Sunday, July 13, 2014
"Strictly Platonic" or Strictly Plutonium ? is the Craigslist Experiment a Success or a Failure?
Preview "Strictly Platonic" or Strictly Plutonium ? is the Craigslist Experiment a Success or a Failure? "Strictly Platonic " that Sums Up the Problem . Craigslist was Originally a Much Greater Success Before it Began to Hybridize Itself as a Semi Commercial Enterprise Lex LoebContributor Network . Having once been one of the biggest proponents of craigslist starting at the time when most of the local posting categories were empty I advertised the existence of Craigslist by printing up cards with the web address and giving them away in the community to get traffic on the site. I would go to Garage sales and tell people how great the site was for unloading stuff to try to nudge more people to use it. Then suddenly Craigslist reached the state of critical mass where suddenly everybody and anyone with a computer was on it. It really dumbed down fast. Low barriers to entry allowed everyone the power of this enormously beneficial order entry system and really cut the cost of advertising communication to less than the time it takes to post an ad on the site. Craisglist has always been a giant social experiment. First it began as something like a tourist trap on the Internet but unlike other sites it did not do very much baiting. Wide spread use just took time. The applications of the site sold themselves once discovered. It did take enough postings and successes in making contacts using the service to really get it going. Boom, and then suddenly Craigslist became an entity in the national psyche. It has not so much succeeded overseas though it seem pretty well used by Canadians. Other similar services have succeeded over seas based on the basic craigslist architecture. Now I am becoming a critic. After the Craigslist boom explosion of use the site actually lost much of it's functionality. One rule that has always been true of connections made on craigslist is that you have to be prepared for those connections to flake out over 50% of the time. This is not the fault of Craigslist but because people by and large are exceedingly flaky. If you have a brick and mortar store you learn to concentrate your efforts on serving people who are your actual customers. On craigslist you cannot easily size up a customer or a contact. You have to realize that many people who are very prolific on craigslist are homebound, and dreamers and not doers. The computer with the Internet is the easy way out and a form of endless low cost entertainment without ever having to do more than fantasize reality or look for free items someone might be giving away. An industry of people looking for something for nothing has grown up on craigslist where "wanted" now means they want it for free or next to free and a separate free category does actually offer almost everything imaginable for free. The incentive is huge for those who live for something for nothing. People are working the something for nothing ad board constantly. You can place an ad for something extremely worthless and mundane and hundreds of people will contact you to come pick it up. As an experiment a friend put a used plastic laundry basket up on craigslist for free and indeed there were over ten requests for it and someone drove all the way across town to come and get it! In Portland we have a saying that "Free is a very good price" from good old Tom Peterson's. The question is if a stupid plastic laundry basket is really worth getting for free? There are people who are sitting at their computer 24/7 watching for new free items to be posted just to be the first to call or respond with an email! Great stuff is given away but most of it would otherwise go into a dumpster. I do have to admit I am guilty of picking up more than a few free items. Community censorship that has hit the site and has become the biggest flaw in the original Craigslist model. People who have nothing better to do monopolize certain posting boards on craigslist some just to be ass wholes. They flag and remove anything for any reason. I posted an advertisement for an old electric typewriter for sale under "electric appliances" and it got flagged and removed. There were other electric typewriters listed in the same category. Maybe it was just the competition getting rid of a new typewriter listed for sale? Chances are it was a self appointed censor. The Amazing thing about Craigslist is with the built in search tools there really is no reason that most content that is flagged and removed ever should be. On the political boards on craigslist the censors are almost as active as on the artist board. Yes artists are the most censored area. Real estate, since the take over by the professional real estate agents are the least censored on craigslist except for ads that talk about willingness to buy any home available. Rules are generated by rule makers who become the non existent communities all over each local craigslist site. Complete dumbing down of Craigslist quickly becomes apparent in the "Strictly platonic" category. The word strictly platonic has come to mean something entirely different than what it was originally intended. When you start clicking on ads that show a picture of naked people advertising that they want to share massage services you know the meaning is no longer as intended. People post notes telling the others what strictly platonic actually means and they immediately get flagged and removed. Strictly platonic is a dating connection site now for sure. Originally the strictly platonic posts were about people making non sexual friendships. It seems to be exactly the opposite now. Mass appeal that seems to be ruining the original craigslist experience because the percentage of flakes has gone up the quality of what is free has gone down or there is too much competition for it. News that Craigslist will be shutting down the erotic service ads and then also monitoring the personal sex ads maybe over due but it looks like a legal trap for craigslist. If they take responsibility to monitor and censor those kind of ads they invite lawsuits from HELL. It is hard to believe that they are not aware of that danger. Chances are they will be charging fees to cover the insurance they will have to take out? Once craigslist goes too far down the path of community censorship and take responsibility on any level for what people post there then the service neutralizes it's open access community bulletin board posting and invites some new competitor to make a community exchange that is completely open ended. The whole system has become hierarchical already with special emphasis on the real estate category where real estate agents have virtually taken over the whole site. To get that sort of info without all the stupid hype there now its better to access a local online multiple listing service because cragislist has now become almost worthless to see local listing, Craigslist might not survive it's popularity. Can something become too popular? In the case of Craigslist there is too much popularity considering that most of the services provided are completely free and where they are now charging they may be opening the door to liability. Money is what attracts lawsuits. A few more serial killers selecting their victims on Craigslist and the popularity will probably only increase along with even more dumping down and unnecessary random censorship. It is still amazing that craigslist does not allow a paid advertisement to appear on it's pages. They can almost compete with Google selling a side ad or just have a brightly colored bar saying something like "This page sponsored by XXXX the makers of XXX soap." It is a bit of a mystery why the page wants to charge for some ads when they have an unused monopoly to sell much more expensive advertising. Advertising does not bother craigslist uses as they are there to do exactly the something. No reason for an obnoxious pop up ad to appear on the page. My relationship to craigslist is completely strictly platonic need I say more.... .