“Front Porch Forum is a free community-building service in Vermont and parts of New York. Your neighborhood’s forum is only open to the people who live there. It’s all about helping neighbors connect.”
Starting in June 2020 a number of Williamstown residents are working to bring Front Porch Forum ( https://frontporchforum.com/ ) to Williamstown. We have been in contact with the staff at Front Porch Forum and they have agreed to consider Williamstown as the first town in Massachusetts to join them! In order to do this, we need to get at least 250 residents to sign up here indicating that they’ll join when this service is activated. We think this is entirely possible and are excited to see FPF come to Williamstown!
If you are a Williamstown resident and are interested in this service sign up at https://frontporchforum.com/
Who Is Organizing this effort? This effort was initiated by the board of the South Williamstown Community Association in an effort to provide a community resource for the entire Williamstown community that we felt comfortable recommending and promoting. Our first step in organizing this effort has been to reach out to a variety of community members to brainstorm on how we can promote this idea in our community.
Why do we need this? We recognize there are other alternatives to this already available in this area but we don’t believe they currently meet the needs we have observed.
- Williams College has a service similar to this, Switchboard, but access to it is limited to the Williams’ community.
- Another service, NextDoor, is also already available here but their business model and privacy policies concern us.
- Facebook groups are another alternative they do not fill the needs completely there are privacy concerns with them as well.
Why Front Porch Forum? You can do some more digging here:
- Here is a one-page flyer titled “Why FPF?” that lays out how FPF is different
- This really well written 2019 article from The Verge that explores in depth how FPF works
- An article written during the current health crisis, entitled The Internet’s Missing Link in the Age of Covid-19, describes Front Porch Forum as follows: “In all my years of reporting on how we use tech in civic life, one platform has stood out for how it has successfully fostered healthy community engagement while reaching significant scale: Vermont’s Front Porch Forum”. (Micah Sifrey)
- FPF is a Vermont Public Benefit Corporation. See their annual report for 2019 here
- See a short Vermont PBS film about Front Porch Forum – https://vermont.twg.io/
- FPF is moderated. “FPF is thoughtfully moderated. Every posting is reviewed by our online community managers before it is published. This helps ensure that the conversation stays civil and inclusive.”
- FPF respects its members’ privacy. FPF does not develop profiles of members based on what they post, and FPF does not target content specifically at members in any way (everything is at the level of the whole forum). Other services make their money through a surveillance model: they sell access to their members to advertisers based on detailed profiling of each individual member.