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Announcing Our New Feature to Promote Kindness in Neighborhoods

Written by Tatyana Mamut

Our latest product feature came from our most important source of inspiration: our real-world neighborhoods. While we’ve always seen and celebrated the offline connections that began on the platform, this year at Nextdoor, we’ve been exploring how we can improve the daily issues affecting the people in those communities. As a connected world, we’re increasingly lonely. Many countries are witnessing national trends toward divisiveness in workplaces, down the street, around dinner tables. How can we continue to bring out the best in neighborhoods by improving the way neighbors can communicate on Nextdoor?

Today, we’re rolling out Kindness Reminder, a new feature meant to encourage positivity across the Nextdoor platform. If a member replies to a neighbor’s post with a potentially offensive or hurtful comment, Kindness Reminder will be prompted before the comment goes live. The member is then given the chance to reference our Community Guidelines, reconsider and edit their reply, or ultimately refrain from posting. In early tests in the US, 1 in 5 people who saw Kindness Reminder hit “edit” on their comment, resulting in 20% fewer negative comments. Moreover, in areas testing Kindness Reminder, there has been a decline in how often it is prompted.

When building new products at Nextdoor, our team incorporates solutions that are both tech-driven and directly powered by our community. Kindness Reminder uses information gathered from comments previously flagged by our neighbors, and will be learning the nuanced ways incivility can show up between people in different areas. This feature joins our community vitality efforts that are further fueled by humans, local volunteers who work together to review and come to a consensus on reported content. Many of our neighborhoods are diverse and made up of different people with differing viewpoints — we champion that, and see kindness as the essential building block for creating a stronger local community that promotes open discourse.

With Kindness Reminder, we’re breaking the rules of something they tell you not to do when building a social platform and adding a little friction for users. While this could lead to some members refraining from posting comments, a dip in engagement is something we’re willing to trade for stronger connections among the people with whom you may share a sidewalk or footpath. It’s important to note that the majority of interactions on Nextdoor exemplify the community we want to build and the neighborhoods we want to live in, and that’s something we are continuing to invest in. 

That’s a little bit about how Kindness Reminder works, but let’s talk more about the why.

The idea for this feature was developed as part of a greater exploration of member feedback we received about racial profiling on Nextdoor. To understand this better, we built an advisory panel of activists, academics, and experts, including Biased author Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt, a social scientist and Stanford professor whose work explores the mechanisms and effects of racial bias. Teams at Nextdoor paired up with Dr. Eberhardt’s students; we shared bias we saw in our lives, we detailed incivility surfacing on the platform, and they worked with us to apply academic research to actual problems. As Dr. Eberhardt points out: “The problems that we have out in the world and in society make their way online where you’re encouraged to respond quickly and without thinking. That is exactly the kind of condition under which bias is most likely to be triggered.” We know Nextdoor has a role to play in shifting that paradigm and are testing Kindness Reminder as a tool to encourage mindfulness in the simple act of having a conversation with your neighbor. 

We believe that Kindness Reminder and future updates will have a greater positive impact in areas where proximity may be neighbors’ only obvious connecting thread. We’ll continue to celebrate the acts of kindness sparked through Nextdoor: strangers becoming friends over coffee and dinner clubs, locals rallying to save a struggling store, entire towns caring for neighbors in need. We’ll continue to see kindness as the norm, on our platform, in the local shops we frequent, and on the roads we travel daily. Thank you for being a part of Nextdoor and your community. We look forward to sharing more updates on this journey. 

44 Comments

    • I have Yorkies and they make a lot of friends with neighbors. Walking one’s pets considerately and interacting with neighbors and not bringing up hateful partisan politics is a great way to be nice to your neighbors and meet people. Another thing is to discuss ways you have repaired or replaced certain things on your property like facial boards, garage doors, roofs, shrubbery, battery operate trimmers, edgers and leave blowers etc., remodeling, great local restaurants, traveling and cool things in the community. Not politics and attacks on our political leaders. The media gives us enough of that period.

    • I agree, Margaret! We humans are good under pressure…so we need to let the stress of Global Climate Change motivate us to a fix. We need to repair the damage done by our ancestors and by ourselves as we drive gas cars around.

  • So fine. And a great way to use next door. It is a time of division, even in the same household. I hope for our higher power, whatever that is to people, will surround us with thoughts like yours. Carrie

  • Tje “kindness reminder” is an innovative idea and we look forward to its success. Thanks for continuing to improve Nextdoor!

  • This is a great idea. Please organize the responses by neighborhood if you can. A response from Texas is no use to me, as I live in Florida.

    This organizing would be more helpful.

  • This is a great idea! There is enough nastiness and meanness on social media. We certainly don’t need it on Nextdoor, where we are supposed to be getting to know our neighbors and being friendlier to people we want to know.

  • Love, Love, Love the forward thinking on this one. Sarcastic, negativity and ugly remarks by some who just don’t care has caused me, as a lead, great concern. Some of my neighbors have told me the same in confidence. I’ve actually withdrawn some because of it. I will pray that this helps. I feel we need to make “Be helpful, not hurtful” our motto. Things have gotten better here of late, because we enforce the Guidelines. I look forward to this in operation. Hopefully, it will also make way for those previously too shy or afraid to post for fear of the online bullies. We need to get back to using old fashioned (but still in fashion) manners. Otherwise, chaos ensues.

  • Wonderful plan. I saw something about this a while back, and as a senior I thought it was a good idea. I had posted for more information, not realizing it had come directly from NextDoor.
    Looking forward to more information on senior networking.

  • This is great. Sometimes people don’t mean things as they are written and we do not see them face to face to be able to judge if the comment is good or bad. This way they get the opportunity to reword there post.

  • Bravo. I have a degree in Communications and I even get it wrong a lot. I think companies like Nextdoor, Facebook, Twitter, etc. might benefit by providing PSA’s or other educational materials teaching people about the power and dangers of communications. I remember in Communications 101 we learned about how people view one incident in many different ways pertaining to how they saw the incident. Imagine for a moment a traffic accident. If you have four groups of people standing on each street corner, you would have at least 4 different perspectives if someone was reporting on the incident. The danger with social media is that if people aren’t taught distinctions in communication, even if they aren’t commenting, the comments impact them in various ways. I would love all the platforms to come together to figure out collective messaging that is used to teach users how to better communicate and how to better interpret things being said in a social media environment.

  • Hi, Theodore! I’m finding it increasingly difficult to interact with people because of my hearing loss. Thank God for the Internet.

  • Love all the comments and enthusiasm.
    It would surely need to be set up by neighborhoods, so small nearby neighborhoods could join together. That Scabble sounds great. My apartment clubhouse in Fresno has limited parking, but room for a couple tables, coffee included!

    • Hi Beth! We love seeing all the enthusiasm as well! Wanted to quickly clarify that this is Nextdoor’s national blog and is different from your neighborhood’s Nextdoor website. To sign up or log in to Nextdoor so you can communicate with the neighbors in your local community, head to http://www.nextdoor.com. Thanks!

    • Great,the decline in good manners is of grave concern since it invades all facets of life. Let ‘s hope that “the reminder” will wake up the goodwill in all of us and that mindful kindness will prevail.

      • Indeed! Good manners keep society together. We need behaviors like empathy, kindness and understanding…..these qualities lead to the quality that will save this poor battered planet – Innovation!

  • Some exposure on ND to GREATER GOOD and RICK HANSEN might support a structure or guidelines for us to be more compassionate/kind. I don’t know how this might work although I believe it is a really good idea !

  • I could leave a message (part of one) provided by Rick Hansen. His wisdom may spark some positive, compassionate discussion – in general. It wouldn’t focus on the negativity or anger expressed on this sight. It would add some positive light or shift the focus. I am not sure this is allowed on ND (quoting from others – for discussion). Gena

  • Wonderful idea! But I can’t figure out “how it works,” even though the article says “now you know HOW it works…”
    Does someone (recipient of rudeness or another reader) click a kindness button?
    Or is there a rudeness algorithm (key words trigger the feature)?

    • Hi Cynthia! When a member comments words that have been reported in the past, Kindness Reminder will automatically pop up to encourage the member to edit their response 🙂

  • This is a fantastic addition to a platform that is already so great at uniting us in a public setting. The transformation occurring in our society in regards to all people becoming universally included, is slow and difficult. ND is to be commended to have done the research, (and shared it if you read down all the way!) and RESPONDED!! They said this started as an investigation into the topic of racial profiling. If every white or privileged person in America would open their ears and try to learn how we all participate in and benefit from institutional white supremacy…. And then acknowledge the difference for those that do not have this benefit…. And RESPOND…. in whatever way you personally feel. Wow would that have a positive effect.
    So the change this will cause to us users, in my view, is small in comparison to the 20% decrease in negative conversations. 20% of the people in my ND community will have a happier day because they were prompted by kindness. And when I run into them, so will I. Nice 🙂

  • Great proposal. Those neighbors in close proximity need to figure ways of getting together and bonding as neighbors. Not a new idea but a most powerful one and nextdoor.com is the best social media to make this happen. Thanks

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