'The Greatest Social Media Site Is Craigslist' - Slashdot (2024)

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'The Greatest Social Media Site Is Craigslist' (slate.com) 29

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An anonymous reader quotes an op-ed for Slate, written by Amanda Chen: In August 2009, Wired magazine ran a cover story on Craigslist founder Craig Newmark titled "Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess." The opening paragraphs excoriate almost every aspect of the online classifieds platform as "underdeveloped," a "wasteland of hyperlinks," and demands that we, the public, ought to have higher standards. The same sentiment can found across tech forums and trade publications, a missed opportunity that the average self-professed LinkedIn expert on #UX #UI #design will have you believe that they are the first to point out. But as sites like Craigslist increasingly turn into digital artifacts, more people, myself included, are starting to see the beauty that belies those same features. Without them, where else on the internet could you find such ardent professions of desire or loneliness, or the random detritus of a life so steeply discounted?

The site has changed relatively little in both functionality and appearance since Newmark launched it in 1995 as a friends and family listserv for jobs and other opportunities. Yet in spite of that, it remains a household name whose niche in the contemporary digital landscape has yet to be usurped, with an estimated 180 million visits in May 2024. Though, it's certainly not for a lack of newcomers attempting to stake their claims on the booming C2C market; in the U.S., Facebook Marketplace, launched in 2016, is its closest direct competitor, followed by platforms like Nextdoor and OfferUp. Craigslist's business model is quite simple: Users in a few categories -- apartments in select cities, jobs, vehicles for sale -- pay a small but reasonable fee to make posts. Everything else is free. Its Perl-backed tech is straightforward. The team is relatively lean, as the company considers functions like sales and marketing superfluous. This strategy has allowed Craigslist to stay extremely profitable throughout the years without implementing sophisticated recommendation algorithms or inundating the webpage with third-party advertisem*nts. Its runaway success threatens decades-old industry gospels of growth, disruption, and innovation, and might force tech evangelists to admit they don't fully understand what people want. [...]

These days I find myself casually browsing Craigslist in lieu of Instagram. Like readers of a local paper, I use it to keep a pulse on what's happening around me, even if I'll never know who these people are. That's beside the point. Perhaps Craigslist's single greatest cultural contribution, and my favorite place to lurk, is the "missed connections." The feature has inspired countless copycats, artistic reinterpretations, human interest stories, and analyses (one in particular extrapolated that Monday evenings are the most lovelorn time across the country). There is something deeply comforting about seeing those intangible threads of yearning which permeate a city so plainly laid out, as confirmation that you're not alone in wanting to be seen by others alive in the same place and time as you. Sometimes I'll peruse random job listings or the "free" section. This leads to the ever-amusing exercise, which I'll often invite friends to participate in, of speculating about the motivations and circ*mstances behind an object's acquisition and imminent relinquishment. I'll even visit the clunky, dial-up era-style discussion forums, subdivided into topics labeled things like "death and dying" or "haiku hotel," where a unique penchant for whimsy and romance can be felt deeply throughout. On Craigslist, a post can be a shout into the void that may or may not be returned, an affirmation of life, but regardless, in 45 days it's gone. Positioned somewhere in between digital ephemera and archive, the site's images and language are often utilitarian, occasionally unintelligible, and just when you least expect it, absurd, poetic, and profound.

"Frequently, technologists remain convinced that the market will eventually reveal a solution for all of our deep-seated societal problems, something that we can hack if only granted access to better tech," writes Chen, in closing. "From the start, the industry has advanced the idea that change is inherently good, even if only for its own sake, which can be viewed as symptomatic of the accelerating conditions of late-stage capitalism. Of course, there are many ways in which change is desperately needed in this moment, but when it comes to the particular case of Craigslist, it hardly seems necessary."

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  • technologists (Score:2)

    by timeOday ( 582209 )

    "Frequently, technologists remain convinced that the market will eventually reveal a solution for all of our deep-seated societal problems, something that we can hack if only granted access to better tech," writes Chen, in closing.

    Do we though?

    Certainly less than others' unyielding faith in religion, or big government.

  • Craigslist serves a purpose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BishopBerkeley ( 734647 ) on Friday June 28, 2024 @06:14PM (#64586461)Journal

    CL is there to allow people to sell stuff and to allow people to talk. Those are worthwhile endeavors. What is not worthwhile is inundating users with addictive garbage for the sake of keeping them glued to the screen. One can accomplish more in 1 minute on craigslist than one can in an entire day on any "social" media site. This outcome highlights another point: CL requires user participation, but "social" media sites enforce user passivity. Users go to CL to do something. "Social" media users are trapped in a perpetual trap of scrolling meaningless posts selected by algorithms to trap them and by suspending the thought process.

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    • Re:Craigslist serves a purpose (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Seven Spirals ( 4924941 ) on Friday June 28, 2024 @06:19PM (#64586475)

      I love CL so much because of exactly this. I also adore the site design. Simple, does exactly what's need, and doesn't require signing up etc...

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  • It was (Score:4, Funny)

    by fjo3 ( 1399739 ) on Friday June 28, 2024 @06:20PM (#64586477)

    ...and then Kamala Harris killed the personals while she was Attorney General of CA.It was a great way for a highly articulate but shy misfit such as myself to meet people.

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    • Fine. (Score:1)

      by Compaq Disk Rereader ( 10425332 )

      Meet me at the i-5 rest stop and I'll give you a blowj*b.

      JO crystals optional but highly encouraged

      https://www.urbandictionary.co... [urbandictionary.com]

    • Re: (Score:2)

      by HBI ( 10338492 )

      I agree entirely. I met a _lot_ of people on CL over the years. I was traveling all over CONUS as a contractor and when I had a lengthy gig somewhere, it was easy enough to find someone to spend quality time with. It was particularly good for finding busy, smart women with careers who just wanted someone to be nice to them. Human things like that.

      No personals meat market can substitute.

      • Re: (Score:2)

        by Mean Variance ( 913229 )

        Around 2010 I was a 80% telecommuter, i.e. had to drive 150 miles to Palo Alto one day a week for in person meetings. Through CL rideshare I found someone who was in the area working on a PhD at Stanford. We are totally different people, but that drive was interesting informative and made the time pass fast. Plus I got a little gas money at the end. I didn't even care about the $$ but it was the arrangement and she didn't want to feel like a cheapskate.

        I think CL started to get sh*tty in all kinds of areas,

    • Re: (Score:2)

      by PPH ( 736903 )

      Same thing is happening in WA. The pimps were getting upset that sex workers could bypass them. And they have a lot of clout in the state legislature.

    • Re: (Score:2)

      by pauljlucas ( 529435 )

      Craigslist is how I met my spouse.

  • Killed by monetization (Score:3)

    by RegistrationIsDumb83 ( 6517138 ) on Friday June 28, 2024 @06:35PM (#64586503)

    Once they started charging for posts, it stopped being useful. How many people are going to pay $25 to list a simple one off job for a handyman or a cheap used item? It pushed out everyone reasonable and the only people posting wanted literally $100/hr for simple tasks. RIP craigslist.

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    • Re: (Score:2)

      by timeOday ( 582209 )

      Interesting. I think the small fee for listing used vehicles ($5 last time used it) actually cleaned it up. If you're willing to spend $5 on selling your vehicle, you're probably not really selling a vehicle.

      • Re: (Score:2)

        by timeOday ( 582209 )

        Oops, let's try that again: "If you're not willing to spend $5 on selling your vehicle, you're probably not really selling a vehicle."

        • Re: (Score:3)

          by registrations_suck ( 1075251 )

          I sold two cars, a motorcycle and a trailer on there.

          Problem is that there are STILL a sh*tload of "commercial" posts from dealers on there. Not really what a lot of people want to see on CL.

          The other problem is non-local posts. I don't go on there to see some sh*t you want to ship out of a warehouse 1000 miles away. Those people need death. Quickly.

    • Re: (Score:2)

      by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 )

      Once they started charging for posts, it stopped being useful.

      CL doesn't charge for most posts.

      I cleared out my garage by posting all the junk on CL and paid a total of $0.

      They charge for job listings and vehicle sales. I think that's all (but I could be wrong).

  • They screwed up yard sales (Score:2)

    by quonset ( 4839537 )

    In the past, CL would have a standard list of postings for yard sales. You could scroll through and pick out the ones you wanted to see.

    At some point they did away with a simple list and turned into one giant map. Now you have no idea what might be on sale and have to one by one select each pin to see what might be there.

    Worst change ever (for CL).

    • Re: (Score:3)

      by RossCWilliams ( 5513152 )

      CL has several ways of viewing garage sales on the web site. The map is only one of them.

  • They tick off Wallstreet (Score:1)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 )

    ...because they are lean and keep their focus on select niches, yet rake in record profits.

    "Hey, let's try something besides growth at all costs" is sacrilege on Wallstreet. Even Warren Buffett has complained that growth is oversold.

    I love Craig's minimalistic HTML! It is sometimes clunky, but so are the fat cat sites, usually because the fat cats keep changing for the sake of change. I've seen Reddit go through 3 ui's, and each new one is bigly buggy for 5-ish years.

    I wish biz-CRUD stacks would try such K.

    • Web 1.0 was based on a lot of good ideas (Score:3)

      by localroger ( 258128 )

      ...most of which got sh*tcanned the moment the marketers realized they couldn't control every pixel of the user's experience. It was also easy to build extensions for people with handicaps like poor eyesight or blindness or weird hardware and those things worked well without a lot of tweaking.

  • no way (Score:2)

    by FudRucker ( 866063 )

    the for sale section is okay, but craigslist forums suck they wont even host images and their moderation system means the regulars in a forum can gang up and bully the new guy or bully those with an opinion they dont like, fourms.craigslist.org sucks as bad as reddit, i rather visit 4chan where freedom of speech still lives

  • Onion: "Craigslist Server Somehow Contracts HPV" (Score:2)

    by Pseudonymous Powers ( 4097097 )

    I have never used Craigslist to buy or sell anything. I visit the site an average of a few times every year. It's gross and tawdry. It is my favorite site.

    Because, in the days of the Dotcom Boom and the following Bust, it seemed exactly the same as every other website. It let you do a thing that people already could, but on the computer. In this case, classifieds, but on a computer.

    All the other dotcom f*ckers got high on their own farts, and the media's, telling them that they were the geniuses standi

  • One of the great success stories of the internet (Score:3)

    by ThumpBzztZoom ( 6976422 ) on Friday June 28, 2024 @09:41PM (#64586747)

    At one point in the early 2000's, Craigslist was in the top 10 of US websites visited and had a grand total of 13 employees.

    Right now, they've expanded to 50 employees and recieve $1 billion in revenue annually.

    It's amazing what can be accomplished when you don't prioritize management or chase new and shiny. Of course the business bros think it's a failure, because they don't hire an ever increasing number of business bros.

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    • Re: (Score:3)

      by stabiesoft ( 733417 )

      And no plans for an IPO and a big payout for the banks rep-ing them. I like CL, and if I'm looking for something used it is my goto site. Back maybe 15 years ago I sold a few things on it as well.

  • none (Score:2)

    by nicubunu ( 242346 )

    As an European: what is a Craiglist and why would I need one?

    Seriously, nobody around me uses it, we may hear about it in movies, but even then the name is changed with translation, because viewers won't know Craiglist.

    • Re: (Score:2)

      by necronom426 ( 755113 )

      Yeah, who is Craig and why do I want to look at his list?

      I guess it's an American thing that is only available there. I've only heard of it on Slashdot or maybe a US TV show.

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