OR how craigslist’s popularity is killing it.
I’ve been a follower of craigslist for quite some time, and have to applaud them for the job they’ve done democratizing the classifieds marketplace (whether or not that was the intention of Mr. Newmark, I will never know, but I suspect it was just a nice by-product of it all). However, there is a major hole in the system, it relies TOO much on the community action to filter out the spam on the sections it doesn’t charge for. These problems are probably eliminated in areas where posting costs $ (San fran, ny, LA, etc.), but it doesn’t help the areas where it is still free.
These free areas are where Craigslist will want to grow its audience and eventually generate revenue from them. Yet this double edge sword also leads to a lot of spammers filling up the sections that would otherwise offer valuable resources to the casual reader. Now I am sure there is a cadre of die-hard craigslisters out there, but these people can only flag so much stuff, there is still a TON of stuff waiting to be cleaned up. So what is craigslist supposed to do about this? The easiest way would be to create a barrier of entry. A simple one page sign-up form before you post would be one way. Then on top of that continue with their posting-authentication system. Maybe even hire someone from each city to sift through all the new postings?
How is any of this revolutionary you ask? Well in all honesty it isn’t at all new, its just a matter of them taking the reigns before the problem gets way out of control.