What is Craigslist?
Who is Craig, and what's on his list? If you have something to sell, or something to say, and you haven't heard of Craigslist, read on...
Craigslist: Are Newspaper Classifieds Dead?
Craigslist is sometimes blamed (and praised) for killing the traditional classified ad business, some call it the next eBay, and others use it for job postings. Craigslist was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark, internet entrepreneur. Often described as an online community, Craigslist is a site where you can find jobs, housing, goods, services, romance, local activities, advice and lots more.
Newmark says he started the site "to give people a break" and over a decade later, it's clear that the bare-bones but very useful site does just that for many people. Craigslist was originally limited to the San Francisco area, with want ads, items to sell, and even personal ads. But with San Francisco "help wanted" ads for a relatively humble $75.00 per ad ($25 for NYC, LA, DC, Boston, Seattle, and San Diego) and all other services offered for free, Craiglist has gained in popularity, expanding to 450 cities in 50 countries.
Craigslist generates income solely from help wanted ads, and offers a month's posting of a job ad at significantly lower cost than traditional print ads, and even lower cost than the leading career websites like Monster.com, Careerbuilder or Hotjobs. In fact, a Wall Street Journal report in 2000 hailed Craiglist as the "most efficient job-recruiting website nationwide." Craigslist's success with it's help wanted ads proved that both employers and employees wanted a cost-effective, no-hassle way to fill openings in the job market.
Newspaper publishers who have traditionally charged high fees for their "help wanted", "for sale", housing and personal ads are seeing that business dry up, and many of them blame Craigslist. Given that Craigslist serves 30 million people a month, and generates over 8 billion page views monthly, that claim doesn't seem far fetched.
Craigslist versus eBay
One fundamental economic shift that's come with the popularity of the Web is the buying and selling of items between individuals. The success of both eBay and Craigslist's "For Sale" section is testimony to how popular online person-to-person commerce has become. Both sites have their positives and negatives. Craiglist, for starters, is free to post goods you want to sell. eBay charges fees to list your wares. Since eBay is strictly a site for buying and selling merchandise, the reputation of the site hinges on the safety of transactions made on it, so many measures are taken against fraudulent activity. Craiglist is more of a free-for-all with an open-market type of feel. Therefore, Craiglist's motto when it comes to buying goods on its site is more-or-less "buyer beware".
Another difference, arguably good or bad depending whom you ask, is that Craigslist, unlike eBay, allows for the bartering of goods, and also for the sale of services. These services can range from computer geeks for hire to other more "personal" services.
Craigslist - Not Without Controversy
Newmark has created a for-profit web site with a communal feel. He has a policy of not policing the website, instead giving users the choice to "flag" any content deemed inappropriate. With enough user flags, the posted content is deleted from the site. This exercise in democracy has not been without controversy, however...
In 2005, Craiglist was in the midst of controversy after New York vice squads uncovered a prostitution ring which used Craiglist as an advertising venue. In 2007, a house in Tacoma, Washington was vandalized and stripped down to nearly its foundation, after a Craiglist ad offered users to come to the home to "take anything you want." Problem was, the ad was placed without the owner's consent.
There is ongoing debate about the often inflammatory comments posted on the "Rants and Raves" message boards. These posts often contain racist and misogynistic language, an unfortunate by-product of the nobler intention of the site's attempt to give some sort of unpolicied forum to users who can post anonymously.
Controversies aside, Craiglist has proven itself as a popular and economical way for people to network and connect, in a variety of contexts. Craigslist is an engine for social interaction, and commerce greases the wheels. Tell us how you've used Craigslist...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Oct 2007
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- What is Craigslist? (Posted: 12 Oct 2007)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved