What is Craigslist?

Category: Social-Networking

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...

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Most recent comments on "What is Craigslist?"

Posted by:

John Loftus
18 Oct 2007

Just got ripped off by a cowboy tuck-pointer as a result of Craigslist. He defrauded our condo association of over $900. Not me personally; it was the lady who does our books but of course we are all affected. What can we do to prevent this sort of fraud?

EDITOR'S NOTE: It seems to me that having made contact via Craigslist is irrelevant in this situation. The problem was making payment to a contractor before completion of the job, right? Aside from that, all the typical cautions would apply -- ask for references, a copy of his license, proof of insurance,


Posted by:

18 Oct 2007

Hi Bob, One of the local classified only papers went into online ads a few years ago and did well with it until Craigslist picked up here. The paper is now a fraction of the size. And I know people who are fairly computer unsavvy who use it fine.

I used it in the spring to sell some furniture and tools. I had people in my place less than hour after I hit the Post button. The only thing that didn't sell was a couch I donated to a woman looking for help after a nasty breakup.

Later, I used to it to sell a late model truck. A fellow from out of town was looking for the exact model and Craig allowed him to find it and me to sell it.

I also used it to look for rental property but the market is so crazy here, and Craigslist so popular, over 100 people showed up for my favorite place. Thats the downside.

Posted by:

Craig Olson
18 Oct 2007

"REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE" Craigslist and all other entities that help people reuse products rather than trashing them - while others purchase new ones - make a large contribution to making "green" living practical for people. The larger ones like Craigslist and ebay make proportionately larger contributions.

With the urgent need for our society to learn how to live greener, I don't know why this laudable aspect doesn't get mention in coverage of Craigslist, etc. -Unless the point is too obvious.

Posted by:

20 Oct 2007

I've started using http://www.everythingtolive.com since Craigslist is getting so commercial. Like when real estate agents put every single house they're listing on there.

Posted by:

22 Oct 2007

I have several articles from newspapers, TV, magazines, etc.--all legitimate sources--about recreational fishing for salmon and what the sea lions are doing to the salmon. These articles are free for the asking. Everytime I put a post on Craigslist it gets flagged and taken off. I do not know what is wrong with my post and can find no person to ask nor an address for Craigslist in San Francisco (the city of their business.) Can anyone help?

Posted by:

07 Jan 2009

Craigslist is good, but it has gotten way too commercial to even sort for honest ads. Also, ads get flagged by people that have nothing better to do. Many ads that are flagged have no reason to be flagged. I posted a free magazine ad for about 25 new magazines i had, and never read. That ad got flagged...lol. Is free too expensive for people?

Posted by:

08 Feb 2009

here are couple free classified site, that dont flag you if your honest seller.








Posted by:

13 Mar 2009

I have not been able log on to craigslist fo rthe last 3 days. I have cleared everything from my cookies to temp. internet site. Can someone please help me to figure out why I can't open it anymore?

Posted by:

08 May 2009

Here is an alternative to CL, but without the adult ads. http://www.txclassifieds.org/

Posted by:

04 Sep 2009

Thank for your great post and i never intended to work with creglist the reason i am not very sure the ads of mine will deliver sufficient traffic.

there are bunch of links in the site...is there any value posting there?

Posted by:

31 Mar 2010

I can't log onto my Craigslist account. I can't even connect to Craigslist.org at all. What can the problem be? When I try to connect, all I get it a screen saying that it cannot connect to the website. Any help will be appreciated.

Posted by:

joe hauer
18 Jul 2011

is their a charge for using craigslist?

EDITOR'S NOTE: The answer is in the 3rd paragraph of this article.

Posted by:

Iman Ali
05 Oct 2011

Hi all,
I am new. I want to learn craigslist. Anyone is there interest to provide me ?

Posted by:

marilyn johnson
02 Nov 2012

i whantt to know how to post what i want to sell onto craiglist can some one help me to do so thank you very much

Posted by:

Bob Jaskolka
08 Sep 2023

Long ago, if you tried to post duplicates, craigs would advise you and block it from being listed. That function is no longer used and duplication is rampant, while the 'flag' or 'hide' functions hardly work at all. Example: In the "Wanted" category is a motorcycle buyer who uses every imaginable product line in his ad and those 'keywords' allow postings in so many other categories, many of which can fill half a page! My messages to craigs never get a response, giving the impression that no one cares. I'm aware my ads are free, but deliberate abuse has become the norm. Their 'Activities' category is now a 'clearing house' for all kinds of p*rn and those with kinky pleasure seeking. How very sad!

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