Move over eBay, Craigslist is where the action is!

Back in the mid 90’s eBay earned its right as the go to place for online buying and selling. It became an Internet phenomenon, exploding in popularity as people found a great way to find a bargain or clear out a basement of unused, semi-valuable junk. Slowly the deals on eBay became more scarce and it morphed into a kind of super outlet store. Now while it is still a market place for well known brands and collectibles, it is dominated by online retailers, and the unique bargains are fewer and scarcer.

In recent years, another player, Craigslist came into the scene. Unlike eBay, Craigslist is a free classified ads company made up of different online communities. The site features different sections for jobseekers, personal ads, buying and selling products, real estate, various services, events and chat forums. The key to Craigslist is it is local and community based. So when you look for an item, unlike eBay you won’t have it shipped to you –instead you will likely pick it up. Of course the other big difference is Craigslist is not an auction. Bargains are there to be found, and haggling is part of the culture, but the competition aspect of an auction is not present.

In some parts of the country, specifically in Vancouver and Toronto, Craigslist is a huge player in the marketplace. Other cities have yet to embrace it as strongly.

Beyond the buying and selling of used items there are other Craigslist communities that cover employment opportunities and job listings, real estate, rentals and housing, events, services, even discussion boards.

Craigslist makes money by charging for job postings in the largest of metropolitan communities, although neither Vancouver nor Toronto make that list! Other than that it is completely free. This austere nature contributes to the look and feel of Craigslist which is barren at best, not pretty, but efficient.

Controversy over the erotic services and adults section that was linked to promoting solicitation and other illegal activities also plagued the site, and Craigslist has placed disclaimers for people under 18 accessing some categories. The company has received several suits and demands from the civic community regarding such ads posted on the site.  Several attorney generals from various states even appealed to the group. On September 2010, the site officially closed the adult section link and the formerly erotic services section in their US listings. In Canada the same criticism is being leveled but the erotic categories are still in place.

Craigslist founder Craig Newmark started the company in 1995 as an email service sending an events list to friends in the San Francisco Bay Area.  A few years later, the company took off and branched out to other classified listings. Now, the minimally designed Craigslist site is 7th among all websites in the US and places 33rd all over the world. The site has over 20 billion visitors per month and has local sites in over 450 cities around the globe. With its wide offering of services, products and other listings combined with a minimal posting fee, Craigslist has become, in many ways, the new eBay.

Steve DottosSteve Dotto is Canada’s most respected geek. For over 15 years, as host and executive producer of Dotto Tech, a nationally syndicated TV show, Steve has entertained and educated millions of Canadians on all aspects of technology. Steve has a passion for understanding the social impact of technology. His DVD Cybersafe with Steve Dotto , teaches parents and caregivers about the opportunities, dangers and challenges of social networking.