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Airbnb leverages Craigslist in a really cool way (gettingmoreawesome.com)
67 points by rishi on Nov 24, 2010 | hide | past | favorite | 15 comments

Implementation details aside, this is a fantastic use of metrics in two ways: it exposes them to the user in a way calculated to improve their experience, and it provides hard data that this feature is printing money hats. It also establishes a baseline for further improvement (I would be tempted to pull a Zynga and show the user a progress bar at 95% saying that they are almost done and the one little thing they can do to complete their listing is to make with the clickyclicky.)

"make with the clickyclicky"

Most delightful phrase I've read in weeks, thanks for the chuckle. :)

Craigslist allows posting through it's api for housing things, guessing that's how airbnb does it.

If you've ever used thumbtack, a marketplace for services, they have an auto post to craigslist as well that is pretty interesting.

Any idea how Airbnb actually implements the craigslist posting?

Yes it's auto submission, but with craigslist's new security measures and login requirements, that looks really hard to do purely from a URL standpoint. I'm almost wondering if there is some private API they are using or if they have some sort of partnership going on.

Any ideas?

auto submission is a myth. someone is typing in the captcha, whether that be the end user, airbnb, or someone else.

I would imagine they're using the Craiglist Bulk Posting API:


Right now it seems AirBNB posts appear on CL as either "sublets and temporary" or "vacation rentals." (http://newyork.craigslist.org/search/hhh?query=airbnb&sr...)

The page linked above states that "sublets & temporary" is one of the "categories for which bulk posting is no longer supported." Vacation rentals is not one of these though.

There's not enough detail and investigation in the article, but this appears to qualify as a third-party posting service, which is a no-no in Craigslistland. I don't see any other way they could offer one-click posting where the airbnb client didn't already have a Craiglist account (and not even then, either). If this is indeed what is happening, Airbnb should tread lightly lest they get the banhammer, and this is doubly true if the resulting Craiglist ads appear to be Airbnb ads, and/or the ads are posted out-of-area.

It auto fills in the data for the user, and the user manually submits the Craigslist listing. Nothing illegal with that...

From a cursory look I did on this a while back, I believe it does the initial submission for you, and then redirects you to the confirmation URL. Could be wrong, but if that's correct, it's probably going to look to Craigslist like a single server is doing a lot of auto-submissions...

They could block airbnb IP's address if airbnb directly posted the listing. But since it's the user who actually does the posting...

However, craiglist could make life hard for irbnb by changing their form field names. Then again airbnb could probably detect the changes. Probably the best way for craigslist to deter airbnb would be to have a single field at the start of the listing process. :)

craigslist's form names are unique and different on each page load

I think they just construct the url for the Airbnb member and fill in all the details. (Just a guess. Not on Airbnb.) The user would have to be the one to click the confirm.

For example, https://post.craigslist.org/nyc/H/sub/brk is the first step in creating a posting for temp place in Brooklyn. I assume they have a way of defaulting the other form values.

Wow, did you see the field names on that form? They're encoded as long alphanumeric strings. Never come across that before. Looks like they're pretty feisty about people using their forms.

I guess this also explains why they set no-cache and no-store pragmas on their posting pages, which caused me to lose a lengthy post when I accidentally dragged something into the browser window. Jerks.

I really don't understand why everyone thinks Craigslist will have a problem with this. They do not profit off of Housing/Sublet submissions. This will only increase traffic to their site, and some users that aren't too familiar with Craigs will possibly use the site for something Craigslist does make money (e.g. jobs).

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