately decline them … at least to slow them down.

I don’t see why they would actually want to stop it. It’s more work and it’s an admission that it is happening (assuming that it is happening). At the end of the day a real owner and a real sitter are getting a sit booked and they’re paying their subs which is really all that they need to happen.

THS could slow them down. And since the only problem is that bots are faster than humans, this would defeat them.

So now, after one clicks “Apply now”, the “Send application” button is pale and not enabled. It becomes active after typing just one single character in the message box.

It should not be too difficult to enable the send button with a delay of ten minutes.

Sure. But HOs in the most attractive locations get even fewer than five real applications to choose from. And many sitters are getting notifications for listings that are already “reviewing”. So this is not very desirable. Also not for the company.

A cornered animal tends to bite. The easiest and best way “to address the issue” is to eliminate the root cause of why people seek external assistance in the first place.
Please keep in mind that the workaround currently being implemented by some members is on the client side, not the server side, and is legally compliant.

p.s. you are going after the wrong man. in this case, it is not members who are at fault

2 Likes

@RadarInc - there are at least a thousand ‘requests’ on this Community Forum to address the root cause of this (I’m hereby referring to the super-long thread on the 5 application rule), but THS has no intent of doing something about it.

So what else are we to do than to try and address / raise the symptoms of it?

1 Like

Can someone please clarify the five application rule for me? Is it five applications maximum per sit, or is it five at a time as in, if five people apply for our sit and I decline three, then three more people can apply?

Also, what was this rule, which didn’t exist when we began using TH, intended to fix? It seems to be making a mess of things more than helping.

I guess this is at least part of why I had multiple people apply for my current listing who obviously didn’t read the information provided in the description. I pointed out to the applicants that I declined WHY I was declining. The sitters were polite in their replies, but one admitted that they “didn’t read that far down” and the other all but admitted to not reading the full sit description. This is a bit disheartening since I do read these forums once in a while and try hard to include the information that sitters have indicated is important to them regarding a sit.

3 Likes

Hi @SiobhanFL - the 5 application rule was introduced around/after summer 2022. It’s been much disliked by many sitters, going by the long threads that refer to this topic, as it has created a race against the clock for popular sits.

What happens is that after the first 5 applications, the listing automatically goes to reviewing mode. It’s then up to the HO (houseowner) to read through the applications and either reject people to create space for new ones or pick one of the five. As an HO you can not choose how many applicants you initially want, e.g. you can’t put the cutoff at 10 for example.

One of the challenges as an HO is that if you’re in a popular area, you might receive 5 applications within less than 15 minutes, but these aren’t necessarily always the applications you want. However anyone who visits the site/app after those first 5 applications have been submitted, can no longer apply and often will not even see the sit in the listings (I do map search; I don’t see any sits that are in reviewing status).

Now if you decline say 2 sitters, space for 2 new applications opens up. Not more. And if you’re not sure about a sitter, e.g. they’re Ok but not great, but you don’t know whether by declining them and opening up 1 more space, you will get the applicant you want (after all, if you reject 1, only 1 more person can apply before the sits flips to reviewing status once again), then it can be difficult to decide what makes most sense. Take the Ok applicant? Decline them and hope that the right sitter is on the website to grab that 1 spot as it opens up again?

What it is meant to solve, is that HOs in popular locations could sometimes receive many, many applications. That could have been solved differently though. For example by letting the HO decide on how many applications max they’d want to receive. Or by setting the cut-off at 10 instead of 5, or by keeping a listing open for at least X amount of time, etc such that all interested and qualified sitters -not just the fastest ones or the ones lucky to be on the website at the right time - stand a better chance of getting an application in, albeit without overwhelming the HOs in popular locations with 50 applications.

7 Likes