People are able to make up their own minds - if someone is looking for a USD $10 a night dorm room, they're not going to book a USD $500 a night 5* Hotel by accident.
true, but you're lookign at extremes. what about someone looking for a €25 euro dorm bed but is bombarded with €40 hotel rooms? what about people who book a 'hostel' but end up in a hotel?
Perhaps your definition is becoming dated, and doesn't take into account changing perceptions towards Hostels. To me, being a Hostel isn't about the sleeping arrangements - it's all the other stuff, it's the ethos that makes a Hostel what it is. There's still a place for "old school" Backpackers, but there's a place for Boutique Hostels as well - your definition doesn't take account of the progression & development of Hostels to meet changing expectations.
nobody's doubting that the traditional 'hostel' market is changing but the nature of a definition is that its specific. whilst it eventually worked in 'the castle' (great movie), 'its the vibe' doesnt really make for a good definition. sure, it may fit your definition of a hostel but what about person B's? if you're going to open the definition up to anywhere that embraces a hostel 'ethos' you completely defeat the purpose of defining the word in the first place; either because anyone can define the 'ethos' as they choose or because you end up using the term in the defition: 'a hostel is anywhere that defines themselves as a hostel' isnt a definition, its circular reasoning.
hostel, hotels, boutique hostels, campsites all exist in the same market and may appeal to the same people. equally, each property may appeal to multiple markets - but that doesnt change what a hostel is. and to me, and it would appear most here, an absolutely integral part of a hostel is sharing your accommodation. a hostel that doesnt offer this is a hotel or guesthouse - maybe a great hotel/guesthouse, maybe one aimed at young people - whatever market its going after.
i should add, please dont feel offended or defensive about our definition. nobody is saying taht if you dont have shared dorms you're somehow a lesser facility, or that we dont have loads in common. its just that just as cats and dogs both have 4 legs, fur and sharp teeth; theyre still fundamentally different in certain areas, and thats what defines them. its probably a cliche, but its what separates us (hostels) from other accommodation providers is what defines us.