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Nascimento invites me to place the simplest ad I can think of in Craigslist’s computer “Services” section. “It’ll be gone in 10 minutes,” he says. “You watch.” So we place an ad with a generic promise to help “with your computer problems at a reasonable rate.” Then we wait. At about the 20-minute mark, Nascimento says, “This reminds me of going to the doctor for a pain that doesn’t hurt once you get there.” But sure enough, just as we are leaving, the ad is deleted. Since it takes a number of flags (no one is sure how many) to prompt Craigslist to delete, I wonder how it can happen so fast.

“These companies that are flagging off their competition have to be hiring somebody to do it,” Nascimento says. “If I, the little guy, spend all my time reposting, then I can’t get anything else accomplished. Obviously, I don’t want to do that. But the bigger guys? They just pay somebody to watch Craigslist all day long and do the flagging.”

Still, there have to be a number of flaggers, right?

Nascimento calls my attention to 16 YouTube videos that explain how it’s done. Craigslist determines whether flags are coming from different sources, he says, by automatically monitoring their internet protocol numbers. “So all the bad guys do,” says Nascimento, “is keep changing one number in their [internet protocol] identities before they flag. That’s what one video tells you how to do.”

When I bring up the first video, which is oriented to the real estate industry, the narrator is talking about “the ultimate in the art of war. I’m going to show you,” he says, “how to dominate your Craigslist market.” The technique relies on the use of “proxy” internet addresses that prevent Craigslist from seeing that the flags are coming from one location only. This “Craigslist flagging tool” allows you to have new flags, close to 50 of them, sent from a different address every ten seconds.

But the video Nascimento wants me most to see, called “How to Flag Unlimited Craigslist Ads,” advises against the use of proxies. “They suck,” the new narrator says. “They’re too hard to find.” What he describes instead is a multistep method, using a number of software tools, of changing your internet protocol number. He admits that what he is doing is controversial. Some people will see it as only helping the crooks put more people out of business. But he feels that he must blow up the phenomenon. If enough people start doing it, he believes, Craigslist will finally have to take steps to control the flagging that is making a joke of its free service.

“It would be easy,” says Nascimento. “All Craigslist would have to do is charge a dollar for each ad. I’d pay it, no problem. Then they could afford to hire company moderators of all the flagging that takes place on their site. They know exactly what’s going on. After wiping out so many advertising sellers by now, they need to be responsible. Originally, we all thought Craigslist was a hero, standing up for the little guy. But now the big guys have turned everything around, and Craigslist doesn’t care.”

As of this writing, Craigslist has not responded to my questions about what, if anything, they are doing to address the situation.

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geebocom March 30, 2011 @ 10:22 a.m.

Several days ago, I penned an open letter to my counterparts in the classified ad business, challenging them to follow me in imposing new policies to make their sites safer.

Not surprisingly, none of them has yet to respond to my letter. After all, the changes that I’m suggesting are not easy ones for the site owners to make. Ridding their sites of personal ads and other adult-oriented categories that run amok with criminal activity could impact their bottom lines. More...

http://blog.geebo.com/2011/03/16/my-challenge-to-craigslist-keep-criminals-off-your-site/

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SurfPuppy619 March 30, 2011 @ 11:03 p.m.

Hopefully online porn will put the porn shops and strip clubs in neighborhoods out of business too

Already has, even Playboy is close to BK.

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geebocom April 1, 2011 @ 8:38 a.m.

I don’t think you and I want separate things. You wanted the police to do their job in monitoring your streets to keep yourself, your family, and your friends, safe. Geebo wants online classified sites to do their job in monitoring their sites to keep yourself, your family, and your friends, safe. I am glad that prostitution has decreased in your community. However, Geebo is a community as well. Aren’t we equally entitled to want something done to clean up our online community? I believe so.

The problem, whether online or out your front window, might never truly disappear. But this isn’t a reason to do nothing to prevent or preempt its facilitation. I trust you didn’t stop calling the police and requesting action to be taken. Similarly, we won’t either.

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Javajoe25 March 31, 2011 @ noon

Cordedpoodel,

So how do you sell your stuff thru CL if you don't have the person come to your house? I take it you sell things that are small enough to fit in your pocket and you meet them somewhere? For anything bigger than a breadbox, I don't see any way around having the buyer come over, pay, and leave with the item.

Suggestions?

Thnx.

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GreenAl March 31, 2011 @ 2:14 p.m.

Craigslist is just another cyber-giant operating behind a firewall. They will do what they want, when they want, and how they want to do it. If you don't like it, or voice an opinion they don't care for, your account will be banned: http://greenalsgasses.com/censorship/banned-conservatism-censored-on-the-craigslist-community-political-forum/

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4k9dk1h5e0a3s6m2fr7l8b4w7g6z2p April 9, 2011 @ 11:10 a.m.

He's not a cry baby. He's got a valid point. CL has caused a lot of people problems and that's a fact. They have a virtual monopoly on classified ads and thus people are virutally forced into using CL. I have seen people go into their Help forum to get help with tech-related problems and it was there where their employees treated some people like garbage. And they, the CL crew, at times talk disrespectfully to people by posting anonymously with fake names.

There's no call for that.

They do jerk people around and it appears as if the boys working for them do it for kicks and giggles. People who go to their Help forum are simply trying to accomplish tasks, trying to get things done. It's bad enough that people have to write notes back and forth to each other in order to try and solve some tech issues that are a little complex or frustrating in nature. Passing notes takes up a persons time and it, depending on the severity of tne problem, can be a bad way to try and convey technical information that is meant to troubleshoot a problem.

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Hedda April 15, 2011 @ 6:27 p.m.

More slime from 4k9dk1h5e0a3s6m2fr7l8b4w7g6z2p.

The forums are for users. One in a million posts from staff are clearly marked as such. You have never seen a staffer do what you allege to be a common problem.

Many posts in help desk forum are from pranksters, trolls, and just plain incompetent surfers. That's in addition to some legit issues. It's a relatively open forum.

As for monopoly, that's not even laughable.

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PartyTime Jan. 27, 2012 @ 9:22 p.m.

"You have never seen a staffer do what you allege to be a common problem."

Haven't "seen it" cause you're in a remote location in a room only god knows where. Which is why you can pull act like a troll towards users and get away with it. Not to mention the sockpuppets you use. Don't be stupid cause we're not.

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Hedda March 31, 2011 @ 10:08 p.m.

An amusing story which bears little resemblance to the facts in general and fails in some facts in particular. Congratulations on a trivial hit piece written from ignorance if not worse.

Your star witness is the one who wrote “Who ever you are just go away please.… TRY GETTING A LIFE.” http://craigslist.org/forums/?ID=181020257 Right? Yes, flag help can be rowdy but it DOES represent "folk wisdom". Also, your star witness failed to follow forum guidelines both times he started a thread there. That never helps a serious request for help. It also seems from what little you both say that he had been abusing the site for some time while he was "making a killing" or some such.

Your own anecdote is amusing but ambiguous or worse. You were trying to sell a used bike on craigslist for 3x what a bike shop would pay for it?! Surely you jest, Shirley! And you gave up when you say your post "disappeared" after you got one flakey inquiry (to your grossly overpriced "item")? This is literally unbelievable, as are other things you wrote.

"As of this writing, Craigslist has not responded to my questions about what, if anything, they are doing to address the situation."

Which situation? That there is a lot of trash talk on the web? LOL! That you couldn't post a new ad for your bike? No staff support for free ads. That your star witness evidently had been abusing the site for a long time and was "banned" (his term which doesn't fit common craigslist terminology at all) for 90 days? To paraphrase his own words, "Get a life!"

I invite you to post on the cl-help desk forum under a registered handle, to discuss any problems you have, or had, using a craigslist site. http://craigslist.org/forums/?forumID=9

Sign me,

Not On Staff

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PartyTime April 9, 2011 @ 12:49 p.m.

You're HelpfulHedda

the one, the only

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ruth3186 March 31, 2011 @ 10:36 p.m.

Hedda's all wet.

I posted 'on the help forum under a registered handle' and got nothing but snide remarks along with the insistence that the problem was with me, not the site. They're absolutely incapable/unwilling to address the issue of underhanded tactics employed by those who're out to silence their competition's posts. And just like Hedda's smarmy off-point response, the only help you'll get in dealing with auto-flaggers is denial, deflection, or distraction.

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Hedda April 1, 2011 @ 1:36 a.m.

Sorry, ruth, but you don't say what handle, so your allegation is not credible. Also please don't mis-attribute -- the cl-flag help forum is not the same as the cl-help desk forum, and neither forum claims to be anything more than a user to user forum. So, don't expect other users to be able to solve any alleged problems of craigslist management.

In point of fact the odds are that flagging complaints are unjustified. So the "burden of proof" is on the complainer. People who complain about a free service, without even bothering to follow forum or posting guidelines and the formal TOU ... just what kind of respect do they deserve when they show up with assumptions, arrogance and "attitude"?

Anyway, the offer is open to Mr. Deegan or any other user of craigslist. YMMV but try not to poison the well. Say hello if you "see" me in the cl-help desk forum.

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4k9dk1h5e0a3s6m2fr7l8b4w7g6z2p April 9, 2011 @ 11:33 a.m.

"Sorry, ruth, but you don't say what handle, so your allegation is not credible. Also please don't mis-attribute -- the cl-flag help forum is not the same as the cl-help desk forum, and neither forum claims to be anything more than a user to user forum. So, don't expect other users to be able to solve any alleged problems of craigslist management."

And you're not very credible either.

Some of the "helpers" in their Help Desk forum answer questions around the clock morning and night five to seven days a week and some of them have been doing that since 2005.

So just how do their so-called "volunteers" support themselves if all they do is answer questions in their Help forum?

Ruth didn't say who she was not because she's not credible but because she wouldn't want to experience retaliation from any one CL team member who works their Help Forum. CL knows who people are thanks to personal information we have to provide CL with. Retaliation means problems that could affect a persons ability to use CL. Unfortunately she, like most people, needs CL due to CL's virtual monopoly.

Your statement is not credible. Your statement is intended to get average people to buy into the idea that there are no CL representatives who work in their Help forum therefore they should not be held accountable for any exchange(s) that might be defined as a bad exchange i.e. a personal attack, name calling, ridicule, cyber-harassment, etc, etc.

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Hedda April 15, 2011 @ 6:21 p.m.

"And you're not very credible either."

I'm not the one complaining, and I did offer to meet "ruth" in that cl forum with any real help issue. "ruth" may use any registered handle she likes, as may you, "4k9dk1h5e0a3s6m2fr7l8b4w7g6z2p". But you're obviously only about slime and smear tactics, so good luck with those.

In fact, no personal info is required to post in cl-help desk forum (unless you're on a subnet being used to attack the site). Beyond that the only info needed is a disposable email address with which to open an account. Paranoia ain't pretty, bud.

There are no staff posting in the forums except the very rare gold/amber handles readily identifiable as staff -- one in a million, roughly (yes there are stats). So "CL team" is a fiction on your part, but yes some users do drop in often, though I doubt you can prove 24/7.

What's your angle anyway -- for all that trash talk??

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PartyTime April 9, 2011 @ 12:55 p.m.

Hedda is HelpfulHedda

THEE HelpfulHedda

the one and only HelpfulHedda

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dorod April 1, 2011 @ 7:29 a.m.

"Cars and trucks" is one example of where the crooks are taking over the site. Try typing in and searching for tacoma, and you will find numerous instances that are constantly updated, of ads that have trucks worth $10,000 - $15000 that are being offered for less than $5000. When you contact them with the email address your told that they will ship the car to you and you need to give all your personal info to some paypal site.

Craigslist is becoming a joke!!!

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ruth3186 April 1, 2011 @ 10:29 a.m.

Post my handle and then be ridiculed like YOU did with the subject of this article? (e.g. making unwarranted comments about his business practices while suggesting that no one should expect much from a "free" site.)

Putting the onus on the "complainers" instead of investigating their allegations resolves nothing. There's nothing "helpful" about defending a system that's broken.

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PartyTime April 9, 2011 @ 1:06 p.m.

How did Craigslist allow you to support yourself during the two year period when you took care of your mother?

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Ponzi Jan. 27, 2012 @ 11:37 p.m.

I have hired employees, found chit, and everything else on craigslist for the last decade. One thing I can say is never try to “give away” anything on CL. It’s a hassles and waste of time. Some people want you to deliver it. Others ask too many questions about something that you’re offering for free instead of sending to the landfill.

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