9 Comments

Summary:

Craigslist is no longer asking users for an exclusive rights in their classified ads but it has hardly backed off on an unpopular campaign to shut down popular rivals like PadMapper.

decision

Craigslist may be tiring of its recent role as Villain of the Valley. This week it dialed back a controversial term of service that gave it exclusive rights to the classified ads posted by users.

As reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Craigslist is no longer requiring users to give it permission to bring lawsuits against other sites that reproduce users’ ads.

The once-popular Craigslist has come under withering criticism by Silicon Valley in recent weeks for its decision to sue apartment site PadMapper and to threaten other sites that are using its listings. The critics complain that upstart sites like PadMapper offer useful new services and user-friendly designs while Craigslist’s own design is out-dated and unwieldy.

Craigslist’s decision to give up its exclusive license demands may be a tactical move rather than a change of heart. As we’ve explained before, its exclusive license claims appeared to be unenforceable in the first place.

Meanwhile, Craigslist has given no indication that it will stop its campaign against rivals or backtrack on its decision to remove its listings from search engines. At the same time, the “moderation” section of its terms of service are now jammed with terms that appear aimed at other sites:

CL has the right .. to regulate content … including but not limited to automated and manual screening, blocking, filtering, exclusion from index pages, exclusion from search results, requiring the use of an application programming interface (API), requiring the use of a bulk posting interface, authorization, verification, and the deletion and/or termination of content, accounts and/or all or any use or access)

(Image by Andy Dean photography via Shutterstock)

  1. They also just made their first UI update (ever?). You can now see images displayed in-line with the listings. It still looks like shit, but it’s at least slightly more functional…

    Share
  2. Reblogged this on BULLETFAME.

    Share
  3. You called it “the once popular”.

    It’s clear to me that it’s more popular than ever. Everybody uses it, and all these other apps and entities want to rip off it’s contents…

    Come on, It totally dominates it’s space.

    Share
    1. Not only does it dominate its space its getting vilified for defending its space! Its spent many years building this brand and now its supposed to be okay for someone else to use the equity from that work.

      I would like to see how well Padmapper would do if they had to license listings from CL. Better yet why dont you COMPETE against CL and see how you do.

      Share
      1. Absolutely agree…they started this, they proved viable, now everybody else is piggybacking on top of their success. If ui is important as most claim, then why dont the better ui sites gain traction? I mean after all, ui is THAT IMPORTANT isnt it ;)

        Share
  4. Well said San diego. Why isn’t other sites doing well with their goody goody UI ??!!!

    Share
  5. You know, the whole situation is kind of strange.

    On the internet, everything is one click or URL away – switching costs are pretty damn low.

    Craigslist (which has never really aspired to much – monetarily, okay good on them or technologically, bad on them) is now getting more aggressive defending its (?) data.

    So the old “do no evil”/hippie-granola phase seems to be over. Craigslist wants to defend its (?) data/money – okay.

    Granted, brand recognition and network effects are powerful on the internet – but not even remotely insurmountable – ask MySpace, About.com, etc., etc.

    So why is it really so hard to compete with Craigslist?

    My guess is that it *isn’t* – just that not too many of the big (or even midsize) players have thought to (not enough revenue potential? There must be some – Craigslist is fighting over it now…)

    Look, if a marginally better competitor (open API and traditional no user charges) were put out there and publicized, it is hard to imagine that Craigslist would not lose at least a portion of its audience.

    Share
  6. I totally disagree with cast127 if there were not money to be made why would another site be using their data. User free content does not mean that there is no money to be made. To provide such a service to users for free and still be able to make money is a model that most businesses cannot duplicate. Furthermore to upset a delicate balance that allows such a site to operate can cripple the site’s ability to continue to be self sustaining. I have seen dozens of listing sites from employment to sales and housing that have nowhere near the numbers of users as CL so something they are doing is successful. Just like Facebook, Craigslist

    Share
  7. I totally disagree with cast127 if there were not money to be made why would another site be using their data. User free content does not mean that there is no money to be made. To provide such a service to users for free and still be able to make money is a model that most businesses cannot duplicate. Furthermore to upset a delicate balance that allows such a site to operate can cripple the site’s ability to continue to be self sustaining. I have seen dozens of listing sites from employment to sales and housing that have nowhere near the numbers of users as CL so something they are doing is successful. Just like Facebook, Craigslist has a veritable gold-mine of information that could be used in a more profitable manner but to allow a site to mine that data for anything more than what the site intends could not just hurt a site that has provided a great free service for users over the years but also could affect the way a users posts are manipulated, answered, targeted by unsavory individuals in the numerous scams purportrated on the Internet. Leveraging usuability in a site which to a certain degree is self policed can upset the community’s ability to root out the scams and flag posts that are suspect. That Craigslist wants to have control of the ways that it’s information can be used is a gOod thing. The ways that data can be abused are not limited to personal information, credit card numbers, ssn, ect. If sites that mine Craigslist were ever connected with anything nefarious and damaging to the users of CL people would not post with confidence in CL anymore. What’s there already is bad enough and enough to cheapen the experience anymore could be a death-blow to the site

    Share

Comments have been disabled for this post