I just answered a CraigsList ad, and the poster told me she was amazed and overwhelmed at the response. She first placed a classified in the WashPost and got only 2 calls.
I had also posted an ad several months ago, and was also amazed at the volume of useful responses.
Not hard to see why. Unlike newspapers, these ads are free, you get unlimited space, and can post as many photos as you want. Plus you can view responses anonymously if you like.
There is max user control. Max options. Max immediacy. Max directness. There is max simplicity of design and function. (reminds me of the Drudge Report, with its stripped down look and elemental design.) In other words, this design is focused on what people want to a much greater degree than a newspaper classified system ever could be. (Newspapers aren't interested in offering free ads, for one thing.)
Last night I was talking to a friend in Dallas about how useful CL is, and how I imagined they might be eating away at an important source of newspaper revenue: classifieds.
Seems Tribune Interactive blogger Scott Anderson has been thinking on the same thing:
"It's just frustrating that even when we TRY, we more often than not find we are absolutely losing what may be one of the most important parts of the business as it more and more moves online -- the ability to connect people to one another and to activate conversations. To not just be the deliverer of news and information with glitzy bells and whistles and more related content than you could shake a latte stirrer at, but the catalyst of connection.
How is it that a decade deep into the online news business that isn't our franchise? Are we only about news, not about the people who consume the news? How come Craig organically can touch lives on so many personal levels -- and Craig's users can touch each other's lives on so many levels? Connecting buyers and sellers. Connecting employers and employees. Connecting single men and women and combinations thereof. Connecting old friends. Connecting people who need a ride.
Nobody should know its community better than a newspaper.com. A community, to connect within itself, should need to turn to nobody but a newspaper.com. A decade in, we've mastered only the disconnect." Read the rest here.
Pictured: Jason Leal, CraigsList web developer.
There's also this side benefit: Craigslist founder: Internet proves 'people are OK'
And this quote: "People using the Web are starting to speak truth to power in the way that the press used to. And they're backing it up with fact-checking, investigative reporting and that kind of thing. And that's really important. Traditional journalism with citizen journalism -- get them together -- that's going to be the dominant mode in the future."