Blogging Bayport Alameda

October 6, 2020

Spilling tea

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:06 am

I have…opinions on NextDoor in general but I do understand how it can be helpful for people with lost dogs, looking for a landscaper and other generally benign neighborly things, but with all things social media related, particularly hyper local things, it can get messy real quick.

And in Alameda, nothing is messier than a local election.

On Saturday night, an Alamedan spilled some very hot tea on what’s been going on behind the scene on NextDoor. Apparently NextDoor relies on neighborhood Leads and volunteer Community Reviewers to help keep the site from devolving into an old school BBS on Sunset Beach. (Sunset Beach was a soap opera that aired in the late 1990s, I used to frequent a message board about Sunset Beach during those times and it was…contentious) As you can imagine there is a lot of space for abuse of the system with this particular system. For full disclosure, I recently became a lead on NextDoor and I have seen some very questionable moderation from folks in Alameda. But anyway, these following tweets are really important in light of who is doing the reporting to take down community members’ posts:

And more tea was spilled in the Alameda Peeps group:

Trish Spencer also reported three comments from the same individual tagging them as “Uncivil, unneighborly or offensive” for benign statements. But the shocking thing is the moderation from Alamedans. For those two benign posts a fair number voted for removal or “consider removal.”

Now I’ve done quite a fair bit of reviewing of the NextDoor moderation rules and Trish Spencer’s activity falls squarely within one of NextDoor’s “Don’t” bullets:

Don’t engage in retaliatory reporting. Reporting messages because you’re upset with someone is unneighborly and violates the Community Guidelines.

It’s interesting that someone who has been a public elected official for more than a decade, a very public community member, and is trying to win a seat on the City Council would be scared of criticism from community members she is pledging to represent. I mean, this is the woman with the self styled moniker of the “People’s Mayor” but I guess the people she was Mayor for has compressed quite a bit when it comes to allowing a conversation about her activity and her public statements.

But Trish Spencer wouldn’t be successful with attempts to silence her critics without collaborators to tip the removal algorithm. Here’s some examples, also posted on Alameda Peeps of how benign statements were flagged and removed because NextDoor’s moderation process has been used to settle political grudges.

I have seen one thing that shocked me and made me truly understand how absurd this process is during my short time as a Neighborhood Lead and it involved a book for sale. The book is one that a lot of people are reading these days because it deals with issues around race and its impacts historically and today. This book, a NY Times Bestseller, was flagged for removal. What should have been an easy “Do Not Remove” was littered with reviewers and leads voting “Consider Removal” and “Remove.” I was absolutely floored.

NextDoor has some major issues that need addressing right now and first and foremost is the use of “civility” as a cudgel to stifle dissent. Even though the idea that community members would be a lot more permissive than a neutral arbiter was a good one, it’s clear that some community members will weaponize this power rather than being thoughtful about whether to suppress voices of their neighbors and fellow residents.

6 Comments »

  1. Trump gonna Trump. Trish gonna Trish. I honestly don’t understands why she runs for public office other than to feed her tiny ego. She only does things for her supporters, never anything that would benefit all of Alameda. She craves adulation. It’s painful to watch.

    Comment by Sleepy Moe — October 6, 2020 @ 7:49 am

  2. Many teapots calling many kettles black. Blogging Bayport deserves much praise for an open debate – and its readers too, for the most part, for not paying much attention to the forgettable.

    Comment by MP — October 6, 2020 @ 8:33 am

  3. Comment by Lauren Do — October 6, 2020 @ 8:53 am

    • Sports also get boring when the refs get overly involved like that.

      Comment by MP — October 6, 2020 @ 9:14 am

  4. For context, the “lazy kids” comments mentioned above was in RESPONSE to a “No on Z” comment stating that kids from Alameda would be moving back in with their parents post-college…as if our kids have no hope of EVER coming back to the possibility of a rental in Alameda. Not everyone has kids whose goal is to live with mom and dad after college.

    Comment by Amy Rumberger — October 6, 2020 @ 12:36 pm

    • Nobody has kids whose goal is to live with mom and dad. When you’re 3.1 million homes short, it kinda becomes unavoidable, unless you like paying 3K/month for a 2 bedroom uninsulated shack without any laundry. In fact, maybe you should hope that your children are smart enough to live with their parents so that they can save money and BUY THEIR OWN HOUSE instead of throwing away that money to a landlord. ALAS, not even a downpayment of $200K is enough to make purchasing a house in the Bay Area “affordable” -the average cost of a house in the Bay Area is $996,000. Apparently the measure Z supporters are just fine with their kids having to move out of state in order to live the American Dream.

      Comment by Angela Hockabout — October 6, 2020 @ 5:38 pm


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