The truth is that a lot of people complain about craigslist. Buckmaster is correct that few of them complain about the design. They complain about spam, they complain about fraud, they complain about the posting rules, they complain about the search, they complain about uploading images. They complain about every way a classified transaction can go wrong. They seldom complain about amazing new features they imagine they might possibly want to use, because they are too busy complaining about the simple features they depend on that don't work as well as they'd like. By eliminating marketing, sales, and business development, craigslist's programmers have cut out all the cushioning layers that separate them from the users they serve, and any right they have to teach lessons in public service comes from the odd situation of running a company that is directly subservient only to the public. Here's the lesson: The public is a motherfucker.
Craig Newmark says that craigslist works because people are good, and he has stuck to this point of view without wavering. Whether you accept it as true will depend on your standard of goodness.
Sometimes entire categories of craigslist are rendered nearly unusable by spam. Con artists prowl the listings, paying sellers with fake cashier's checks and luring buyers to share their credit card numbers. Other evils are more subtle. Business owners whose judgment is distorted by self-interest fail to understand the rules and put the same item in multiple categories or repost it many times a day to insure it stays prominent, crowding out other sellers. A woman listing a car forgets to tell buyers about problems with the title until they've made a long trip out to see it. In all transactions there is a possibility of misunderstanding as well as abuse, and at 99.99 percent perfection there would still be thousands of angry people every month.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
A maddening profile of craiglist founder, Craig Newmark and his company. Specifically it looks at the companies philosophy and refusal to change and become a place like Ebay or even twitter. I kind of admire the stubbornness of Newmark, even if I think his philosophy is slightly wacky.