Lamenting On Craigslist

BREAKING NEWS: A shrink wrapped package containing a shaker of salt and a shaker of pepper, on sale at the Ravenna, OH ‘Everything’s A Buck’ dollar store was discovered as the single item for sale in the United States that is not posted on Craigslist.  Workers stared dumbfounded at the package, discovered behind a stack of yellow smiley face plates, wondering how it could be possible that an item for sale is not listed on Craigslist.

Having started the process of trying to sell my car, I am absolutely amazed at how Craigslist has seemingly taken over the world.  I listed my car and within an hour, my car wasn’t even on the first page of used car listings.  And each page holds 100 listings.

It’s unbelievable!

I sold some stuff on Craigslist a couple of years ago before I moved, and it was remarkable at how fast things generated interest.  Most everything at that time was furniture.  Stupidly, I believed that, combined with my sister-in-law selling a car within two days last year, would set the stage for a quick sell.

Alas, it hasn’t happened.

I’m, of course, using other ways to try to sell the car, but was certainly hoping that Craigslist would be a bit more ‘useful.

Here are a few observations about Craigslist:

  • I think it has officially ‘jumped the shark’.  That’s the term used to describe a TV show that goes from good to out of ideas.  My little fake paragraph of a news story illustrates that it has gone from useful to I think a bit ridiculous.  It’s definitely a fad that seems to have caught on a little too well.
  • I think they should cut out retail establishment postings – Wasn’t the original point of Craigslist to give people a chance to sell stuff online that didn’t have a great way of selling things otherwise?  Sorry, but I think it’s crazy that car dealerships have taken over the auto listings page.  When I did some investigating to find out just how 100 posts appeared in a matter of minutes, it didn’t take long to figure out that 18 straight posts from ‘So-And-So Chevrolet’ multiplied by a lot of dealerships, would tend to push out a lot of posts.  Give Craigslist back to the people it was designed for!
  • Enforce the right rules – They now make it so that you can’t even think about re-posting your ad unless it’s been active for two days.  Try it even a minute before and you’re prohibited from adding your ad.  But, a car DEALER posting in the ‘by owner’ category?  No problem, go right ahead.  Again, pandering to the retail establishments and pushing out the little guy, not so much for the individual sellers anymore.
  • Update the site already! – I get how Craigslist still wants to be ad free, but really, if you’re going to let the car dealership and retail networks take over the postings, why not give some additional features that might help out the little guy?  Would it kill to show a page view counter for postings to see how many people are viewing the listings?  Would adding a few categories so people could search a little easier really hurt?

If Craigslist still did what the founders set out to do when they started expanding in the 2002 timeframe, then the the lack of technology and offerings would be OK.  But, with the explosive growth as well as the fact of how they’ve pandered to the retail shops that have taken over, what they offer now to help the individual seller is extremely disappointing.

I still think Craigslist holds a lot of value and can be useful, but the current experience of trying to sell my car has made me realize that it has become a lot less meaningful, because they had the opportunity to grow and adapt as their popularity increased.  But they chose not to, and I find that a shame.

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