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There are all sorts of niche social networks. There are networks for gamers. Networks for beer drinkers. Even networks for academics. But possibly the best social network that you haven’t joined yet is Nextdoor.
Nextdoor is a free, private, local social network for people that live in a neighborhood. That might not sound like such a cool thing, but hear me out. It’s a fantastically useful tool. You can buy and sell things more reliably than on Craigslist and get locally-relevant news — even get help with projects.
It’s time to join the Nextdoor social network. Let’s check it out.
What Is Nextdoor?
I mentioned that Nextdoor is a private, local social network. But what does that mean?
It means that when you join Nextdoor, you need to enter your real address and verify it to prove that you live in the neighborhood that you joined. When I joined my neighborhood, I used my phone number. You can also use your credit card, last four digits of your social security number, LexisNexis, or having a neighbor confirm your address.
This ensures that everyone in your neighborhood network actually lives in your neighborhood.
Beyond that, there’s only one major difference from most of the other social networks you’re on: it’s a moderated social network. Each community has Leads, which are volunteers (they’re not employed by Nextdoor) that help with the upkeep of the neighborhood network.
They vote to remove posts that violate Nextdoor’s guidelines, update the neighborhood boundaries, verify members, adjust the About section for the neighborhood, and so on. This helps keep out incessant self-promotion and ads, non-family-friendly stuff, public shaming, and all the other things that make more open networks irritating.
Here are a few things that are in my Nextdoor feed right now:
- Free moving boxes
- Babysitter needed
- Suggestion for using Amazon Lockers as a secure delivery method
- Missing dog
- Lots of things for sale
- A poll about whether the name of our neighborhood should be changed
If you think Nextdoor might not be very active, that poll has over 130 comments on it right now. Obviously activity level will vary by neighborhood, but I think this is pretty impressive.
I used Nextdoor recently to get help with a project. My wife and I bought a table that I’d like to refinish. I asked for advice on how to remove the old varnish, I was given a detailed response with product recommendations and tips from someone who has experience in furniture refinishing.
He even stopped by to answer a few questions I had and see how it was going. It felt like something out of a TV show about the 1950s.
Is Privacy an Issue on Nextdoor?
Nextdoor takes privacy seriously. You have to share your real name and address to confirm that you’re part of the neighborhood. But beyond that, it’s up to you where your information is shared.
And while Nextdoor makes money on ads, they don’t share any of your information with third-party advertisers. That’s great for privacy-conscious users. They do use your information for targeting ads.
If you sign up for Nextdoor, you should immediately visit the privacy settings (click on the menu in the top-right corner of the page, select Settings, and go to the Privacy tab). There you can choose the level of detail that various members see.
As you can see, no one can see my full address. They can only see the street I live on:
How to Join Nextdoor
Joining Nextdoor is easy. Here’s what you need to do:
- Head to nextdoor.com. On the front page, you’ll see fields for entering your home address.
- Enter your address. Use your real address, or you won’t be able to join. Remember, that’s part of the appeal! When you’re done, click Find Your Neighborhood.
- Confirm your neighborhood and account info. Nextdoor will tell you which neighborhood that address is part of and ask you for an account password and your gender. Fill those fields out, and hit Sign up. (You don’t need to worry about a Nextdoor invitation code.)
- Verify your address. You’ll now need to verify your address using one of the methods listed. Entering your phone number or credit card number will probably be easiest, but you can use any method you like. If Nextdoor can’t verify your address, you can also email a copy of an official document that shows your address.
- Start getting to know your neighbors! That’s really all there is to it. Once you’ve confirmed your information, you can start connecting with your neighbors.
Joining a Second Neighborhood on Nextdoor
Many people ask about joining a second neighborhood on Nextdoor. Unfortunately, there’s no good way to do this.
Nextdoor recommends using a different email address or an email alias to sign up for a second neighborhood if you have a second home. And at the moment, there’s no better way to do it.
Tips for Staying Safe on Nextdoor
I’ve been speaking very positively about Nextdoor so far. And I think that’s a great tool. But there are always privacy and safety concerns on social networks. Even more so when you’re required to share information.
So here are a few tips to make sure you stay safe on Nextdoor:
Don’t Let Anyone See Your Full Address
Your address is one of the pieces of information that identity thieves need. Visit the privacy settings to make sure that no one can see your full address.
Report Any Harassment or Harmful Behavior
If you witness harassment or any sort of behavior that goes against what Nextdoor stands for, report it to your neighborhood Leads right away. They can only do so much, but it’s a good start.
Nextdoor is generally a pretty good place to hang out. But there are plenty of stories of bad uses of the network, including harassment, shaming, and everything else you see on other social networks. It you see any of that, report it immediately.
Be Careful When Meeting People
I mentioned that one of the members of Nextdoor stopped by my apartment. I only allowed that because I felt safe and was confident in my safety. If anyone asks you to meet, think carefully about whether that’s a good idea.
If Harassment Goes Offline, Call the Police
Call the police if you’re being harassed on Nextdoor or any social network and the interaction moves off the screen and into your real life. Don’t take any chances with your safety.
Will You Join Nextdoor’s Local Social Network?
I haven’t been on Nextdoor for very long, but so far it’s been a positive and useful experience. It won’t replace Facebook or Twitter, and there’s a good chance I’ll stay away from regular social interactions, just sticking to seeking and offering help.
But many people find the network to be a great tool for a seemingly long-lost activity: getting to know your neighbors.
Are you on Nextdoor? Will you join? Or are you reticent to share that kind of information online? Share your thoughts in the comments below!