If you’re under 30 and know the value of a dollar, you’ve probably used Craigslist. Craigslist was founded in 1995 by a lonely San Franciscan as a way to connect people, and it has since grown to become the web’s top destination for classified ads. The website receives 50 million unique visitors per month, connecting college students to smelly couches in 70 countries.
I’ve been using Craigslist since 2005 when I started buying and selling used airsoft equipment in high school for gas money. And, while I loved Craigslist for getting me phones and furniture during college, as an adult, I’ve broken up with it (and you should, too).
Craigslist only employs 50 people to manage 50 million unique monthly visitors, for reasons I’ll explain later. Zillow and eBay, on the other hand, employ 5,250 and 13,300 people, respectively.
As evidenced by Craigslist’s persistent rates of scams, fake listings, and crime, 50 people simply aren’t enough.
It’s time to move on to a competitor for the sake of your own time, money, and safety.
4 Reasons to Avoid Craigslist
Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, is a nice guy, but he’s not much of a leader (his words, not mine).
For example, he is a firm believer in Dunbar’s Number, which holds that humans can only maintain meaningful social relationships with a finite number of people. So, in order to maintain team cohesion, he limited Craigslist to only 50 employees.
So, while Craiglist has a high Glassdoor rating, its users suffer greatly from the lack of innovation, curation, safety, buyer protection, and support provided by its competitors.
Here are four reasons why you should stop using Craigslist:
1. It is potentially harmful.
When a series of robberies (or worse) is linked back to Craigslist, the company is quick to defend itself. According to statistics, for every Craigslist Killer, there are millions of normal transactions.
True, but criminologist Jack Levin of Northeastern University points out that Craigslist is still an excellent hunting ground for two reasons:
Users can operate completely anonymously, never disclosing their name, phone number, or any other identifiable information.
Craigslist is an ideal venue for the premeditated crime. In some cases, a “seller” will list a $1,000 phone for $800 and then rob users of their cash when they arrive.
While the chances of being robbed during a Craigslist transaction are “vanishingly low” (their words, not mine), they are still higher than on a competing site with basic buyer protection.
2. It’s riddled with scams, fraud, and phishing attempts.
Off Craigslist, you’re far more likely to be scammed than robbed. Craigslist scams are so common that they have their own.gov pages.
Fake housing rentals are the most common scams, with users more likely to make a virtual down payment and share sensitive personal information with a “realtor.” These researchers shared their findings with Craigslist in 2016, along with recommendations for making the site safer, but little has changed since then.
3. Its user interface is older than Post Malone’s.
With 50 employees, it’s difficult to keep up with the Joneses in the interface department. Craigslist appears to be an HTML-based page from the 1990s because it is; the site hasn’t been updated since Sophie Turner was born.
It’s fair to say that Craigslist exemplifies the “if it ain’t broke” philosophy. The site works perfectly well on a basic level.
However, as you become accustomed to features such as Facebook Marketplace’s transparency and instant messaging, as well as eBay’s buyer protection and seller reviews, Craigslist begins to feel less quaint and simply out of date.
4. There are far superior alternatives.
Craigslist has not failed in the traditional sense, but it has fallen behind competitors in terms of usability, curation, and, most importantly, safety.
6 superior and safer Craigslist alternatives
1. FaceBook (MarketPlace)
My favorite Craigslist replacement is Facebook Marketplace. There are listings for electronics, furniture, temp jobs, home rentals, and other items. Buyers and sellers can communicate and pay instantly via Facebook Messenger and must use their real identities. As a result, there are far fewer scammers and dubious listings on Facebook Marketplace.
Furthermore, in order to promote capitalism, Facebook will occasionally offer to ship your sold items for free.
I bought my Kindle, sold my Xbox, and completed dozens of other sales through Facebook Marketplace with only positive results. Overall, it feels safer, friendlier, and superior to Craigslist.
Tesla is unlikely to exist without eBay, which paid $1.5 billion for Musk’s PayPal in 2002.
Aside from the fun facts, eBay established a standard for online classifieds that I wish Craigslist had followed. The traditional auction site has evolved into a veritable global bazaar where you can buy almost anything from anyone in any country.
China 3D printed car parts? Turkey’s carpets? Rare Iowa collectibles? They’re all on eBay, easily accessible via a slick interface with extensive search functions. Furthermore, on eBay, seller reputation is everything, so most will work with you to make things right.
Realtor and Craigslist will have many of the same listings for housing and rentals, but I prefer browsing on Realtor because it has a better user interface and is almost entirely free of questionable listings. Furthermore, listings are more detailed, with photos, floor plans, and visiting hours.
The Realtor also makes it easier and safer to connect with real estate agents, buyers, and sellers. So, whether you’re looking for an apartment to rent or to buy your first home, use reputable marketplaces like Realtor.
Upwork is your friend if you’re looking to hire or sell your services for gig work, especially for remote opportunities given the pandemic.
Its primary advantage over Craigslist is that it keeps funds in escrow, making it less likely for either the buyer or seller to be taken advantage of. Furthermore, their user interface is less clunky and simply feels better.
Nextdoor is a neighborhood marketplace and discussion board. Even though you can filter to include households within one, three, and five miles, Nextdoor feels more collaborative than Craigslist or even Facebook Marketplace.
Nextdoor’s For Sale & Free section reflects this welcoming atmosphere. People frequently list items for free or nearly free with the intention of giving them away to someone in their area. It’s a great place to find and buy quality furniture, exercise equipment, instruments, and other items without having to travel anywhere dangerous or unfamiliar.
I recently discovered that Goodwill sells its most expensive items, primarily jewelry, on shopgoodwill.com. That was interesting to me, but it wasn’t the reason I brought it up.
Rather, I bring up Goodwill to share my top thrift store tip: shop for clothes at Goodwill in affluent neighborhoods. You’re much more likely to find genuine designer clothing there for less than 10% of the original retail price. You are much more likely to be scammed or swindled if you shop for designer goods on Craigslist.
Craigslist began with a noble goal but has simply grown too large for its boots. Its skeleton crew of 50 employees simply couldn’t provide much-needed updates to its 50 million users’ usability, curation, and, most importantly, safety.
Fortunately, there are superior alternatives if you want to buy and sell online.