I’ve received a bunch of responses to my recently posted call for input on home swap network reviews. Two things stand out in these responses:
- People Like Us is a cult.
- I need to provide some standards for counting active listings.
Ok number 1 is a joke. I’m a member of PLU and I’m not aware of any cult. But if you look at the responses to that post, you might think there’s a secret PLU campaign going on. The reality is, members of PLU are super enthusiastic. And many of them want a larger network so they take every opportunity to spread the word.
Actually number 2 comes from Drew at PLU. He asked how I want him to count “active” listings. I’ve never offered clear guidelines about what I consider an active listing. In fact, I used to call it a “member count” until I realized that what I’m really reporting is the number of home listings. It’s entirely possible that lots of people in a network have more than one home. And the number of homes listed is the more interesting piece of data. It’s also the easier thing for me to compute on most networks.
A few years ago I also introduced a new column of data to my home swap network comparison spreadsheet showing the “listings claimed” when I learned that some networks were claiming wildly inaccurate numbers. Where numbers are provided by a network and I don’t have any evidence that they are wrong, I assume they are accurate. But when I have reliable information suggesting that claims are inaccurate I will attempt to count the listings myself and put their claim in this separate column. This preserves the integrity of my “listings” column which I know people use to compare network sizes. I also ask all networks to tell me if my counts are wrong. I’m happy to update my numbers whenever I’m given more accurate info.
I recently proposed some criteria for measuring active listings. First we have to start with members.
Here are things that I’d say are a reasonably proxy for active membership:
- Payment for membership in a network
- Actively opting in to membership in a network in the past year (i.e. the SwitcHome model)
- Responding to a swap request or sending out a request within the past year
- Creating a new, complete profile within the year (including pictures, not including calendar availability)
Once we establish who is an active member, I would count all of their listings as active. Though this assumes that networks have a way for people to deactivate or delete old listings as needed. Obviously we don’t all stay in the same home all of our lives!
So that’s it. If anyone wants to propose improvements I’m happy to hear them. But for now this is just a suggestion to the networks. I ask all networks to provide me with updated listing counts annually. I can’t actually enforce these rules or implement them myself.