Nextdoor is not messy. It's just too fast
It is. Trust me.
Nextdoor is a social network “best known for wanting to help neighbors locate missing dogs, connect with babysitters, and find fellow hobbyists” that tries to set itself apart as a safe space for local connections. Right now, Nextdoor reportedly has more than 10 million users and nearly 220K neighborhoods in the US.
Ahead of the 2020 US election, writes Vox, some conversations on Nextdoor are becoming -“riddled with conspiracy theories and tense fights over local politics as well as the presidential race”.
Polarization rules. Hyperlocally
- “Nextdoor’s moves to discourage national political discussions have made discourse around local politics even more heated.”
- “Posts about topics like yard waste pickup can quickly descend into discussions about “antifa” and “the wall.”
- “I’s like the worst of Facebook and Twitter combined - but at a hyperlocal level.”
- A neighborhood in Cupertino, California, is described as descending, thanks to the elections, into “a cesspool of bad conversation. A lot of folks are very emotionally charged. They’re feeling very vulnerable and anxious at the moment, and it’s only amplifying that anxiety.”
The solution? Reintroduce friction
On one hand, there is no complete solution here, because the problem starts well outside, and before, Nextdoor. Here in Italy, where as far as I know Nextdoor is practically unknown, I have seen screenshots of “polarized conversations” like those reported by Vox in that much less advanced, much bigger cesspool that is WhatsApp. Because, in case you had not recognized it, people “feeling very vulnerable and anxious” is just Angrynomics, working as intended, everywhere.
As far as Nextpool and any other similar platform are concerned, the only solution I can see, and would suggest, is to increase friction. Make communication slower.
Develop, and sell as a feature, publishing of posts, and updates of personal “walls” happen only once per day, or maybe even less frequently.
Polarization needs instantness, and instinctive, thoughtless reactions. Once people know that every insult they post, or any reaction to any insult they receive, will only be seen twelve or more hours later, they’ll insult less and react less. They will understand that it’s only a darned social network, not real life, and that there are better ways to spend one’s time.
Yes, allow for obvious exceptions, that would include penalties, for e.g. posting emergency notifications. But make the whole thing “refresh” daily, not instantly. Users will be grateful.