Craigslist

There are some universal needs out there. Pretty much everyone needs a place to live, everyone needs a job, and on a deeper level, people need to connect with each other. … Some things are fairly universal. One of those is that people pretty much everywhere have some of the same values, and pretty much everyone out there is trustworthy.

Craig Newmark on Open Source

Click to Listen to the Show (24 MB MP3)

Jim Buckmaster and Craig Newmark of Craigslist

Jim Buckmaster (left) and Craig Newmark of Craigslist. Yes, THAT Craig. [termie/Flickr]

Once, at an Internet conference, I was standing next to Craig of Craigslist and I thanked him for my wonderful apartment. He was as gracious as could be, but you could see it pained him a little; clearly he spends most of his time in public fielding strangers who want to thank him for their apartments.

Some things you find at Craigslist are obvious: dates, skis, cars. What fascinates us is the rest of it, all of those things you might need that can’t reasonably be described anywhere else. A woman in Boston found a pile of clothing that looked like it might have been thrown out a window in anger; on Craigslist she located the owner of the pile.

Its flexibility makes Craigslist work; you can ask for anything, offer anything. Like Flickr or Wikipedia, it’s a kind of shadow web, re-creating in a new — better? — way to find information. And things. And people.

What’s your Craigslist story? I found my apartment there, but that doesn’t count; did Craigslist change your life?

Update, 2/4/06, 11:48 am

I believe it’s Craigslist, with its bewildering main page array of activities, jobs, real estate, stuff for sale, and personals, that makes the best metaphor for America’s current state of disunion. You have dog-clubs and tennis-clubs; sperm donors wanted, and sperm donors offering. You see want ads for potential spouses and some for fiddlers (and some that are both at once!).

Amardeep Singh, Amardeep Singh, Craigslist as a Metaphor For America

So after hearing Amardeep Singh on our Blogs of the Union show, we got to thinking about Craigslist nation: are communities of interest replacing the Elks Club?

So we figured we’d finally schedule this show; Craig will be in a studio with us for an hour. We still want to know what your Craigslist story is, but we also want to know about people and relationships, not just the things you buy. Did your sports team start on Craigslist? Your love life?

Craig Newmark

Founder and Customer Service Representative, Craigslist

Blogger, craigblog

Michael Gibson

Director, 24 Hours on Craigslist

Tom Sander

Executive Director, The Saguaro Center: Civic Engagement in America

Co-Author, Better Together: Restoring the American Community

Zephyr Teachout

Former Dean Blogger

Fellow, Berkman Center for Internet and Society

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  • KenLac

    Yeah, my apartment too. They give Nobel prizes to the wrong people. Craig deserves one. They guy who invented computer “undo” deserves another….

  • http://dnki.net YeOldeGnurd

    D’oh. I was doing a midnight check for rock climbing gear, kayaking gear, and gameboy games on my Craigslist RSS feed when I stumbled upon “Craigslist” in my Opensource Radio RSS feed. This left me momentarily confused that I’d clicked the wrong spot, but with Radiohead’s “Everything in it’s Right Place” playing in my headphones, I suppose it’s merely a little bedtime synchronicity.

    Craigslist isn’t changing my life. Flylady is changing my life. Craigslist is a tool that is helping my change my life in the form of a slow-motion flea market. I’m running my own sale to remove clutter I can’t bear to put into a landfill while I try to minimize the amount of stuff I’m buying from others’ clutter piles. This week Craig found me a wonderful “Yak Board” beach kayak. Last week Craig gave my son a Gameboy Advance we picked up from a Boston Herald truck in Kenmore Square. I just wish he’d help me get rid of half the cars and bicycles we seem to be drowning in. I guess I’ll just have to adjust the prices or ask him to give my stuff away.

  • http://www.journalscape.com/keithsnyder noteon

    I found the cinematographer for my 9-minute screen opera, CREDO, at craigslist, and I just finished interviewing choreographers and cinematographers for my next musical.

    I just checked and saw that my last ad expired a few days ago, but here’s the text of it:

    http://journalscape.com/keithsnyder/2005-07-13-21:48

    What’s amazing is how quickly the responses come in. Within a few hours, I’ll have half a dozen resumes, and the next day or two brings another 10 to 20. Then there’ll be 2 or 3 over the following week, and the occasional stray until the ad expires.

    It’s also interesting how available it makes an advertiser to people whose understanding of the ad might not be… um… slightly too loose an interpretation. Most of the responses seem appropriate–though there’s a lot of obvious resume padding by students–but when I advertise for crew for a musical and get a dancer/artist’s nude photo gallery, it does makes me wonder what kind of responses she gets.

  • lisamgs

    Craigslist is a wonderful way to have a garage sale without actually having a garage sale. I’ve been able to sell and buy items both common and obscure within days. It’s not the prettiest website on the block, but it gets the job done.

  • http://www.candyblog.net cybele

    I sold my car on craigslist – I took lots of photos (the key to selling quickly), fielded about two dozen emails, then had four people come to look at it and the third guy ended up buying it. If I had known that selling my own car was that easy (it was a nice car though and I got close to blue book for it) I would have done it last time too.

    My latest adventure was getting rid of three rose bushes (free) in my front yard (I’m into xeriscaping) and I took some photos, posted them and within three hours I had 30 offers from people wanting to come dig them up.

    I think craigslist is doing great things for the reduce, reuse, recycle movement – that even when I think something is of no value any longer, someone out there will still want it. It’s great at putting people together.

    I don’t care about pretty design, as long as it works. I’ve never gone to craigslist and found it to be down, that’s a huge accomplishment these days.

  • plaintext

    I’ve bought and sold stuff on craigslist and am a permiscuous browser thereof. I especially love to see the “free” stuff. Where else can you get “Two roosters, 1 hen, and an entertainment center” FREE!! http://boston.craigslist.org/zip/93047909.html

    Someone please hold me back!

    I used to be an Ebay junkie but I’ve switched my brand man!

  • friscodave

    I think Craigslist has totally changed the dynamics of community here in San Francisco where literally eveyone has used the list at one point or another. More often than not, people here can trace their job, their furniture, apartment, friends, and romatic interests to CL if not directly than one or two steps away. It makes the city much smaller and more accessible than ever before. I moved to SF six months ago, but I already got my job, apartment, and made a lot of friends through CL. I get plugged into groups, community politics, I can rant and rave, get advice, and get much needed comic relief. The best part is that it’s totally community based and completely non-corporate or commerical, in short a new and more interconnected way to define community.

  • plaintext

    Hmmm – seems Ebay owns a chunk of craigslist: http://boston.craigslist.org/about/press/ebay.stake.html

  • gcgdad

    Hi – not sure if you are still interviewing for this story. But in the wake of the Katrina disaster, Craigslist is being used to organize volunteers all around, esp. here in Los Angeles. There has been a big group of volunteers working together around the clock to send a caravan of semi trucks filled with emergency supplies to New Orleans, and they all started connecting with one another using Craigslist. Check out: http://losangeles.craigslist.org/vol/95656628.html.

    Also, Craigslist will likely to play a big part in connecting displaced survivors with jobs they need. There are already lots of suggestions on how to do this on a unprecedented scale.

    Thanks for all the great shows you do. I’ve been a very happy listener since your show debuted. Keep up the good work.

  • http://civilities.net/ JonGarfunkel

    My first introduction to Craigslist was, ironically, years before I started using it. “Why hasn’t someone come up with a service called FREE-bay?” I asked. “It’s called ‘Craigslist,’” a co-worker answered. “What the USENET newsgroups became.”

    USENET was an imperfect medium for classifieds, and CL finally took a giant leap forward. If there were such a thing as an R&D department at newspaper publishers, they would have come up with CraigsList. But they can’t, so they need to play catch up. Technologically, it’s a very simple service, but what it does, it does perfectly. A couple of weeks ago I rented a U-Haul and drove around to yard sales I had learned about to pick up things I wanted.

    Still, I wouldn’t mind paying for something that had a bit more functionality in it. It still takes too long to grok through everything… but I guess that’s part of the CL “culture.”

  • scandbabe

    I put an ad on craigslist and found a place to housesit the very day they put an ad on craigslist! That was a total flukey thing because I never saw another house to house sit after that! I have gotten jobs and found small sources of entertainment and events and small jobs on craigslist as well. I hope the word gets out even more and it really takes off!

  • http://web.mit.edu/joellen/www/public/index.htm REjojo

    Ditto on the apartment.

    Also finding it very helpful when looking for info on new cities. Community response is strong when asked a compelling question. Not quite as strong, however, as the Ask Metafilter section of Metafilter: http://ask.metafilter.com/

  • Brooks

    I am surprised that there has been no mention of the recent prostitution rings that were busted up in Boston, which were doing buisness via Craigslist. There were at least two this summer.There are articles that were written for the Boston Globe but I don’t have access to their archive.

    But other than that t is great, where else can one find 1000 plastic bananas FOR FREE, what you’d do with them I don’t know. But where else could you find such items.

  • noheat

    The free and barter sections are great although i haven’t actually had luck finding stuff in either.. How did craig’s list change my life? I found my current job (which i love) via craig’s list. I worked with someone who did everything using craiglists mainly through bartering his professional massage skills.

  • Marina

    Nowadays to get information about any kind of problem is very easy. The main source of ways to solve many of problems is Internet. Searching for apartment for rent is not an exception. Almost all of us have an experience in apartment search. We know what a responsible and difficult thing it is. And Craiglist is very helpful for that and more. Craiglist helped me to find a job which i really love, but my apartment i found in other apartment search site. My friend found apartment in craiglist and is reallly satisfied with her new home.

  • http://mailto:egeorgecyber.law.harvard.edu Erica

    My roommate met her boyfriend (9 months together so far) on CL.

    In the past, I’ve found excellent roommates – even for a relatively intense quasi-coop – on CL.

    I found my current apartment on Cl but not the way you’d think. After browsing in vain for no-fee apartments, my roommate and I posted an ad of exactly what we were looking for. We got several responses – from *realtors* – and only one was close to what we wanted. We met with that realtor, and loved the very first apartment we found. Yes, we did have to interface witha realtor, but by posting a “wanted” on CL we got the realtors to court us, instead of having to be peons to the realtors. The realtor we worked with said she regularly checks the wanted posts on CL and contacts someone if she realizes she has a match to what they’re looking for. Kinda nifty.

    I also personally enjoy surfing Missed Connections now & then. It’s kind of fun to see the posts to people’s long-lost exes, the rants, the “we’re coworkers so I can never tell you that I long for you”s, etc. Also sort of neat to see what gets someone to write a post aimed at a total stranger… the name of the band on their t-shirt, whatever… The other day I posted one myself, to thank someone who made me smile on a bad day (he ran past me while juggling!). The juggler probably never saw it, but a bunch of my friends did and said, hey, it was you!

    in brief: CL is super fun, super useful. yay CL!

  • Thomlep

    I have a big comment to make about Craigslist, unfortunately I can’t hear myself talk much because it only takes eleven words:

    Craigslist is what the Internet promised. It is simple and powerful.

    -Tom Lepkowski

    Silver Spring, MD

  • anhhung18901

    I like the simplicity of Craigslist. It is nice to not have to worry about graphics or animation for once.

    Today I decided to give Craigslist a try. I posted my resume as a writer looking for freelance opportunities. We’ll see…

  • metolius8

    My daughter says “I only want to rent to and/or work with peole who use Craig’s List”. Such an impact for such a simple bulletin board tool.

    It moves a lot of merchandise, tarriff free. It mates a lot of people looking for, whatever. My wife said, “There should be a documentary on CL”, and then she googled it and there already is one.

    Turely a phenom. Truely a service to the people.

  • Anders

    I have a slightly different take.

    Craigslist isn’t a triumph of community over commercialism — rather, Craigslist is the very embodiment of commerce, the “interchange of ideas, opinions, or sentiments” and “the exchange or buying and selling of commodities on a large scale” (as defined by Merriam Webster).

    And this rich forum of exchange is exactly what Friscodave describes when he writes, “I get plugged into groups, community politics, I can rant and rave, get advice, and get much needed comic relief,” or Metolius means when he says, “It moves a lot of merchandise, tarriff free. It mates a lot of people looking for, whatever.”

    Craigslist, a place where anyone can freely and efficiently buy or sell any good or service, is the purest realization of a truly free market yet. Every time someone finds an apartment or sells their car for a better price on Craigslist is a victory for capitalism.

    Tom, the “simple and powerful” effect you describe isn’t “what the Internet promised”; it’s what the free marketers have been promising all along.

  • Thomlep

    Sorry Anders, but I don’t know anything about free marketers, I was giving my $0.02 on craigslist, not entering into a contest.

    I’ll try again:

    Craigslist is an example of what the Internet promised (community and communication, and what Anders thinks). Craigslist is simple and powerful ( and other things that Anders thinks).

    -Tom

  • Anders

    Tom — Sorry, I don’t disagree with you at all. I was merely trying to add to what you said and argue that Craigslist not only demonstrates the incredible facilitating power of the Internet, but also, that it proves the power for good of the free capitalist market (that the Internet makes possible).

  • mj

    I found a box spring, just a boxspring on craigslist. You can’t just get a boxspring from a mattress company. You have to pay for the whole set. This guy’s daughter had just moved out of the house, and he offered to deliver me her boxspring. It’s really great for the strange things at a local level. Ebay isn’t as great for getting you in touch with the locals.

  • http://www.holisticforgeworks.com NineInchNachos
  • A little yellow bird

    New York Magazine has a multi-page article on Craig and the list he doth wrought: http://www.newyorkmetro.com/nymetro/news/media/internet/15500/index.html (found @ http://lewrockwell.com/, Sat. 1/28/06)

  • Qingwa

    When I was in the Boston area, I gave away 3 huge boxes of old, broken dishes. The artist who came to collect them was thrilled. I’ve sold furniture and failed to sell my bicycle.

    Am I really the first to say that I met a wonderful man who I never would have had the opportunity to talk to, much less date? And if you plan to visit Shanghai, you can rent my spare bedroom, it’s on CraigsList Shanghai. I think there’s a whole subgroup of CraigsList world travelers. I had someone from Spain stay with me in China, who used CraigsList in New York, and also rented out his home in Spain.

    I would argue that Craigslist’s success isn’t in its size, it’s in the fact that it has retained a community/local concentration. I look at the sites for the city I am in, or the next one I’m going to. I’ve been holding my breath since eBay bought a stake in the company. I can’t see how being profit driven and personal can co-exist.

    Lastly, has anyone talked to a used furniture store? They are the only people I know of who have gotten badly, badly hurt by CL.

  • irakrakow

    I agree with Qingwa. The community/local concentration is key – so important, in fact, that Craigslist’s commercial “competitors” (notably Yahoo and eBay) attempt to localize their content.

    I see a convergence – Craigslist is attempting to commercialize, Yahoo/eBay to localize. There was a thread on Craigslist/Boston asking if there should be a per-post fee for job listings. This might or might not cut down on frivolous listings.

    Suppose I want to sell my prize Yankee-Red Sox box seats (just kidding!). Should I run my auction on eBay/Boston or on Craigslist/Boston?

  • http://www.syberworks.com alemieux

    I regularly parouse craigslist for jobs and the job I have now is credited to craigslist. Although I’m horrified that sex services are sold on craigslist, everything else is very cool.

  • http://www.widescreenglory.com DevanJedi

    A sad article on Craig by the old media that just can’t seem to give up their control: http://www.sfbg.com/40/18/x_editors_notes.html

  • http://www.rantissimo.net LninYo

    Question for Craig:

    What is your advice to people who want to start other non-profit “Craigslist” type communities? Where should they start? what type of services to add first? Is your foundation going to help in such endeavours (keeping in mind the fact that such ventures, non-profit or altruistic they may be, would cut in on your market share or “mind share”)

    Thanks,

    El.

  • http://www.eastboston.com fconte

    Good comments from all. I have a question: how has Craiglist alterned local, commercial journalism? What are the implications of a free bulletin board?

  • scottbenbow

    I live in San Francisco, where Craigslist has obviously been an enormously important force. For me, Craigslist is a metaphor for the edgy, open-minded, free-form, risk-taking aspects of San Francisco. In the US or elsewhere, are there places where Craigslist has simply not succeeded because of cultural, linguistic, technological or other differences?

  • denalidelmar

    I had lost the address & phone number of an old friend from Stockholm. I used the Craigslist to search for her by name. Some totally unknown (to me) fellow from Stockholm answered my email, searched the phone directory, found my friend Kicki, called her to confirm she was my old friend, and put us in touch. What a joy! Thanks, Craig. The website is a terrific service in so many ways.

    Denali

  • zephyr

    “That may all be true,” said the Scarecrow, “but I shall be very unhappy unless you give me brains.”

    The false Wizard looked at him carefully.

    “Well,” he said with a sigh, “I’m not much of a magician, as I said; but if you will come to me tomorrow morning, I will stuff your head with brains. I cannot tell you how to use them, however; you must find that out for yourself.”

    “And now,” said Dorothy, “how am I to get back to Kansas?”

    “We shall have to think about that,” replied the little man. “Give me two or three days to consider the matter and I’ll try to find a way to carry you over the desert.â€?

  • tony

    I found two former housemates and my current girlfriend through Craigslist. All three were or are suffering from mild to moderated psychoses. Thanks, Craig.

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  • sweetviolet

    I found my husband on Craigslist. Five years ago I was sweating the 8 to 5 in Silicon Valley, barely making ends meet, working at a dead end temp job (that lasted for two years!!) for a boss so horrible they paid me a premium to put up with her!

    I sit here today on my patio, in balmy summer weather, gazing out over my pool into my beautiful 1/3 acre of landscaped grounds. My maid is inside ironing, the gardener will be here Thursday to trim back the vines that are threatening to choke one of the trees. My Mercedes ML is in the driveway, waiting for me to take that 5 minute drive down to the beach to let the little dogs run in the sand as I watch the kite surfers. My husband of 2.5 years will be home in an hour or so, unless he decides to drive his little sports car down the beach road, in which case he will be a little longer…

    I met him on Craigslist, married him 2 years later, sold off a Silicon Valley tract house for half a mil, packed up my furniture and shipped it here to Cape Town and now live a relaxed, comfortable life a stone’s throw from beautiful Blouberg Beach.

    Do I believe in Craigslist? YOU BETCHA! We own rental property here and I’ll bet you can guess where we have it listed…yes, there’s a Craigslist here, too!

    Thanks Craig! I couldn’t be happier, and it’s all because of you and your List!

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  • http://lexferenda.wordpress.com Daithí

    I was very interested to read this recently-filed case around the same time as I downloaded this broadcast:

    http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/craigslist/clccrcrg20306cmp.html

    A fair housing group in Chicago is going up against Craigslist under the Fair Housing Act, and gives various examples of purportedly illegal content on the site (although they’d also have to establish liability/responsibility, which isn’t necessarily easy). The site’s CEO has of course responded (http://www.craigslist.org/about/fair.housing.html), the story has been /.ed (http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/02/11/0128255), and the AP has reported on it (e.g. http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060213/BUSINESS/602130309/1003), although it’s a slow burning story for the moment.

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