Our latest product feature comes from our most important source of inspiration: our real-world neighbourhoods. 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 neighbourhoods by improving the way neighbours 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 neighbour’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 comments, resulting in 20% fewer negative comments. Moreover, in areas testing Kindness Reminder, there has been a decline in negative comments overall.
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 neighbours, 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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbourhoods 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 neighbour.
We believe that Kindness Reminder and future updates will have a greater positive impact in areas where proximity may be neighbours’ 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 neighbours 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.