Neighborhoods go Nextdoor for Help (Revised)*

A hyper-local social media app called Nextdoor is becoming popular among Mount Dora residents as a way to talk over the digital clothesline, help a neighbor out or find a good handyman.

To date, there are 6 Mount Dora Nextdoor neighborhoods (Historic Downtown, Unser, North Mount Dora, Dogwood Mountain, Cobblehill, Country Club of Mount Dora and Summerbrooke) with a total 292 members.

The thinking is this: professionals use LinkedIn for networking, your friends and family around the country use Facebook. Nextdoor is a social app for connecting with people who live around you.

What’s different about Nextdoor as a social media platform is that by providing a physical address when signing up, participants are identified as local. Whatever you share, you know you’re only sharing it with neighbors. Also, by asking members to provide their real name, a greater degree of civil exchange is encouraged.

Currently, most Mount Dora members use Nextdoor as a free classified service: someone is looking for a dentist or a babysitter, a newborn kitten needs a home, someone’s selling an entertainment center.

“Is is always nice to get a referral for services from neighbors,” said one member. “Networking in a convenient, quick manner.”

Another said, “Since we have such busy lives and are running in so many different directions, this site is a great way to get connected to each other. Mount Dora definitely offers more of a hometown feeling to its residents and this site allows us one more way to better acquaint ourselves with each other.”

The service can also be used to give notice of crimes or upcoming civic events, or get the word out in an emergency.

In Nextdoor, neighborhoods are defined by specific boundaries; if a new user signs up and there isn’t a neighborhood yet in the database, they help define them. Then they have 21 days to get nine neighbors to join (each neighborhood needs 10 members). People can only post to their own neighborhood or those nearby, so posts can be made more privately and exclusively.

More than 650 local government agencies also use the service as well to send out citywide alerts on things like shutdowns in specific areas, crime alerts or emergency-preparedness tips. (Mount Dora uses a city-wide alert program called Code Red for this purposes, networking from telephone numbers included in utility bills.) A new function called Polls allows members to ask neighbors questions and tally results—a great way to gather community input.

Nextdoor plans to eventually let businesses also post to the network, but they are moving slowly, letting the local communities build up. Orlando now has 480 Nextdoor neighborhoods, and nationwide there are about 68,000 neighborhoods—one in three.

There is a plan to let businesses post to the network, but Nextdoor is moving slowly on that, believing that community trust is the most important reason people now use the app.

You aren’t going to hear a lot about Mount Dora’s city-wide news—we hope you’ll visit us for that reason—but there’s plenty of small dramas on Nextdoor to rivet your attention. I’m still waiting to hear if that 7-year-old orphaned white-and-tan cat found a home. Fingers crossed.

Both Android and iOS versions are available.

*Correction: Our reporter based the count of Nextdoor neighborhoods in Mount Dora based on the location of his own neighborhood, which only showed six Nextdoor neighborhood. We went back to Nextdoor staff and were told that the application uses a geographical algorithm to decide which neighborhoods are the “nearby neighborhoods” visible and accessible to each user. Actually there are 19 Nextdoor neighborhoods registered to Mount Dora: Belmont, Cobblehill, Country Club Of Mount Dora, Dogwood Mountain, East 5th-Liberty, Golden Heights, Hammock Oaks, Historic Downtown, Lakes Of Mount Dora, Loch Leven, NE Lake Dora, North Mount Dora, Pine Crest, Slow Wood, Stoneybrook Hills, Sullivan Ranch, Summerbrooke, UNSER and Village Grove. We regret the error.

David Cohea, Writer (david@mountdoracitizen.com)