Looking for a last-minute baby sitter? Want to let your neighbors know about a break-in? Wondering whether anyone else received an unexpectedly high water bill?
A number of people are logging on to private neighborhood websites to ask questions like these, get advice and share information through an electronic version of the backyard fence.
A company called Nextdoor, which offers a free online platform that enables people to create social networks for their own neighborhoods has launched.
Today, more than 800 neighborhoods in 43 states plus the District of Columbia have set up local websites where they can communicate one-on-one, as well as with the people nearby. There are five Nextdoor websites here in New Mexico, including three for Santa Fe neighborhoods: Los Milagros, Sol y Lomas and Talaya Hill.
Each website includes a neighborhood map, member postings, a directory of residents (including brief profiles), links to resources and reports of interest, and photographs of community events…
Access to each Nextdoor website is password-protected, and only verified residents can become members, log on and post messages. No one else has access to the content, so that people can safely share information on neighborhood topics…
Neighbors log on to the site, using their own user ID and password, to read postings, but they can also elect to receive posts instantly via email…
There are currently no advertisements on the websites, but the revenue model calls for eventually working with local businesses to provide special offers to website members — Groupon meets Facebook — according to Nextdoor spokeswoman Whitney Swindells.
It all sounds useful, practical and positive.
Hermit that I am, I probably would remain mostly as unresponsive to dialogue in the neighborhood as I am at the blogs I contribute to. But, I can think of the few times that my curiosity while out and about – spotting someone I thought might be a gangster preparing to burglarize or vandalize someone – would be useful to everyone in the neighborhood. After I called the Sheriff.