The Craigslist Mire

Wanted: 1 fast ship to carry 2 passengers to Alderan, (MUST BE ABLE TO OUTRUN EMPIRE FRIGATES), an elderly man and a whiney young man, +plus 2 droids.  Looking for fast, cheap, captain willing to put in the extra time to get us to our desitination.  Theres not much pay, but its a growing outfit and there are plenty of advancement opportunities for an experienced pilot willing to make very little money on this run.

Wanted: 1 fast ship to carry 2 passengers to Alderan, (MUST BE ABLE TO OUTRUN EMPIRE FRIGATES), an elderly man and a young farmer, +plus 2 droids. Looking for fast, cheap, captain willing to put in the extra time to get us to our desitination. There's not much pay, but it's a growing outfit and there are plenty of advancement opportunities for an experienced pilot willing to make very little money on this run.

Wired has a great article about Craiglist, it’s creator Craig Newmark, and why it’s such a fucking primitively designed and operated website, yet garners more hits and listings than all of it’s competitors combined.  As someone who is forced to use Craigslist day in and day out, for everything from trying to find new jobs to trying to find a new home, I have a first-hand permanent headache from trying to use it for anything actually useful.  Poorly laid out, filled with housing scams, wierdos, con artists, village idiots, and people looking for handouts from starving industry workers already hurting to eat and live, Craigslist resembles a daily text adventure version of the Mos Eisley Cantina.  Using the site is like a daily handshake with Satan, hoping against hope that the master of evil throws some crumbs your way after assaulting (and insulting) you the entire way.

From the article:

Odd perhaps, but no odder than what you see at the most popular job-search site: another wasteland of hypertext links, one line after another, without recommendations or networking features or even protection against duplicate postings. Subject to a highly unpredictable filtering system that produces daily outrage among people whose help-wanted ads have been removed without explanation, this site not only beats its competitors—Monster, CareerBuilder, Yahoo’s HotJobs—but garners more traffic than all of them combined. Are our standards really so low?

But if you really want to see a mess, go visit the nation’s greatest apartment-hunting site, the first likely choice of anybody searching for a rental or a roommate. On this site, contrary to every principle of usability and common sense, you can’t easily browse pictures of the apartments for rent. Customer support? Visit the help desk if you enjoy being insulted. How much market share does this housing site have? In many cities, a huge percentage. It isn’t worth trying to compare its traffic to competitors’, because at this scale there are no competitors.

Each of these sites, of course, is merely one of the many sections of craigslist, which dominates the market in facilitating face-to-face transactions, whether people are connecting to buy and sell, give something away, rent an apartment, or have some sex. With more than 47 million unique users every month in the US alone—nearly a fifth of the nation’s adult population—it is the most important community site going and yet the most underdeveloped. Think of any Web feature that has become popular in the past 10 years: Chances are craigslist has considered it and rejected it. If you try to build a third-party application designed to make craigslist work better, the management will almost certainly throw up technical roadblocks to shut you down.

Much, much more interesting information in the link above.

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