Where SHOULD sitters be asking "important" questions to get answers?

Hi @plaidassfox and I am genuinely sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad first sit and that you find responses in the forum concerning. I would like to reassure you that no-one is denying that some issues exist and there have been plenty of topics that seek to highlight, discuss, and look at possible solutions on a variety of subjects. On those threads we’ve heard from sitters, owners and members of the team who have explained the actions taken so far.

We’ve heard that systems that have been put in place for new members where every new listing is now checked; why it’s currently harder to immediately upgrade listing photos of existing members; there have been explanations about how a new system is in place for the internal team to flag problem sits; and how other solutions are continually being worked on to make the platform a safe place for all across a number of different areas. There’s an assumption that there has been no action on the review system… again it has been explained that this is in research and a priority, but a highly technical project that will take time to implement. Work continually occurs behind the scenes. This week the product team reached out for people to be interviewed to run some ideas past them and get feedback on the product. Hopefully you have put yourself forward to talk about your own concerns.

To address your point about toxicity I’d like to answer this from my own perspective. In the same way positivity can be perceived as toxic by some, so can negativity and a balance is needed to ensure that everyone feels the forum is a safe place to express their views. I don’t believe that any of us dispute that, but sometimes we may fail - out of our own frustrations but not ever out of any malicious intent. We are all human and fallible.

However, of late the balance of positivity vs negativity has been off centre, as expressed by many members who message privately to ask why we allow negative threads to overwhelm the topics. They don’t feel the threads are safe to be able to have an alternative opinion. This is also perceived by some as oppressive. It really is all about balance. Similarly working and moderating in a continually negative environment is bad for moral and demoralising. There are many factors to consider.

Some might look at your comment and say shouting in capitals isn’t a good vibe either. And saying that someone doesn’t have an opinion because they have no experience could be seen as dismissive, as could be generalizing with the use of marketing demographic terms which diminishes the uniqueness of a person across any age group.

It’s easy to offend in so many ways these days when words can be so easily misinterpreted. My point being that we can all be unknowingly guilty of offending others without intent.

Absolutely no-one is asking people to be silent on issues that raise concerns, unless it is a personal dispute that because of GDPR and privacy regs needs to remain out of the public domain. If you look through the topics you’ll see that many threads address concerns and they are rarely closed. But we have to also address that some would like to see less negative threads that dissect the same issue over and over when there is no current solution beyond what has been already specified.

What we as moderators will always aim to do is to find a way to accommodate all concerns and maintain a balance of positivity vs negativity to keep the forum in harmony and all our members happy.

Wishing you a happy Easter

Vanessa, Angela and the team

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I think that people are saying you have to take ownership of your own decisions. There is no one can guarantee the cleanliness of the house. Pictures can be taken at an angle which doesn’t show the cobwebs. Rooms can be made to look neat. I have found that communication with the pet owner is my key. I am a very straightforward person and call a spade a shovel. I always ask for a video walk through of the house. If that request is denied it’s a bye bye from me. I like to see the house and garden in the call.
As some one else pointed out it’s a bit like a dating site. You either connect or you don’t. If you come away from the call with more questions than answers walk away. Red flags must not be ignored.
I have had a couple of sits which could have been better. We just made the best of them as we had committed to them. It was my judgement that was off when I accepted the sits so I have only myself to blame. I have never had to ask THS to step in to resolve anything so I count myself lucky.

Here’s to the next 50+ sits.

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Every single concern I have that I might put myself forward to talk about has already been articulated multiple times, patiently, eloquently, and exhaustively by other users (see all the linking done by the OP). I have seen those users condescended to, met with toxic positivity (something different from negativity or a toxic environment which you seem to conflate) tone policed and derailed in an effort to get clear answers. MissChef is asks a good, clear, and pointed questions that are worth addressing meaningfully instead of literally getting buried in a bunch of cat pictures.

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I count myself among the sitters who ask questions but am seen as a nuisance and negative.

I do not partake in any other forums or social media, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram et al.

I am a sitter with ten year’s experience and have at least 70 sits under my belt with five star reviews. I have been lucky and met some wonderful pets and people and stayed in some amazing properties, any many modest ones.

I thought that with my experience I could make a contribution to this forum but how wrong I was.

Any questions are perceived as negative and the forum seems to be a place where only happy clappy people can share their cute photos.

THS is a great platform and I do my due diligence when applying for sits and I have been very lucky so far. All that I ask is that if something goes drastically wrong there will be someone there at the end of the phone.

Good Luck with it, I am done with the forum.

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A spade and a shovel are two entirely different tools used for entirely different purposes, so I’ll keep my own council, thanks. But well done you for chiming in on something you literally say you have never had to experience after I specifically said I didn’t appreciate exactly that!

May we remind members to communicate with respect and not insulting narrative, no matter how justified you believe it is.

I think the problem is that people are sick of the same topics being brought up over and over. We get it. This is a problem. Everyone knows it. Discussing it for the millionth time isn’t going to change anything. As admin has said all 1349872390487324 times it’s been mentioned, they’re working on solutions. People seem to think “we’re working on it” means “we’ll fix it tomorrow”.

The new review system everyone is talking about? That’s a 12-18 month project. Perhaps you don’t understand what’s involved. Let me break it down for you:

  • research and define the needs
  • write out the user stories
  • account for edge cases
  • figure out the DB architecture and how to integrate it with the current system or develop a porting strategy so data remains intact during the transition
  • figure out how to make it future proof
  • design and user test the UX/UI
  • comp out the new feature for where it will show site-wide
  • PM it to break up the features into deliverables
  • write the code
  • test as each part of the deliverable is completed
  • migrate and test data
  • test it internally
  • do user acceptance testing
  • bug fix and optimize
  • write up documentation
  • launch to the broad community

This is what I do for a living. If a client came to my company and needed this feature developed, we’d quote 12-18 months depending on where they are with user research/stories and comps. The cost for this would be in the $80-120k region, depending on the above. This isn’t something that will or even CAN be done quickly. I imagine that the review system is a current priority since it will help solve many of the ongoing concerns people have. But time spent in the forums responding to people complaining is time taken away from all of the above since work hours are a finite resource.

People are allowed to and should have concerns about things that are going wrong. They should also be realistic and patient in their demand for a resolution.

And before you shouty caps at me that I shouldn’t have an opinion, I’ve had several “bad” sits - none of them were the fault or responsibility of THS. Sometimes things just happen and that’s part of life. You learn from it and move forward.

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So some people complain about members privately, even flagged them ?
i noticed some “old” members prefered to leave, some posts have been closed quickly when they were quite critical. It’s quite surprising. Is it THS philosophy to play "we are all nice, sweet, don’t criticizer, let’s be all positive " We can all learn from mistakes.

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Hi @Candide Vanessa is offline so I will pick this up for you.

Discussions about individual members do not happen publicly or privately, unless there is a formal complaint in which case the members involved will be made aware.

Complain is a relative word, there are members from both sides of our community and across all demographics who are so concerned about posting publicly that they choose not to, sighting voices with continual negative responses within conversations as the reason why.

As an example one new owner was so intimidated by sitters critical of owners across a number of threads that she messaged the Admins saying she was not going to list again “In case she got it wrong” now you may find that surprising but as someone who has been moderating and managing this forum since day one I do not.

We absolutely agree that we can all learn from mistakes and “Nice sweet and non critical” is not the reality or the intent however maintaining a balance in the forum for all our members is the number one priority.

Since its inception we have learned so much not just THS learning from our members but our community learning from each other, owners learning from sitters and vice versa and that has been done through positive and respectful communication.

Look across this forum and you will find all manner of conversations it isn’t all bunny rabbits and butterflies, however there is an old saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar” it’s all in the positioning and delivery.

We have all come through 2 years of unprecedented personal challenge the world is a different place to what it was before the pandemic, people are impatient, they want and demand instant answers and gratification but we truly believe our community is different and can be an example to many on how we have more that joins us than divides, a community with animals at it’s very heart.

There are inspirational relationships being built daily around the world, that is not living in a Mary Poppins world, it is the truth it’s what helps inspire new members to join our community amplifying that message here on the forum is the way we help grow our community.

We know our product is not perfect, show me any product that is, but the team are working to create the best experience and value for money for all members and the forum feedback has been invaluable and will continue to be so.

Yes we should discuss matters we need to address but when we, THS, say we are listening, we are acting and we will work hard to find solutions then you can trust that we mean it and it is happening.

Thank you

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Thanks @CreatureCuddler for spelling out the process. I’m also in the the tech field and have been tempted to lay out this process myself. I’m sure we both work with clients paying 7 figures that still need to go thru the same PD process that could take anywhere from 12-24 months (if the reqs are deemed value-add for most other clients). Hopefully folks will start to understand that there is good value provided by THS and their dev process is just like any other company’s which take time to get right for the greatest good.

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Yep. And this timeline would be for an experienced team who ONLY does software development. We know exactly what to do and how to do it. We have a multi-person team that, combined has almost 40 years experience in business operations, project management, and software development. My guess is that there are 1-2 devs on the THS team, maybe not even full time. And most likely, no one dedicated on the project/product side so you have others who are filling in their roles as they can. Which just means everything is going to take longer. And in the mix they’re also having to do regular site maintenance, bug fixes, and smaller feature development. All this means is that it’s a small team doing a heavy lift while a bunch of people complain it wasn’t done yesterday.

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Thank you @Jennifer and @CreatureCuddler for explaining the process of developing something like a new review system. I never knew it takes that long.

To me, finding out that the review system has its flaws, was a surprise at the beginning, but in the meantime I moved on to letting my gut do the decision, instead of relying too much on multiple 5-stars, which has served me well in my 57years of life…

Our next door neighbor forgot to feed our cats half of the meals during our absence of 10 days, which made us look for trustworthy people who were willing to live in our house when we are away.
Coming home to half starved cats is an experience I don’t want to make again. So far we were lucky with most of our live-in-sitters (some of them arranged privately).

To me THS is nothing else but a way to find these sitters for very low costs compared to the time we are able to use it. I don’t rely on any insurance from THS and I don’t think THS is responsible for each listing or profile on the site. I appreciate that they take members seriously and that new features are introduced, like the requirement to a certain amount of pictures in a listing.

I don’t think that THS can do anything if a sit goes wrong. How and what could they do?
Even if a sitter reported a dirty and filthy house, it’s two parties having different opinions on how it is possible to live. The HOs of dirty houses do live there and probably don’t understand why someone else won’t want to stay.

Nowadays I feel that everybody thinks himself the middle of the world and due to the internet and receiving answers to any questions nearly instantly, the expectations to get results are as high as they can be, which is completely unrealistic.

Social media, be it Facebook or forums, rudeness and hate has become the norm and I appreciate very much that @Angela-HeadOfCommunity , @Vanessa-ForumCMgr and @Snowbird do a lot of mediation and always keep the conversations friendly even when people have very different opinions.

I don’t think at all that there are only cute pet pictures and everything needs to be nice and lovely. But I agree, that a group or a forum can sway to either positive or negative and to keep the balance is hard work for the admins.

I myself are a kind of “no-nonsense-person” and I am neither very diplomatic nor do I like to beat around the bush and I know that not everybody gets along with this.

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What’s ironic is everyone is all “do it like Airbnb” while completely ignoring that Airbnb took YEARS of iteration to get to this state. It wasn’t until 8 YEARS after launching that they implemented a detailed star breakdown for categories. And, they are a multi-BILLION dollar company with dozens of software developers working full time to constantly optimize their site and even more people who ONLY do user research and testing to optimize the experience. Expecting what is essentially a mom and pop shop to work like amazon would be just as ridiculous as expecting THS to be able to mimic Airbnb at the drop of a hat.

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It is a Scottish expression. I missed out the naughty word.
And believe it or not, I do know the difference between a spade and shovel.

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Sorry to see you go from the forum @Twitcher. With your experience and insight you have provided much advice and raised pertinent issues and points. Continue enjoying your sittings!

This is a house sit I did in 2018. The bag contains 8 dead rats. I woke up one night with one on my back! Just because I don’t write about it on a forum doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened to me. I contacted the owner and we sorted the problem It was not the fault or problem of THS.





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Where’s the “gasp” emoji when I need one?!

Your last comment was on point. I believe TH are really just putting a band aid over these issues that are causing the “negativity” (aka constructive criticism) and again pointing the finger at this being a sitters problem not theirs.

I arrived a current sit yesterday. I would give cleanliness a 3/5 and tidiness a 3/5 but due to the fact I can’t (there is no system like this for our end) I’m going to have to mention the specifics of this issue in my review, which won’t sound very good!

So the multiple times they’ve said ‘we know it’s a problem and we’re working on a solution’ is a band aid and them saying it’s the sitters problem?

I legit want to know, what solution do you want and how fast do you think it could/should happen?

The review system, which would deal with the 3/5 rating stuff will take a year or more to build. In the mean time, what do you think they can do? You have the complaint, now what do you think the solution is? Besides an enhanced review system, which is literally not physically possible at this point.

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It could take a week tops! I have worked on websites in my former career. It’s a very simple piece of coding to add.