Why Craigslist Is Successful

I found this link in the Union Square Ventures weblog comments section.

It’s an analysis of why Craigslist works. And its a good read.

My favorite part:

Craigslist is brilliant because his main activity is something that
posters are inherently promiscuous with — personal spamming. In any
other context, the bulk of the material on Craigslist would be
considered spam. In my email box, on another message forum, heck even
on one of google’s spam-ridden Blogger sites. The posts are the
equivalent of those indiscriminately posted flyers on corkboards at

Buy my mattress..need a ride to Chicago…come see my band. People put
these flyers up fully expecting only a handful to see or care about
them enough to rip off a tab with the phone number at the bottom. The
expectation of response is low but it’s cheap to try.

Now Craig’s lead-into-gold trick is that he gets his posters to
accurately classify their spam. Into 160 categories. Holy Toledo Jacob
Nielsen. You can’t have a pulldown with 160 things in it. Half of your
users wouldn’t get a pulldown with 3 things in it right. Ah, but it’s
not a pull-down. Half of the entire homepage is a giant selector
devoted to classifying posts.

Craigslist is personally tagged spam. Interesting observation.

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