I came across the idea of creating a social network whose purpose it is to connect you with people in your area/neighbourhood. Such a network would also be managed by someone in your neighbourhood and would be aimed at creating in-person connections, making people meet and come together.

Such a network is the perfect opposite of currently widespread “social” network platforms, which mostly aim to engage users online as much as possible, ultimately at the cost of direct interactions. These networks are also centrally controlled and usually come with algorithms that steer conversation into inflammatory directions.

Even the open source and federated alternatives to these platforms often only change the centralised and closed part but still maintain most of the attention-taking design that I don’t see as ideal.

In my vision of a local network (as I will call it for this post), people should be able to find others nearby with similar interests and be supported in meeting up for activities, sharing/exchanging goods or services and more. Creating something like this is tricky, it needs to be very useful and shouldn’t become a time sink of its own, however it should still be attractive enough for people to actually want to use it.

Do you have any thoughts or suggestions what are some helpful and necessary features or aspects to keep in mind, and perhaps even more critically, what should not be present?

Looking forward to your thoughts!


Bonus ideas:

  • Such local networks could still federate, so neighbourhood networks could federate on some level to connect larger areas in a city. What should federate, and how far?
  • Local networks can also be hosted on non-internet networks like Freifunk since they are geographically based in a small area. This can also improve resilience of such networks in catastrophic situations.
  • Is there a good way that geographically more spread-out groups of activists, perhaps even in different countries, could make use of such networks? (How) Can this be compatible with keeping it simultaneously locally rooted and local-first?
    • Unicorn 🌳OP
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      52 months ago

      What was your experience with it? Is there something that could have remedied the problems you had? It would be good to learn from things that didn’t work.

      • @some_guy@lemmy.sdf.org
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        72 months ago
        1. Photos from security cams of Black people who look suspicious, asking if anyone knows the individual.

        2. Rants about 5G antennas going up and reducing property value, calling for a boycott (for a very small city surrounded by a larger city), essentially saying 5G cost should be on us (the larger city) while they inherit the benefit in the smaller city. Also, conspiracy theory bullshit about them. This was before the pan. I realized that I couldn’t participate and got off the app in 2019.

  • Scary le Poo
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    72 months ago

    You’re recreated nextdoor. I found that my neighbor’s are racist, hate poor people (especially homeless people) and think they shouldn’t be allowed to exist, and are just all around garbage people.

    It sounds great, but only if the people in your neighborhood aren’t awful shit bags. The more you interact with your neighbors, the more you’ll realize how awful the people that live around you are. -3/10

    • Unicorn 🌳OP
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      72 months ago

      I can see that it would be an issue if your neighbours are toxic people, unfortunately technology can’t solve that. Is there something that could have remedied this or do you see this as a matter of luck?

      • Scary le Poo
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        42 months ago

        Well considering that I got banned for “taking the Lord’s name in vain”, I’m gonna say that this shit is a lost cause lol

        • Unicorn 🌳OP
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          11 month ago

          Banned by who? How was moderation done on Nextdoor? I am curious if a non-centralized network could do better in terms of building communities that uphold different values. Of course nothing would stop a group of extreme conservatives from coming together and making an instance for being horrible, that’s a more broad problem though in my eyes.

          • Scary le Poo
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            21 month ago

            Banned by a “community leader”. Basically the Karen in my neighborhood who raised enough hell to get next door to give her moderation powers.

            • Unicorn 🌳OP
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              21 month ago

              I see, so a community with asshole leaders would still suffer the same problem in my vision, but they wouldn’t be able to hold other members hostage as in your case since it’s self-hostable - people who do not feel represented or who are not happy with the moderation can start their own community in the same neighbourhood

  • @JacobCoffinWrites@slrpnk.net
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    2 months ago

    It can be hard to get people to move platforms - most folks have moved to big centralized social media which provides most of what they need in one place, so recruiting may be kinda difficult. On the uphand, the filter effect of a federated local network might mean you get more of the utopian minded activist types looking for a decent place, and fewer lazy racists, but I’m not sure (I’ve never been on nextdoor because I’ve heard ours is essentially a Fox News comment section for your street).

    I’ve been blessed with an awesome experience in meeting my neighbors online through the local Everything is Free groups (unfortunately stuck on Facebook). So there’s something of a filter there, the kind of people who join care about not wasting stuff, and will go through extra effort to make sure someone gets it. Or they just need something and this helps them stretch the budget. Either way, the vast majority have been great and I’ve been able to build some cool friendships through this group.

    At the same time, despite this interest, the local freecycle page is pretty dead. With maybe a post or two per week compared to the low hundreds per day on the Facebook group.

    I think there’s some value in meeting people halfway and providing these things on the platforms they’re already on, but I’ve also fled more and more into federated alternative spaces and mostly ditched the default ones. So this kind of thing really does appeal to me. I’ll keep thinking on how to help with this. I just thought I should speak up as someone who’s actually had a good experience meeting his neighbors through an online group. Maybe there’s something in my experience that could be generalized? I’m not sure.

    • Unicorn 🌳OP
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      21 month ago

      Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and experience!

      I can see the problem with getting people to use something different too, my hope is that providing a sufficiently good alternative and making it very local could help - once the platform is mature enough, I would advertise it by physically throwing a letter in the mailbox of every person on my street. That’s when I would find out whether anybody cares or not - getting everyone on at once seems to be the best chance for starting a community from nothing since there would be initial exploratory activity by people who are interested.

      I think making it as easy and useful as possible is especially critical here or there will simply be no interest. It has to be better at what it’s doing than established platforms, which is not an easy task.

      On the broader topic of positive and negative experiences, as well as toxic behaviour, I share your thoughts and experiences. I think a federated or at minimum self-hosted community has better chances of avoiding the fate of big sites like Nextdoor - I reckon that people who are into self-hosting and community/sharing largely do not hold ultraconservative values. There is the “abuse is free speech” crowd in the fediverse too, but at least anyone could create a different community in the same area.

      Effective and transparent moderation tools should be high on the list of priorities though, just as high as other ways to avoid abuse.

    • Unicorn 🌳OP
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      22 months ago

      Thanks, will have a look at that :)

  • adRn-s
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    42 months ago

    I had this idea of having a virtual pin board of sorts by self-hosting a forum to a LAN with a Raspberry (or any SBC) at my neighborhood sport club. That raspberry would host a Guerrilla Library, like internetcu.be or the original project, I’d have to look for the link… Sry.

  • @antlion@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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    22 months ago

    In my opinion, the biggest problems with local/online muddling are safety and privacy. How do you meet a new local person, and know they are legit? Not trying to scam you or rape you?

    Nextdoor was in a position to solve this problem by requiring a postcard, received at your address, to sign up. But they mostly squandered the network by trying to be feed and ad-based.

    I envision a new type of network whose foundation is identity. Your face is your username to login. Using facial recognition, a cartoon avatar is made, customizable of course. A single user can create multiple “faces” to interact: professional, personal/hobby, dating, buy/sell, or anonymous (shitposting, gossip, complaints, etc). But this would be a different kind of anonymous. Your identity is protected but you still have a reputation. The whole network should have peer-based reputation for users, both ratings and even written reviews of in-person interactions. When somebody posts something racist or hurtful, or is flaky about a sale, or whatever their reputation can be harmed. Reputation for one face affects others to an extent, so you can’t be an anonymous troll with one face while being helpful with another and expect to have a good reputation. And a persons good reputation impacts how much their opinion can damage others reputation. In this system trolls and haters will just be silenced and shadow banned by having a low reputation, they may think they’re interacting but nobody will see their comments or posts, and their downvotes don’t matter. With that somewhat complex foundation figured out, we now have a way to interact with others online that allows for control, and safer reveal of true identity.

    Another thing I’m surprised doesn’t exist is a simple marketplace with escrow. Basically if I’m selling something, to buy it the buyer puts up an offer with escrow. I accept the offer and I can see that the money is there. The buyer and seller meet and exchange the goods. The buyer releases the money in escrow, and the ad for the item is removed. This could possibly reduce the number of people asking “do you still have it?”. For larger items like motor vehicles, the escrow could be like 20% or something to show good faith to purchase.

    Another thing I’d like, if peers can be trusted with a reputation system, is a kind of lending library. Video games, movies, music and tools for example aren’t needed full time. It would be cool to have a way to post items available for lending, with the system tracking who has borrowed what, when it’s due back, and of course reputation so that only good lenders and borrowers are participating. Need a tile saw for a backsplash, or a line trimmer, or chainsaw? Want to read a new book? Real local friendships can be formed just by sharing. But it all starts with a digital trust system.

    • @speedingcheese@lemmy.world
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      32 months ago

      Online reputations sound nice in theory, but quickly fall apart in practice. It is essentially a social credit system Like China uses to control people. In a system like what you’re describing, people would probably ding someone that they simply didn’t agree with. That means someone with a controversial but perhaps well thought out and valid take would be booted. Thus, intelligent debates and discussions take a hit and then you have the Echo chamber of Reddit.

      https://www.wired.com/story/china-social-credit-system-explained/

      • @antlion@lemmy.dbzer0.com
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        22 months ago

        It’s a bit different when the credit rating is issued by the government. Community requires trust, and trust requires accountability. Maybe downvotes of another user also hurt the rating of the person doing the down voting. It’s not impossible but it would require some careful thought and experimentation. If it was easy somebody would have done it already.

        • @speedingcheese@lemmy.world
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          21 month ago

          Yeah, I’m with you that it’s tough to figure out. Good points, and I didn’t offer a solution because I don’t have one! Just… gah, I left reddit because the echo chamber/hive mind is destructive to intelligent conversation.