A Price Sensitivity Experiment on Craigslist

A Price Sensitivity Experiment on CraigslistOver the last three weeks I conducted an experiment to decide the best price to charge for a used computer on Craigslist. The experiment was simple in design and successful in execution. That is, I sold the computer at a price I thought was fair. The purchaser went away with assurances that he felt he had received a good buy. Assuming no problems happen as he sets it up to run in his house, this is the essence of a good transaction.

The experiment started when a friend of ours decided to move to another state and, in the process, switch to a laptop rather than transporting her desktop across the country. She did not want to be bothered with disposing of a lot of personal items before the move, so she gave several things away. Knowing my interests, she gave me her HP Media XP desktop and 17 inch monitor with the proviso that I would clean off all her personal data before doing anything I wished with it. Generally, when I get older computers, I clean them up and donate them to some needy student or senior. However, this computer was in excellent shape and for some reason I decided to sell it on Craigslist.

The first step was to try to guess what it would go for. A quick search for similar listings gave me a number, but that was only the average asking price. I still had no idea what the best selling price would be. So I started to look online for the equivalent of a Kelly Blue Book for computers. There are such things that you can find with a simple search, but beware. The first responses I got on searching for “Blue Book for used computers” (okay, so it might not have been the cleverest search) had most of the top responders indicated as risky by my trusty Firefox WOT add-on. But I did realize quickly an important feature of selling a used computer — a feature that I have always overlooked in the past. Where I live, legally disposing of a computer and monitor at a re-cycling site can cost $20 (even more in some cases). This means that if someone gives you a computer free, in fact, you have just picked up a $20 liability unless you can actually sell it or pass it on to another sucker. That consideration must be part of any transaction. Someone will be the last owner and be forced to dispose of it.

With care, I looked at several sites and decided the market is very sensitive to location and other parameters. Any general formulae or guidelines will be only approximate: hence my experiment.

I went back to the current Craigslist listings and determined what I considered a reasonable price given market conditions in my area. Then I listed it at $20 over that price and waited. The initial response was not long in coming. I got an offer to trade my prize computer for professional tattoos. This was not a tempting offer. I am tattoo-less and intend to stay that way. A week went by with no further action.

The next week I re-listed it with a price reduction of $20. The first response was the same offer to trade for tattoos. The parlor probably needed a new computer to keep track of customer accounts. However, on the second day, an impoverished student (self-described) said he needed a computer but did not have that much in his budget; would I come down to what essentially amounted to an educational subsidy? I declined.

The next week I lowered the price another $20. This time the response was totally different. Within hours I had received five firm requests to purchase (both the computer and an extra monitor, which I offered for an additional amount). The next day I received three more offers including one low-ball attempt to get a significant price break. The amazing thing is that the tattoo parlor did not respond this time.

When I called the first responder, he turned out to be the business manager for a local church. I have no idea what such a person is paid, but it cannot be much. So buying a used XP machine was probably the only way he could afford a decent computer. It turned out that, in the past, he had instituted a computer lab at the church and taught computer literacy. That was another life. He preferred XP for some reason. He laughed when I told him about the tattoo offers.

So this free computer turned into an example of the non-linear response of demand to price. It also showed the sensitivity of pricing. Changing a small percent in the price made a huge difference in the response. My wife and I were discussing the results when she dropped an interesting bombshell. “When you listed this time, the ad appeared on the first day of the month when many people get paid,” she said. Her observation might have some merit. The sales price of a used (cheap) computer probably varies with the availability of funds in the likely buying group. This would not be such a major factor when selling a more expensive computer.

Still, in spite of its obvious shortcomings, my experiment was fun and resulted in a mutually beneficial transaction. If any readers are looking for a take-away lesson, it should be that changing the offering price by a few percentage points can make the difference between no interest and filling up your inbox. However, finding that sweet spot is the tricky part.

Is Craigslist Good Enough To Go Unchallenged?

I don’t believe anyone could deny the fact that Craigslist is not noted for its fancy GUI nor for its flashy Web site. If anything, one could be critical of how Craigslist presents the ads as it does — in such a fashion that appears outdated. The simplicity of the design has not been changed since Craigslist was started, yet the site continues to rack in some $100M a year in revenue. Working with a couple of dozen workers in an older building in San Francisco, one would never suspect that the building housed a multi-million dollar a year business.

What is surprising is that no one has challenged Craigslist a la Facebook to take these folks on. What is also surprising is that Craigslist still functions using an archaic system that does not support the latest smart phone, tablet, or Apple iPad technologies.

So why is it that Craigslist remains so popular and basically has no competition? It could be that Craigslist is so simple it is what attracts people to the site. The atmosphere is low-key and it is just a bunch of people trying to unload their treasures and do so for free. It is a combination of simplicity and no charge for selling anything that keeps attracting sellers and buyers.

I have used Craigslist for both buying and selling my personal items. What is actually interesting is that I do not give the Web site design a single thought. In fact, I couldn’t care less how it looks. As long as I can buy and sell for free, what it looks like is not a concern of mine.

What about you? Do you care how Craigslist looks? How has your buying and selling experience been?

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Quora

It is Free!

Craigslist is a wonderful thing. I have bought and sold several items on it. Occasionally a listing can generate a surprise. Sometimes potential buyers want to negotiate or swap. Just yesterday I declined an offer to sell a computer that I had listed for the equivalent in tattoos from a licensed legitimate practitioner. Since I made it through 70 years without tattoos, it seems reasonable to try to go the whole way.

But today Craigslist surprised me again. A letter self-identified as coming from Ryan Barnes, CEO of Craigslist, gave me the good news that in conjunction with a special promotion from Apple, Craigslist was giving out a limited number of free iPhones (valued at $800), and (applause please) I had been selected to get one! All I had to do was to click on the website to claim it.

Of course I had to click immediately because this offer was only good for one day. That is a nice touch.

Instead of clicking, I went to the Craigslist site and navigated to where I could report a spoof. Since I sent this out a few minutes ago, there is nothing to report about their response. Who knows, maybe it is legitimate. Maybe instead of waiting I should…

Strangely enough, this letter came shortly after I received a phone call from an anxious friend who teaches several courses in PC usage. His computer had been infected! Infections are not unusual, but he is definitely not a novice user. Based on the description of what happened to him, I suggested how to proceed to clean it. At least he had done the correct thing by immediately shutting down his modem and then isolating the infected machine from others in his house. Also, since this just happened, I cannot report if my advice worked or if any permanent harm has occurred.

The lesson of these two events is that anti-virus software is not enough. Relying on McAfee, Norton, AVG, or your application of choice is insufficient. Relying on anti-virus software to protect your computer is roughly like relying on seat belts to prevent accidents. In both cases, the primary responsibility is on the operator. I know people who have decided that anti-virus software is not worth the overhead and “go naked” without any protection other than careful surfing.

That probably works for some people, but I tend to be paranoid and keep up to date with anti-virus software. Also I check for safe surfing sites. Those habits do not guarantee that I will not become infected, but it does lower the probability, and that is about all one can ask.

I wonder how many free iPhones Craigslist has given out?

The Real Reason Why Craigslist Shut Down Its Adult Section

There has been much speculation as to why Craigslist chose to shutter its adult section, in which it was alleged it was a breeding ground for prostitution activity. What is now coming to light is that one woman led a campaign against the exploitation of children on Craigslist, which was the driving force in getting the adult section closed down. For some the thinking was that the critics of Craigslist adult section were being misguided by what they perceived as prudes who were generating hysteria and were attempting to drive the prostitution business to more dangerous locations. Some were also of the opinion that prostitution was a necessary evil that we as a society should just accept and disregard the victims who were being exploited.

But it is now coming to light the role that one woman took to shut down the adult section of Craigslist, not because she was against prostitution, but because of the fact that teenage girls were being exploited for sexual acts in which their adult pimps were profiting. In a recent article it states the following:

Saar tried to get Craigslist founder Craig Newmark’s attention. In May, The Rebecca Project bought a half-page ad in the San Francisco Chronicle, Newmark’s hometown paper, in which two trafficking victims addressed him personally. One, identifying herself as AK, described how, after getting involved with an older man who she thought was her boyfriend, she “was sold for sex by the hour at truck stops and cheap motels, 10 hours with 10 different men every night.” The other, MC, wrote, “I was first forced into prostitution when I was 11 years old by a 28-year-old man…The man who trafficked me sold many girls my age, his house was called ‘Daddy Day Care.’ All day, me and other girls sat with our laptops, posting pictures and answering ads on Craigslist, he made $1,500 a night selling my body, dragging me to Los Angeles, Houston, Little Rock—and one trip to Las Vegas in the trunk of a car.”

They pleaded with Newmark to shut down the section: “New traffickers are putting up ads every day, because they know it’s less risky and more profitable to sell girls on Craigslist than to deal drugs,” they wrote.

The ease with which trafficking is conducted on Craigslist is at the heart of the problem. No one is under any illusions that shutting down the adult-services section will eliminate prostitution. But it will make things harder for pimps and johns. “A big part of the problem with Craigslist, we believe it actually increased the number of women being put into prostitution,” says Ken Franzblau, director of the anti-trafficking program at the women’s rights NGO Equality Now. Franzblau previously directed anti-trafficking efforts at the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services, where most of the domestic trafficking cases he saw involved Craigslist. “Nothing else rivals it,” he says. Certainly, some men will go elsewhere, but perhaps not all. “An awful lot of casual purchasers of sex are not going to know where to find it anymore and are just not going to bother,” Franzblau says.

Yet even after manual screening, there were plenty of Craigslist ads with code words for underage girls. On Craigslist sites outside the U.S. where the adult sections haven’t been shuttered, they’re still easy to find. As I write this, a quick look at Toronto’s Craigslist reveals ads for a “34D School Girl” a “New Girl!!!! yOunG TIGHT curvy HORNY!!” and “Yummy!!! GIRL FOR YOU TO DEFLOWER.”

Unable to persuade Craigslist, Saar and her allies in other anti-trafficking organization enlisted government support. She and AK met with Attorney General Eric Holder, and this month, she worked with the House Judiciary Committee to organize hearings on domestic sex trafficking. A week and a half before the hearings, Craigslist succumbed to pressure and closed its adult-services section on its U.S. sites.

For those who believe that shutting down the adult section on Craigslist was a waste of time, how would you feel if it was your mother, your sister or your daughter who was being exploited to perform sex acts for pay?

Comments welcome.

Source – The Daily Beast

Censoring Craigslist Doesn’t Solve Anything – Or Does It?

Most of us are aware that craigslist has removed its controversial ‘Adult Services’ section after the attorney generals from some 18 states placed pressure on the company to do so. There have been many different opinions on whether this should or should not have been done and that craigslist may be playing a game with those who wish to regulate the online advertising website.

My fellow blogger, ShawdowMyth, wrote a compelling argument in the comment section in which she stated the following:

Prostitution will go on, just like the drug industry, regardless of attempts to control it. Prostitutes are safer going through Craigslist, it is out of visual range for those who do not want to see it(off the streets), and it makes it easier for people like myself who hitchhike everywhere, as people do not think I am a prostitute.

An entire street dedicated to prostitution in my town was completely cleaned up due to Craigslist,   and I am sure it is like that in most places. Secondly, it will solve nothing because the prostitutes were already migrating over to the ‘therapeutic’ section of CL, claiming to be massage therapist…I know because I do massage. Now CL has started to charge for the therapeutic section, just like they did the adult section…nothing can be done.

Why people try to suppress animal instinct, even when it is not in their field of vision, is beyond me. If you have studied physiology, you will know the extremity of many male’s desires, and you are not going to stop them from getting what they want, and prostitution helps to curb rape in my opinion. Sad to say, but some men couldn’t get sex if they tried, and prostitutes are the only ones willing to do the deed. Suppression will only lead to a greater eruption of violence and crime, just as we see in the war against drugs.

So when I read an article from The Huffington Post in which the author, Danah Boyd, shared with her readers her quest to stop exploitation of women and children, her argument was compelling. She stated the following:

For the last 12 years, I’ve dedicated immense amounts of time, money and energy to end violence against women and children. As a victim of violence myself, I’m deeply committed to destroying any institution or individual leveraging the sex-power matrix that results in child trafficking, nonconsensual prostitution, domestic violence and other abuses. If I believed that censoring Craigslist would achieve these goals, I’d be the first in line to watch them fall. But from the bottom of my soul and the depths of my intellect, I believe that the current efforts to censor Craigslist’s “adult services” achieves the absolute opposite. Rather than helping those who are abused, it fundamentally helps pimps, human traffickers and others who profit off of abusing others.

The Internet has changed the dynamics of prostitution and trafficking, making it easier for prostitutes and traffickers to connect with clients without too many layers of intermediaries. As a result, the Internet has become an intermediary, often without the knowledge of those internet service providers (ISPs) who are the conduits. This is what makes people believe that they should go after ISPs like Craigslist. Faulty logic suggests that if Craigslist is effectively a digital pimp who’s profiting off of online traffic, why shouldn’t it be prosecuted as such?

The problem with this logic is that it fails to account for three important differences: 1) most ISPs have a fundamental business — if not moral — interest in helping protect people; 2) the visibility of illicit activities online makes it much easier to get at, and help, those who are being victimized; and 3) a one-stop-shop is more helpful for law enforcement than for criminals. In short, Craigslist is not a pimp, but a public perch from which law enforcement can watch without being seen.

I must admit that my original opinion was that the closing of the ‘Adult Services’ section of craigslist was a good idea. But after reading the intelligent responses from these ladies, I have changed my opinion. I believe that the closing of this section is absolute censorship and violates our rights to freedom of speech. In addition I believe that this does nothing to cure the underlying problem associated with prostitution nor the exploitation of women.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – The Huffington Post

Craigslist Removes Adult Section – Was It Pressure From The Government That Caused The Removal?

In a recent show of solidarity, 18 Attorney Generals from states across the U.S., had asked Craigslist to remove the adult content section. Apparently the pressure may have been too much for the San Francisco based online classified ad site only has a ‘censored’ where the site once was in black with white lettering. See below.

The ban is only for U.S. based online services and does not have any affect in other countries. No one has been able to reach Graigslist for comments as to why or when the dicision was made to remove the section.

So what do you think? Should Craiglsist have removed the section or should they have fought the government?

Source – SF Gate


There should be an image here!I remember when looking at classified ads in newspapers or other printed material was still cool. You can continue to find classifieds in your local paper, but they’re not nearly as compelling as they used to be. These days, people of all ages are using craigslist to discover the opportunities that are around them in relation to items for sale, jobs, and so on. While craigslist works well for a lot of people and has a tremendous amount of activity, it’s not the only player in the classifieds game. OLX is another online classifieds site that seems to have given the overall look and feel of online classifieds a bit of a refresh.

As you know, craigslist still looks like it was designed twenty years ago, but OLX has a more updated look in all areas. It’s very easy to post a free classified ad, and you can add videos, pictures, and customized text to make your ad stand out. The listings really do look good, and you can use the filtering options to find exactly what you want. OLX also has a mobile site so that you can get your classifieds fix wherever you may be. It’s obviously not as big as craigslist, but in some ways that’s not such a bad thing.

Internet Crooks Renting Homes They Don’t Own – The Rent Is Always Below Market Value

The crooks have a scam that is not unique and actually has been around for many years. The difference is that the crooks are using the Internet, mainly Craigslist, to rent homes that they do not own.  The scam is fairly simple and one that victims can be easily suckered into. A home is advertised on Craigslist for a price that is lower than lower than what rent is being charged for other homes. All the victim has to do is to send a security deposit, first and last months rent, and the owner will send you the keys. The bad guys even post pictures of the residence and naturally it looks great and the rent is cheap.

According to one article it also stated that:

“I think it’s a variation of the many Internet schemes that try to defraud people,” said the OPD spokeswoman. “There are different ways popping up all the time.”

Scroble said the best defense against these sorts of Internet scams is using common sense.

Take the rental scam, for example.

Scroble said most rental agreements aren’t done sight unseen.

Although OPD has special fraud investigators for such crimes, the work is difficult, often because the scammers are in other countries, making them almost immune to prosecution.

For James Lovett, Estep’s house was just what he was looking for.

“It was beautiful. It was everything I wanted,” he said.

But the scam artists don’t just rent homes. They also buy items on Craigslist as well. Here is another scam:

The woman said she sold a ring, which is worth $3,400, on Craigslist.org to someone claiming to be from Des Moines Iowa, according to a Marion County Sheriff’s Office report.

The woman said the buyer was supposed to forward $1,600 to her PayPal account. She said Tuesday morning she saw the $1,600 pending in the account, so she sent the item via FedEx. But the $1,600 was no longer there when she checked again Tuesday night.

The woman said she e-mailed the buyer and warned him that she would notify authorities if he did not send the money, the report stated.

The buyer replied bluntly: You’ve been scammed. He said the address and the e-mail account were not his and that he only uses them to scam people.

What types of scams are you aware of?  Share your experience, knowledge and thoughts on how others have been the victims of scam artists.

Comments welcome.

Source – ocala.com

How Does Craigslist Make A Lot Of Money? Selling Sex Ads

Craigslist is one of the most successful companies on the Internet, but the way it makes some of its money is coming under scrutiny. It is estimated that almost a third of the income that the company takes in is coming from sex ads, and that this type of advertising is increasing. You may recall that Craigslist came under criticism for violence associated with some of the ads that were posted, and it appeared that the company had changed. But it appears that ads for prostitution are still appearing.

A recent news article also states:

The ads, many of which blatantly advertise prostitution, are expected to bring $36 million this year, according to a new projection of Craigslist’s income. That is three times the revenue in last year’s projection.

Law-enforcement officials have been fighting a mostly losing battle to get Craigslist to rein in the sex ads. At the same time, officials of organizations that oppose human trafficking say the site remains the biggest online hub for selling women against their will.

Last week, in the latest example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 14 members of the Gambino crime family on charges of, among other things, selling the sexual services of girls ages 15 to 19 on Craigslist.

I don’t think any of us would support the exploitation of young girls publicly being advertised by any method. Hopefully the people at Craigslist will once again be asked nicely to monitor the ads placed on the site. If Craigslist chooses to not play well with others, it may be time for legal action to be taken the company.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – NY Times

Source – Business Insider

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Is Craigslist A Scammers Haven? I Don’t Think It Is

Over at PC World they have an article about Craigslist and some of the scams that are being used against the unsuspecting. Some of the scams included, which I must admit, were some clever gimmicks. The one I liked the best was the one in which a family put up there dog up for adoption for free. A few days later they were contacted by a woman who had paid $100 for the dog by a scammer. She was able to track down the original owner and told them about paying $100 for the free dog.

Other scams included pyramid schemes of all sorts, bait and switches, and also this con. The people who are buying the item you have for sale, send a check that is over the amount of purchase. When contacted they ask the seller to be reimbursed for the amount over the purchase price. The seller refunds the money only to find out that the original check the seller received is no good.

The article also stated some of the good things that are going on to protect customers who use Craigslist:

To be fair, the highly popular site offers very rational advice on how to recognize and avoid scams. But scammers persist in part because Craigslist is such a go-to place all over the world and partly because victims apparently don’t heed the aforementioned advice.

One fellow even started a recreational blog called Exposing Scam Artists Who Use Craigslist, which is devoted to shining a light on the seedy underbelly of Craig Newmark’s paradise.

So are these cons and scams limited to Craigslist? Of course not. Scams in newspaper ads, eBay and other media have been going on for years. In a society when our banking system is full of fraud, when CEO’s of major companies down right lie, where our politicians have been corrupted by lobbyists, why would we expect anything but fraud?

I am just being facetious. Scams are an every day occurrence on the Internet. I personally do not believe that Craigslist is any worse nor better than any other sites on the Internet.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.


Disabled Girl’s $10k Laptop Computer Stolen – Turns Up On Craigslist

What happens when a disabled girl’s $10k laptop computer is stolen? A laptop computer that the young girl uses to communicate with since she cannot speak? In steps Supermom to the rescue. The laptop computer is accidentally left in a bag by a curb when the thief riding his bike swipes the box. After some snooping around, the crook learns that the computer is more valuable than your average laptop system and places it for sale on Craigslist for S3,500.

Mom gives the crook a call and plays dumb about the laptop, but immediately realizes it is her daughter’s expensive laptop. She agrees to meet the thief at the San Jose, CA flea market. Mom calls San Jose PD, who joins in on the sting and busts the bad guy.

The article in the San Jose Mercury News also states:

Hedy was born with a rare chromosome disorder that left her severely mentally disabled, with no verbal skills whatsoever. Before she got the DynaVox in May 2008, Hedy primarily communicated through gestures or the occasional picture.

Hedy’s teachers and therapists had spent hours programming the DynaVox with words and pictures specific to her needs. The device has a touch screen with different words and symbols that Hedy can touch to have the computer speak on her behalf.

“She needed something to express herself, and this was it,” Mulligan said.

Mulligan had spent more than a year working with a technology specialist, doing assessments and paperwork to submit to her health insurance, which ultimately agreed to spring for the device. But the insurance company would not pay for a second one, and the family’s homeowners insurance would pay for only half.

After it went missing, Hedy was forlorn.

“She kept looking for it. She would look at every computer screen in the house and if we pulled out our iPhone, she would try to grab it,” Mulligan said.

So, of course, the family, especially Hedy, was ecstatic when it was found.

It is always heartwarming to read stories such as this when the good people of the world actually beat the bad people of the world.

Comments welcome.


Chris Gone Viral


Being sick has its advantages — ones I never knew about! I have had some sort of crazy virus for several days now. I admit to spending one entire day sleeping it off as best I could. I stayed out of my office for the most part, and knocked myself out with the medicines the doctor gave me. Since that day, I’ve spent as much time as possible doing nothing other than sitting in my office. Since that happens to be where I work… I’ve actually accomplished quite a lot! I haven’t felt like going anywhere really, or “doing” anything much.

I’ve managed to catch up on some reading I felt I was behind on. I have come up with some ideas for upcoming projects. And, I’ve even managed to croak out some geeky new videos for the YouTube channel. I’m ahead of myself on those, which is kind of cool. Usually, the things I record are uploaded immediately the next day. Now I have a bit of a “buffer,” in case there’s a day I am too busy with other things to record.

As backwards as it seems, being sick has made me more productive. What helps boost your “get things done” levels? Also — what do you spend the most time doing when you’re sick? Do you curl up in front of the TV, or read a book? Do you spend all of your time sleeping? Or, are you like me and plant yourself in front of the computer monitors?

Free training, a $25 JUMP rewards card, and a full copy of Expression Studio 3?

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What do you think is the hottest gadget of the season?

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Diskeeper 2010 has a revolutionary new feature.

WinPatrol gives you the peace of mind to know that your computer is as protected as it can be.

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Do modern GUIs contribute to clueless users?

GoToAssist can help you provide instant support to clients, friends or family members.

When it comes to netbook reliability, where do you feel each manufacturer falls?

What are your thoughts on cryogenics?

With all of the holidays approaching quickly, we all need coupons! Today, we have some great ones for you from Target. Who doesn’t love Target?

WindowBlinds has been updated to work with Windows 7!

Scientists are pushing light beyond its known limits.

Check out the hottest new apps — both freeware and shareware.

Take back parental control with freeware that allows you to decide what Web sites can be accessed from your family’s computers.

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Convert your old cassette tapes into MP3 format so that you don’t lose any of your media.

Why is AT&T on the defensive?

Do you recommend buying refurbished gadgets and gizmos?

If you’re in the market for a new PC, why not consider buying one directly from Microsoft?

Rediscover your computer’s true potential and performance by running a regular scan with Optimize 3.0! This little piece of software will now do more than ever before to boost your speed, increase your stability, and enhance your security.

Craigslist Is A Mess? Yeah Right, A $100m Mess!

When I first read the article over at Wired about the mess that Craigslist was in, I thought it must of been some kind of a joke since the company may make $100m this year. It is also the same company that some suggest may be worth over a billion bucks if it is ever sold. So how could it be in a mess?

Here is part of what Wired has to say:

The Internet’s great promise is to make the world’s information universally accessible and useful. So how come when you arrive at the most popular dating site in the US you find a stream of anonymous come-ons intermixed with insults, ads for prostitutes, naked pictures, and obvious scams? In a design straight from the earliest days of the Web, miscellaneous posts compete for attention on page after page of blue links, undifferentiated by tags or ratings or even usernames. Millions of people apparently believe that love awaits here, but it is well hidden. Is this really the best we can do?

Odd perhaps, but no odder than what you see at the most popular job-search site: another wasteland of hypertext links, one line after another, without recommendations or networking features or even protection against duplicate postings. Subject to a highly unpredictable filtering system that produces daily outrage among people whose help-wanted ads have been removed without explanation, this site not only beats its competitors—Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo’s HotJobs—but garners more traffic than all of them combined. Are our standards really so low?

But if you really want to see a mess, go visit the nation’s greatest apartment-hunting site, the first likely choice of anybody searching for a rental or a roommate. On this site, contrary to every principle of usability and common sense, you can’t easily browse pictures of the apartments for rent. Customer support? Visit the help desk if you enjoy being insulted. How much market share does this housing site have? In many cities, a huge percentage. It isn’t worth trying to compare its traffic to competitors’, because at this scale there are no competitors.

I must admit that Craigslist is not the most flashy web site. But with over 47 million hits a month they must be doing something right.

What do you think? Do you use Craigslist?

Comments welcome.


Craigslist Expands To 690 Cities – Newspaper Ads Plummet

Craigslist has just expanded its operations by 25% and is now serving 690 cities. The company added mid-sized cities like Susanville, CA, a town with a population of 18,000, to its list of cities being served. A recent news article also states:

If that expansion sounds minor, consider that Craigslist also added new sites for international cities like Lucknow, India (population 2.5 million), Shenzhen, China (14 million), and Newcastle, Australia, (280,000). Most of the sites are in English only. The pages start as virtual ghost towns, eerily devoid of people posting used furniture, apartment vacancies, job openings and Craigslist’s notorious sex ads.

A Craiglist spokeswoman, Susan Mactavish Best, alerted us to the move last night, but offered no additional comment. She said the chief executive, Jim Buckmaster, would add the new cities to the site’s official fact sheet later this month, and that it was conceivable that the company’s founder and “chief customer service representative,” Craig Newmark, did not even know about the change.

Where Craigslist goes, of course, the fortunes of local newspapers often plummet, since classified ads on the site can mostly be placed free.

This is where the newspapers are having problems. How do you compete with a service that is basically free? A service where people can find just about anything in their local area. Will Craigslist kill local newspapers?

Comments welcome.


Craigslist Doing Well – Very,Very Well – $100 M Well!

While Murdock and his boys stumble around the Internet, blaming everyone except themselves for their failings, Craigslist seems to be doing very well. If estimates are correct, Craigslist will take in over 100 million big ones this year. Impossible, you say! We are in a recession! The newspapers are failing and it is all the fault of the Internet, they say. Hogwash!

So how does Craigslist earn so much money from a site that is basically free? According to one article they do it this way:

Craigslist only charges for its job listings in 18 major cities in U.S. (usually $25, but $75 in San Fransisco; the rest of the 570 total cities it operates sites in are free), and for its real-estate ads ($10 per ad) in New York City only. It also charges for its controversial adult-ads section. According to the study, New York City is its biggest market, with an estimated $17.7 million projection in 2009, and San Francisco, its hometown, is the second-biggest with $14.4 million in revenues. Recruitment ads are projected to account for $85 million of the total revs, with housing ads accounting for about $9 million, and adult ads about $4 million, according to the report.

But is that estimated $100 million in revenue for Craigslist responsible for the steep decline in newspaper classified revenue—the newspaper industry saw a falloff of 29 percent in classified revenue in 2008, according to NAA—the worst in history. It’s tough to quantify the impact its non-help-wanted ads have on newspapers since the company doesn’t charge for those ads, but one can draw conclusions from the help-wanted ads, which it does charge for. For example, Glennco Consulting Group estimates 2009 newspaper help-wanted advertising will decline about 50 percent to roughly $1 billion, which is in line with many analyst forecasts. That would mean that even if Craigslist went from $0 in 2008 revenue to $100 million in 2009 revenue on the strength of its paid job listings, it would only account for about 10 percent of the decline in newspaper help-wanted advertising during that period. What is also contributing to the erosion? A weak job environment likely has something to do with it, but other online classified sites like Monster.com, Hotjobs.com, and smaller sites like ilist.com and Kijiji.com are also likely taking a large chunk of help-wanted advertising that used to be the domain of the newspapers.

What is also amazing about the company is that they do all of this with only 28 employees. But there is something else that is amazing. Here is where Craigslist calls home:

How can they claim success without a big glass building housing thousands of folks? LOL

Comments welcome.