Can specially trained neighborhood members be made moderators?
Robert Merrill

One Account From A Nextdoor Neighborhood Lead

Hey There, Robert.

Thought I’d reply because I have some personal experience in regards to your questions.

I started my neighborhood in the DC Metro area on Next Door and acquired Lead status because of the number of people I signed up.

When my Homeowner’s association decided to come on board, they asked for Lead status and I granted it to one them after cross-correlating with names on the HOA website. They were able to make the rest of the HOA board Leads as well. (That’s all it takes to become a lead… pretty little actually but they do have social “skin in the game” because they are known in the neighborhood by face and name).

Anyone joining does have a real address tied to their name. Similar to 2-step authentication with Text messaging, Nextdoor mails a postcard to new users and expects a code to be verified to ensure you live where you say you do.

The Womens' March

There was an incident recently around a post describing logistical details on the Womens’ March in DC and a very inflammatory voice spoke up to label and attack. I found out because some people used the report feature on comments and I was called upon to moderate along with other leads. They have a nice voting system for that. Quick and easy.

The offender was a Lead also, from some other neighborhood and I engaged her in private messaging asking her to use her better leadership skills but she replied with more hateful hyperbole.

That was too bad. I ended up using the report tool on her and provided verbatim text of our exchanges to support my case. Nextdoor did not tell me what has become of the offender but I have not heard from her since.

As an aside, I just remembered that I had written a blog post about one aspect of the incident on Medium — Tolerance:

(You’ll have to pardon my tone, I was pretty pissed off that anyone would have the nerve… I don’t often refer to people as “Idiot User”.)

No Training… Just “Skin In the Game”

I have been through no training hosted by Nextdoor. And really, I don’t think diversity training is nearly as effective as “skin in the game”.

I have skin in the game because, for no reason that anyone can see, I started a local online community with my neighbors. I’m glad its there and I feel a responsibility to ensure it doesn’t become a cesspool of trolling and bullying.

Sure, other people will have different reasons for starting their neighborhoods but, on average, I think you can consistently get really good people with good intentions and a penchant for action through the process of voluntary self-selection… provided that being a Lead isn’t a timesuck.

For me to hear about their thoughtful design and user engagement is consistent with my experiences with being a Lead on the site. They don’t suck at this.