It’s 2am. That “ghetto bird” circling overhead for the 15th time tonight got you down? Probably you and everyone in your neighborhood! But if you log onto Facebook to complain about it, you won’t get that much sympathy amongst your friend group (what, ZERO likes? Can I get a witness?), because your friend group is so spread out all over LA and beyond. Well, what if there was a hallowed ground for your complaint, a place where everyone knows… if not your name, then at least what the heck you mean when you say, “This buzzing is louder than a bee next my ear, can’t get any sleep!” because they live right nearby!
Launched in 2011, but finally getting some word of mouth around town, it’s called Nextdoor.com, and it’s like Facebook, but divided up by neighborhood. Or for those of you old enough to remember, it’s akin to the Facebook of the good-old days, whose membership was centered around a different sort of microcosm, the University, and where members’ college-issued emails were the proof you needed to join your University’s network.
Want to offload a piece of furniture without the potential creepiness of Craigslist? Maybe you want to have a yard sale and invite people personally. Or post an alert about a recent string of break-ins nearby. Instead of Facebook crickets, you get “thanks” (Nextdoor’s equivalent of a “like”) from people who actually give a hoot, because they live there, too. Click on these screengrabs to get an idea of how it looks and works.
Per Nextdoor.com, neighborhood pages are all password-protected and not accessible by search engine. So that way your name and what you think about puppy playdates won’t be broadcast around the internet. To further lessen the weirdo-factor, “each member must verify their address to join so you know you can trust who you are sharing with.” That seems key. They also claim they’ll never share your info with third parties.
I went ahead and joined to check it out for my area, a maybe 1/2 sq mi region of Sherman Oaks known as “Ernie’s Walk” on the site. Looks like whoever “creates” your region (already demarcated by Maponics) gets to name it, sometimes after a landmark, in my area’s case a revamped portion of the LA River running nearby. Nextdoor.com’s pre-screening seems fairly thorough, there are various ways to verify you live in the area. Once you join, there are options to put your picture up on your profile and fill out things like your occupation, the names and types of your pets and your spouse’s name. Could be a good business networking tool. For the safety-conscious, I have an important alert: go in immediately to your profile and change the option where it shows your home address. It will show your address as a default setting if you don’t change it to the general street. This seems less than ideal, and is my one complaint so far.
I moved to this area of Sherman Oaks fairly recently, so I don’t recognize any neighbors (46 currently listed in the Ernie’s Walk region, but more if I “expand” to nearby areas), but I will hang tight since my region was just created a month ago, and see how things take shape! After all, I can now post the most mundane things about my nearby surroundings, and maybe people will finally care?! The neighborhood is my oyster.