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What is Craigslist?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Craigslist is the brainchild of Craig Newmark, and has become one of the most popular sites on the Internet. Started in San Francisco in 1995, it is perhaps the ultimate site for classified listings. It offers job advertisements, personal ads, ads for cars, pets, home supplies and a plethora of other choices. The website is built around communities, and craigslist now offers sites in hundreds of cities and many countries throughout the world. Financial information about the nonprofit company is not disclosed, but business experts believe the site is worth over $10 million US dollars (USD).

For the most part, posting and reading ads on craigslist is free. Revenue is generated by people posting job ads at significantly below market rate. To post an ad in the "gigs" section of the want ads is free. Craigslist does not post banners ads, preferring to earn money only through job posting revenue.

The lowered rate for posting want ads has made the site a proverbial thorn in the side of more traditional companies offering classified ads. Newspapers, in particular, have attacked craigslist on numerous occasions for posting advertisements that might be construed as endorsement of illegal activities. Sections that sell puppies, for example, were part of a lawsuit suggesting craigslist illegally endorses puppy mills or the sale of outlawed breeds. The San Francisco Chronicle sued the site for this reason, but the suit was dismissed.

It is true that craigslist does seriously undercut competitive newspapers through its classified ads. This is especially the case for ads other than jobs. A person wanting to sell a sofa, a car, or rent property, saves a lot of money by listing on it on the site instead of in a newspaper. In fact, they pay no money for doing so, whereas they would pay quite a bit to a large city newspaper.

Those who use craigslist, which reports over 30 billion page views per month, have learned to be cautious about advertisements posted there. While most job ads are legitimate, personal ads, housing rentals, and for sales ads can be phonies, meant to gather people’s personal information or lure them into danger. Jobs in the gigs section are often “work for free” opportunities, or scams advertising great jobs if one will take a course or pay a fee for job listings. It’s reasonable to use craigslist with a great deal of caution, and certain areas of the sites are reserved for adults only. People using restricted areas must register first, and inappropriate postings can be flagged by other viewers.

Lack of moderation on postings are perhaps the primary reason why this Internet giant is criticized. There are currently only about 30 craigslist employees, and moderating the more than 50 million ads posted each month would be a very significant undertaking. This would not even include moderating all the postings generated by users. Many users take it upon themselves to flag postings, or to write comments on other posts that seem to abuse the free exchange offered by the site.

Some caution should be observed when using craigslist because no moderation exists on the site. You should be wary about giving out personal information like telephone numbers or addresses. If you answer a personal ad and arrange a meeting, do so in a public place. If you plan to respond to a “for sale” ad, go with several people to pick up or view the items for sale. If a job ad asks for a resume, do not include personal information until you verify the company’s existence. Avoid “too good to be true” ads, because they usually are.

With caution, craigslist can be an excellent site for searching jobs or for finding just about anything. It has numerous forums for people seeking information about new cities they may be visiting or moving to. Some users devote time to “watchdog” blogs so that other users can check out the claims of ads prior to responding to them.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By anon339864 — On Jun 27, 2013

There is so many reasons why I don't like Craigslist, but I will stick to my own personal experience with them. They should have their own moderators to make sure the only ads removed are those that violate their terms instead of allowing people to flag ads for any reason under the sun! People flag ads because the ad item priced too high, too low, ad written too well, too poorly, competitor wants to get rid of you, others don't like you, etc., etc., etc. There are too many different opinions for people to be allowed to flag for any reason and while some might not like an ad for whatever reason, there could be someone who might want the item!

I have had people drive a long way to buy my items, so I sell a lot of good stuff. I don't mind getting advice on how to write a better ad, but I do mind my ads being flagged when there is noy violation of their terms!

My understanding is another ad site will not remove ads that have been flagged unless there is a violation of their terms and that is the way it should be.

Imagine me getting people together who don't like carrots and we all go in the grocery store demanding they remove carrots just because we don't like them. It really is awful that Craigslist would allow people to flag for any reason other than violation of their terms.

Buyers love the site because all they have to do is search for something they want and not have to put up with ads being removed, but what they don't realize is there could be something they might want to buy that got removed just because others did not like it. And there are some in the flagging forums who are very rude. They try to inflict their opinions on everyone instead of sticking to the terms of service on why posts should be removed.

By anon322443 — On Feb 27, 2013

Craigslist is a great site but the new two-way email relay is simply creating more spam. I had a system in place to detect most spam and now it gets through because craigslist anons every email. This is stupid, in my humbleo pinion. I've used craigslist for everything from selling furniture to hiring employees, to other activities. If you can't recognize a scam when you see one perhaps you deserve to get scammed! Scams are obvious. People shouldn't drag down craigslist just because they are stupid.

By anon266655 — On May 07, 2012

I had posted on craigslist missed connections. I received replies. Instead of replying to all of them, I checked the IP address to see if they were in the area of the person I was trying to find. One person sent me two different replies, from different emails, but the same IP address.

A few days later I saw a post in Missed Connections. I replied thinking it was the person I was looking for. I received an email back. The wording was off and so I checked the IP. Same IP as the other two emails.

Funny thing is, the IP address stated it was in the same locale as the craigslist head office in San Fran. I replied back to this person, basically wishing them luck on their search. I made the mistake of letting them know I knew they were in San Francisco. Not even a day later, I turned on my computer and saw my security blinking red. Half of it was not working. It stated: Cannot verify license, and 12 networks were opened up on my computer. Data started flying across my security tab.

I shut my computer down and waited. I logged on and saw that everything was back to normal. I later sent an email to the person who responded to me those three times, stating that I thought they are the ones that hacked me and for them to stop as I had no valuable information or anything else to offer. I received an email back. The person gave me a "lol" and said they didn't have time to hack computers. When I checked their IP, it was encrypted.

Here is my theory: This dude works for craigslist, he made the mistake of not hiding his IP the first time, got scared when I recognized the error, hacked my computer to erase any trail and to follow me on the web, or post and email in my name all to save his butt, and possibly craigslist's butt in the process.

This all happened a few days ago. I have since shut down all networking profiles and emails. And soon I will not be using my computer at all in for fear that I might be framed for some weird crap. Craigslist is messed up! Whether it was an employee or a hacker, they need to do something about their site. People should not be using it at all!

By anon176086 — On May 14, 2011

craigslist transmuted the 10 billion dollar classified industry into a 100 million dollar industry, dominated primarily by craigslist. It's still an ugly, awful website. Won't be long before it's squashed and replaced with something decent.

By austin72 — On Dec 14, 2010

Very interesting information about craigslist. I am an auto dealer and i think this will very useful site for me. Today i found this site information from a forum and i am totally shocked after read this article. I am too late for this site.

By anon133723 — On Dec 11, 2010

Please tell me how to use or to do this craiglist and what it is really? is this good or what? is this real or not?

By cwilliamson — On May 04, 2010

I have tried craigslist for years for rent-free living positions as a housesitter and found everything on craigslist to be a scam.

By anon68432 — On Mar 02, 2010

How long does a post last? --Anon874753NB

By chinchilla — On Dec 30, 2009

I had posted an ad selling cheap used books, and received two local late-night replies within half an hour.

After checking the names to make sure they were real people in my city, I gave my address for them to stop by and pick out what they wanted to buy (I have several boxes of books to heavy to carry to a public place).

I had sold a phone a few days prior, given out my address and had no trouble, but it's been 24 hours since I heard from these fellows. At what point to I go to the police/craigslist in anticipation of being robbed, or am I just being paranoid?

By anon57532 — On Dec 24, 2009

What is the trick for getting a sales ad (ex, selling home furniture) to show time and time again on craigslist? I see the same ads all the time and when I try to submit more that once I am always stopped by craigslist saying I can only submit once.

By anon56312 — On Dec 14, 2009

I have been on Craigslist for about 7 months and I have had many bad experiences with ads and the scammers and spammers that Craigslist lets get away with it.

I have sent emails and have warned others but my posts have all been removed. Meanwhile, the spammer with a fake ad is still on the site.

As I looked for the fake ad I had came across many others that have posted in the same states and cities across the USA.

As of now I will not use this system and will be taking it to the local press about the scams that happen on this site seeing that I have not received anything from this company. So I believe that they are behind the scams and all the spam that I have been getting for the past seven months after getting on this site.

So until someone from Craigslist gets back with me, this is a place to receive spam and deal with the scammers that post fake jobs. I have been laid off for to long and would like to get a job not get info on third rate colleges or get how to get rich schemes that are all over the site.

The companies that have real jobs have a hard time finding real employees because of all the scams and spammers on this site.

By anon50563 — On Oct 29, 2009

i'm so much interested about craigslist. can you tell me what is craiglist and how to get started in it.

By anon39944 — On Aug 05, 2009

Friends i am very new to craigslist. Please help if there is any way to get hold of the direct client requirements.

By anon19514 — On Oct 13, 2008

Craigslist is fantastic. I've found renters for my apartment for free where classifieds would have cost hundreds. Furthermore, my renters came from far away and were moving to Seattle, found my ad easily which is very unlikely with print.

I've sold items for cash and especially found it a great way to 'freecycle' things I would have thrown away but instead turned my "trash" into someone else's "treasure" and saved the dump fee.

By anon18886 — On Oct 01, 2008

Thank you for the information regarding Craigslist. I keep receiving emails regarding "use Craigslist to work from home..." Your information was very helpful in explaining what Craigslist is.

sincerely, Cathy in Margate, FL

By rockyisnit — On Mar 10, 2008

Plz help me out about craigslist. Plz tell me about craigslist. what is it and how I can do or get online job through getafreelancer with craigslist.


Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a EasyTechJunkie contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
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