I tend to agree that falling back on the kindness of strangers in anything other than exceptional or emergency situations is to be avoided.
Looks like I cocked up the quote thing:
This from vegan:
How do you regard things such as Couch Surfing in the equation? I have Couch Surfed all over the world and accepted many free meals and beds. When I travelled 12 years ago, I barely spent any money on food or accommodation. Some people regard this as taking advantage of people, but all my hosts singed up to the website and were happy to host me. I believe in Karma, and when in the UK I have hosted over 200 people at my house. I have collected people from airports, provided written invitations, helped people find jobs and even hosted one girl for nearly 6 months free of charge. If I take from something, I always try and put back into the community. That's why I don't feel any guilt accepting a free meal or accommodation when travelling.[/quote]
I certainly wasn't thinking of couchsurfing or warmshowers. As you say, people have signed up for this and in theory it is reciprocal. Maybe if someone only takes and never gives, then it might apply.
Personally I have never cs'd or ws'd, partly because they didn't exist when I was an impecunious traveller. I can afford hotels now and enjoy having my own space at the end of the day - I'm not even sure how I'd get on sharing a room if I were to team up with somebody again.
I used to hitchhike a lot 40 odd years ago and I still give lifts, but it is very rare to see any hitchhikers nowadays. I was occasionally fed and had a bed offered a couple of times. One of the things I loved about hitching was you never knew what would happen. As with most things nowadays, cs and ws is much more organised and can be booked in advance.