Social media site clicking with neighbors

Nextdoor.com lets users get, stay connected to other residents of their neighborhood

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

Published:

 

Chuck Pierson had a book about raising chickens he didn’t need and was looking for a postal scale to weigh a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car. He solved both of those problems using nextdoor.com, a new social media site geared towards neighborhoods.

He helped a neighbor and a neighbor helped him.

“I’ve never seen anything that’s comparable to this,” he said of the site.

It’s because of interactions like this that the site is growing in popularity in a few Vancouver neighborhoods, including Northwest, Landover-Sharmel and Wildwood.

The site is a little like Facebook -- users sign up for the site, enter personal bios and choose what to share with other site users. The big difference is nextdoor users can only interact and see information from people in their same neighborhoods.

“The best way to describe it is a wonderful way to meet and stay connected with your neighbors,” said Pam Nordick, who signs into the Landover-Sharmel neighborhood page. She’s lived in the east Vancouver neighborhood since 1996 and has learned quite a few things about people she didn’t know before using nextdoor.com.

She learned that a couple she knew for quite some time was from Gary, Ind., Nordick’s hometown.

“It was just mind-boggling to find out they were from my same hometown,” she said.

‘Within the neighborhood’

Jaimie Manriquez, chairman of the Landover-Sharmel neighborhood association, introduced the neighborhood to the website about three months ago after reading about it in a technology magazine. At the time he was managing two neighborhood websites and looking into making a Facebook page for neighbors to connect.

Now about 45 homes in his neighborhood use nextdoor.com to stay connected, post updates, write restaurant or service reviews and put items up for sale or trade.

Manriquez says he’s seen some people get active online that don’t typically get involved in regular neighborhood business. He also thinks the site, which limits interaction to people in the same neighborhood, does a lot to counter privacy concerns people might have with Facebook.

“This keeps it right within the neighborhood,” he said.

‘Working out great’

Nextdoor Senior Communications Manager Kelsey Grady said the service does that by verifying addresses. The first user in an area draws an outline of their neighborhood on a map. User addresses must fit within that boundary to be a part of the neighborhood page. Nextdoor verifies user addresses by sending a physical post card with an activation code, asking users to use a credit card tied to the address or doing a reverse phone dial to a landline, Grady said. Users can also be invited by other verified users.

The service is free. In the future it will be looking to make money, potentially off local advertising, Grady said. She said the site won’t sell user data or have it indexed by Google.

Some of those policies appeal to residents of the Northwest neighborhood on the west side of town.

Noland Hoshino, co-founder of a social media business, [B]cause Media, said his neighbors were concerned about using Facebook for neighborhood communications because of security. He thought nextdoor might answer some of those concerns.

“It’s been working out great,” Hoshino said. “Now I feel much more close to my neighbors than ever before.”

After using the site for little over a month, Hoshino says it’s starting to see more people signing up.

Judi Bailey of the Vancouver Office of Neighborhoods is also using the service in the Wildwood neighborhood.

“The idea of having it be a social media that is strictly in your neighborhood is very appealing,” she said. “I’m hoping it will do a lot for our neighborhood to help us get to know each other better.”