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How Craigslist Works
Craigslist.org, originally a San Francisco community electronic newsletter, is
now one of the most visited English language Web sites, with local classifieds
for more than 450 cities worldwide. The site's main function is to host classified
ads that cover practically every category you can think of, including housing,
job postings, items for sale, services and personals. There's also a forums
section that allows users to discuss topics on everything from gardening to the
Linux operating system.
Craigslist's founder Craig Newmark and CEO Jim Buckmaster aim to provide
users with a helpful, noncommercial way to connect with other people in their
communities [source: New York Times]. Posting for most classifieds categories
on craigslist is free, and it's also free to browse and respond to ads. The Web
site doesn't have any flashy animation or graphics -- its value comes from its
utilitarian design and the contributions of its users.
If all you want to do is browse the site, you can just visit craigslist.org and click
away. The site has a range of broad categories, and each category has several
subcategories, making it easy to navigate to the appropriate section quickly.
For example, the "for sale" category features subcategories like computer,
books, electronics, sporting, motorcycles and collectibles, among others.
The Craigslist Network
Each craigslist site focuses on a specific community. Originally, craigslist only
listed classifieds and announcements within San Francisco. As the service
grew in popularity, expanding well beyond founder Craig Newmark's original
concept, craigslist added other cities to its network. The first city to join the
network was Boston in 2000. A couple of months later, Chicago, Los Angeles,
New York City, Portland, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C. followed
suit. Today, more than 450 cities have a craigslist community site.
Craigslist started as a pet project but blossomed into a full-fledged company. In
1999, craigslist incorporated as a for-profit organization. The company also
purchased the domain craigslist.com to prevent anyone from buying it and
misleading craigslist members. Each year since then, craigslist has expanded
to cover more cities and communities, becoming a powerful financial force in
Craig Newmark and Jim Buckmaster aren't your typical corporate bigwigs.
Even though Newmark is the founder and chairman of craigslist, he states his
title as customer service representative. Buckmaster is not only the CEO but
also a lead developer for the site. He helped design the homepage, Web
architecture, forums, community moderation system, personals category and
Newmark and Buckmaster strive to keep craigslist a service-based company
focused on online communities. They have refused offers to sell the company
for a huge profit. Many of their decisions fly in the face of traditional business
strategies, but Newmark has said that keeping the communal culture of
craigslist intact is more important than making enormous profits [source:
craigslist.org]. Even the site's offices are unusual for an Internet company --
instead of a flashy office in a building made of glass and steel, craigslist's
headquarters are in an old Victorian storefront in San Francisco [source:
One of the biggest challenges for the craigslist community is weeding out scam
artists. The site has a section describing common scam tactics and what users
should do if they come across them. Scams might involve fake money orders or
checks, bait-and-switch schemes (in which you think you're getting one thing
but end up with another), phishing schemes designed to obtain personal
information, identity theft schemes and other unethical and illegal activities.