Love thy neighbor. Or would you rather rip them instead?
Real estate is not only about transactions and investments or even about home ownership, it is also about neighborhoods. I’ve frequently offered my thoughts on how we can all enjoy and improve the community and environment around us. But while the recommended way to act neighborly is to settle our differences with our neighbors privately or keep any negative musings (of where we live) to ourselves, there is now a new Web 2.0 type offering that allows us to act otherwise by providing an outlet for us to vent, rant and whine about the people who live around us, all in a public forum.
There have been numerous other mentions of this web site around the web quite recently, but allow me to add my .02.
This new site is called “RottenNeighbor.com” and it exists to help you determine if a place is a desirable spot to live in… or not. What’s interesting about this site is that it brings to light those characteristics of an area that may not be currently measurable by internet sites like Zillow.com. In short, RottenNeighbor focuses on the subjective features that could make one property attractive to a homebuyer but a turn off to another. This could very well be a step towards bringing in subjective opinion into the property valuing equation.
How do they do it? By letting you tell it like it is: now you can harp about a home, neighbor or location as much as your heart desires:
A Sampling of What RottenNeighbor.com Gives You
For god sakes man! How many damn dogs can one neighborhood have ! There must be 4 per ef-en house over here. I love how they bark in shifts!
Neighbors From Hell
as many as 30 people live here, often 5 or 6 families in 4 illegal units. the noise never stops, the trash is everywhere, roaches and filth everywhere, dope customers dropping by day and night, daycare operating in the back yard daily.
These people watch TV the whole night with very loud volume. Other tenants have to sleep with their windows closed because of noise. Be careful before renting here.
Many neighbors on the 3800 Block on 21st Street are crazy and resent those with more money than them. They are mainly from the East Coast with East Coast pretensions. They forget that they live in San Francisco…Live and Let Live. They should be thrown back to the East Coast.
Tsk tsk, dramatic, yes. But how helpful is it? Let’s see what it has to offer:
Seven Ways That RottenNeighbor.com Can Help You
Here’s what it can do for you (which I share with you, tongue-in-cheek) — it can:
Help you find a nuisance-free zone to live in.
You can now determine if your dream home is in an equally dreamy neighborhood. Enter a zip code and see if any cringe-worthy complaints are logged against your home-to-be. Be able to validate the wonders of your new surroundings.
Give you a place to share your views about your community.
You have a long-standing beef with your neighbor? Then you no longer need to stew quietly about it or sling mud at them over your fence. If you live in a great place, tell us about it too! You can let the world know what you’re dealing with.
Help you release pent up frustration and anger.
The act of filing an entry in this web site can potentially be helpful for emotional and psychological relief. You’ll release that tension, thereby taking some weight off your mind. Your happier demeanor could actually be a consolation to everyone, and you may even manage to smile at the neighbors more often.
View the latest gripes against the place you already live in.
See what people are saying about your community and feel utterly defensive. Or agree with the rest wholeheartedly. See where neighborhoods stand in the public eye.
Inform problematic neighbors about your issues and concerns.
The site sees itself as acting as the messenger between people and their problematic neighbors. The claim is that “bad” neighbors may not usually realize their impact on everyone else until they are informed of their transgressions and find themselves targeted. Maybe they’ll change after such a realization?
Let you take revenge over people you don’t like.
What stops anyone from dropping a critical line about someone they don’t like who may live across town? In other words, I’m wondering about the checks and balances on this thing. Or are we simply leaving it all to the Wisdom of the Crowds, that indescribable force of the net that lets everything get sorted out just so, to result in what is meant to be?
Game property values.
In a subtle kind of way, this can have a potential effect on property values, if you can somehow rally enough like-minded individuals to share their collective views. Could this lead the march towards home affordability? [Okay, this is just a snark. Actually, this whole post is!]
The idea behind this site seems to be to use the ubiquitous Web 2.0 or 3.0 concept of the Wisdom Of The Crowds to fill in the gaps of information that aren’t addressed in property valuation sites like Zillow.com and Redfin. So don’t be surprised when this concept (or this actual mashup) eventually becomes absorbed by a more established real estate related service.
Still, my issues with this site remain, hence I ask:
Some Questions For RottenNeighbor.com
Is the site just “too negative”?
Since it’s based on a negative premise, how well do you think this’ll work? Wouldn’t it be better to allow for both praise and scorn to be heaped in approximately equal dosages? For the record, the site also accepts compliments and positive feedback, but it’s just not as common. Besides, who wants to visit something named “Rotten Neighbor” to read someone’s happy thoughts?
Are these lawsuits waiting to happen?
Apparently there is no fact-checking, moderation or filtering going on (as per the NYTimes) and people can enter bogus posts. Privacy and false information issues have been brought up, but a spokesperson lends this perspective:
The entire service is being engineered to help mediate problems, not broadcast them. Quite often neighbors don’t even know they’re rotten until told. Once informed, many of them temper their behavior. While the company is not liable for the relative truth of these posts, it’s setting up a system to identify and remove hateful or slanderous input.
What? Where did the company get off that they are “not liable for the relative truth of their postings”? Are we buying into free speech or slander? Without the proper filtering, I can just see this site degenerate into something… well… rotten.
Could they really affect property values?
Time will tell, but I can imagine that if this service does its job, it could very well be what a Zillow-type site needs, to help refine its property valuation formula.
How can I trust the information on the site?
As already mentioned, there’s not much policing of information going on in this site. You may lodge a complaint against an entry but these concerns are handled on a case by case basis. So you’ll need to do additional due diligence beyond what you see here.
My Unsolicited Suggestion
I’m sure it’s been considered already but I wonder why such a site doesn’t focus on a more balanced, pleasant and generalized reporting of information. It would be nice to have a service that offered pros and cons of a home’s “subjective features”. I’d personally participate to rave about my street, for instance, and work to attract people to a neighborhood rather than just simply turn them away.
Despite some misgivings, I nonetheless find it a semi-amusing pit stop on the web (inasmuch as Jerry Springer is amusing). Yet I can also see how this web site can come across as offensive, hateful and potentially destructive or dangerous: imagine how altercations with neighbors can escalate due to the online mudslinging. It can possibly do more harm than good. I’d be very interested to see how this site further develops. Do you think this service can help you or do you find it offensive?
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