Should Craigslist charge a buck?
Blogger says a $1 fee would make the free service better.
Seth Godin raised a good question at his blog: What would happen if Craigslist ads were no longer free. How about charging a buck an ad?
He predicts that Craigslist, the nation's top source for online classified ads -- most of which are now free -- would become better.
How to improve Craigslist has been an online topic of conversation in recent days.
Farhad Manjoo wrote at Slate that Craigslist is swell in many ways, adding:
And yet there's no arguing that Craigslist is dysfunctional. Many of its categories are overrun with spam or obviously fake listings. It is an enabler of fraud and other human misdeeds .... Craigslist is also a mess to navigate.
Among the other suggestions to make Craigslist better:
- Improve the search, says Farhad, as well as Sarah Handel of NPR's Blog of the Nation, who also likes Seth's idea. A better search would, for starters, do away with the chronological listing of results.
- Also from Farhad: Let outside developers in. Twitter and Facebook have both done that, producing fun and handy results.
- Use reputation scores to reduce anonymity, Farhad advises.
Farhad hopes that Redbeacon, a more sophisticated competitor, will prompt Craigslist to improve itself.
Here's what Seth thinks would happen if people had to pay a dollar for each listing:
- The number of repetitive and bogus ads that clutter the site now would shrink.
- The presence of scammers would too.
- The owners would have more money to fund important work.
If you lead a group that allows anyone to join, for free, your group might be large, but it's not tight, it's not organized to make important change.
What do you think? Is Craigslist in need of a facelift?
Published Oct. 1, 2009
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