Founder Craig Newmark Talks 'Turkey'


Craiglist founder Craig Newmark chatted breifly with Into the Box host Rachel Natalie Klein about how to find an apartment in New York City, and –more importantly — how to avoid ‘turkey-listings’ on his sites. (“If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”)

An innovator for many reasons, two of Newmark’s key areas of thought-leadership are customer service and customer empowerment. If you’ve ever used Craigslist, or had the chance to speak with CEO Jim Buckmaster (he answers his own phone), then you know what we mean.

“We trust people… and as as a result we’ve given people this sliding [ad] removal mechanism. If you see any ad on our site, which is wrong, you feel, for any reason, you can flag it for removal. If enough people agree with you, we’ll remove it automatically. It actually works pretty well in practice.”

Then, riffing on the late, great British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Newmark adds:

“There was this guy who said once, ‘Democracy is a lousy form of government, but it’s the only one we have.'”

There is a lesson here for founders:
Listen and be responsive to your customers. They are the key participants (or constituents!) in your business. If you do this well, and with sincerity, it will be good enough. After all, there is no way to protect any business against all the “turkeys” out there.

Oh and, Craig wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving! Read more of Craig’s musings on his blog, cnewmark.



Hi, Rachel!

Sounds like turkey to me :)… Just think about it: how many customer service people does craigslist employ? How many links would need to be sent it (especially when you consider all the bad stuff going on on the site)? — craigslist can’t possibly address more than a minute portion of that and it doesn’t… it also appears to have no intention to hire an adequate number of people (it’s been severely understaffed while walking away with ridiculously large profits for years). Yet all sorts of people keep talking Craig’s word as gospel and continue to sing him praises — go figure…


P.S. take care! D.


In some categories, CL is becoming worse and worse. The flood of spam listings is more than the crowd can deal with, and the value of those categories is suffering. I like their system, but I think the day will soon come when they need another method besides an easily cracked captcha and citizen flagging.

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