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News: Technology

Nextdoor’s new Kindness Reminder wants to stop neighbors from being so mean

The Verge logo The Verge 9/18/2019 Jon Porter
a hand holding a cell phone © Image: Nextdoor

Nextdoor, the social networking app for neighborhoods, is adding a new Kindness Reminder feature to try and dissuade neighbors from posting mean comments. Now, if you try and post a comment that is too similar to one that’s been flagged in the past, the app will prompt you to edit your response and provide a link to community guidelines.

Over the years, Nextdoor has gained a reputation for the petty, and occasionally mean comments that some of its users leave on the platform, especially compared to rival neighborhood message board Front Porch Forum. The best examples of these can be found on the Twitter account Best of Nextdoor which, somewhat unsurprisingly, the company’s ex-CEO Nirav Tolia wasn’t particularly fond of.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Image: Nextdoor

The new feature identifies potentially mean comments, and prompts you to edit them before posting. 

“Kind replies make a difference,” the new Kindness Reminder reads, “We noticed your reply looks similar to content that’s been reported in the past. Would you like to rephrase it?” Although you’re free to publish your comment in its original form, the colorful “Edit reply” button is clearly designed to be more eye-catching. In its beta test of the feature, Nextdoor said a “significant number” of users chose to edit their comments after receiving the message.

Nextdoor says the feature uses machine learning to analyze previous comments that have been flagged for containing offensive content. The company adds that the feature will co-exist with the service’s existing human moderation tools.

The new Kindness Reminder is launching today in the US, and Nextdoor says it will launch globally in the “coming months.”

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