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For the same reason that Craigslist is still king despite its tragic UI. Solving the chicken-and-egg problems of a large, active community and brand-name recognition is orders of magnitude harder than just making a new auction website.

Craigslist's UI is fantastic.

It's not pretty, but that's about the least important element of web-design.

It's very easy for people to understand how things are organized. Cities are organized together, categories are organized together. All of the pages are text-based so pages load fast. Various functions on the page are explained with helpful text explaining what's going on when you try and post or respond to a post. Etc.

Their UI can be improved with a little more padding in places and a little more focus on quality typography, but it's remarkable that such a large site has maintained such a quality design in the face of enormous pressure to change.

There's certain cases, Amazon is another example, where a user interface violates what traditionally is considered 'good' design and is enhanced because of it.

Craigslist is minimal but reasonably well-designed. Amazon on the other hand I would go so far as to call awful. The #1 thing I'm looking for when I open a product page is the details about the product and it's below the fold. But still, they know far more than me about what sells, so I bow to their judgment.

I have a pretty good idea for how to combine both concepts, running auctions using Craigslist, but keep running into the limitations of their API. It's on the shelf right now, but I am thinking I might take another look at it.

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