5 Types of Neighbors and How to Handle Them

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5 Types of Neighbors and How to Handle Them

You can pick your friends, but not your family — or your neighbors. Heres what you need to know.

It used to be that everyone knew their neighbors. At the very least, youd meet them after the kid next door accidentally hit a baseball through your living room window, or an apron-clad housewife appeared on your back porch to borrow a cup of sugar. But thats so 1950s. During these days of two-paycheck parents commuting and cocooning because theyre afraid to let their kids run unsupervised outside, it is becoming increasingly common to buy a house and eight years later realize that you have never met your neighbors.

If thats your situation, consider yourself lucky, because oddball and unusual neighbors do still exist. You may find yourself in constant contact with them, especially if you live in a community with yards that are just about a yard long. How you co-exist can make all the difference between living happily ever after or litigiously ever after. Thats why weve created a primer on some of the neighbor archetypes you might expect to find and how to handle them.

Who they are: Theyre friendly enough. They just never seem to mow their lawn more than once or twice a year, and they have a 1978 Buick rusting in their front yard. Granted, if theyre bad enough, you may have noticed this before moving in, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day: They may have looked presentable when you gave them the once-over.

How to handle them: Communicate, communicate, communicate, suggests Jodi R. R. Smith, author and etiquette consultant in Marblehead, Mass.

She knew a group of neighbors who were upset that a house on their block wasnt taking care of the lawn. The neighbors assigned a delegate to knock on the door to discuss the yard, and when the owner came out of the house and the problem was explained, she broke into tears. It had turned out that she was in the midst of a divorceandan aggressive chemo treatment. The neighbors then organized a rotating schedule of lawn care for the ill neighbor.

Things are not always what they seem, says Smith.

Who they are: Sad but true, some neighbors are not worth getting to know well — but its still good to know something about their dislikes and boundaries, so you dont cross them. In 2006, for instance, headlines were made when Charles Martin, an elderly man living in a suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, shot a 15-year-old boy to death because he had apparently made the error of walking across his meticulously manicured lawn.

How to handle them: Martin — who is in jail — may have been destined to snap no matter what his neighbors did or didnt do, but he was well known for the care he lavished on his lawn, and in theory, if that 15-year-old had been more aware of the kooks devotion to his lawn, it might have kept him from going anywhere near the home.

You cant consume yourself with worry looking for red flags in your neighbors. However, if youre aware of them, it may help you from igniting their fury.

And if you have young kids, you really should look at the website for the National Sex Offender Registry. If there is anyone in your neighborhood you need to be aware of, and theyre on this list, theyll pop up on a map of your community.

Who they are: These are the Joneses who you try valiantly to keep up with, but cant. Theyre always getting a new addition onto their home. They have the perfect blades of grass treated by a team of dedicated lawn professionals. They have the new Maserati parked in the driveway. And, of course, whats so maddening is that theyre doing nothing wrong. You cant walk up to their front door and say, Excuse me, but youre being too rich.

How to handle them: The best you can do is learn to cope, suggests Long Island novelist Saralee Rosenberg, author ofDear Neighbor, Drop Dead(HarperCollins, July 2008).

Rosenberg, who did a lot of nonfiction research for the tale of a harried mother who often feels inferior to her wealthier neighbor, says its important to remember that every family is dysfunctional to some degree, and that just because a lawn is beautifully maintained and a house is immaculate, doesnt mean that trouble isnt brewing. Not that youd wish that on someone, but if you find yourself envious, its important to remember that you probably dont know the whole story.

Who they are: Theyre the folks who barge into your living room and convince you to invest in their new ferret farm, and suddenly, within a half hour, youve been fired after getting into a raucous pie fight in the employee lunchroom.

How to handle them: Wait, sorry — that only happens on TV. If a neighbor actually pulls a Kramer and barges into your living room and then starts to raid your refrigerator, feel free to call the police and press charges.

Who they are: Who arent they? Theyre the aforementioned neighbors as well as anyone who makes your life more complicated than it needs to be.

How to handle them: The thing I do is keep a good rapport, says Susan Nelson, a landscape designer in Tampa, Fla. I really feel that the small amount of physical contact goes a long way with neighbors. I notice who keeps to themselves and it comes off as being unfriendly. These days, there arent many chances of making impressions with your neighbors, so a simple wave or hello can represent you well.

Rosenberg concurs, piling onto Smiths plea for a little communication. If you explain your problem in a reasonable, nice way, suddenly youre no longer anonymous. Often we have an issue with a neighbor we dont know, and so we hate their guts, and we dont even know their name.

And if you dont say something to your neighbor, why should they stop doing whatever theyre doing? If you do talk, a solution may just be forthcoming. After all, Rosenberg adds, Most people dont want to bethat neighbor.

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Neighbor Disputes

Everyone has neighbors, and where there are neighbors, there can be problems. Whether its a barking dog, an untrimmed tree, a cluster of cars in the front yard, or a loud party, find answers about how to deal with challenging neighbors while maintaining your sanity and quality of life.

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My Tree Fell on Neighbors Garage: Who Pays?

Who is responsible, when your tree, or a branch from your tree, falls on your neighbors garage or fence or shed and causes serious damage?

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Must I cut off the top of my trees because my neighbor wants the view preserved?

Check the local rules and regulations — you may not be legally required to trim your trees.

We want to remove trees on our land, but the neighbor says no. What to do?

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How Can I Stop Neighbor From Growing Marijuana in Backyard?

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How Do I Stop My Neighbors From Using Their House as a Vacation Rental?

Vacationing tenants of the neighbor driving you crazy?

How Do I Stop My Neighbor From Building a Second Story Addition?

Local ordinances and permitting requirements may give you grounds on which to block a neighbors new construction.

What Can I Do About My Neighbors Loud, Stinky Chicken Coop?

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Adverse Possession: When Trespassers Become Property Owners

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What Rights Does Neighbor Gain to Your Property If Fence Is Misplaced

Strategies for handling a neighbor whos cutting trees on, or otherwise using, property thats legally yours despite the fence location.

Neighbor Built Fence Over the Property Line. Does He Now Own That Land?

The fact that your neighbors are not actively using the portion of your land behind their fence would not stop them from asserting an ownership claim based on adverse possession.

Can I build a tall fence to put some distance between my crazy neighbor and me?

Making sure to comply with state laws and any homeowners association rules before constructing a fence, particularly for the express purpose of limiting contact with a neighbor.

Whats a Spite Fence and What Can I Do About the One My Neighbors Built?

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My neighbors fence is really ugly. Can I make him take it down?

Without a local statute regulating fences, or a homeowners association regulating community aesthetics, its unlikely that a lawsuit will successfully force your neighbor to replace an ugly fence.

My neighbors new fence is on his property, but blocks access to my trash cans. Is this legal?

Most courts will not allow a neighbor to install a fence on what is essentially a shared boundary, particularly if it interferes with your use and enjoyment of your property — but is a lawsuit the right approach?

Can my neighbor replace our shared fence and require me to pay a share?

Shared payment for a fence is not required in every situation!

How can I protect my property boundary lines when my neighbor wants to build a fence?

How to deal with a neighbor who seems to be taking over some of your property.

Must my neighbor pay for the damage hes caused to my fence?

Explaining to a neighbor that he is actually responsible for fence maintenance.

Frequently Asked Questions About Neighbor Disputes

Neighbors Creating Nuisances or Breaking Laws

Frequently Asked Questions About Neighbor Disputes

Neighbors Creating Nuisances or Breaking Laws

Nextdoor has a racism problem and heresow its trying to fix it

Nextdoor has a racism problem, and heres how its trying to fix it

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Nextdoor has a racism problem, and heres how its trying to fix it

Nextdoor, a location-based social network designed to connect neighbors, discovered it had a problem. Among its ten million registered users and 100,000 active neighborhoods, there was an undercurrent of racial tension.

The problem persisted primarily in the crime and safety section, where users can report criminal activity and alert other users of everything from property damage to stolen goods. But some users, in reporting neighborhood happenings on Nextdoor, would highlight a persons race to express concern and suspicion.

Earlier this year, theNew York Timesdocumentedposts that highlighted what it looked like when racial profiling reared its head on Nextdoor in neighborhoods around Oakland, California.

One post caught by the publicationsuggestedresidents be on the lookout for two young African-Americans, slim, baggy pants, early 20s. Another warned of a light-skinned black female walking her dog while talking on her phone. I dont recognize her, the post read. Has anyone described any suspect of crime like her?

The issue is anything but exclusive to Oakland, though organizations in the city likeNeighbors for Racial Justicetook a particularly active role in pushing Nextdoor to address the issue. Examples can be found in just about every community.

Today in racist Nextdoor posts and horrible /sHDIISmWmd

Molly McHugh (@iammollymchugh)September 2, 2015

@Nextdoornever fails to deliver on the old Im not racist, but m/RODaUv504r

Devin Brown (@TexasDevin)August 20, 2015

My mom forwarded me this racist message she got from her neighbor on something called nextdoor dot com.pic.twitter.com/Aih3DxsiwT

Kaassouffl Liker (@mattcornell)April 29, 2015

My phone just blew up because a lady on Definitely Not Racist website Nextdoor dot com saw a black guy.pic.twitter.com/ZvhYvFI4QK

just some guy (@UtopianParalax)October 15, 2015

In [email protected] about loud fireworks, this lady gets called out for being racist and then demands an apologypic.twitter.com/xwJrzf8xOq

Eric Fries n Burg (@DrJorts)February 9, 2016

Nextdooracknowledgedthe issue and set out to fix it.

The company adopted a broad definition of racial profiling, and specified in its help center that the platform expressly prohibits posts that assume someone is suspicious because of their race or ethnicity and prohibits posts that give descriptions of suspects that are so vague as to cast suspicion over an entire race or ethnicity.

But setting rules does not necessarily mean users will abide by them, so Nextdoor had to develop a system that could enforce the policy.

After six months of extensive testing and input from advocacy groups in Oakland, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Department of Justice (DOJ), the company is rolling out tools that it believes will have a significant impact in curbing racial profiling.

The new tool adds hurdles to the posting process in the crime and safety section of Nextdoor, essentially forcing users to think twice before they post something potentially harmful or prejudiced.

When a user attempts to report something on the platform, an algorithm automatically detects if any racially coded terminology is used. If it is, the platform will require the poster to provide two additional descriptors before allowing them to make the post.

Posts that are too short are also prompted to provide additional context, with the assumption being some posts are so brief as to not actually provide any useful information. The tool is designed to make the virtual neighborhood watches that form on Nextdoor both more mindful and more informative with what they share.

Nextdoor co-founder and CEO Nirav Tolia told the Daily Dot the prompt for additional information was inspired by the Oakland police department, which told Nextdoor they dont want more police reports, they want more information.

The process may seem somewhat counterintuitive for a social network, which generally wants to remove as much friction as possible in the posting process. But Nextdoor is making it harder to post certain information, guided by the belief that quality is much more important than quantity.

Thus far, that concept seems to be working. In tests run by the company, which eventually reached as many as 80,000 neighborhoods, Nextdoor saw a 50 percent increase in abandonmentposts that users started and then decided to ditch.

That would be typically be a problem, unless the posts that were abandoned contained the type of content the platform would rather didnt appear in the first place.

As for the posts that did make it through the new algorithmic check, Tolia reported Nextdoor saw incidents of racial profiling drop by 75 percent. We did not anticipate this type of improvement, Tolia said.

He explained that about 20 percent of posts on Nextdoor are made in the crime and safety section, and less than one percent of one percent contain racial profiling. But the company holds even one post is too many when it comes to racial profiling.

Tolia believes Nextdoor serves as a mirror in the neighborhood, so seeing racial profiling on the site is likely an accurate, if ugly, reflection. We believe strongly that racism is one of the worst, most difficult issues society faces, he said.

While the company is pleased with the amount of improvement it has seen, Tolia is under no illusions that the impact will change the deep-rooted problems that lead to the posts, no matter how much Nextdoor manages to discourage them. A few changes that a website makes wont cure racism, he said.

While it wont lead to an end to racial biases, Nextdoors changes may at the very least help curb the practice of racial profiling, which there is little evidence to suggest is effective in preventing crime.

Take, for example, a 2008reportby the ACLU of Southern California analyzing more than 700,000 police stops made by the Los Angeles police department. It found that black and Latino drivers are more likely to be stopped than their white counterparts. When stopped, black drivers were 127 percent more likely to be frisked and 76 percent more likely to be searched than white drivers. Latino drivers likewise were 43 percent more likely to be frisked and 16 percent more likely to be searched than stopped white drivers.

Stopped black drivers were 29 percent more likely to be arrested, and stopped Latino drivers are 32 percent more likely to be arrested than stopped white drivers.

Despite the disproportionate attention paid to targeting people of color, the ACLUreportedblack drivers were 42.3 percent less likely to be found with a weapon after being frisked, 25 less likely to be found with drugs after being searched, and 33 percent less likely to be found with other contraband than white drivers. The statistics were similar for Latino drivers.

There are no shortage of reports that show similar findings, includingconsiderable evidencethat people of color are far more likely to be targeted by law enforcement for drug crimes, and received much stiffer penalties, despite using drugs at a rate essentially identical to their white counterparts.

Nextdoors new tools wont do away with profile but the platform may manage to stop some of the unnecessary and unfounded stereotypes from being spread within the online gated communities that it has created. And thats, at the very least, a start.

AJ Dellinger is a seasoned technology writer whose work has appeared in Digital Trends, International Business Times, and Newsweek. In 2018, he joined Gizmodo as the nights and weekend editor.

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Who was it who said that neighbors would be wonderful, if they just didnt live so close? Perhaps someone who had lived across the street from an unusually noisy household, next door to someone who refused to trim a heavy branch that looked like it would come down in every storm, or down the street from a barking dog.

Neighbor issues are particularly thorny because by definition, youre going to be dealing with these people again. Youre going to see them on the street and probably run into them at the grocery store or your kids soccer matches, and you dont want to ruin whatever relationship you have. So when trouble is brewing, take a breath before deciding to enforce your legal rights to the absolute maximum. Always learn about the law and then start with a conversation, even if youre doubtful it will help.

In some circumstances, another good avenue for neighbors can be mediation–a session with a trained, neutral third party who can try to help you arrive at a good solution. Many cities now offer free or low-cost mediation services for neighborhood disputes.

Disputes Between Neighbors: Your State Laws

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How can I protect my property boundary lines when my neighbor wants to build a fence?

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How Do I Stop My Neighbor From Building a Front Yard Fence?

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Neighbor Built Fence Over the Property Line. Does He Now Own That Land?

The fact that your neighbors are not actively using the portion of your land behind their fence would not stop them from asserting an ownership claim based on adverse possession.

Whats a Spite Fence and What Can I Do About the One My Neighbors Built?

If your neighbor constructs a spite fence, making the neighborhood look terrible and calling attention to the property, can you file suit?

My neighbors fence is really ugly. Can I make him take it down?

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Construction next door is eroding the foundations of my fence. What can I do?

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Must my neighbor pay for the damage hes caused to my fence?

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Barking Dogs: State and Local Laws That Can Help

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Barking Dogs: Suing for Nuisance in Small Claims Court

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Putting in a pool – can we get rid of our neighbors easement to cross our property?

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Neighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise

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Nextdoorcom Complaints

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What can a homeowner do about noisy next-door renters?

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Frequently Asked Questions About Neighbor Disputes

What can a homeowner do about noisy next-door renters?

I own my own home next door to a rundown rental house. The landlord keeps renting to people who are noisy. Starting every night about 11, they have people over drinking who bring along their noisy dogs. They also use my driveway and yard to park their cars between the two houses. What can I do? I feel this house has depreciated the value of my house if I wanted to sell. It is an eyesore and causes me great concern for my safety.

First things first: Try reasoning with the renters next door, and if that doesnt work, try the same approach with the landlord. As strange as it may sound, they may not realize that their noisy parties are disturbing you. Nolos bookNeighbor Law: Fences, Trees, Boundaries & Noise,by attorneys Emily Doskow and Lina Guillen, has excellent, straightforward tips on negotiating through neighborly quarrels. However, if you get no results, you have stronger courses of action available to you.

If the cars are parked on your property, they are being parked there by trespassers. A call to the local police station ought to take care of that problem.

As for the noisy parties, what you have here is anuisance,and a potentially serious one if you have reasonable grounds to fear for your safety. One way that neighbors have successfully dealt with this kind of problem is to sue the owner — not the tenants, but the owner — of the offending house in small claims court. This kind of lawsuit is very effective — especially if you can get other neighbors who are annoyed by the ruckus to join in. For more information, see Nolos articles onSmall Claims Court.

Nextdoor Monetizing Your Neighbors

How would you like to work for free? And while youre working for free, lets say that your boss deliberately orchestrates a state of mind of anger, distraction, idle chatter and gossip (see ourpost on). Now lets say that boss is someone youll never meet, never see face to face and who dines in all the finest San Francisco restaurants, drives a sports car and assumes no personal risk for the business he or she operates.

This is exactly what happens when we use social media. We work for free while our Silicon Valley overlords harvest data to sell to marketers. I need not mention Facebook or the even more vile Yik Yak. We all know their pitfalls and, Ill acknowledge, their benefits: staying in touch with family and friends and creating opportunities for small businesses to market themselves. But Im really beginning to question whether those benefits outweigh their flaws.

Im particularly angry this morning about a social media application called Nextdoor. When it began I thought it was a good idea. My neighbors even used it to organize some parties that got us all acquainted. But the Nextdoor folks started dictating to us what the physical boundaries would be of our neighborhood. Those boundaries got too big. Then heated and tedious discussion threads started up. Racist comments appeared. Recently Nextdoor asked Kelly to moderate questionable comments, framing this as a privilege rather than a scheme to get her to do their work for them. This disturbed her, because she couldnt tell if racist comments would remain posted if she didnt step in and do something about it. Yet she didnt want to accept that unasked for responsibility, either. She unsubscribed from Nextdoor today.  I stopped subscribing to comments some time ago.

Right now Nextdoor is burning through venture capital money in the hopes of someday being an alternative to Craigslist.

And by the by: in 2014, theCEO of Nextdoor was charged with hit and run driving(and later convicted on a lesser charge).

Thankfully it should be easy to create an alternative to Nextdoor using tools provided (ironically) by other questionable Silicon Valley companies like Google. Id like to create a Google group for our neighborhood with a set of, admittedly, draconian rules:

No discussions that would not take place face to face, i.e. nothing that would be offensive to anyone in the group.

Offering a few things for sale is o.k. but running an online business through the group is unacceptable.

Political discussions relevant to the neighborhood can be facilitated through the online group but they must take place face to face. That is, if we need to get together to support or oppose something we need to have those discussions in person.

The kinds of things Id like to see handled by the group are straightforward and factual: Invitations to neighborhood events. Questions about utilities (Why wasnt the garbage picked up? Is there a power outage?). Referrals for professional services. Security concerns, like suspicious cars or vandalism. Lost and found pets. Giveaways of furniture, plants, excess fruit, etc.  Everything else is just noise and distraction.

Wed all agree to the rules before signing up and there would be a small committee of three that would moderate comments.

My question for you, our dear readers, is have you been a part of a neighborhood email group? How has it gone? What benefits and pitfalls have you experienced?

Ironically, my neighborhood in NC is looking into Nextdoor after many years of using an email listserv for communicating, with pretty much the same rules you listed. Its a lovely neighborhood, and a lovely listservalmost never does something hateful get posted, and should something make it on thats unkind, people are generally good about pointing out the unkindness kindly. There are plenty of neighborhoods in my city which have more cantankerous list-members, and being on those lists is a bit more difficult. But overall, Id say its been a very positive, helpful experience. Its nice to be able to send a quick email around to see if everyones lost power in a storm, or to make folks aware of loose dogs, etc. A point that one of my neighbors likes to remind us of is that any virtual contact space, whether on Nextdoor or a listserv, tends to be dominated by people who have reliable access to email, Internet, and English, so thats a consideration too.

Well put! This is exactly why I deleted my Nextdoor account last year.

I manage a Mailman mailing list for a community group, and its been awesome for us. We use a fantastic webhosting company to host the list and some websites. Pretty cheap, and the list is fast and reliable. When I want to send a note to the group, I write to the groups mailing address, and everybody gets a copy within a minute or two. We have it set up so that only subscribers can send email to the list. Email sent from a non-subscriber address doesnt get distributed, so that eliminates spam. So thats one inexpensive option for you. Itd be totally under your control, and ad-free.

Another option to consider is a WordPress blog. I run a lot of these, and theyre awesome. If you have your own WordPress blog, you can make it public or private. You can make it so that most posts are visible to everybody, but some are password-protected. Or you can make it so the whole site is password protected that way only your approved subscribers can get in. I prefer the latter option.

Ive just looked at your blogs source code and see that youre already using WordPress for Root Simple. Yay! So it should be really easy for you to set up a WordPress site for your neighbours to use.

I dont use any Google services because I dont want them to have my data. They are a huge privacy-invading beast, so I think it makes sense to use alternative services that are under your control.

If I were in your neighbourhood I would not join your Google group, because Google is awful. I would be hoping that you would go for a privacy-friendly alternative, like the ones Ive mentioned here.

I run a mailman list for our neighborhood too. It works well most folks know how to use email so the entry barrier is low. I am looking to move it to another host though @Marie, what host do you recommend.

I have never heard of Next Door. I do know the only time in three years that my only neighbor has ever talked to me was to say Hi and to rush past me to inform the men in my yard they should not cut down one of my trees because it shaded her yard.

The rest of the neighborhood contacts me when they need my body at City Hall to help them voice an opinion to sway the vote of the City Council.

Your rules would never fly in my neighborhood. Snark would abound.

I too have never heard of this. Why do we now need social media to communicate with our neighbors? If we are having a block party or have a dog running loose in our yard, we can call them up or go next door and ask. If we need IMMEDIATE answers we have text messaging and email. Seems redundant to now have another thing to have to check and worry about. OK, blast away and call me a Luddite. But we have always made an effort to know our neighbors, what they look like, how they sound when they talk and if there are problems that we need to be aware of. And we are not small town people, having spent most of our lives in LA county.

I should add that the we in my comment meant me and my family and was not meant to be a judgement of anyone else! HummMaybe there are reasons not to want to know your neighbors in such a way as we do.

Our neighborhood has both a yahoo group and a nextdoor group. Nextdoor has been a great improvement over yahoo because it allows you to filter what kinds of alerts you want. The interface is also far better than yahoos. Regardless of who is underwriting the group, Id much rather have a neighbor moderating than some corporate lackey (or, more likely, a computer that cant even judge context). I agree that no one should say anything to their neighbors online that they wouldnt say to them face to face, but you cant force people to behave in their own best interests.

I know that Nextdoor (and Google, and yahoo) are likely using the content of our neighborhoods discussion to target marketing. Nextdoor more so than the others because they know where we live. Cest la vie moderne, perhaps. But the biggest problem Ive seen with it is all the people posting stuff to the group that they ought to just call the police for.

Never heard of next door, but I do live in a small neighborhood with defined boundaries of approximately 1/2 x 1/4mile . part of the neighborhoods has CCRs, part doe s not. We have had to fight certain issues together, and we have had things draw us together, so an email group has tried to exist several times. Unfortunately, it always disinte rgrates into name calling, personal agendas etc. We have settled back to being just neighbors who rally when we have a common problem, otherwise we all just go about our own lives, acknowledging each other with politeness.

I have not even heard of the social network that is going to take over creagslist

Nextdoor seems pretty innocuous in my neighborhood. Its also not particularly busy, but conversations on it hue pretty closely to the rules youve laid out.

I do believe that people should be more circumspect about trading their lives for Silicon Valley doo-dads, but thats harder said than done.

Some people have been developing a decentralized network that you can run your own hub:

Works great, all hubs can talk to other hubs, or you can run it as a stand-alone network for friends and family.

It has events, groups, a directory..totally ran and owned by you alone.

I run a hub for personal use on regular web-hosting, and use it rather than Facebook. I connect with other people who have hubs. Kind of fun, but it could be more practical for groups.

This idea had never occurred to me but I can see how useful it would be, especially if kept to a list like the one you suggest. Not sure if Nextdoor even exists for here in Argentina but given the high FB usage and the convenience of piggybacking a platform everyone is already using anyway, Im thinking of following your lead and starting a private FB group for sharing this kind of info (i.e. starting with friends and neighbors I know and then spiralling out from there). I totally agree that FB is basically vile for real social purposes, but as a way of sourcing and sharing this sort of intelligence, it IS useful. For example, I interact much more on gardening pages (i.e. posting a photo of a sick plant and asking others on the page to identify the bug/disease, that sort of thing) than with my actual real-life friends, who I just, you know, talk to Thanks for sharing this idea.

Our Nextdoor site has become Grandmas Facebook page. Anything constructive will devolve into political ranting and raving in short order. I quit the first week. Too many people with no one to talk to spoil a tool that held some promise.

My apartment complex has a Google Group. I have an inbox full of retired old men fretting and fuming about speed limits, road paving and water tanks.

Not to mention the one time someone got drunk and peed on someone elses car porch.. There were pictures

Our neighborhood has an email listserv and it generally works very well. Its nice to have a forum to post local issues (coyote activity has been a hot topic lately!) and post items for sale/for free before we have to cast a larger net into the Craigslist community. Nextdoor just didnt seem to take off in our little village, though they did try a couple of years ago. I think people saw a good thing in our listserv and werent interested in yet another service with a much larger area than our immediate community.

If Nextdoor proves anything, it is that good walls make good neighbors. I live in a predominantly African American neighborhood and have seen my share of racism and crazies on the site.

Also, Im not sure why the neigborhood boundaries are such a big deal to people. There have been plenty of arguments about that as in our area as well. It seems to stem primarily from people afraid the arbitrary boundaries on the website will decrease their status in some way.

Finally, never before have I seen so many people delegate authority and responsibility as much as I have on the site. Ive noticed this problem, you all should do something about it

I moved into a neighborhood that had a google email group, and it was amazing. We traded stuff, sold stuff, made community announcements, organized progressive dinners and work parties. Then, the moderator of the group, decided she wanted to use the Nextdoor platform, so we all switched over to that.

Some people liked it, but I hated it, it seemed like an additional facebook. I deleted my account. Since then, Ive moved out of the neighborhood, but I felt like it was a downfall.

I am a happy member of Nextdoor. If anything, ours in underused. It has been helpful for lost pets and Anyone know a good handyman? type questions.

Our neighborhood list is mostly positive, and it has engendered everything from block parties to meetings with community leaders to discuss local issues.

It has also, however, become a place where my neighbors rant about people sleeping in their cars and along the railroad tracks near our neighborhood. While I admit that these are real problems, the vitriol my neighbors direct at these people scares me. It borders on vigilantism.

Here in one area of San Jose, we used to have a Yahoo group with a few dozen people on it, but it got very low use, and over the last couple of years, it has received zero use.

Nextdoor showed up a couple of years ago, and there are some good, some bad aspects to it. We get the small handful of individuals posting political stuff out of the blue, people ranting about the homeless encampment, and people even getting in each others virtual faces, which is really shameful (arent we neighbors, after all?!?).

But we also keep each other apprised of whats going on with the neighborhood shopping center thats been around since the early fifties, and has just changed ownership since then. Lots of lost and found dogs and cats and turtles, lots of stories about break-ins, how to secure your house, and plenty of requests for handyman and plumber recommendations.

Couple of summers ago, things went out of control about a thread about fireworks during 4th of July which cause some people to reportedly quit the site.

But Ive stuck with it. I find that if I post good, thoughtful content that makes sense and is relevant to the topic, I get lots of Thank Yous and decent responses. I try to lead by example. I see the value in a site like this, and I really want it to succeed.

Ive often wondered how a) the boundaries were drawn, and b) how the site owners will make money, but I dont see too much evil in it now. So Ill stick with it.

Interesting. I signed up for Next-door a year or so back. I get the emails but I dont remember my password and those emails tend to be mundane or awful snark or prissy rule reminders. Every now and again one will be about a missing pet, but Ive seen signs round the hood by then. I find it best to go outside and talk with my neighbors. We know neighbors within approximately half a mile or so, say twenty blocks. Of course, we know more within the surrounding four blocks or so. (That Flood event back ten years really helped.) I like that I can call or stop by a neighbors house who lives five blocks away. I wish everyone could have such wonderful people surrounding them as we do. Its worth saying howdy and stopping for a chat when ambling round. Try it; dont wait for a national disaster to do so.

I joined Nextdoor a few months ago hoping to connect to my neighbors. Just as several of you stated my neighbors dont communicate with each other regularly. Unfortunately my experience hasnt been good, there have been a few good post but also a few too many complaints. Additionally, a neighbor made a several negative comments about my husband and I. It was regarding donated furniture on our lawn and a 3 day garage repair that happened more than two years ago. It was also implied that my family and I bought down the property value. This of course wasnt true and to be honest had gone up after we moved in. However, I was flabbergasted. To make matters worse I only spoke to the neighbor one time in the 4 years I moved there. Just one time. As well none of these concerns were HOA related but were still personally adresssed by the HOA president who is also a lead of the site. This caused a bit of strife in our subdivision & unfortunately after my neighbor made 4 negative comments about me, I gave a rebuttal. It wasnt deeming to anyone but I was a bit emotional. I requested all comments be deleted. The president reluctantly apologized after she recieved compliants from other members and my husband and I. The neighbor hasnt apologized but I made formal compliant to Nextdoor Neighbor and removed myself from the group. Ive learned to be more careful about social media.

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Nextdoor When a neighborhood website turns unneighbly

Nextdoor: When a neighborhood website turns

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Nextdoor: When a neighborhood website turns unneighborly

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When I first joined Nextdoor, the hyperlocal social networking site in 2014, I was charmed by neighbors in my East Bay suburb rallying to help one another find lost cats and dogs.

And I continue to appreciate having easy, online access to information about the car break-in up the hill, the best contractor to finish my wood floors, a mothers campaign to help Nepal earthquake victims or a debate about a controversial new apartment development.

The mission of Nextdoor, a 4-year-old, San Francisco-based startup which now operates in 70,000 neighborhoods around the country and has recently been valued at $1.1 billion is to use the power of technology to build stronger and safer communities.

This all sounds very well and good until you bring real, flawed human beings into the mix. And, then Nextdoor becomes like any social network, with all the good and bad that comes from giving people a venue to let their free expression fly from the remote isolation of their laptops and smartphones.

With Nextdoor, that means bringing peoples sometimes angry, self-righteous, vindictive and socially intolerant comments down to the neighborhood level. Through Nextdoor, where people must use their real names to participate, Ive learned more than Id probably like to know about the personal beliefs of people Id see at my sons school, shop alongside with at Trader Joes or have even had in my home. Sometimes logging onto Nextdoor is enough to make me wonder: Do I really live in the same town as some of these people?

For a long time, I thought I shared the same geography with people who were educated, compassionate and open-minded on public policy and social issues. But maybe I live in a suburb thats more Peyton Place.

While Ive generally tried to stay out of most Nextdoor discussion threads Im worn out from doing my own share of social media venting over the years its been hard to resist chiming in lately when Ive seen posts from neighbors blaming apartment dwellers or the homeless for the supposed crime wave thats supposedly overtaken our affluent and statistically safe community. Theres a true culture of fear that pervades some posts on Nextdoor, with maybe a small minority using that fear to justify subtle or not so subtle forms of racial profiling.

You cant choose your neighbors, says Andy Smith. He is the co-author of The Dragonfly Effect, a book on social media, and is the lead, or moderator, for his Lafayette neighborhoods Nextdoor site. Most social networks are organized around peoples shared interests, education, professional interests, time of life. Its more self-selective. With Nextdoor, you bring together people who wouldnt necessarily hang out together, who are defined by the physical area of the neighborhoods they live in.

Neighborly is Nextdoors big buzzword.

In its guidelines, Nextdoor says it encourages civil, polite discussion and discourages posts that are discriminatory. But racial profiling has become an issue on Nextdoor sites around the Bay Area, according to news reports and friends and colleagues from different towns who shared their Nextdoor experiences. Says a Lafayette friend and occasional Nextdoor viewer: Anyone of color who appears in a neighborhood is suspicious.

Heres a recent example from my town: A neighbor alerted people to the fact that he called the police on an African-American man who knocked on his door one afternoon, wanting to talk about real estate.

As the neighbor reported, the police came and determined that the real estate man was legitimate. After letting him go on his way, the officers praised the neighbor and Nextdoor for being proactive in keeping the community safe. So did other people who posted grateful replies to sharing his story.

I definitely didnt see things the same way and flagged it as inappropriate. For one thing, going door to door may be an old-fashioned method of information gathering, but last I checked, its protected activity under the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the man to be stopped by police for simply going about his business. Embarrassing? Frightening? Especially in our era of heightened concerns about racism and police interactions with people of color?

Public shaming is another Nextdoor trend that Ive heard friends complain about. With the drought, people have used Nextdoor to shame neighbors for overwatering their yards. Going after speeding drivers is another Nextdoor pastime. In my hood, a woman posted a photo of a teen who she said had been driving recklessly; she hoped that people would see his face and tell his parents. Apparently, he was identified, this neighbor proudly reported, and a lot of people thanked her for speaking up.

Again, I didnt see things the same way. I sent her a private message. Nextdoor encourages people to take their disagreements offline and work them out privately. I told this neighbor that I thought she meant well but that she should be careful about publicly accusing someone of criminal behavior, especially a juvenile. She messaged back, but we didnt come to a friendly resolution. Among other things, she told me my tone was judgmental and cited all the thankful posts she had received.

A few days later, though, I noticed her post was no longer there. Either she reconsidered her position or Nextdoor removed it. Nextdoor spokeswoman Danielle Styskal said public shaming, like racial profiling, violates member guidelines and are addressed by its dedicated team of leads. This is not what being a good neighbor is all about, she says, adding that such violations are infrequent across the network.

Maybe I should take consolation in thinking I did the right thing to chime in. But, no, I feel rather degraded by the whole experience: that these people posted what they did; that so many climbed on their bandwagons; and that I felt the need to tattle on neighbors. I now have a tense relationship with that neighbor in the teen-shaming post and try and avoid passing her house on morning walks.

So much for the neighborly bonds Nextdoor purports to build.

Then again, whos to blame here? Me? My neighbors? Does Nextdoor simply reflect diverse viewpoints of geographically compact localities, or does its platform somehow amplify divisions?

In any case, Ill continue to check into Nextdoor for heartwarming stories about lost cats reunited with their owners.

And lately, theres been this smart, thoughtful discussion about a program to provide overnight shelter this winter to homeless at a local church. Not everyone agrees on the solution, but people are mostly being reasonable and polite in their comments. Now, thats neighborly.

Martha Ross is a features writer who covers everything and anything related to popular culture, society, health, womens issues and families. A native of the East Bay and a graduate of Northwestern University and Mills College, shes also a former hard-news and investigative reporter, covering crime and local politics.

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[] such behaviors. There have also been reports from users of Nextdoor attesting to some of the less neighborly, comments on the site.  There is also the social media hacks that Facebook is vulnerable []

[] laws be damned.  But I found two posts that speak to this concern.  This first is an article in The Mercury News Nextdoor: When a neighborhood app becomes unneighborly.  But this well-written summation of the issue of cars v. bikes quoted below speaks to the real []

[] A recent story in The Atlantic describes how license plate readers, like the ones supplied by ELSAG, were used by Oakland PD more heavily in low income neighborhoods. ELSAG describes itself as providing advanced technology to law enforcement, parking authorities, and toll operators. Relatedly, our socially-good-sharing-economy has brought us neighborhood watch apps such as NextDoor, where the idea is to stay informed about your neighborhood but the reality becomes a set of surveillance horror stories like racial profiling and assumed criminality. []

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