Along with going off-topic and trolling, another issue that arises on EveryBlock is that even if the content of a comment is on-topic, a negative tone is just as alienating. Someone could post a logical answer to a query, or give sound information, but if that person comes off as rude or brusque, then readers might not even notice that they, in fact, answered the question. Good “netiquette” is an evolving process, but the main point is that, as with any dialogue, pay attention to not only what you say, but how you say it.
There’s an old, yet relevant New York Times op-ed on the power of internet comments. Check it out here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/opinion/sunday/this-story-stinks.html?_r=1&
We hope that conversations on EveryBlock will continue to help improve neighborhoods through the spread and discussion of local information. But remember to stay on-topic and stay civil. For more information on how to post, please visit our Comment Policy.
No matter what type of thread, some EveryBlock (and indeed, internet) users will deliberately try to stir up conflict by writing something off-topic or offensive. These types of users are commonly referred to as “trolls”.
Recently, Slate published an article on Internet Trolling. Trolling not only throws threads off-topic, but diminishes the value of the discussion and antagonizes those who want to make meaningful contributions. We try our best to stay out discussions, and only intervene in the event that posts contain personal attacks or have nothing of value to add.
Along with our own moderation, we look to dedicated EveryBlock users to help us flag those types of users either by using the Unneighborly button, or sending us Feedback.
One of the quickest ways to derail a thread on EveryBlock is to post something off-topic. Your neighbors are having a discussion on how a new grocery store will impact the community, and someone posts about their groceries, but also their heating bill, which causes the discussion to morph away from the original topic and on to the subject of heating, weather, and whatever else might arise.
Just like in-person conversations, it’s easy for people to get sidetracked. Sometimes it’s because someone made a joke, or says something that doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the dialogue, or attacks a user rather than address the topic of discussion. We encourage conversations that are relevant to your neighborhoods, and hope that those conversations help you build meaningful local connections within the community.
When posting on EveryBlock, please try to keep the discussions on-topic, and, as always, let us know if you have any feedback on ways to help moderate the site.
From the Knight Foundation:
Above from left to right: Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation; Kelly Ryan, CEO of Incourage Community Foundation; Chris J. Daggett, president and CEO of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; and Emmett Carson, CEO of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Photo credit: Knight Foundation on Flickr.
As technology continues shaking up the traditional media landscape, it’s leaving gaps and opportunities for community organizations to step in to fill information needs. But legacy news organizations haven’t been alone in facing major shifts. The disruption has affected foundations, too, forcing change and adaptation over the last decade.
The Unneighborly button allows EveryBlock users to flag posts or comments that violate the Community Guidelines, and notifies our content moderation team. The content moderation team looks at the post and decides whether it’s necessary to send a warning, delete the post, or suspend/ban the user. The user’s prior behavior (i.e., multiple unneighborlies) is also considered.
Examples of posts that may warrant an Unneighborly flag are:
Unsolicited advertisements or self promotion of for-profit businesses
Posts that contain profanity
Personal attacks towards other users
Sharing others’ private information without their consent
- Copyright violations and Libel
However, you should not flag a comment or post as unneighborly if you simply disagree with the user’s opinion. Instead, post a comment that says you disagree, or send a private message the user. And you can always “Mute” a user, which will hide their posts and comments from your timeline and email digest.
Unneighborly: [User Name] is awful.
Not-Unneighborly: That pizza place down the street is awful.
Please continue to use Unneighborly to help us moderate the content on EveryBlock, but remember that the first course of action, if possible, is to keep the dialogue going.
We’d like your input – please let us know via our Feedback Form if you think a seperate “disagree” button should be created for posts that don’t necessarily violate the terms of service, but you disagree with.
EveryBlock is glad to support local businesses and community events in our cities. From cultural organizations, like Fourth Arts Block, to block associations, we’re sponsoring groups who are making their block a better place.
We’re excited to announce that we’re partnering with this season’s Brooklyn Craft Central Holiday Market in New York City. This local craft market is in its 5th year and we’re happy to be a part of it to support local businesses this holiday season.
So if you’re looking to cross off some names from your holiday gift list, stop by the EveryBlock table to meet a few of us on the team while shopping from local businesses and artists, and enjoying food from local vendors. For more information on this holiday market, visit Brooklyn Craft Central.
We’re looking to hire a Web/iOS developer to a six-month contract to join our small and effective development team at EveryBlock. This is your chance to work on a wide variety of interesting problems, helping improve a great product with a passionate and growing user base. You should expect to have a hand in all aspects of the site, and your contributions will have an immediate, direct impact on the awesomeness of our service.
When it comes to developers, we like to hire Jills and Jacks of all trades. The ideal candidate will be equally comfortable building apps for iOS, developing back-end Python code, working with databases (we use PostgreSQL and PostGIS) and helping optimize our infrastructure.
Here is the requisite bulleted list of requirements:
- Experience developing iOS applications.
- Experience developing Web applications, and deploying them on Linux.
- Experience (and preference for) working on a small team.
- Clear communication skills, both verbal and written.
- Impeccable work ethic and ability to manage your own workload effectively.
- Ability to iterate quickly.
And here are some nice-to-haves:
- Experience using Python and Django to develop Web applications.
- Experience building geo apps and using PostGIS.
- Passion about improving neighborhoods through information and
enabling community conversation.
We have two designers and three developers at the moment; you’d be the fourth. It’s worth mentioning that the entire team right now is ten people, and you have a chance to make a huge impact, beyond strictly development — suggesting marketing ideas, helping prioritize various strategies and tactics, etc.
We have a low-stress environment and a culture of getting things done with as little bureaucracy as possible. Though we’re technically no longer an independent startup — we were acquired by msnbc.com (now NBC News Digital) in 2009 — we’re culturally very much still a startup, given that our product is still in early stages and we’re still figuring things out.
You’ll need to live in the Chicago area for this position. Our office is in a comfortable loft space on the north side of Chicago, near a bunch of other startups. Several of us walk or bike to work; we’re also equidistant from the Montrose and Irving Park el stations on the Brown Line, and several bus lines.
If you’re interested, apply through our Jobvite site. Thanks for checking this out.
Today we’re excited to announce our season long partnership with the Brooklyn Nets.
It’s been great to see how people new to a neighborhood often use EveryBlock to connect with others. They might post a question in search of parking advice or a reliable dog-walker, or rally a group for a park clean-up. And when that new arrival is Brooklyn’s first professional sports franchise in over 50 years, we know there’s a whole new level of good that can come from the Nets using EveryBlock to talk to and hear from their new neighbors.
As the team continues to settle into their new home at Barclays Center, they’ll use EveryBlock to keep an open dialogue with the surrounding community, as well as to post their own neighborhood events. So be it a question about post-game litter you may have noticed, rallying interest for a community project that involves the team, or trying to get Deron Williams to your kid’s birthday party, come talk to the team on EveryBlock. Okay, not that last one.
For more details, check out our press release here.
Of nineteen EveryBlock cities, New York City and Philadelphia were the most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. While many people were left without electricity and internet access, several used EveryBlock to connect with their neighbors during and after the storm to share vital information. Here’s some of what we saw unfold:
- When the New York City area transit system was suspended, neighbors posted questions and information about local businesses remaining open for food, city services and hurricane supplies.
- As the rain and wind hit the city, neighbors reported loss of electricity and other services, such as cable. Post-storm, neighbors shared updates on when power returned to their neighborhood or when it reportedly would return.
- The gasoline shortage that continues in the New York City area prompted neighbors to ask where gasoline was available and give tips on where lines were long or where gasoline had already run out.
- When subway and bus services resumed, neighbors shared the limited routes and other important commuter information.
- The NYC parks were reopened over the weekend, so neighbors quickly took to EveryBlock to recruit their neighbors for cleanup efforts.
Lastly, and most importantly, in the storm’s aftermath neighbors quickly began posting about how to help those most in need. Discussions ranging from volunteer opportunities to donation drop-offs offered ways to connect and assist others.
It was inspiring to see so many EveryBlockers connect during a difficult time. As the recovery from Hurricane Sandy continues, we’re proud to provide a tool that encourages neighbors to keep each other informed through posting alerts and breaking neighborhood news, asking important questions, and sharing ways to give back to those in need.
It’s hard to believe it’s been more than a year and a half since we redesigned EveryBlock to focus on neighborhood conversation. We were excited to give users a greater voice—to be the icebreaker that connected neighbors around news, issues and questions. And while we admit to not knowing what was going to come from the change, the results have left us completely inspired and excited about where we can go from here.
As user posts continue to grow, our top priority will always be to maintain EveryBlock as a place for civil discussions about neighborhood news. That can be a tall order in the wild world of the Internet, which is why we’re asking you to play a greater role in keeping things, well, neighborly. Do we expect or want EveryBlock to be a saccharine sweet place of only group hugs? Absolutely not. Spirited debate and disagreements, if respectful, are keys to building the strongest ideas and making real progress.
With that in mind we’re introducing the EveryBlock Community Ideals. They’re the philosophies that inspire how our community strives to act. Starting in a couple weeks, as an EveryBlock user, you’ll be asked to agree to these prior to posting if you haven’t already as part of creating your account. If you’re not on board you’ll still receive your EveryBlock emails and be able to visit the site. But we certainly hope you’ll see this as a simple gesture to fellow users of your support for the community you’ve helped build.