Starting today, NoN will no longer send daily or weekly digests. This feature was used by less than 5% of our members and conflicted with upcoming changes. Existing digest subscriptions have been converted to instant notifications.
I am pleased to report that we will be rolling out an entirely new text messaging system over the next few days. In addition to receiving local alerts, you will also be able to share information with your community directly from your phone. Stay tuned for more information later this week!
We’re pleased to announce that community and agency RSS feeds have been added to Nation of Neighbors. In addition to visiting the website for local news and subscribing to email alerts, you can now subscribe to your community news feed with your favorite RSS reader. You can also incorporate your feed into your community website or Facebook page.
Community feeds include both posts and reports. Agency feeds currently only include reports. All feeds return the most recent 20 items by default.
If you are incorporating a feed into your community website, you can add query parameters to the feed URL to modify the default behavior. Specifically, you can specify a ‘limit’ parameter to specify how many items to return and the ‘type’ parameter to choose between posts and reports.
A few examples:
Default Feed – last 20 reports and posts combined:
Custom Feed – last 50 reports:
Custom Feed – last 5 posts:
Nation of Neighbors currently accepts two primary types of user created content – ‘reports’ and ‘posts’. Reports, created only with the report page, are intended to be timely user-submitted reports of crime or suspicious activity tied to a specific geographic location. Posts, created from your home page or community page, are intended to be about everything else related to your community. There is a reason things were set up that way. However, in practice, it often leads to confusion. My current plan is to integrate the two content types, preserving the features of both. The only exception is anonymity. We don’t currently associate user information with reports. We do with other content. My proposal is to add a ‘post anonymously’ option to all content. The user information would be saved in the database so that we can send the poster replies (a major shortcoming with our current system – we currently don’t know who to send replies to). However, user information would not be displayed. I’ve exchanged emails with some of you already regarding this change and the response thus far has been positive. If I haven’t already spoken with you, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the proposed change.
To our new members from New Hyde Park, NY
I apologize for the broken link to your group. Unfortunately our system neglected to remove the ‘/’ from the link to your group when it was created, breaking the link. I’ve fixed it and made modifications so that this does not happen again.
The correct link to your group is:
I completely did away with ‘referral codes’ this morning.
When we launched Nation of Neighbors back in June we wanted to ensure that we didn’t have spammers signing up and sending out reports with our broadcast system. While they never succeeded sending out a spam report on our previous site (Watch Jefferson County), that was only because we were hyper vigilant and limited to a small geographic area. They tried all the time. Ron literally had a full time volunteer job deleting spam. Based on that experience, we built a number of spam control measures into Nation of Neighbors. One of those controls was the ‘referral code’ system.
Here’s how it worked: Rather than allowing prospective members to join immediately, prospective members instead requested a referral. If the prospective member lived within the boundaries of an existing group, the request was shown to existing members who could choose to send the prospective member an invitation. When the prospective member lived in a new area, the invitation was issued by an admin. This barrier to entry was supposed to limit ‘false’ registrations and help community leaders control who got to see and share information in their community (you can still elect to approve all group members in your group’s settings). After all, you know who really lives in your community. We don’t. In reality, our existing communities were already pretty well covered, so Ron and I ended up sending most of the invitations anyway.
Two months ago I changed our system over to ’self-invitation’. You entered your phone number or email address and received a code that you entered on the signup form. I believe that’s still excessive and redundant – 50% of the potential members who requested a referral never returned to sign up. Many of those potential members lived within existing community groups.
Why did we ever require referral codes? In my own words:
This small barrier to entry helps us maintain high quality membership and data. The referral system also helps us avoid ‘members’ who would sign up to post spam. The referral system also helps ensure that we can limit growth to a manageable level and focus on growth at the local level when new community groups are added.
Spam has not been a problem (we currently have 10 times more traffic than Watch Jefferson did without a single spam message to delete) and we have had no problem controlling traffic or ‘growth’. In fact, I wish we had that problem. I should have known better.
To everyone who took the time to fill out the extra forms – please accept my apologies. If there are other barriers to participation that we should know about, please let us know!
We updated Nation of Neighbors over the weekend. In addition to fixing a number of bugs we’ve added some new features and made some significant changes. Here’s what’s new:
Group Managers can now add pages to their Nation of Neighbors group. To add a page, click the ‘Manage’ tab on your group’s page then select the ‘Group Pages’ option from the list. You can choose to show your pages to the world or keep them private for community members only. You can also choose to allow community members to add their own comments to the page.
We’ve changed the URL format for community groups. The new format is ‘nationofneighbors.com/community/state/group name’. Hopefully this will make the URL easier to remember and more recognizable. If you have a link to your Nation of Neighbors group on your community website please update it!
Add your group’s Nation of Neighbors activity to your community website! We’ve added the fist part of our new API (Application Programming Interface). Our API currently returns recent reports assigned to your community and / or community posts formatted as JSON data. If you’re a programmer, you’re welcome to display the data however you’d like. For everyone else, follow the easy directions below.
To get started, simply add the following lines of code to your webpage right before the closing </body> tag.
The Options are:
- limit: the number of items you want returned.
- key: your group id. You can get this by clicking on the ‘Manage’ tab on your group page.
- feed: the options are
- reports – show only recent reports assigned to your community
- posts – show only recent community posts
- reports,posts – show both
Add the following code where you want the activity list to appear
<div id="NoN_local_activity"> <h2 class="sidebar-title">Recent Activity on Nation of Neighbors</h2> <ul id="activity_list"></ul> </div>
We’ve added a ‘Get More’ link to the bottom of the news feed. Want to see more reports from the past? Keep clicking ‘Get More’ – they’ll load automatically and be added to the report map.
We’ve updated the layout of the report page.
We’ve signed up with UserVoice.com to collect member feedback. You’ll see the new ‘Feedback’ tab on the right side of most pages. Is something not working? Maybe a new feature you’d like for us to add? Please click the Feedback tab and tell us about it!
Nation of Neighbors will be down for approximately two hours early Friday morning for maintenance – from approximately 12:00am to 2:00am EST Friday July 10th.
So far so good – we’ve run into a few minor glitches over the past week but overall, everything has been working well. So well that I’ve had time to put the finishing touches on some new features. We’re planning on upgrading the site over the weekend. Here’s a brief look at what we’re adding:
- Community Pages – Group managers will now be able to create community pages. Pages can either be private (only for group members) or public. Community pages are also integrated with our comment system and our brand new tag ststem – content posted with a specific tag can be automatically aggregated to a page. For example – all file attachments tagged ‘meeting minutes’ could be aggregated on a documents page.
- Messaging – Contact other members in your groups (or the entire group) with our new messaging system.
- Group Invites – Group managers will be able to invite new local members to their groups by uploading an email list
- Report Browser – You will be able to browse all reports in your community without sifting through the news feed.
- Webmaster Tools – Integrate your NoN group with your existing community website.
The update will fix quite a few things as well. Some of the more notable:
- An issue with the map icons that caused all reports to display the default icon has been fixed.
- A few modifications to the Start Community form.
- There were a few problems with the daily activity emails that have been fixed.
- An issue with the photo upload form has been fixed that prevented multiple photos from being uploaded at once.
- An issue with the photo upload form that prevented some members from uploading profile photos has already been fixed.
We don’t anticipate more than 20 minutes of downtime during the update. We’re also working on creating a series of tutorial videos to help new members get started – we’ll keep you updated.
Did we say June 1st?
We’re sorry for the delay and happy to announce that we’re almost ready to send those welcome emails to existing Watch Jefferson County members. We’ve completed transferring over all of our membership information as well as the bulk of the content and reports. We’re now making some last minute updates to the member pages and fixing some formatting issues with the Watch Jefferson County content.
We’re now planning on sending welcome emails on Monday, June 8th. We will begin fulfilling new membership requests on June 15th.