Blog Post

Craigslist cuts off its search engine to spite its face

Craigslist, the once-loved classified site, is continuing its ill-tempered rampage against would-be competitors that offer cleaner designs and better user experiences.

Last month, it sued popular site PadMapper for using information from Craigslist to plot apartments on a map. Weeks later, Craigslist changed its terms of service to say that users gave it the right to use their ads for copyright lawsuits (See: Craigslist’s Big Bluff).

As noted by The Verge, the company has now followed up these acts of churlishness by telling search engines like Google and Bing to stop indexing Craigslist results. This effectively turns the taps off the data taps for sites like PadMapper and, at the same time, makes Craigslist’s own listings harder to find.

It’s hard to see who wins in this scenario. Internet users will be deprived of user-friendly sites as Craigslist tries to draw them back into its tortuous 1990’s time warp. And while Craigslist might reclaim some traffic in the short term, it’s likely to alienate users and developers who are increasingly regarding it as an unattractive bully.

(Image by Lentolo via Shutterstock)

12 Responses to “Craigslist cuts off its search engine to spite its face”

  1. Thomas Krafft

    As Vlad pointed out, building a Craigslist replacement isn’t really the issue. Craigslist had (up until fairly recently) a very strong enough foothold across numerous areas, that made the prospects very difficult for any potential challenger to get money (to fund the effort) and visitors to pay the bills.

    This has changed in a big way, however. I don’t know if the next “Craigslist” will be another single big content source that feeds thousands of app – or maybe one app that can index and present listing-like data from thousands of content sources. But I do know that I *don’t* want to use a thousand different apps to show me listings from a thousand different content sources…

  2. Vlad Grubman

    I had an alternative developed a few years back, it was deliberately designed to be easy to feed off of, but everyone was so obsessed with how vintage CL was that I had to scrap the project.

  3. “…telling search engines to stop indexing….” == robots.txt, right? What’s the big deal about that? And hey, Craigslist, let us know how that obscurity thing works out for ya, OK?

  4. Larry Eissler

    With all the junk ads, scams, and traps on Craigslist, its hard to go through serious posts and find ones that are actually legitimate. I used Craigslist to find a car last year and I spent 3 weeks messaging people who’s ads were refreshed that same day, only to find out they sold the car last week. Craigslist is in need of a major overhaul, new ownership, or needs to be shut down and replaced with something that works better.