Australian Newsagency Blog

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Craigslist is on a mission to stay local

Mark Fletcher
June 29th, 2005 · No Comments

Craigslist has earned bucketloads of kudos for its free advertising offering and its community good works. I was surprised therefore to find that they forced the closure of this site which enabled a complete craigslist search. The craigslist folks didn’t like that. They want people to access their advertisement database city by city. So, they wrote to the programmer who crated the useful craigslist search engine and asked him to disable it. Their request reportedly ended with: “If you refuse to do so we’ll be forced to block all the proxy servers that you’re using.”

There are a couple of sides to this situation. Once you publish content on the internet you set it free. The tech heads at craigslist would know that other tech heads would provide alternate access methods/points for their advertising database. For years people have lauded the openness of the Internet and now a hero on the net seems to be saying do it my way or not at all. This action by the people at craigslist could take some shine off their reputation.

The other side of the situation one must consider is the rights of the publisher. The actions of craigslist are reasonable when you consider that the advertising database is a key asset and that central to this is their local focus. If someone breaks that and turns what look to us like many small city based databases and turns them into a giant searchable single database then it breaks the craigslist model. So one could argue it’s their right to protect their model.

Given recent research (Pricewaterhousecoopers) forecasting the importance of local in the classified advertising space one can understand the craigslist decision.

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