I have observed a lot of forum dialog on the topic of how to leave an honest critical review. I offer the start of a “secret code” for sitters to use to help other sitters understand the issues and quirks of a home, pet, or home owner, or sit.
This is just a start, please add your own favorite euphemisms … the funnier/wittier the better!
This is offered half in jest … but just half… and might suffice until there is a comprehensive non-inflating review system in place… or could even help after that.
Energetic: jumps on you, pulls hard on a leash
Loves being groomed: needs a lot of grooming
Can’t wait to go on a walk: has accidents in the house
Talks to me: barks/meows a lot
Quiet: excessively timid or shy
Engages with other dogs: yes, by fighting with them
Cozy: very small, typically for sitters quarters
Cushy bed: mattress way too soft
Solid bed: mattress way too firm
Fascinating set of collectibles: disorganized, untidy
Can’t overstate how clean it was: because it wasn’t!
Tranquil: a long way from any services
Lively neighborhood: really noisy at night
It was my castle: I needed one because the neighborhood seemed risky/dangerous
Really interesting neighbors: nosy or bothersome neighbors
Home owner related:
Obviously loves their pets: obsessively
Appreciates updates: wants updates many times per day
Spontaneous: changed plans without communicating or agreement
I appreciated the trust placed in me: they did not leave very good instructions
Happy to have been there!: Note the past tense, happy to be somewhere else now, avoid like the plague!
What a peaceful time!: Was mediocre, ran out of interesting things to see and do pretty quickly but the house and pets were fine.
Looking forward to reading “encoded” reviews in the near future!
Actually a lot of these “codes” describe my pets, my home and myself without being negative.
My cat likes to talk but doesn’t meow all the time. My other cat loves to be groomed but doing this for a couple of minutes once a day is perfectly fine.
Well, yes, I love my pets and this is obvious but I wouldn’t describe myself obsessive.
Yes, I trust my sitters with my precious pets which doesn’t mean I don’t leave instructions…quite the opposite.
Of course, the beauty of a good code is that it can be innocuous! All pet owners love their pets (let’s hope) and trust their sitters, hence there is no need to say that unless your trying to convey more or different from that!
Please, do offer improvements! And also note that for any of these there are alternative words that could convey the positive without the critical allowing for much positive to be said, which ought to be 99% of a review anyway!
I never wrote "i recommend this sit to other sitters" nor “will gladly return” but in many cases we would have come back with pleasure. Because the house was lovely, the pets cute, the location close.
And I guess the owner understood, as we have been invited to return several times to look after their pets, unfortunately dates did not match so far.
But we’ll do that in the future for sure (going back, not writing “*i recommend”)
On a losely related topic, a work colleague of mine (S) absolutely hated another colleague (J). Every morning S would call out with a cheery "Morning’ to J but NEVER, EVER, affixed it with ‘Good’, as to wish J a ‘Good Morning’ was a step too far. J never cottoned on.
Thanks so much for starting this topic, @BruceT and thanks for the shout out, @mars. I have often thought it would be good to have some sort of code word, something innocuous, that could be used either at the start of a review or placed at the end, just something that would raise a red flag. Since I was never clever enough to think of one, I started doing the things that @mars copied and pasted from an earlier post of mine. I know as a sitter and as a homeowner, I’m always encouraged when I see the words “recommend” or “return” used in a review of someone I’m considering to sit for me, or of a homeowner where I’m applying to sit. When I don’t see those words, I’m somewhat skeptical. I know not everyone uses those terms, even when they’ve had the best sit ever, so it’s not a fail-safe approach.
I think I have ended pretty much every review saying we highly recommend this sit and would love to return again some day. For one, I said we recommended the sit if you’re looking for a rural retreat with four big, friendly dogs. We had enjoyed that sit but wouldn’t likely return because we didn’t want to go back to that area again. Nothing against the sit itself.
We did a house sit in NZ in 2019 that we refer to as our “accidental deer farm”. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say, we’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of sharing this particular experience. In my review I stated, “If you are looking for an authentic Kiwi farming experience, and want to become fully entrenched in daily farm life and activities, then this is the sit for you!”
During my working life I had to confirm employment for staff who had moved on … this was often accompanied by the question “how were they?” … If they were sub-par and it was the competition asking, I loved to respond with “I hope they can do for you what they did for us!”
That’s how I feel when I visit the rural farm in Wales. There is absolutely nothing “posh” about the house. It is fairly primitive except it actually has indoor plumbing but it is as real down to earth as you can get without pitching a tent, but that can be done if one likes.
Yet I most definitely go back and am going back once again and do highly recommend them because it is the experience that is on offer that is really hard to find. The people are genuine as open hearted as ever I have seen.