Meet your neighbors—virtually at least

Know your neighbors? This new site wants to introduce you to them.

Mar 3, 2020, 10:33 am*

Internet Culture

 

Kevin Collier

Nextdoor aims to be the next Facebook, just restricted by neighborhood.

Meet Nextdoor, a new social networking site that distinguishes itself by focusing exclusively on its users’ neighborhood.

It may seem that the world doesn’t need yet another networking site, given that not even Google can usurp Facebook’s dominance. But Nextdoor founder Nirav Tolia thinks he’s found an angle. As he pointed out to All Things D, “Our neighbors and friends are different people.”

It’s actually by taking a page out of Facebook’s original playbook that Nextdoor distinguishes itself: rather than being a general network, it’s a series of exclusive communities. (Remember when Facebook was initially only available to those who possessed an Ivy League email address?)

Nextdoor networks are tightly restricted by geography, and potential members must provide proof of residence to sign up.

Nextdoor’s goal is to create online version of a face-to-face neighborly community. You might not be friends with the people in your network, for instance, but you still want to be in touch with them about, say, who nearby is a good babysitter, when potholes are supposed to be filled or who’s responsible for those wailing cats that won’t shut up at night. It may even provide a way to meet your neighbors for the first time.

Unlike messages boards that focus on particular neighborhoods, Nextdoor allows users to manage how they receive updates. And the idea is that they’d be safe from trolls because every user goes through a verification process in which he or she is required to use his or her own name.

Nextdoor has already established networks of 400 neighborhoods in 40 states. Still, if your area isn’t already registered, there’s substantial process to getting it recognized: you have to define its boundaries, as well as get ten fellow residents to sign up within a fifteen-day period.

On the other hand, if your neighborhood has already been established, Nextdoor might send you a postcard inviting you to the network, and since that verifies your residential address, you won’t need further verification for your account.

The launch is not without controversy. Raj Abhyanker, the founder of the now-defunct site Fatdoor.com, another neighborhood-focused social networking site, claims he pitched the idea of Nextdoor to its investor, Benchmark, in 2007, and has filed suit against Benchmark. For his part, Tolia told All Things D that Abhyanker’s claims have no merit.

But plenty of good has come of the site in its short tenure since it debuted October 26th. “Nextdoor Sandpoint in Seattle, WA organized their first pumpkin carving contest through Nextdoor this past Halloween,” Kelsey Grady, Nextdoor’s Communications Manager, told the Daily Dot via email. “They used Nextdoor to invite neighbors to the pumpkin carving, collect RSVPs, and they shared photos with each other after the contest.”

Members of Nextdoor Sandpoint were unavailable for comment, as no one from the Daily Dot lives there. Thus we were unable to access their contact information.

Photo by P Pogo

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*First Published: Nov 17, 2011, 9:00 am