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Guess Who's "Nextdoor!?"

Discovering my community through new-fangled technology.

A few months ago I became aware of Nextdoor through this very publication. This new social network promised to connect me to my neighbors (of whom I know 0), help me solicit advice about local services, and provide a forum for neighborhood safety, Belmont issues and anything else that may be of concern to my fellow residents.

I soon learned that I inhabit a wonderful neighborhood called Plateau Skymont, but no one else from my area had signed up for the service so I had to wait until several weeks later, I got an email informing me I could finally sign up for Nextdoor, and I did!

Our little social network is slowly growing, but with only 58 members and and 7% of our households signed on, not much is happening. However, I love seeing who lives near me, including our "lead" - the head of our neighborhood social network - who at the time happened to be working for the same company as my fiancé. It's really quite fascinating to suddenly have a sense that you're not alone on your street, that there are people just a few doors down that share similar interests with you - and some very different ones!

Although it has yet to happen, one of my network members suggested a block party or a small meet and greet gathering, something that I was also interested in doing so I can physically meet my neighbors. However, with the small participation in our network, it's hard to get anything going. Nextdoor offers the option of sending postcards to your neighbors to encourage them to join, or printing flyers, but something about that seems a little creepy to me, sending postcards to someone you don't even know. Maybe it's just me ...

And then Nextdoor did something awesome! They opened up the lines of communication to surrounding neighborhoods, so if someone in a neighborhood near me chooses to share their post with multiple neighborhoods, rather than just their own, that post shows up in my feed! Suddenly there's all sorts of people filling up my feed, asking for recommendations for babysitters and recommending mechanics, offering items for sale and sharing local events. 

Two particular posts struck me. First, someone in the Highlands offered five opera librettos for free. I immediately jumped on the opportunity, since I sing opera as part of my varied repertoire, and the next day I found myself driving through this neighborhood I didn't even know existed! As a relative newcomer to Belmont and the Peninsula, Nextdoor really has the potential to broaden my horizons.

And then today, I saw a post for a furniture item for sale, that the seller will deliver, an item of furniture my fiancé was just saying a few weeks ago he'd really like to have, constructed of wood that I particularly like. What an opportunity! As soon as the soon-to-be hubby and I talked, I messaged that person.

I'm urging other Belmont residents to try out Nextdoor. It's easy to sign up, easy to verify you actually live in your neighborhood (for security/privacy), and I believe the site has a real potential to enhance our relationships with our neighbors, as well as our own lives (through recommendations, buy/sell boards, event sharing, safety alerts, etc.).

Try it out today! www.nextdoor.com

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Terri Cook October 04, 2012 at 11:58 PM
I like Next Door but had the opposite reaction when the neighborhoods expanded to include neighborhoods in San Carlos and San Mateo, several of which don't even abut anywhere in Belmont. Some of the postings are city-specific. I've asked for an "opt out" option. Messages are beginning to feel like clutter. I don't mind seeing things posted from other neighborhoods in Belmont, but I don't need to get a message about the San Mateo city manager looking for input on something....
Claire Karoly Ard October 05, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Perhaps an improvement on the system would be to allow you to specify the specific nearby neighborhoods you'd like to hear from - I have 10 nearby neighborhoods and not all of them are in Belmont. I've found some good opportunities from people outside Belmont but I agree, we don't need to hear goverment updates from San Mateo, San Carlos, etc. It would be useful if you could select, out of the x number of neighborhoods nearby, which ones you want to receive updates from. On the flip side, the San Mateo City Manager should only post city updates to San Mateo neighborhoods. Right now, you do have the option in your settings to only receive updates from your neighborhood.
Terri Cook October 09, 2012 at 04:36 PM
Claire, the problem is that my choices are 1) only my neighborhood (Central), or 2) all Belmont neighborhoods PLUS 11 "nearby" residents, which seems to include much of San Mateo. I would like to hear from other Belmont neighborhoods (only) but that isn't a choice. The posting from the San Mateo City Manager came from a resident of a San Mateo neighborhood, not from the city manager.
Claire Karoly Ard October 09, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Terri, I addressed that problem in my previous comment: "Perhaps an improvement on the system would be to allow you to specify the specific nearby neighborhoods you'd like to hear from..." The system could be improved if you could exclude some of the nearby neighborhoods but hear from the ones you are interested in.
Claire Karoly Ard October 10, 2012 at 05:09 PM
Terri, another tip: I was on Nextdoor yesterday and clicked on the profile of a user in another neighborhood. I noticed that there was a "mute" button - I haven't tried it but my assumption is selecting it would bar you from seeing posts in the future from that individual. If you want to continue receiving posts from outside your neighborhood for the time being, you might try muting certain users such as the San Mateo City Manager so you don't continue to see their posts in your feed. I can't guarantee that works, but that is my hunch. Hope this helps!

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