How Craigslist Works
Craigslist.org is originally a San Francisco community
electronic newsletter. That is now one of the most visited
English language Web sites, with local classifieds for
more than 450 cities worldwide.
Craigslist's founder Craig Newmark and CEO Jim
Buckmaster aim to provide users with a helpful,
noncommercial way to connect with other people in their
communities. Posting for most classifieds categories on
craigslist is free, and it's also free to browse and respond
to ads. The Web site value comes from its utilitarian
design and the contributions of its users.
The Craigslist Network
Each craigslist site focuses on a specific community.
Originally, craigslist only listed classifieds and
announcements within San Francisco. As the service grew in
popularity, expanding well beyond founder Craig Newmark's
original concept, craigslist added other cities to its network.
Because community members largely moderate the sites,
craigslist employees can focus their attention on coordinating
transactions for job and housing posts, helping members
troubleshoot problems and responding to reports of abuse or
illegal behavior. Without communal moderation, the craigslist
staff would be severely overworked.
The Craigslist Network 2
The executive team at craigslist maintains that the reason for
the site's success is the user community. The team believes
that craigslist gives users a place to communicate and help
one another, fostering community spirit.
Craigslist communities appeal to a broad range of users. The
simple, organized layout and helpful search engine makes
navigation easy. Craigslist members range from teenagers to
senior citizens. They post on the forums, shop online, trade
tips and make new friends. While the site itself may not be the
most visually interesting Internet destination, there's no
denying its effectiveness. Users often report that it's easy to
find what they are searching for within a few minutes of
logging on to the site.
Craigslist started as a pet project but blossomed into a full-fledged
company. In 1999, craigslist incorporated as a for-profit
organization. The company also purchased the domain
craigslist.com to prevent anyone from buying it and misleading
Newmark and Buckmaster strive to keep craigslist a service-based
company focused on online communities.
Craigslist features no advertising at all. It doesn't sell advertising
space for banner ads, pop-up ads or any other kind of web
advertising. Newmark says he doesn't intend to use any kind of web
advertising on craigslist in the future.
Though craigslist's corporate philosophy focuses on making a
positive impact in the community, not everyone using the site
shares that point of view. Some craigslist members use the site to
take advantage of other people.
One of the biggest challenges for the craigslist
community is weeding out scam artists. The site has a
section describing common scam tactics and what users
should do if they come across them. Scams might involve
fake money orders or checks, bait-and-switch schemes ,
phishing schemes designed to obtain personal
information, identity theft schemes and other unethical
and illegal activities.
One scam that has popped up in several craigslist
communities involves a buyer overpaying for an item.
Craigslist Controversy 2
Police scan craigslist for ads soliciting illegal goods or services.
Newspapers have featured several stories about cops busting
prostitution rings after finding them through craigslist. Papers have
also published stories about police using craigslist to find sexual
predators. In October 2007, craigslist made headlines after a
member posted an ad for a babysitter and then killed the young
woman who responded to the ad. In craigslist's defense,
Buckmaster has said that newspapers are more likely to report
negative stories about the site, possibly because some business
managers feel craigslist robs papers of revenue.
to do with the content users post, that it will work with authorities in
cases involving illegal activity and that violating the site's terms can
result in stiff fines. Users posting to craigslist must first click on a
so, when members use the site for illegal or unethical purposes,
some people try to hold craigslist responsible.