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Dawson Neighborhood

DawsonAustin on Nextdoor Seized by Neighborhood Ass’n

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In January 2014, folks in Dawson Neighborhood of Austin, TX launched a new forum on Nextdoor.com as an alternative to the vindictively censored, and all-but-dead Yahoo Group run by the original Neighborhood Association. We also launched this neighborhood website and registered with the City as a NA. We were a runaway success, and in just 18 months we had more active members than the old forum ever had in it’s 17 years of existence. The Nextdoor Corporation knew we were a refugee group and promised to protect us, in writing. Then suddenly, they booted our Leads (admins) off, and handed the community directly over to the old NA!

Imagine having your Facebook fan page seized and handed to a rival. All of your writings, photos, friends, likes, and follows detached from you and credited to that other. And your rival picking up your conversations where you left off, but engaged in their own agenda now.

Nextdoor used the pretense that I had mishandled my moderation duties. The person in charge of censorship on the old Yahoo forum had joined Nextdoor and was making it his mission to hassle and test me at every opportunity. He was helping to create a hostile atmosphere. He was also breaking Nextdoor’s conduct guidelines. I cautioned him, in private, that folks were complaining about his conduct. He inquired directly to Nextdoor. They exchanged emails, conducted several phone calls, and then Nextdoor handed sole management of our forum TO HIM.

They literally took the community from the folks most invested in seeing it thrive, and handed it to the character most interested in seeing it fail!

Would Facebook reward a well-documented troll by handing him control of a rival’s account when he complains about being politely cautioned? That’s messed up!

Once in control, the NA deleted our “impudent” discussions, and had people who they simply do not like banned under various pretenses. Free speech has ceased now, since our neighbors fear retaliation for speaking out. Except for the un-neighborly A-list clique who moved in from the old forum. Our dawsonaustin.nextdoor.com forum is all-but-dead now.

This seems to be Nextoor’s emerging policy nationwide. Many neighborhoods with hostile NA and HOAs started their own alt-communities on Nextdoor, and now report the the same thing happened to them once they had gained momentum! Nextdoor staff, including individuals in management we’ve had direct contact with, appear to have some shocking boundary issues. They adopt grudges, take sides, and none of the rules or evidence matter to them in passing judgement.

One of their favorite games revolves around the “always assume your neighbor’s best intentions” guideline. In the forums, people make critical assumptions all the time. If Nextdoor likes you, then they forgive you on the grounds that you’re just acting out of sincere concern with the knowledge that you have. They’ll defend you against other neighbors, who are considered guilty of assuming you had poor intentions. If Nextdoor does NOT like you, then they just accuse YOU of having the poor intentions. They’ll maintain that position to absurd levels. Folks have described this as being like arguing with teenagers. If you’re a Lead who they don’t like, then you dare not ask them for help even with a serious troublemaker. They’ll scold YOU then, for failing to be a good moderator and embracing that troll’s “best intentions”.

Another issue is that Nextdoor absolutely despises anything resembling campaigning or social justice outreach. They’ll try to shoehorn anything they can into this category so they can suppress your posts on these grounds. It doesn’t matter if your neighborhood wants to have these conversations, which are obviously quite appropriate there. Post a link to a petition? You could get banned. Defend a rape victim? You could get banned. Speak out about your local crime problem? You could get banned, you trouble-making negative person, you! And the scolding language they’ll email to you will carry the uncontested assumption that you should have known better than to do these *terrible* things!

Nextdoor has a separate, private forum just for the Leads. In June 2014, I contributed to a discussion there about Nextdoor’s privacy and security theatre. Without warning, they suspended my account. For good measure, they suspended all of the other Leads for our community. Hours later, their National Director of Neighborhoods Gordon Strause, shot me a chillingly cheerful email saying I would be permanently banned unless I could demonstrate how to install a fake account on Nextdoor.

 

I refused. Seriously, I’m not on Nextdoor’s staff! We debated this for a couple of days, with Gordon continuing to treat me as a fly caught in his web. He finally re-enabled my account only because he learned that I was in the middle of organizing a neighborhood picnic, and people were starting to miss me. However, he disabled our management tools, so that we were Leads in appearance only. He also forbade me to make decisions or appoint additional leads without his approval.

Nextdoor is NOT your home for an online community!

Please do not use Nextdoor.com. WE CANNOT RECOMMEND IT. Nextdoor is a nightmare! Democracy and free speech are completely absent from their DNA. Your community is not free to be itself and develop naturally. They feel that you and your discourse belong to them. They are a data harvesting company, and their customers are the local Police and Federal government. YOU ARE THE PRODUCT. If you’ve joined Nextdoor, visit it one last time to cancel your account. Important: thoroughly delete or anonymize information you have put in your public profile. It will remain on public display even after you quit! Click this link to quit, if you’re logged in there right now.

In the aftermath of this, my account remains disabled. Gordon will not reinstate me, and he’s arranged to have all emails I send to Nextdoor rerouted to him no matter who they’re addressed to. This guy has over 100k neighborhoods to worry about, and yet he’s made ME one of his personal pet projects! Neighbors who are still members send forum posts on to us, though they risk being banned for doing so. All Nextdoor posts & email contain web tracking code, so they know who reads what, when, and from where. They can easly track who has forwarded which posts, and to whom.

 

The other folks who had been Leads have been punished too, along with several neighbors who defended me when my Lead role was taken away by Gordon. Their accounts are set to a read-only mode. They can only read “general” posts, they cannot create posts, events, or write comments. They cannot “Thank” “Flag” or “Welcome” (though they still get emails from Nextdoor reminding them to participate, and also nagging them to enter postcard invitation addresses). They cannot view the directory of members, and civic & safety alerts from the City of Austin and APD are blocked. It’s like being a ghost.

 

Their neighbor-to-neighbor private messages do not get delivered.  Other members don’t realize we’ve been banned because our messages AND public profiles are still there on the website! Posts made by members before they were restricted or banned are still active and ongoing, but we are helpless to participate. We can’t remove our public profiles. Nextdoor’s policy is to reject requests from banned and unsubscribed ex-members.

UPDATE: If you see your neighborhood listed below, click the name and you should see a local discussion about this message. Nextdoor is trying to shut these down, citing standing rules against criticizing them on their own forums. Don’t let Nextdoor intimidate you. Free speech is our right! Armadillo Park,Buckingham Estates, Carrel-Hillside-Oaks, Cherry Village, East Congress,Garrison Park, Salem Meadow, Southbridge Villas, Southern Oaks,Southwood, Stinson Oaks, Sweetbriar, WestTowne Court, West Congress


Click here for an older, more detailed editorial which includes the major emails that went back and forth.


Nextdoor is NOT listed by the Better Business Bureau, and they are being sued by the team who originally founded Nextdoor, owned the internet domain and wrote the software it runs on. The investment group they partnered with suddenly pulled out, stole their idea, and launched Nextdoor.com with a management team of their choosing.

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14 Comments

  1. Christine Barker

    Chad,

    Thank you so much for reaching out to me. To have someone contact me with that much information shows quite a bit of intent and I appreciate that.

    My experience with Next-door was beyond poor. I was a lead for 2 years in my neighborhood, and grew Rodgers Forge (Baltimore Md) to be one of the largest on the Next-door network. When Newspaper articles started to be written about the network and my efforts, the then community association president decided he needed to be made lead as well. Having had worked with him in the past I knew there were some personality issues between the two of us. I politely declined the offer as I saw no benefit to the Next-door network with there being conflicts between the leads. He then made it a crusade to “take me down”. After the public crucification on Next-door that he made, and having had neighbors who I had never met tell me that “I wish the campaign to oust you would have worked”… I stepped down as lead. I did reach out to next-door and inform them of this; however it fell on deaf ears. After I selected a replacement for my own lead position (I was/am the founder as well) The other person I made lead (and who is friends with the president who was trying to oust me) contacted nextdoor and demanded my replacement be removed as lead. This person also started deleting my posts on the main gallery. She stated it was “too much work” for the other lead (listing things like .. passing out flyers, welcoming new members, monitoring the boards etc) , but has done NOTHING since I have left. Now that my thoughts are filtered on next-door I do not feel safe to post there. Next-door is indifferent as they have a heavily used network that I built… although the community has lost enthusiasm in it as I am not out pitching it anymore…. I see an open door for our community association to supply a better answer for our neighborhood. Since the old president left the board, I have since been voted on, and hope to support my neighborhood in a safer online environment … as well as better in person connecting.

    Please feel free to reach out if you would like to talk about this further.

    ~Christine

    Reply
  2. Roy Rumaner

    Always happy to hear from other pariahs on their own Nextdoor site.

    It seems you cannot please everybody and those that are the most outspoken are the ones that cause the most trouble.

    Sounds real familiar. I brought up a serious security issue on the NLF and was banned from there when I wouldn’t show them how I did it also. Funny thing is that I have since forgotten how and what I did which shows how much I care about ND now. Gordon is a power hungry asshole who essentially hides the truth from the his bosses so that he looks good in their eyes. A no bad news no problems, type of thing. I eventually emailed the higher ups in the company with transcripts of his emails to me but either someone intercepted them or they really didn’t care because I never heard anything back and nothing changed.

    Comments like this were from him:

    “I’m afraid the Leads Forum just isn’t a good fit. To the extent that you want to put time into Nextdoor, I think it makes sense to focus on your neighborhood.”

    and this one:

    “I think it makes sense to take a temporary break from the Forum. It’s obviously frustrating you, and I’ll be honest that your posts lately have been frustrating me as well. I have no problem with substantive posts, even ones I disagree with, but I think lately you’ve just been expressing frustrating without actually adding anything productive. I think a week away from the Forum will do us both good. Thanks, Gordon”

    and this one”

    “David, Andrew, Don:

    Just a heads up that I have now deleted all the posts in the 20/20 topic about how to post to a topic and the Leads Manual. At first I was going to move the parts about a Leads Guide to a new topic per Don’s suggestion, but it was basically impossible to do so without including the back and forth about Mike T. (which I did not want to do).

    So I think it’s better for David (or anyone else) to just start a new topic in the Forum about a “Leads Guide” or user manual, though I’m afraid you won’t get a different response than the one I have given before when this suggestion has been made. (Which is to say that we absolutely agree that it’s a good idea, but we just haven’t found the bandwidth to make it happen yet. Although, in this case, it’s not engineering that is the bottleneck but my team, whose responsibility this falls under. Nirav, in fact, really wants this happen sooner rather than later and has been pressing me, but I need to get more ahead of the curve in scaling our support systems and personnel to have the necessary bandwidth to make it happen in the right way).

    Meanwhile, a couple of additional thoughts/comments:
    – Don: I did feel it was important to remove Mike’s reply to David (which I have reposted below along with all the posts in the topic I deleted). While I’m 99% sure it didn’t bother David in the least (despite being an overreaction on Mike’s part), if people feel personally attacked by a post, they need to either follow up with the user via private message or flag the post for our review. I feel strongly about not setting a precedent for having personal debates hashed out in public in the Forum.

    – For the same reason, I also removed Roy’s post. And since I think some of you may have developed a relationship with Roy, I also want to let you know that Roy’s Forum access has been removed as well. To be clear, while the post below was emblematic of the issues that led to this decision, it was really just the final straw. Ultimately, the Leads Forum has two fundamental purposes:

    (1) To help Leads become more successful using Nextdoor;

    (2) To help us (the Nextdoor staff) make Nextdoor better.

    Unfortunately, Roy was not contributing positively to either purpose, and I’ve become convinced that this situation is unlikely to change. Roy is someone who I know wants to be helpful, but it’s become clear that the Leads Forum is not the right place for that to happen. I hope he will be able to do so in his neighborhood or on other platforms.

    Don’t hesitate, to let me know if you have questions or concerns about these decisions (or any others related to the Leads Forum). While the Leads Forum itself is definitely not the place for discussion of Forum policies (I have learned the hard way that meta discussions on online communities are pretty much never helpful), I’m always happy to respond to folks directly via email.

    Thank you, Gordon Strause
    Nextdoor / Director of Neighborhood Operations”

    So you can see I have been a trouble maker for some time. I have also stepped back in my neighborhood and let my other two leads take over., I just don’t care anymore.

    Roy Rumaner
    (Former) Nextdoor Lead

    Reply
  3. Todd Agosto

    Chad, kudos on all your efforts. The website you built for Dawson is very impressive. Just further confirms how blind Gordon is. Which brings me to inquire about his background.

    Based on what i could gather on gordon. His background may explain why he doesn’t value real evidence of genuine community activism but instead superficial titles that suggest such. ie he’s a graduate of Harvard with little to zero experience in building community among a diverse group of people. http://www.gordonstrause.com/Files/Resume.html He claims to be a “consultant’ for numerous nonprofits, but how can you consult without any experience?

    On http://new.spring.me/#!/user/gordonst/timeline/responses he reveals that he’s “Introverted with a veneer of extroversion.”

    So this may explain why he often comes off as an insincere pretentious prick.

    Reply
  4. George S.

    HAVE THEY BANNED YOU YET?
    Thank you for this look at how insidious their control over their 163,000 neighborhoods (or whatever) is. I assumed they did not understand American English by the way they communicated. They could or would not substantiate one fact or accusation against me. The scammed a copy of my drivers license on the pretense that I was using a fictitious name. In our neighborhood they claim to have taken over Neighborhood Watch which is our connection to the local police. They are trying to make our local Civic League obsolete. The Leads are as crooked as a country road and cronyism is how you become a lead. People who have lived here all their lives are being banned by people who moved in three years ago and don’t know the history of many issues. How do you propose to get rid of Nextdoor.com? I know several ways to get them out of our neighborhood. Just wondered if they are really in San Francisco.

    Reply
  5. Jeff K.

    Nextdoor hijacked our site too!

    I have sent certified letters to ND the past week. I have had three responses from ND support. Each a different associate and none are getting or want to address the issue. They responding with canned ‘sorry to hear you are frustrated’ type statements. We are requesting resolution. I have notified the National Association of Town Watch, who ND is now a sponsor of National Night Out. Go figure. Something does not smell right with this company.

    Reply
  6. Chris S.

    Good old Gordo — refuses to delete my account. So happy to hear from someone else who has run into this particular sociopath (I consider anyone who would work for this evil site to be a sociopath). I was banned from the site because in a burst of candor, I called someone an idiot. Every day i send him an email telling the jerk to delete my account. After telling me that he couldn’t because of legal and moral (?) issues along with some other meaningless BS, I asked him if he spoke English, was illiterate, blind, stupid or just plain insane. No response. So every day I send him another email telling him to delete my account. I am disabled, elderly and for the first time ever, had to buy security cameras for protection from my NEIGHBORS. All thanks to Nextdoor. Sorry to hear that you have encountered this jerk, too, but nice to know I’m not alone. — Chris, Spanaway, WA

    Reply
  7. Caroline B.

    I just read your post. I should have read it before I joined the group in Marysville Ohio. Most of my posts or responses are cut before posted. Someone posted a note encouraging people to vote. He was ridiculed and the post removed. Gestapo alive and well in Mayberry EDDIE.

    Reply
  8. Scott N.

    Nextdoor is an insult to critical thinkers.

    Reply
  9. Smokey

    NextDoor is in existence for one reason: to put users’ personal information into their database, which they then sell to businesses, and to the government. Their claims of “privacy” are nonsense. If the CIA can be hacked (which it was), then NextDoor is easy-peasy.

    As some folks have pointed out, the “Leads” hold their positions by being sycophants (servile flatterers). They are not elected, and as a result many of them are just what you’d expect: thin-skinned bullies who use their power to censor anyone who disagrees with them.

    What is needed is a central site that will post the users experiences. With 160,000+ ‘neighborhoods’, there must be ample complaints. If someone aggregated those discussions in one spot with a dedicated website, the true ‘NextDoor’ would be publicly available.

    Last year I deleted my house address because of privacy concerns. Then, a couple days ago I happened to look at the map NextDoor provides. It identified my exact house. It also highlighted the house, so there was could be confusion. Really, my location is just as available now as with a house number. Actually, it’s more specific — even an illiterate could find it with their detailed map.

    So I asked them to not highlight my house on the map. This is the response I got from the “Community Expert”:

    “If you don’t want to live in my neighborhood or my Nextdoor Neighborhood, that’s fine.”

    She added a link to remove myself from the NextDoor site. (This ‘expert’ is in Texas; a thousand miles away.)

    That’s the kind of petty response people get when asking to have their personal info deleted. The reason is crystal clear: NextDoor collects and sells our private information to businesses and governments. That is the only reason NextDoor exists (Yahoogroups does the same thing; neighbors can be in the same kind of an email group, and limit it to their neighborhood).

    I’m commenting here because I’ve read plenty of similar complaints. If I responded on NextDoor, my comment wouldn’t be published. What’s needed is a central clearinghouse that exposes NextDoor’s deception, and show readers what they’re really doing.

    And there might even be some money to be made, if an aggregator website gets enough eyeballs. With more than 160,000 neighborhoods, there are bound to be lots of people who have experienced NextDoor’s “up yours” attitude.

    I would do it myself, but I’m not up to speed on websites. I’ve never had one, and wouldn’t know where to begin. But I know numbers. Multiply 160,000 by the average population of a neighborhood, and you’re talking about a lot of traffic.

    There was a lot more to this particular incident, but the result is typical of blogs run by petty tyrants that cannot take any kind of criticism. NextDoor gives too much authority to people whose only qualification is sucking up to them. Naturally, that attracts the wrong kind of people.

    So I’m done with NextDoor as a conributor/member. But I would happily post what they’re really doing: selling our personal information, and point out that we have no control over how it’s used. Or misused.

    Reply
  10. Catzmome

    I’m just reading this out of curiosity, I’m not a member of your neighborhood, and because of the CBS (“Complete Bull’s Hit”, lol) I’ve read on site jabber, will NEVER become a member of Next Door. I had heard of it but until a neighbor invited us to join, never gave much thought to the idea of participating, When my DH started to fill out the member info, he stopped short when it required access to his Contacts. WHY WOULD YOU NEED ACCESS TO MY HAIRDRESSER, MINISTER OR CHILD’S TEACHER???? Just so you could monitor who I spoke to in an online forum that allows communication only between neighbors within a couple streets of one another?

    I digress! All that was to say I won’t be becoming a member!

    In the editorial, comment was made about the admin “knowing when, where, and with whom one communicates”. Forwarding interesting posts to the ousted leader might get the person sharing into hot water. HERE’S THE SOLUTION: take a screenshot of the post you want others to see who no longer have access, then send that “photo” (of the content from the ND page) to your interested party. IMHO, that would be your private property, your photo, and you can send it to anyone you dam well please. I’m pretty sure a Court Order for Search Warrant would need to be issued to search your computer in order to prove anyone has been talking out of school, as it were. I can’t help but wonder if the same information was shared in person, what the consequences would be!
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  11. Keven Masters

    Had a lead in my hood that would scold me for misspelled words.Can’t help that I’m half blind and auto correct has a mind of its own.I had found with this one lead over several months picked on every post from crime to listing an item for sale.Looked up the individual on line and found out that he was a married homosexual who trashed on Christians which I had my faith listed on my page.Towards the end this person took down a post for a criminal in the hood I caught.War started with corporate and they gave me limited access.Sent them the info I collected on the lead and they punished me even more.I found the leads name attached to gay 18 year old porn,hook up sites for gay sex and posted hate towards religion.Why would nextdoor allow this person to even be a lead when his lifestyle doesn’t match what nextdoor promotes.I never judged him or said anything to him.I deleted the site and have recently found that leads all over the nation takes community post down for church activities.These people are amendment criminals.

    Reply
  12. Robert W. Hudson

    PLEASE SEE causes.com/freespeach , speach was evidently spelled wrong because the other was taken.

    Reply
  13. Robert W. Hudson

    My problems with NEXTDOOR.COM started last year, I was one of the first to join in this area, I have been in my home 17 years.

    Last year I engaged some locals in a conversation whose subject was the local city counsel, I was very quickly contacted by someone called a “Lead” who was rude, insulting and demanded I stop talking politics that it was not “Neighborly” , I did not log back in until several months later, when I did myself and maybe 10 others were engaged in a conversation regarding the local Mayorial Race, we were interupted by two “LEADS” who promptly went into public shaming mode, one lead sent me a letter saying what I said was vile and unwanted…..so, i checked this guy out and find out he is a publically proclaimed athiest and Socialist, so next time I logged in he was trolling for me and when he tried to shame me again my response was his facebook page address and the words “SO SAYS A GODLESS MARXIST”, Next morning I get a message from Holly at NextDoor.com telling me my account is being suspened, all I can say is they beat me to it, Paul, feel free to publish what I sent you.

    This subdivision is turning into a bed of socialist, whats sad is they dont even realize it. its “PARK & JUPITER” in Plano, Texas. I have read their entire policies and I was floored by it…….reminded me of the “Marxist Manifesto”, I think this company will eventully take a dump, they mistreat too many people, they destroy the core of our homes and relationships with our neighbors and then they will blame it on us by editing a few posts and taking them out of context and then publically shame you. They steal your personal info and then sell it, and justify it by extra small text in their policy. They are stealing our rights to speak and have an opinion with their insidious actions, I have found over 2500 complaints on NEXTDOOR.COM on line that range anywhere from racial profiling, Nazi like behavior by leads, suppression of free speach and expression, and that folks is just the tip of the issue.

    Myself and a few others are committed to putting some type of oversight on this bunch of Nazi’s, feel free to contact me.

    Reply
  14. LadyNeedles

    Almost gone lead here…..

    After reading all of the posts/comments here I realize just how much of a bully Nd and the people that work there are ! The thought had crossed my mind many times that all was not right with this company. They are as bad as the members that want to bully me all of the time.

    As I mentioned above, I’m on my way out. I’ve been threatened to be sued 4 x each by a husband and wife, accused of racism when I hadn’t even met the people (they had no profile pic), nor had they seen a pic of me. I’ve been called, bitch, Nazi, told that I needed certain sexual favors, had lies told about me in a Nd off shoot on Facebook and on and on. It got so bad that I was actually considering getting an attorney to write to them citing them for cyber bullying. After I mentioned that a couple of times, funny but the bullying has slowed way down.

    I’ve really had it. My only regret is signing up with them in the first place.

    Reply

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