User-Contributed Announcements Give EveryBlock a Human Touch
EveryBlock, the local news aggregator that shows you block-level details about your city, has added a new feature dubbed, “Notify your neighbors,” which allows anyone in your neighborhood to post news on the site.
EveryBlock, which launched in 2008, touts itself as “a geographic filter” for your city or your neighborhood. The site crawls local newspapers, radio and television stations as well as local blogs, independent media sources and government data feeds to show you what’s happening on your block. At the moment EveryBlock serves fifteen U.S. cities, though the site is always taking suggestions for more.
While EveryBlock pulls in an impressive amount of data, it can’t hope to find everything about your block — for example, a private neighborhood listserv or other very small, self-organized neighborhood websites are either off limits or simply too numerous to crawl.
The new Notify feature is, in part, designed to overcome that by allowing you to post your own events, news and, well, anything really.
The EveryBlock blog calls the new feature “intentionally open-ended,” and is hoping that users will come up with novel ways to use it. Early beta previews were made available to select users who used Notify to do everything from post lost pet messages to chatting about howling cats and missing mailboxes (damn kids!).
The new feature is also part of the EveryBlock iPhone app, so you can post announcements as you walk down the street.
Within the site, user-generated posts are labeled as “announcements” and link back to the poster’s profile (so yes, you need to sign up before you can post).
So far the feature looks very useful and gives EveryBlock a human touch that sometimes felt missing in early incarnations. Whether or not it will help build a community or end up being overrun with spam remains to be seen.