Whose list?!

Imagine a site where you could browse for gently used and new furniture, appliances, electronics, and collectibles. Imagine a site where you could explore apartments, vacation homes, rentals, and office space. Imagine a site where you search for a job, a gig, a service, or even a date is possible. Imagine a site where all of this is possible.

Good thing you don’t have to imagine, because the site is Craiglist.

Craigslist logo

Started in 1995 as an email distribution in San Francisco by (you guessed it) Craig Newmark, this online classified advertisement site has over 20 billion views per month.

What the Washington DC craigslist looks like.

It has revolutionized the way advertisements work for two main reasons: it’s free, and it’s user friendly.

What makes it work is its immense popularity. Far more useful than any newspaper, craigslist can be accessed by anyone as long as they have an internet connection. Compared to the declining number of people who get the good ole fashioned paper delivered to their house (not to mention the overwhelming majority of readers who prefer to keep up with current events online), craigslist is far more efficient at helping people find whatever it is that they’re looking for.

Prior to craigslist, word of mouth was one of the main sources of information, which inevitably led to distortion of facts, however accidental. It was also difficult to keep track of whose friend had which item, and contact through mutual friends may have been bothersome to the middle parties.

Just like the telephone game, word of mouth may result in cumulative error.

Furthermore, craigslist has been surprisingly useful for those who want to sell (or give away) their belongings as well. Inputting more effort (a couple photos, a good description) adds more credibility to your post. Anything is fair game really.

It takes the whole “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” to a whole new level.

But, as with all seemingly good things, there are negative aspects to using craigslist. Just like older classified ads websites, spam ads are abundant. I was bored one day this summer and decided to look through the “Jobs” section, trying to find summer employment. While a surprising many seemed legitimate, there were several suspicious posts that asked for my social security number.

Beware of spam if you give out your email.

Moreover, while it’s more socially acceptable to show up at a stranger’s house after finding their classified ad online, there are still risks involved. Craigslist’s popularity has also reduced newspaper sales, which results in unemployment down the line.

Have you ever/how often do you use craigslist? What’s your opinion on how safe or reliable it is?

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One thought on “Whose list?!

  1. agoron says:

    I like this blog post! I didn’t really know much about Craigslist but now I do! 😀 I personally don’t use the site, but I know a few people who do. I am a little bit skeptical of its safety. If you remember a few years back, there was talk of the Craigslist Killer. Digital information can easily be searched, especially if posted on a website like Craigslist. If information is erased, it is still permanently in existence and able to be found by criminals. This is one of the downsides to sites like Craigslist and eBay. From one piece of information posted, other information can be searched and can fall into the wrong hands.

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