Attempting to pull of what BackFence.com could never accomplish, Yahoo has begun testing on a new feature of Yahoo Local called “Neighbors“, which allows members of a community (or neighborhood) to make others aware of a potential issue in the community, talk about it, and even organize around these issues.
As the service is in a testing phase, it is currently only available for two California markets – Sacramento and San Carlos. The project came out of Yahoo Hack Day, and we expect that if all goes well, it will eventually be rolled out to include others areas as well.
The service combines a lot of the functionality of some of Yahoo’s other popular services, like Yahoo Answers and their suggestion boards.
Users can start new issues, discuss issues, and even vote “yay” or “nay” on posted issues. Issues can be browsed easily by looking at the most recent posts, issue categories, conducting a keyword search, or even by looking at the “most active suggestions.”
The interface is pretty simple and clutter-free, which makes using it pretty straight-forward. And, as an added bonus, Neighbors is a completely, 100% non-commercial offering with nary an advertisement in sight. I know, shocking.
I think that Yahoo Local Neighbors has a lot of potential to be used if marketed correctly and monitored for abuse. Community development organizations would be the prime targets for initial marketing efforts, as well as other grass-roots community groups who might make good first adopters.
Like anything, the service has a potential to be used in the wrong way, and I can just imagine a pissed off resident complaining about trivial things or trashing their neighbors.