How to group text 100 neighbors?
July 15, 2018 1:01 PM   Subscribe

My neighborhood has a Nextdoor group for people who hate to use Facebook and a rival Facebook neighborhood group for people suspicious of Nextdoor. This is not working. I am thinking of creating some kind of group texting like an old-fashioned telephone tree but I don't know how to go about it.

I don't know that much about texting. Should I just create a text with 100 numbers in it or is there some kind of app that would work? Preferably keeping people's phone number private from everyone but the admins.

We all already have joined Nixle but our sheriff posts very few messages through that. And we need a good communication system because we live in an old forest. We want something for wildfire season.

We do have a Neighborhood Watch here but they keep telling us they have a telephone tree but they don't have one set up. They are elderly and don't really get any of this. Most of the young families here do not have landlines and they do have smartphones but with sketchy connection. Almost everyone here can receive texts.

But can a neighborhood watch post something to Nixle? Can our neighborhood have their own Nixle? Or would it just be the sheriff? Also we are mostly concerned with wildfire warnings but the sheriff is not really involved in that. When I asked the neighborhood watch people how we will be informed about a wildfire they said that was not in their jod description. And they didn't know who to ask about that.
posted by cda to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A WhatsApp group seems perfect for this. Google Groups is also good for email chains, but maybe not for things as time-sensitive as wildfire alerts.
posted by veery at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I think you could do this with GroupMe? It works over SMS so it’s extra easy for anyone to use.
posted by wowenthusiast at 1:17 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

My neighborhood has Nextdoor and multiple Facebook groups. This is in part due to how people draw lines. My house could be categorized in at least 3 different neighborhoods. Then there are parent specific Facebook groups, buy nothing groups... Plus legacy list servs and yahoo groups.

Here's the thing... Maintaining any list is going to be a huge pain. Not to mention the actual moderation duties. Nextdoor has paid moderators. Facebook groups tend to have a handful of people managing them. It is a lot of work for these too!

My suggestion? Leave them all. Let them be. Any authorities should post to all or most of them. Selling stuff? Post to all.
posted by k8t at 1:20 PM on July 15, 2018 [9 favorites]

Oh God please don't do SMS. That will be insanely expensive for a lot of people. Messenger or WhatsApp group would be better. People can mute that and it runs on wifi which is cheaper.
posted by joan_holloway at 1:21 PM on July 15, 2018 [6 favorites]

Welcome to the fragmented reality of the internet. As someone who runs minor sports let me tell you there is no One Answer and having to repeat yourself across more than one platform is the most effective way to reach people. Sad but true.
posted by furtive at 1:38 PM on July 15, 2018 [2 favorites]

GroupMe! I've been using it this summer for similar purposes, and it's been wonderful. I don't think it uses texts - it just uses internet connection (or data). It's basically like a group chat.
posted by ClaireBear at 1:48 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Not everyone will install an app. Really, an old-fashioned e-mail listserv sounds ideal for this.

FYI, people can forward e-mail to text messages if they want to (every carrier has a specific way to address e-mail for this).
posted by amtho at 2:19 PM on July 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

It seems to me that, even if you had the best solution ever, some people from each group wouldn’t use it, and then you’d just end up with three disparate groups instead of two. I think it’s simplest to just join both, and set up something to cross post for you if double posting is annoying.
posted by Weeping_angel at 2:49 PM on July 15, 2018 [8 favorites]

Don't do mms, you can't leave the group message, and people will start posting inane responses. An Ill thought out mms from me to a diverse group of people about an event ended later in several no longer speaking to each other situations.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:40 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Telegram. It makes communicating with large groups so much easier. You can give the group a link to join the chat. Let them join our not join as they see fit.
posted by parakeetdog at 4:51 PM on July 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Paraphrased from XKCD. Situation: there are 2 competing online forums. "I need one forum that everyone uses! This one, [insert name here], will do just the trick! " Situation: there are now 3 competing online forums!

You will never have 100% adoption, and if you only have 2 different groups to manage content across - you aren't doing too bad at the moment. Be wary of inadvertently creating a third option where you still have to manage the other two.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:31 PM on July 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

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