Articles and Advice
Its true - most of the House Sitters and Owners that you meet here are extraordinarily courteous; it is one of the genuinely lovely aspects of this community. But people still occasionally drop the ball...
People don't always respond to first contact messages promptly. Most do, but it means that some of our members have the frustrating experience of sending messages and getting nothing in return.
To address this, and make everyone's experience on this site even MORE satisfying and pleasant, we've introduced a REPLY RATING system. This rates every member's responsiveness to (first contact) messages. The REPLY RATING appears on a member's search listing and profile page, as a series of 5 dots.
If a member has responded in a timely fashion to every first contact message, their REPLY RATING will remain at a perfect 5 points, represented as five solid "dots". For every (first contact) message that goes un-replied, a point is deducted.
HOW IT WORKS
If a first contact message is not replied to within 2 days, a reminder is sent to the recipient that the message requires a reply. The same happens if it remains un-replied after 4 days. After 5 days, the recipient's Reply Rating is reduced by a point (dot). At this stage, the original message is archived and the sender is notified.
Some points to note:
- First contact messages that you have received can no longer be archived or deleted until they have been replied to.
- The Reply Rating only applies to first contacts. Non-replies to existing contacts don't incur any penalties.
- If a House Sitter is having trouble replying promptly, they can choose a "LIMITED CONTACT" status. With this option chosen, their profile is still live, and messages can still be sent to them, but the sender is aware that there may be a delayed response. Late replies from the sitter will not incur any Reply Rating penalties while this option is selected.
- If a House Owner wants to stop receiving first contact messages they can simply de-activate their house Ad.
- You can also restore your Reply Rating (see below).
HOW TO RESTORE YOUR REPLY RATING
It's actually quite easy - to "redeem" your lost point, just reply promptly to the next two first contact messages that come through. Mind you, having a lower Reply Rating will mean you receive less messages, so this could take a while.
Of course, if you have any valid reason you weren't able to reply to a message, you can contact us, as we are able to restore your Reply Rating manually (at our own discretion).
We've chosen to make the Reply Rating fully "redeemable", rather than allowing a single mistake to permanently scar your profile. We feel that this is a much fairer and more realistic approach, with the emphasis on encouraging prompt replies, rather than just punishing non-replies.
Introducing this Reply Rating means that we've had to introduce another small feature for House Sitters - "LIMITED CONTACT" status.
When this option is chosen, it will show up on the sitter's profile and warn house owners not to expect a prompt reply. Messages can still be sent to the sitter, but if they aren't replied to within the normal time frame, they won't incur a Reply Rating penalty.
If you choose LIMITED CONTACT:
- You should still reply to any outstanding first contact messages.
- Remember to turn off "LIMITED CONTACT" as soon as you want more enquiries.
For House Owners to stop receiving first contact messages, all they have to do is de-activate their house Ad.
REASONS FOR NON-REPLIES
While the vast majority of messages are replied to promptly, some are not. Most of the time, non-replies are due to one of three things:
- It's hard to say "No". If the message recipient is not interested in the sender's offer, many find it awkward to know how to express this in a way that doesn't sound rude. The truth is, a simple "No thanks" is far easier to deal with than a non-response.
- Pooling: Some members like to collect a few candidates before narrowing the field down. While this practice is perfectly fine, each message should still receive a prompt reply, explaining the delay.
- Limited online access: Some people prefer to keep their internet usage limited, and are not online every day. While this is probably quite healthy overall, it can lead to great frustration if messages go un-replied for days at a time.
Whatever the reason, this new Reply Rating will encourage everyone to reply promptly to first contacts - and that will improve the user experience for all of our members.
One of the very encouraging things about running a site like this is the amazing generosity and thoughtfulness of the members. This Reply Rating is a simple way to reward and reinforce that, and to encourage all new members to act with the same courtesy and grace.
It's very easy to keep your Reply Rating a perfect 5 - just reply.
We hope that this new feature helps to improve your own experience of the site, making your house-sitting experiences even more rewarding.