Washington DC neighborhoods have been long served by mailing lists and some have more than 3,000 subscribers. The content, all user generated is, in sum, similar to Front Porch.
Front Porch sounds like an effort to give a little more structure to ad hoc mailing lists.
But I have to question Front Porch’s requirements, if I read this post correctly, to make its lists closed as well as require ID in a posts.
DC’s mailing lists aren’t closed. I subscribe to several. And you don’t have to include your name in a post. An ID requirement may discourage some people to post crime information or freely express concerns.
Front Porch is a reminder that mailing lists are very effective and popular. Neighborhood Mailing lists are so entrenched in DC that I’m not convinced that DC’s growing number of neighborhood blogs will necessarily unseat mailing lists as the primary source of neighborhood intel.
I agree with KOB’s support of DC’s neighborhood mailing lists. Blogs are great, but they’re one person’s view (or maybe from a few), whereas the mailing lists are from the crowd.
Front Porch Forum’s approach is a departure from DC’s neighborhood mailings lists though. Our aim is to help neighbors connect and foster community within the neighborhood. Our scale is roughly 10% of DC’s lists, that is, a few hundred households. Only residents may join and post. And all postings are clearly labeled with the author’s name, street, and email address.
I’m familiar with some of the DC mailing list (and other places like Austin, etc.), and many are popular and very helpful to a lot of people. But they don’t do much of what FPF’s neighborhood forums are doing… that is, helping nearby neighbors really get to know each other in person.
I lived in and participated on the Mount Pleasant mailing list in DC 10-12 years ago (prehistoric by internet time)… and it was great. However, I actually knew or had the chance to get to know less than 5-10% of those posting. In my FPF neighborhood, that’s reversed… there’s probably only 5-10% that I won’t ever meet, and with 90% of my neighborhood using the service that’s a huge shift.