Nextdoor says shout-outs OK any day

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**Today our founder, Christine Cavalier, talks about her experience as a Lead in a neighborhood social network.**

Unlike the “Designated Business Day” the Havertown Community Group and others have on Facebook, the Nextdoor policy is to allow for business “shout outs” (spontaneous recommendations) any day of the month without any restrictions on frequency or subject of posts, nor any scrutiny into the post writer’s affiliations.

Nextdoor and online communities

After being one of local-neighborhood-social-network app’s founding leads in my town, after recruiting over 100 members to my neighborhood group alone, and after being a lead and a moderator for years, I’ve quit the app.

Several weeks ago, a firestorm lit up about a post in the Haverford Nextdoor general stream. A member gave a “shout out” to a local business. This was what we called an “unsolicited recommendation” i.e., no-one asked specifically a recommendation or information about the services the business provided. As a Nextdoor lead, I received a good amount of private messages about the post and others like it. In the comment sections of the posts, arguments arose over whether or not we would allow it.

“No” surfaced as the best answer. People’s motivations/affiliations are impossible to identify, and we didn’t want our stream filled with business posts or blatant advertising. Already we’d had “social sellers” shamelessly plug their wares (and the posts were flagged. I removed them). We didn’t want to encourage more of the same.

Building a forum

Things went along fine once that fight flickered out. We were learning how to use “ISO” for classified ads when we were “in search of” something. We were deciding whether or not to recommend ourselves if someone was asking for specific services, e.g. realtors or massage therapists. I kept an eye on the national Nextdoor Leads forums for guidance. The forum was growing in a polite and calm manner.

Last week a representative told me Nextdoor National wants unsolicited recommendations in the stream, despite our arguments about the flame wars, the spamming of the stream by shady people, or our own community wants. The representative made it clear that these types of recommendations are welcome and should never be deleted.

Breaking up

That’s a deal breaker. To leave any forum open to unsolicited recommendations or promotions is to doom it. It may take a few months or a year, but the Nextdoor main stream will get spammy. If there were a First Law of the Internet, this would be it: Barely moderated sites with no enforced rules will die a flamey death.

Middle class people are constantly bombarded by our own neighbors to buy, fund, donate and support everything under the sun. These social selling tactics and charitable appeals pile up and weigh heavy. Everything else the Nextdoor site supports, like emergency communications, crime alerts, and hints on home sales, will get lost in the heap.

My sincerest apologies. I hope those of you who choose to stay on Nextdoor get use out of the site.