It would be one thing if Craigslist was doing their best to satisfy their customers and they wanted to shut down others who were scraping their site and leeching off their business. However, Craigslist puts absolutely no effort into making their product usable. The continued existence of Craigslist is just a testimony to the enormous strength of network effect lock in.
I would be willing to bet a large amount of money that adding a map to search results and letting me put an upper limit on the number of bedrooms I'm looking for would not make people less likely to use Craigslist.
The Dutch version of Craigslist (Marktplaats, owned by eBay) is in a similar predicament.
They have a very sucky UI and have experimented with new and improved versions, but every improvement was quickly reverted after large drops in engagement.
It's almost surreal to look at their site (http://marktplaats.nl) and realize that there's tons of highly talented people behind it.
This is not a recipe for success. It's a symptom of measuring the wrong metric, especially when you have a near monopoly on a market due to network effects. If this is really why Craigslist is not improving their UI, they need to hire some analysts that actually know WTF they're doing.
Craigslist is a utility, not a website. They care about keeping it useful not only for users today, but for users in 10 years. That's not something startups care about at all. Startups are looking to amass users and then sell. Craigslist cares not about such goals.
Go ahead, get mad at their inflexibility. But then take a step back and think about what craigslist represents. And then wonder if you yourself would have the cajones to stick to your guns in todays startup market. I for one commend their ability to keep their product strong in the face of all the bells and whistles of web 2.0 or whatever it's called these days.
I certainly don't confuse the two.
I couldn't care less what Craigslist LOOKS like, but its usability is profoundly broken in some areas (Denver Metro, for example).
The problem is that there's a Denver, Boulder, Colorado Springs, and Fort Collins Craigslist. For those of you in the Bay Area, that would be roughly like having a distinct San Francisco, San Rafael, San Jose, and Santa Cruz Craigslist. If you're in between those places, which one do you look at? You have to look at more than one. Even if you're IN one of those places, which one do you look at? Sometimes three or four, if it's something you're willing to drive an hour to buy.
And if you're POSTING, where do you post? If you post a popular item to Boulder (because, say, you live in Boulder), then people in the next town over who only know about Denver won't see it, so you also have to post to Denver if you want everyone in a reasonable radius to see your item. Which means you have to violate Craigslist policies AND mess with your listing enough to get past its spam filter.
The sad thing is they've fixed it to the 80% level in the Bay Area, where the whole (extended!) Bay Area (even Santa Cruz, which isn't really Bay Area) is on a single Craigslist site with sub-area filters, but they just leave it broken here.
THIS is a usability problem.
And honestly so is the lack of "map these results," for times when you want to see which ones are closest, or which ones you could stop by on your way to work, or whatever.
It's not because it's not shiny or doesn't have gradients or drop shadows. It's because key features that I want from a classified site are sorely lacking.
The only reason they don't have many competitors is because they have an information/platform monopoly. Just like many other tech companies, ebay and facebook come to mind as obvious examples.
Are you really going to argue that the site is more usable without that very basic feature?
If I am searching for a bike, a simple script to show image thumbnails by every listing will let me see which listings interest me. This saves me time, because now I only have to open a few interesting links. I don't have to scour through many of text links, just to see if they interest me.
The rentals section is constantly bombarded by spam and has very few filtering options. There is no way to exclude keywords. Boolean operators would greatly improve the usability of the site.
The problem is that you have to enter some search query before you can use the negation operator.
Also, protip to get past the spam in rentals section (Austin is holy crap bad about this): enter 'google' as your search term. This will only return ads that have an address specified and hence have the 'google maps' links. Plus, since you've entered a search term, you can filter out the locator who keeps spamming and screwing up your search by putting his phone number in the address section.
Here's a query I might have used during my last apartment search.
google downtown | central -"512-555-5555" -"CALL NOW" -"austin apartments NOW"
Oh good, nobody actually told you how they measured but you already know! Bravo.
I think it's unlikely they used a suboptimal performance indicator to judge the site's new design, and would say the same thing about craigslist.
But if I might inject an opposing data point, nobody seems to use the Brazilian version of Craigslist. Check out Sao Paulo:
Can you believe that there are just 5 apartment listings for a metropolitan area of 19.9 million!
It's incomprehensible to me why Craigslist doesn't work there, especially since all the alternatives involve paying some middleman for listing. The same goes for job sites and "things for sale" sites as well. Brazilians prefer to use some scammy-looking sites loaded with graphics and eye candy and often charging a fee, rather than the vanilla Craigslist.
I'm going to venture a guess that this has much more to do with trust (Brazilians want to feel that someone has vetted the data) than with good/bad UI or web design.
As someone who, on many occasions, has rented in Brazil using classifieds sites, it's a mess. 'We' really, really need a CL-type site that everyone knows and uses. As a Californian, and former user of CL, it boggles my mind why CL-Brazil isn't used. It's there (here), it's usable, simple, and in Portuguese.
Instead, people use OLX (free) a little, Vivastreet (free) a little, EasyQuarto (paid) a little, and a few other sites that are either less popular or only work sometimes. Couchsurfing city-specific groups usually each have a sub-group for renting but a strange occurrence takes place there, almost no one puts the price-point. It's called doing business, paying money for a product or service, yet there's a real aversion to giving up the rental price in one's ad. Luckily, the more popular sites I mentioned make it so one has to list their rental price.
And my final two gripes are that very few people respond to inquiries into any particular ad (I think this is universal though) and a good 60% of ads here in Brazil only want women renters.
It's tough, I tell you...
The (pretty recent) equivalent would be http://leboncoin.fr, I guess.
I've seen padmapper slow wayyyy down on my i7 macbook with 8GB ram, I can't imagine what it'd be like on grandma's 5 year old budget PC.
Each individual search has a low probability of success, but occasionally you'll succeed.
I suppose network effects (and the posting model) make up a large part of their popularity, but there's something to be said for a reliable and functional interface that works well and doesn't change on a whim.
It's constant in hn discourse to put great UI up there and to give advice on it.
Yet if anyone here has sat on a Bloomberg terminal, used Craigslist, or even games like net hack or dwarf fort, it's pretty clear that interface can be damned.
Not in all cases perhaps, agreed. But in these cases, after a while of using it people get faster and develop the muscle memory to become efficient on the site, so the UI fades into the background anyway.
Jared Spool has said that when you change the user interface - fairly dramatically - you frustrate your regular users because they are now unfamiliar with it and have to restart their learning/experience curve.
"At eBay, they learned the hard way that their users don't like dramatic change. One day, the folks at eBay decided they no longer liked the bright yellow background on many of their pages, so they just changed it to a white background.
Instantly, they started receiving emails from customers, bemoaning the change. So many people complained, that they felt forced to change it back."
Honestly thinking about other sites, digg died because of content, reddit survives because of content; even if someone could improve the interface, its not really going to matter.
Google is definitely content over interface (most of the time). Facebook... not so much - millions of people join protest petitions against every minor interface change - but the value of having all your friends together is still so much greater than the alternative of changing service, whereas reddit was a short step away for digg users.
4chan definitely remains popular because of content - canv.as, a similar project by the same owner, has nowhere near the traction despite being more demographically targeted for mass-market appeal.
I think the lesson is, if you have a close-enough competitor and a fickle userbase, one screwup is all it takes to push critical mass over the edge. If i ran a large website i would study the Digg-v4 case very carefully. Going back to Craigslist, i don't think they have to worry too much about losing their top spot just yet.
So when can we expect to see your show HN: Craiglist done right?
Craigslist does not avoid disruption because it has the best product, it avoids disruption because it has a huge marketplace with a lot of buyers and sellers.
I berated Craig over on Quora about this a while back - to say that he doesn't want to break it is bullshit - he is scared and lazy to better the site through even the smallest of updates.
The fact that "this posting has been deleted by its author" and "this post has been flagged for removal" still show up in results is down right infuriating.
Providing simply no way to browse items by picture is also laughable.
The content on CL is what is valuable, and Craig has been rumored to make 25 million per year off the site, and he doesn't want to muck with it because he doesn't want to hurt that income - but while doing so, he is keeping the content locked up in an abhorrent UX.
I'd be the same. Why mess with a goose that's already laying more gold eggs than you can use? For public service reasons maybe, but I'm confident CL is a (highly profitable) business foremost.
People keep building things using Craigslist data that users LOVE and Craigslist keeps shutting them down.
Craigslist is one of the great squandered opportunities for awesomeness on the internet.
I also don't understand why classifieds content is proprietary? Aren't they just facts? Please can someone explain?
Craigslist is unwilling to let Padmapper buy a license to use their content. This isn't as black and white as "stealing content".
Seriously, I think I am the only person who doesn't think it is OK to torrent Game of Thrones. :)
Am I still stealing it?
In craigslist's case, he could include a link on the old site that allows users to upgrade to a more modern version, and have the modern site basically consume an api/scrape the old CL till it gained momentum.
It also sends traffic back to CL. It shows the summary of the listing, and then when the user is interested, they can click through the pin to the actual Craigslist listing.
CL is deliberately making its service less useful both to its paying customers and the public at large. And the sole justification for this is fear that Padmapper could grow to be a bigger, better competitor someday in the distant future.
Leveraging a monopoly to destroy technological progress for fear of future competition is irksome.
It's almost certainly not illegal, and maybe not even morally wrong. But it still sucks.
Yet for all that, I'm moving on July 15th, and I think there's about a 95% chance I'll find the place through CL. That's where the market is.
This is all theorycraft though. If anyone had hard numbers on CL's market share for rentals I'd love to see them!
It's just pure laziness and I'm sure the right talented team could make a product that beats Craig's list
eBay, for example, hasn't changed its (rather mediocre) interface in years, and managed to alienate at least some sellers with their policies. And yet, no one managed to make a dent in eBay's position.
Network effect is the reason there is funding for a million social network start-ups. Everyone wants to capture it. But the odds of success, on the other hand, are also one in a million.
I believe there was a post recently on HN where someone pointed out how these things work - one day it just takes off. Some combination of factors (three out of 100, perhaps) gets right and people flock to the site. And then the fate is sealed. Even in retrospect it's often impossible to say what factors were the key. So, I wouldn't be surprised if founders of Craigslist have little clue as to why it worked.
I'd be really really interested to see what it takes for someone to unseat Craigslist (or eBay, or any other major network).
I also think the network effect is being overstated in this instance. eBay has much stronger lock-in because I can't list my item in more than one auction at a time. But I can certainly list my apartment in more than one service.
I already check the local paper in addition to CL when looking for an apartment. If I'm looking for a bargain, I'm fine with shopping around.
I may be in the minority in Silicon Valley, but I'm honestly a really big fan of Craigslist, even despite their C&D'ing me, and I don't think it could or should be "disrupted". I think it's perfect for most of the things on there: lightning fast, few restrictions, community driven. I think it's massively better than that other alternative of having a ton of small websites that each do one thing well, but differently. I shop for new stuff almost exclusively via Amazon for the same reason that I shop exclusively on CL for used stuff.
1) Padmapper shows the original craigslist page when you click through to the details page.
2) Padmapper doesn't seem to be monetizing itself in any obvious way, at least not directly through ads on content.
3) Craigslist doesn't monetize its content through ads, anyway.
Essentially all it offers is a wrapper that lowers the friction to discovery. You know, like those kids over at Google. Or Bing. Or DuckDuckGo. Are they stealing content?
And what Craigslist does or doesn't do to make money shouldn't change what you're allowed to do with their content.
They've had an informal amnesty for services using their stuff for a long time, Craig has stated that they're OK with services that interface with them as long as they don't use many server resources, but they recently updated their TOU and started sending out huge waves of C&D's a few weeks ago, based on my talking with people.
All the other companies that have tried have also been told to C&D. If you don't like it, start your own network...
"Any copying, aggregation, display, distribution, performance or derivative use of craigslist or any content posted on craigslist whether done directly or through intermediaries (including but not limited to by means of spiders, robots, crawlers, scrapers, framing, iframes or RSS feeds) is prohibited."
Several innovative solutions have been invented over the years, the most obvious one is to do the CL scraping on the client, this way there is no indexing server to block, it's just the client reading all the search listings, parsing them and offering faceted filters. It breaks the spirit of the TOS but it would be impossible for CL to block. I am not advocating this, just pointing out one of the many approaches that have been attempted over the years.
Google can scan apartment listings and show them as results in their format. PadMapper cant. What's the difference?
See http://www.craigslist.org/robots.txt .
As a limited exception, general purpose Internet search engines and noncommercial public archives will be entitled to access craigslist without individual written agreements executed with CL that specifically authorize an exception to this prohibition if, in all cases and individual instances: (a) they provide a direct hyperlink to the relevant craigslist website, service, forum or content; (b) they access craigslist from a stable IP address using an easily identifiable agent; and (c) they comply with CL's robots.txt file ...
What's more is that you are arguing against the notion that whoever creates the content (or own's the content) has the right to decide what gets done with that content. And no matter how much you dislike what they are doing with their content (ie. not creating a shiny interface to access said content), that does NOT give you the right to use that content without permission. It is my understanding that craigslist often gives out permissions to use it's content, and it would appear as though this company didn't bother to secure that permission.
This is without the permission of Craigslist or of the original submitter or the content.
If they are doing a great job and are so much better than CL then no doubt everyone will come back and use their site now they have the realtors on board.
I dislike people hating on another company for having a crappy product, just make a better one and compete against them, if they really are that bad then whatever network lock-in they have wont last.
You can't argue they are crap, then try and use them to monetise your own product.
We wrote about ugly design before, how in some cases it actually increases conversion rates. It's odd but sometimes ugly is beautiful...
Please, make a client-side solution so they can't shut you off! A browser based plugin, for example that allows us to plot the listings on our end.
I wrote this email to craigslist:
Hi Craig and Jim,
I am very upset that you cut off padmapper. Using padmapper cuts out a lot of the spam that ends up in the apartment listings due to the fact that it doesn't have a lat,long pair most of the time. It also makes it much easier to search for apartments based on your preference. With padmapper, I could see if the apartment I'm looking at is in a safe area, how far it is from a potential employer, and a myriad of other great things.
Finding an apartment with craigslist, in spite of the fact that you have the data, is much harder than searching on padmapper.
I really wish there was a way you could work with them!
You guys are a solid blue chip, no doubt. But if you take this oligarchical perspective to your business, someone is going to beat you eventually.
Thank you for your continued service
To everyone saying that this is lifting their content, I disagree - it makes a summary of the content and then points back to the original. If I wanted to lift their stuff, I would have made separate pages that laid things out better than the original. Literally none of the text except the title and location string make it into the summary.
It's not a copyright issue, their main legal beef is that it's against their TOU for anything but general search engines to index their content - no vertical ones allowed. Who knows what their actual motivation is.
firstname.lastname@example.org – Jim Buckmaster, CEO
email@example.com – Craig Newmark, Founder
@jimbuckmaster on twitter - http://twitter.com/jimbuckmaster
@craignewmark on twitter - http://twitter.com/craignewmark
Simple email to copy and paste:
Jim and Craig,
I'm a longtime user of Craigslist, but I'm really disappointed in your decision regarding PadMapper. It would be great if you could weigh in on the debate happening on Hacker News or elsewhere.
My first experience with craigslist was trying to figure out why they had the capability to block my wife's ad for a free dog that contained a mispelled word while the site's creator was busy trying to tell the government that there was nothing he could do about the many child prostitution ads that appeared on craigslist.
If it were so easy to spot child exploitation ads, why doesn't the police or the FBI monitor sites like Craigslist? I'd much rather see the people involved in that filthy business prosecuted than simply having their ads blocked (which doesn't do anything for the victims).
When I moved from Atlanta to Boston, PadMapper was invaluable in finding a place to live. Given that 1) we didn't know the area, and 2) most rentals in Boston and Cambridge are rented by individuals rather than part of larger complexes, it was great to be able to have the listings from Craigslist on a map.
Ditto when I moved from Boston to San Jose. My wife and I were only interested in a house for rent and the vast majority of those could be found on Craigslist. Again, we didn't know the area so having a map was beyond valuable.
I sincerely hope Craigslist does a 180 on this one; PadMapper is a great tool that deserves access to that data.
Specially when the site is down. Pretty annoying to find this kind of reddit like title here.
From comments my guess is that it's some blog post from someone who is pissed off at CL for forbidding them to use some web app they built (PadMapper?) that scrap content from the CL site or something like that.
Why do they deserve access?
My point was really about PadMapper acting in good faith with Craigslist; they do send traffic to Craigslist for the full data on the properties and such. They're a good company doing good things--and it's sad that Craigslist's refusal to innovate has now bled over into "no one else can innovate for us"
Craigslist will continue to be a mediocre, "good enough" solution. Since everyone associates online classifieds with craigslist, none of the other classifieds sites seem to have a chance. It's not even as if services like carsabi or padmapper are competing in any way with them.
- Incrementalism: faster horses instead of cars
- Suburbanism: those in the community want it to stay familiar
- Majoritarianism: outsiders, potential users, occasional users, mavericks and dreamers have little impact
"Actually, we take issue with only services which consume a lot of bandwidth, it's that simple."
It sucks that this waas mainly an interface to craigslist, and now they're gone. I hope this gets enough critical mass that eventually so that the unusable but unexplicably popular horror that is craigslist apartments just dies an ugly death. Maybe you can even sell it to them, who knows?
All I know is while CL's response is perfectly rational, I can't help but be pissed off that I'm locked into a shitty product that is only surviving because of head start, critical mass, network effects, etc.
An alternate approach (that would admittedly not help Eric) is to open source padmapper and let people do local installs for themselves. Would be pretty hard to ban that. Although I'm not sure on the legality of scraping.
Actually apartment finding in general sucks I can't think of a single goto place to look for apartments other then Craigslist and that just proves point #1!
The Bay Area has a very advanced craigslist option, where you can sort not only by geographic area (Peninsula), you can even zoom down to a particular city. Add filtering by price and find a place to live in the Bay area has always (Since 2003) been painless for me - particularly as I don't drive, and so getting a place that is _precisely_ in the right place is important. Housingmaps provides a free map interface for those who find such a thing useful.
I don't actually know how anyone would _improve_ craigslist (for me) - I am not sure what the disruption would be - as the free service provides me 100% of what I would want from such a system.
I guess you haven't really used padmapper if you don't understand how anyone could improve craigslist for you.
"rarely" is a tough word. I have found the city to be pretty well demarcated unless you are talking about people confused about minor issues such as what counts as Lower Haight and what counts as Upper Haight.
>> I guess you haven't really used padmapper if you don't understand how anyone could improve craigslist for you.
I used Padmapper as a newbie to the city but quickly found that the latency between postings on CL and the corresponding crawled updates on Padmapper were so high that the postings would have already been hit by a few dozen responses by the time I got it and in a hyper-competitive housing market like SF, this made all the difference.
I mean, look at all the misleading fucking tools who post "Palo Alto apartment for $1k/mo" which is actually in EAST PALO ALTO. With padmapper, it is clear. (In Menlo Park, where some areas are unincorporated, some are Menlo Park, some are Menlo Park but a warzone (Belle Haven, aka EPA North), etc., it's even more essential).
Apartment hunting on Craigslist is a total nightmare without Padmapper, and I'm resenting Craigslist more and more for relegating us all to using their horrible UI.
This is about the 3000th time I've read that phrase, or some variation of it, in the past ten years. If that were true then it would have happened already, no? Markets can fail in the short term, but in space as crowded with upstarts as the web, I just don't buy it over such a long period of time.
The thing I like most about Craigslist is that some guy made it just to help other people out. The thing I dislike most about all the people trying to "disrupt" Craigslist is that they're clearly in it for the money. I feel like this non-trivial selling point is lost on those who swear that CL is broken and needs replacing.
I rarely hear anyone mention Craigslist in Canada. We have Kijiji  but its UI isn't significantly different than that of Craigslist. The home page is essentially just another long list of categories, etc. Maybe there's something about that design that works exceptionally well for this type of site.
That's probably why padmapper has no way of making money at the moment.
They were hoping they could slink by, stealing other's content, until they were eventually big enough for people to warrant visiting them to list their apartments for rent. And then sell ads.
Don't get me wrong, I love padmapper, but scraping content is scraping content. And it's generally not allowed.
But if I may... you must admit that you have taken "something" from Craigslist.
Whatever you want to call it... be it geographical location points, links-to-listings, content, data, images, etc... it is inevitably some form of information that was originally curated by Craigslist through their 10+ years of existence online and is thus available to be used (and not used) at their discretion.
Canada Post for example charges $5,500/year (http://www.canadapost.ca/cpo/mc/business/productsservices/ma...) just to have access to a postal code verification system. It's all publicly available information... if you walked to every city, suburb, nook and cranny in Canada and asked the local people what their postal code is, they would tell you without hesitating.
But if Canada Post gets wind that you may have copied any of that publicly available information from their databases instead of doing the hard work yourself, you can expect a lawsuit at your door fairly quickly: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/04/13/technology-...
I don't think Canada Post had a case in the above example because the company in question didn't actually copy anything from their database, but you did when scraping Craigslist (for however insignificant you found the information to be), see what I'm saying?
Just because you are sending them traffic, doesn't give you the right to take (insert whatever might have been taken here) from them without their permission.
That being said, I love padmapper and have used it numerous times already for myself and friends. I wish you all the best going into the future!
But there is an another way - let us (all of us) get the Craigslist data for you. You could create a browser plugin that would save craigslist posts a user views, and then upload only those posts to a central database that feeds padmapper. With just 1,000 users you would get most but not all the data you currently are scraping.
This is the same approach used by Recap (https://www.recapthelaw.org/) as a response to the federal government's paywall to access public court filings.
Say Craigslist created a fake listing or two for say a 2 bedroom apartment in the middle of an industrial complex? (ie, an apartment that doesn't exist, but was placed there by Craiglist to serve as evidence against your copying).
If the Craigslist lawyers find that fake listing on PadMapper, could they do anything to charge you with regards to a copyright violation?
I'm not trying to drag this on. I'm only trying to help.
Here is a smoking gun article on Rand McNally's copyright traps (or lack thereof): http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/1058/do-maps-have-c...
Real estate information is extremely valuable. The massive amount of trust that keeps generating a fresh database of apartments to rent on craigslist is quite valuable to them.
Why should they just allow anybody else to copy it for free?
I'm basically a Luddite and yours is the one service I always recommend.
But in all seriousness, PadMapper was a great service and seemed to do it the "right" way (providing deep links back into Craigslist's site/content), if there is a "right way" to unofficially gather data without use of a public API.
A human lifetime is about 700,000 hours. Craigslist is the moral equivalent of a serial killer.
I absolutely LOVE pad mapper and hate craigslist even more now. Many good sites have been killed off by craigslist.
This is stupid.
When padmapper copies the data they violate my privacy, my copyright, and the agreement between myself and craigslist as outlined in the TOS. What padmapper is doing is a violation of many data privacy laws like PIPEDA, EUDPD, and various copyright acts.
If padmapper wants the data why don't they just obtain consent from the CL posters, instead of copying it without consent.
Would the padmapper team be ok with me deciding to stick their logo where ever I deem it necessary? I bet they'd probably sue me for copyright and trademark violation.
It's putting apartment listings on a map. People listing apartments tend to want it to be widely known.
those same people are already getting their listing widely known, by posting it on CL.
While I appreciate the sentiment, it is very unlikely that a landlord would object to an apartment listing being aggregated so as to expose it to more users.
How do you propose padmapper do that without violating the Craigslist TOS in some other way like bulk-emailing everyone who lists an apartment?
I'm not saying their conduct wasn't a bit of a grey area, against the TOS and maybe a copyright violation, but I don't think many Craigslist users would object personally to their posts being reposted in this manner.
Feel free to reuse it.
Hi Jim and Craig,
I learned today that Craigslist has sent a Cease and Desist to padmapper.com. Padmapper provides a service to visualize on a map rental listings from sources like Craigslist.
Real estate is all about location, and let's be frank, Craigslist's location-based search sucks. Padmapper helps the searcher easily see where real estate is located. It turns a grueling search into a breeze. It adds great value to Craigslist's listings without competing with Craigslist's business.
Padmapper, along with Craigslist, were essential in helping me find my current home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Without Padmapper, I wouldn't have used Craigslist in my search.
I'm sure you can find a mutually beneficial deal with Padmapper, instead of shutting them out entirely.
As a user of PadMapper, I am very disappointed to see this happen. Craigslist is almost unusable if you don't know the area you are looking to move to.
As a long-time user of Craigslist, and a recent fan of padmapper, I'm disappointed, to say the least.
I do suspect it's time for some disruption in CL's space.
Craigslist is not in the business of helping anyone but Craigslist be successful. It's not monopoly; it's business.
Maybe focus on SFBA only, since the real estate situation is acutely broken here AND smart+rich people still rent here (unlike Texas or the midwest, with NYC being its own weird market).
Of course it would be great if craigslist could have an API or licence his data but it won't happen in a bear future ...
But maybe that's what Craigslist is worried about. I'll tell you one thing, though, if Padmapper wasn't competing with Craigslist before today, it certainly is now.
Nope. It's the users' data. Craigslist only has a license to use it.
That said, I love PadMapper, having used it a couple of times for finding apartments in the Bay Area. So it's a bummer that they won't be able to show CL listings anymore.
We have already seen the meteoric rise of many niche, category-specific Craigslist competitors eclipse CL in scale and influence, particularly in real estate. I suspect due to Craiglist's general crappy experience this fragmentation will continue.
And I for one think it's a good thing.
Because of this, I don't see the fragmentation as a good thing. One of two things will happen in each craigslist market (rentals, used goods, ridesharing, etc.): either a single for-profit company will ride networks effects and establish a monopoly, or there will be severe fragmentation.
If the former, then you can expect some features to improve (in order to steal the market from craigslist in the first place) but many other things to languish due to a lack of competitive pressure. (Also, if it's a for-profit company, you'll pay money.) This is ebay.
If the latter, then it will no longer be possible to go so one site to search in that market, greatly decreasing consumer utility. This is how classified ads worked before craigslist.
Much better is a well-run, benevolent non-profit. Wikipedia, though not flawless, is pretty much the epitome of this idea. It's scary to think what it would be like if Wikipedia's data was spread over dozens of websites of varying quality and motivation. (Then again, in the scenario no one would bothered to write most of the articles anyway.)
Craigslist doesn't fit this exactly because they impose a philosophy ("localism"?) which most people don't share and which decreases usability.
I've been apartment hunting in NYC lately, and it's mind-boggling what proportion of Craigslist posts are scams compared to other sites like StreetEasy or NYBits.
IMO if Craigslist was run more like a scrappy startup looking for their big exit, they'd have more than responded to these competitors by now. The network effect exists, but IMO is an insufficient explanation of their lack of action.
I agree that the fragmentation is, all things being equal, a bad thing for users - but considering how utterly useless Craigslist's moderation systems are (many categories are full of duplicate posts, spammers, and scammers), and how poor the UX is otherwise (search? hah!), I welcome it. Fragmented sites like PadMapper, StreetEasy, etc, have done way more to ease the life of renters than Craigslist in the last decade.
On a more related note, I would imagine any sites like this that come up on Craigslist's radar will get a similar notice.
I understand why they're complying with the C+D, but I wish they'd fight it. Craigslist is better than printed classifieds, but that's about the best thing you can say about it.
So if you'd like to see CL give Padmapper license to use its data, send them an email. Your voice as a CL user weight more than Padmapper's would.
Is there any evidence CL was pressured by any privacy groups or regulators?
I'm not too worried. What craigslist is doing (ie, sucking) isn't sustainable.
I really hope PadMapper can make up the volume but continue to have good results for people searching. It's a wonderful resource.
Really? They used to allow any website to use their data for free as long as they didn't run ads against it or monetize it in any way. Kexter.com has been doing exactly what you're doing for almost ten years now.
Padmapper's helped me and a few friends find our apartments in SF.
Craig isn't doing anything wrong or unethical here. Quite the opposite; Craigslist continues to deliver exactly what its users signed up for.
The people at PadMapper are doing a good thing looking for other sources but like the author said Craiglist was/is an important source of pad listings.
All the best to them
That said, there are methods of disruption. AirBnB bootstrapped off Craigslist to get their initial dataset, and have since moved to their own content. That's probably the strongest approach if you're lucky enough to be able to move quickly when you need to.
If there were a site that had, say, all the rentals available in the SF Bay Area, it would be highly useful to you, as it would have gobbled up most of the benefits of the network effect available (of course, outsiders moving in wouldn't automatically know its name like they do for Craigslist, but that's relatively minor).
Once you've reduced your problem to "develop a really strong network in a very localized geographic area," it seems to me like the solution would become in reach, with a lot of hard work. You could even scrape pretty heavily early on, or enter it by hand if somehow that got around the ToS.
Maybe start at Berkeley or similar college town, maybe reducing yourself to using physical paper and highly targeted online advertising, and rely on students heavily to get the word out. Make it ridiculously easy for someone to post an ad on your site and have it automatically propagate to CL. Gradually expand to different parts of the Bay Area, and then pick out other localities to target. NYC, maybe, especially if you can somehow make its real estate market less dysfunctional.
One might think that Craigslist, of all companies, would understand that.
Innovation beats litigation in most long-run scenarios, IMHO.