Wednesday, February 13, 2013

My Failed Nextdoor Experience

Last year we tried, and failed, to establish our neighborhood on Nextdoor. This review covers what we learned from the experience.
  • Our neighborhood is more insular then we ever imagined

We're stuck in a web we spent decades spinning. Our social norms and architectural choices stand against us. A lot more than good intentions are needed to turn this titanic.
  • Our neighborhood is composed of an older disinterested and offline demographic

About half of our neighbors are retired, and many more aren't far behind. Much to my surprise, many from the older generation simply couldn't get excited about a vision for a better neighborhood. The few that were interested in actively making the neighborhood a better place, had no interest in using a digital tool to do so.
  • Many people worked very hard to make it this way, and don't want it to change.

After all, who built all those houses with garages as front doors, private back porches, and fenced in yards? That's a reality we have to face, even those who are online, some actually want the neighborhood to be this way. All you can do is communicate the benefits of the connected and collaborative vision you have for the neighborhood, then accept and respect theirs.
  • Everyone assumes you are selling something, even if it's not obvious what

While going door to door to invite people to the network provided a good excuse to talk to our neighbors and meet many people for the first time, that also might have been our biggest mistake. Without an existing repertoire, I put myself in their shoes, peaking through my half opened door at stranger trying to get me to sign up for something. I would naturally be skeptical and suspicious too.
  • Those who want a more vibrant neighborhood, are thirsty for it!

Despite the barriers we encountered, three households were anxious to get online and interacted through the platform for a couple months. One of whom was so excited they signed up just from the flier I left on the door when they weren't home. Those first messages exchanged on the site led to a great friendship. A flier really can work!
  • Even though our digital neighborhood failed, our physical neighborhood is better for it

Meaningful connections were made. Neighbors got invited over for dinner. Pets got fed when neighbors were out on vacation. A great tile contractor was recommended. When a house was burglarized, concerned neighbors came together.

As a testament to the lasting impact, some of this has even occurred after the plug got pulled on our digital neighborhood after failing to signup the minimum required neighbors.

Even if our neighborhood is not quite ready; now is increasingly becoming the right time and place for many to use Nextdoor as a tool to help turn their barren streets and locked doors into thriving neighborhoods.

I wrote a reflective post explaining why I began learning to code, but looking forward, a job at somewhere like Nextdoor that is changing the world for the better, is something I aspire towards.

At this point I'd be happy with an internship too.


Chris said...

maybe next year! any future hopes, or is all lost?

DK said...

I don't see anything as being lost. I would give the site another shot with my current neighborhood when it's apperent we have a core group that would be interested.

Sarah said...

How did you pass on Nextdoor to your neighbors?

DK said...

We went door to door with fliers that the site generates specifically for the neighborhood you are trying to establish. Left fliers for people we were never able to talk to face to face.