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Apr 13,2007
Craigslist users seem to have lost tolerance
by Jonathan Sidener

I think I'm giving up on Craigslist.

Most newspaper readers have no doubt heard of the online community/marketplace. It's been one of my favorite sites for about five years.

I bought my kayak there, and roof racks for my car. I found my dining-room table there.

I live in a house I found through a Craigslist rental ad. I've gone on dates with women I met through the site. I sold an old car that hadn't run in years. I could go on.

Now I'm thinking of giving up, moving on. Craigslist is losing some of its charm.

Started by Craig Newmark in San Francisco in 1995, it was originally a place for Newmark and his friends to list events and share other information. It grew by word of mouth to become the seventh-busiest site on the Web.

When I moved, I offered my empty moving boxes in the "free" section. They would have filled the recycling barrel for weeks, and I preferred to see them get reused.

Within minutes, I heard from a woman who was about to move across town. We exchanged a few pleasant e-mails. She came over to get the boxes. We chatted a bit. She went home with the boxes. It wasn't a lasting friendship, but it was a pleasant transaction between two members of the Craigslist community.

Early on, it was somehow more than just classified ads. But it seems to be losing that quality.

Recently, I lost a dog to cancer and started thinking about getting a puppy - a successor, not a replacement. I looked on Petfinder ( www.petfinder.com) and 1-800-save-a-pet ( www.1-800-save-a-pet.com), two searchable databases of deserving dogs, cats and other pets. I checked out the local pet shelter site. And I looked in the Pets section of Craigslist.

At times, the Pets section was like a war zone. Craigslist allows users to flag other people's posts if they think something is inappropriate or off topic. If enough people flag a post, it's removed. In the past, there was an ethic of tolerance, and little was flagged other than racist rants, spam or links to porn sites.

Now, out-of-control users are flagging anything they don't like. One woman complained after her post was flagged requesting advice about pet-friendly rentals. Another person complained because a post was deleted on the topic of parvo, a potentially fatal disease for puppies.

People plead at the beginning of their posts, "Please don't flag this."

Something's wrong when you can't write about parvo and pet rentals in the Craigslist Pets section, when you have to beg to use a service that's designed to be open to anyone.

Like others on the site, I've been known to occasionally write tongue-in-cheek posts for various sections. A couple of years ago, I wrote an ad for the Men Seeking Women section titled "Gold Digger Wanted" in which I described myself as an old, despicable rich guy looking for an attractive young woman with extremely low expectations.

Some people thought it was funny. Some didn't. It never got flagged.

Recently, I wrote a similar piece of satire. It was flagged in about an hour. Apparently humor, along with tolerance, is off topic now. That's a shame.

Despite the hassles, I found a pup on Craigslist that I was interested in. He was the spitting image of a dog I had when I was younger. While I was trying to make up my mind whether to go check him out, I went back to the site from time to time to look at his pictures. Half the time, the ad was gone. And then it would reappear.

When I went to look at him, his owners told me they received an e-mail asking whether he was neutered. When they responded that he wasn't, they got a lecture on neutering, and their ad started getting flagged.

I remember the conversation when I gave away my moving boxes. We talked about how Craigslist was great, how it connected people with complementary needs. It had a good energy.

The conversation with the puppy owners was different. We talked about Craigslist like it was a swamp to be waded through. These days, it seems as if it divides people as much as it connects them.

It does still work. I found my pup. But it isn't fun anymore.

5315 times read

Related news
Life sentence given to Craigslist killer by UPI posted on Apr 02,2009

Craigslist posting prompts arrest of woman by UPI posted on May 18,2007


A move is a move, no matter how far away the new house is by Ilyce_Glink posted on Aug 10,2007

It's ID theft, but money's not the goal by Dana Littlefield posted on Aug 31,2007

Did you enjoy this article? Rating: 4.73Rating: 4.73Rating: 4.73Rating: 4.73Rating: 4.73 (total 30 votes)

  • The most unknown Craigslist secret. There are forums set up for groups of people to sit and post ads all day long. One posts the others flag it no questions asked. Doesn't have to violate the CL TOU . If they simply do not want it there it is flagged. They do not monitor their community they monitor all communites with a program to pull up all craigslist ads with keywords they choose. 70 of these people belong on a google group to do this same thing. Hundreds of ads all over the country are flagged all day everyday.
  • (Posted on February 4, 2008, 5:00 pm Sandy)

  • It is incredibly ignorant and clueless to believe that the world needs massive squads of self-appointed pet police conjuring up evil in everyone who offers or is searching for a pet. Maybe you should get out and smell the flowers more often, Cathy. There's a lot of great people in the world who own happy healthy pets. They nor their animals need nannying by those whose primary occupation is that of cynic or chronic faultfinder.
  • (Posted on May 6, 2007, 11:15 pm ccdirtdawgs)

  • This is an incredibly ignorant column, and the writer is obviously clueless about the problems at craigslist. Pet listings are flagged because unscrupulous people like puppy mill breeders are using craigslist to sell sick & inferior animals, and run their illegal and often criminal businesses. Not to mention, some of these illegal businesses obtain breeding stock from unsuspecting pet owners who think that the responders are a "good home." Also, stolen pets have been offered for sale on craigslist. Thus the craiglist community keeps a tighter watch on these pet listings to prevent fraud and animal abuse. It is ridiculous beyond belief to somehow believe that a pet listing should be handled in the same way as say, a kayak listing. And Jopnathan Sidener shgould be ashamed of himself for having a selfish temper tantrum without doing a little research. As a journalist, isn't that his job? Animals are not objects, and criminal activity and cruelty involving pets has been an issue on craigslist.
  • (Posted on April 20, 2007, 9:56 am cathy)

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