Increase Online Trust

Trust_webMASTER NEW MEDIA -- Mar 8 -- At the end of 2006, Time magazine decided that its person of the year was "You". Yes, You. All the You's that create and rate content on sites such as MySpace, Wikipedia and YouTube. In Web 2.0 the issue of trust has moved away from the people that run the site towards the people that populate it. The issue of "Can I trust this site?" still exists, but the new issue, "Can I trust the people on it?" is now equally important. The main difference now is that content is being generated by anyone and then being rated by anyone. How can you be sure that what other users write is true? To ensure site visitors continue to trust your site, you need to ensure users are who they say they are. You can:

  • E-mail an activation link
  • Send a text message with an activation code
  • Send the activation code to a home or business address
  • Only allow site visitors access to content/functionality if recommended by a registered user (LinkedIn, the online career network, does this)
  • Show people you know their IP address when they're logged in
  • Collect users' credit card details
  • Allow users to rate a person
  • Set up a reference system to highlight respected members
  • Have real time face-to-face interaction ( e.g. Skype on eBay)

Original article by Mark McElhaw published on March, 2007 as "You Who? - Trust in Web 2.0" on Webcredible. FULL ARTICLE @ MNM 

Craigslist Not About Money

MEDIA POST -- Dec 7 -- In what turned out to be a culture clash of near-epic proportions, Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster spoke to the investment community this morning at the UBS global media conference in New York. UBS analyst Ben Schachter asked Buckmaster a standard financial world question: How does the site plan to maximize revenue? The CEO of the online classifieds site answered as follows: "That definitely is not part of the equation. It's not part of the goal. I think a lot of people are catching their breath right now," responded Schachter, as the crowd absorbed Buckmaster's remarks.  Buckmaster, on stage in jeans and a blazer, insisted that the company--which has emerged as a significant threat to newspapers and other companies that sell classified ads--doesn't especially want to make money. Schachter asked if the company considered Google AdSense ads. Buckmaster said "We've had the numbers crunched for us.  The numbers are quite staggering [but] no users have been requesting that we run text ads, so for us, that's the end of the story."

Mark Brooks: Yup, that's Craigslist for you. But it's partly that sentiment that has cause them to grow so big. Anyone who knows Craigs knows the last thing he will ever do is sell out his community. He didn't create Craigslist, the community created Craigslist. Still, how's a l'il Adsense box going to hurt. Hmm.  Just a little three ad section at the bottom. (It'll never happen, unless eBay finds a way to buy another 25% of Craigslist). Other Craigslist news.

Three More Craigslist Cities to Charge Jobs Listing Fee

CraigslistMARKETING VOX -- Oct 6 -- Craigslist, which has been charging for classified jobs ads on its New York and Los Angeles sites since 2004, will begin charging employers a flat-rate fee of $25 per post in Boston, San Diego, Seattle and Washington, D.C. FULL ARTICLE @ MARKETING VOX

Mark Brooks: Craigslist is one of the largest free personals sites. It currently has 75,000 active personals ads in San Francisco and 100,000 in NYC. Job ads are $75 in the S.F. Bay Area. Craigslist makes more $10 million+ a year of job ads. I just paid for a job ad listing there last week...and got several top notch responses. I highly recommend Craigslist...as do ten million others...which is exactly why Craigslist is a top 40 website. Craigslist started as an events list. (I put up my little site, Markslist.com, on my 35th birthday this week. An events list, to complement my efforts with Ace Club.)

Craig Newmark - Craigslist Not For Sale

Craignewmark01REUTERS -- Sep 28 -- Craig is not interested in selling out despite MySpace $15 billion valuation. Craig was running his site (back when it was an e-mail list of local events) during the dot-com blowup. He saw stupid companies get stupid money and lose it. Keeping Craigslist a real $20-30 million company is much more satisfying than making it a fake $15 billion one. FULL ARTCLE @ VALLEYWAG

Mark Brooks: Craig is nothing but consistent. Many people have approached him since the site's inception and his answer has always been the same. eBay owns 25% of Craigslist only because one of the founding employees sold their share. I own Markslist.com btw.  One day I'll do something useful with it. Any ideas? At one stage it was the social events calendar for Friendster. Now Jonathan (Friendster founder) has started Socializr as a social events social network.

24 Hours on Craigslist

24_hours_on_craigslistFILM CRITIC -- Apr 2006 -- In certain parts of the country, the word "Craigslist" requires no additional explanation. In other regions people will look at you, baffled about what you could be talking about.  It's responsible for the decline of newspaper classified advertising.  People use it to find apartments, sell stuff, find jobs, and make love connections.  24 Hours on Craigslist is documentary about the Craigslist phenomenon.  FULL REVIEW @ FILM CRITIC

Mark Brooks: Craigslist is one of the great viral stories of web 1.0.

Online Personals Watch Interview - Craigslist Founder, Craig Newmark

CraigOPW INTERVIEW -- Apr 21 -- Craig Newmark is the founder of Craigslist.  He has built a powerhouse of a site on sheer utility, pure goodwill, and a groundswell of viral word-of mouth.  Craigslist is a phenomonen and Craig is one of my personal heroes. 

Why did you start Craigslist?
In 1994, I was at Charles Schwab; I was evangelizing the net for the brokerage industry.  I saw a lot of people helping each other out and I figured I should do some of that.  So, in early 1995, I started a simple 'cc' list telling friends about arts and technology events, and that was the beginning of Craigslist.  People asked for more stuff on the list and I did that and I got more feedback and I did that, and that's how it is today.  We talk to people, we find out what's needed, what's useful, and we do it.

Just how popular is it now?
We seem to be getting about 4 billion page views a month and we're in a little over 200 cities, in five countries with 8 million posts per month.

How is the international growth coming along?
It's slow but steady.  We are not where we want to be in terms of multiple language support.  But, word of mouth works and we're growing.

Why not charge for personals?
Five or so years ago, I asked people what it was they'd like us to charge for. The answer was to charge those people who would otherwise be paying more, for less effective advertising.  The consensus was to specifically charge for real estate and job postings.  So we charge brokers and recruiters and soon will charge apartment brokers for rental listings in NYC; although they specifically asked us to charge them to improve quality by reducing redundancy.  People have suggested we charge for personals as a way to improve quality; but there's no consensus.

What prompted the creation of the casual encounters, more racy personals section?
People saw that racy ads were being posted in the more conventional sections and people suggested we trade an alternative to get the racy ads focused in one or two places.  And that's been effective.

Have you been surprised by some of the posts?
These days, after about 13 years in San Francisco and going to the Fulsom Street Fair; not much surprises me.

What do you have in store for Craigslist and for the personals section in 2006?
We do need to improve customer service by giving more power to the people who use our site.  People can help us out by flagging inappropriate ads for removal.  We are driven by the culture of trust we've developed with our communities and that's another reason why I personally do full time customer service and I intend to do substantial customer service only as long as I live, after that, it's over !!

The Role of Anti-Marketing Design

PlentyoffishcomSCOBLEIZER -- Mar 4 -- At the Northern Voice conference I met Markus Frind, founder of Plentyoffish.com. He's Google's #1 Adsense user in Canada. His site is pulling in more than $10,000 per day from Google, he told me, and has millions of passionate users. Tens of millions of page views EVERY DAY. What's the secret to his success? Ugly design. I call it "anti-marketing design."  He says that sites that have ugly designs are well known to pull more revenue.  Google. Is it pretty? No. Craig's List? Pretty? No. MySpace? Pretty? No.  ARTICLE @ SCOBLEIZER

Mark Brooks: It's not the fact that these sites are ugly.  Consider further. The winning formula is that the sites appear anti-commercial, humble, and non-pushy.  These sites appear to users like a person or group of smart people doing them a favor without hawking too hard to them.  Most users don't realise that Craigslist makes $10 million+ a year from charging for job postings in a handful of cities...the average user never posts a job. Craigslist just looks like a cool nerd doing everyone a favor.  How refreshing.  Same deal with Plentyoffish.  And Google?  A lot of very smart, passionate, 'do no evil' nerds. 

Microsoft's New Marketplace Targets Craigslist

WindowsliveexpobetaMSN MONEY -- Feb 28 -- Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, started testing a free U.S. marketplace, similar to Craigslist.  Expo categorizes postings by zip code to allow users to filter ads by distance. Online at http://expo.live.com.  Microsoft will face competition from eBay and Google Base. Expo is integrated with MSN Messenger to allow buyers and sellers to instantly discuss or negotiate a deal.  FULL ARTICLE @ MSN MONEY

Mark Brooks: The home page is too busy.  I recommend more simplification. 

Social Networking Goes E-Commerce

TagworldE-COMMERCE TIMES -- Feb 22 -- Somewhere between no-frills Craigslist and intricate eBay lies the new e-commerce offering introduced by TagWorld last week combining the new service of free online classifieds, which includes images and personalized storefronts, with auction features.  TagWorld members can post items for sale in the new classifieds section and sellers can choose a fixed price or mark the item negotiable -- which allows buyers and sellers to haggle over a price.  MySpace has some 56 million members; TagWorld, 787,000.  FULL ARTICLE @ TECH NEWS WORLD

Online site has helped police make prostitution arrests

ASSOCIATED PRESS -- Feb 17 -- Craigslist.com is a boon to police cracking down on prostitution.  Officers in Nashua have been using the New Hampshire personals section of the site to meet up with people looking to be or hire a prostitute at area hotels.  FULL ARTICLE @ THE BOSTON GLOBE

Craigslist: 'Seeking human connection'

Craig_newmarkBBC NEWS -- Jan 13 -- Craigslist now has "well over three billion page views" per month Craig says, which makes it the seventh biggest presence on the internet. His almost anti-profit business employs just 19 people, and is still based in a San Francisco living room. Craigslist is a real and reciprocal online community that is "just trying to give people a break" across the 190 cities it serves. Craigslist  nets around $20m a year by charging for job postings in three cities. eBay managed to buy 25% of the company in 2004, when a former employee unilaterally decided to sell his shares. Craig says the unexpected relationship has been beneficial so far. "We try to be driven by the values of the people who use us," he said. With a portion of each site given over to dating, "erotic services" and "casual encounters", it is not hard to see for example, why only Istanbul has joined the Craigslist ranks from the Islamic world. FULL ARTICLE @ BBC NEWS

Mark Brooks: Craigslist because looks and feels like a cool guy doing us all a favor.  It is!  I had lunch with Craig in 1999 and pitched an early version of Plaxo.  In 2000 he almost bit on a deal with Hypermatch a small online dating site I was working with...the only stipulations, we were not to make money from advertising or charge membership dues.  Um, then what?  It didn't happen and Hypermatch was sold to EZBoard.  Other companies I've advised have pitched Jim Buckmaster (CEO) and Craig since then, to no avail.  I've not bugged Craig for a while now.  The last time I saw Craig it was simply to buy him a cup of coffee and thank him for helping me grow my little club www.ace-club.com by relisting events on his events calendar.  Craigslist is a great site and public service.  The shear utility, utter integrity, humility and lack of commercial agenda is at the core of it's success.

Who's Afraid of Google? Everyone.

GoogleWIRED MAGAZINE -- Nov 25 -- Even in the early days Google's ultimate goal was extravagant: to organize the world's information.  Whereas Microsoft infamously smothered new and open standards, Google is famous for supporting them. And the firm is softening its image, launching a philanthropic arm,  Google.org, with nearly $1 billion earmarked for social causes. When secrecy-obsessed Google let news of "Google Base" slip, it looked like an aggressive entrĂ©e into online classifieds. The test service can search ads like used-car and personals listings, which would mesh with Google Local and might even kick-start Orkut, Google's social network.  Who's threatened: craigslist, eBay, Monster, Tribe.netFULL ARTICLE @ WIRED MAGAZINE

Mark Brooks: At $500 million revenue a year, the internet dating industry is still off Google's radar...we hope

Google Ponders Online Classifieds

Google_2INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY -- Nov 10 -- Google has revealed it will move into the billion-dollar market for online classified ads. That revelation comes at a time when its chief rival, Yahoo is losing ground - at least in terms of visitor traffic - in its classifieds business.  In September, Yahoo's classified pages attracted 573,000 unique visitors, down 42% from September 2004 per comScore.  Yahoo is the No. 1 site on the Web, with 169 million unique visitors in September. Google ranks No. 4, at 87 million.  U.S. online classified revenue is expected to jump to $3.6 billion in 2010 from $1.8 billion last year, says Jupiter.  Craigslist is tiptoeing ever so slowly into the for-fee arena. The company charges a fee only for job listings in the San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York markets. Craigslist has considered charging for real estate listings.  FULL ARTICLE @ INVESTORS WEEKLY

Mark Brooks: Craigslist is one of the thorns in Google and Yahoo's side. See Craigslist growth over the last 2 years ...  Alexa Rank

TheirSpace? A Rumor that a Community-Built Web Behemoth Has Become a Corporate Trap

Myspace_2VILLIAGE VOICE -- Aug 10 -- MySpace's incorporation of Craigslist & Evite-like features and generous bandwidth allotment have made it an attractive destination.  Teri Everett, a representative of Fox Interactive, said, "we're just going to go on letting them do what they do, since that's what's made them so successful." FULL ARTICLE @ VILLAGE VOICE

Searching for Profit in Networking Web Sites

INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE -- May 12 -- LinkedIn is hoping to create a viable business by capturing a small piece of a classified advertising market estimated to be worth more than $20 billion.  It charges employers $95 to post a job listing for 30 days.  It had 1,000 or so job listings last month.  "They're giving recruiters access to people they wouldn't normally be able to get to," said Charlene Li, Forrester Research. "These are passive job seekers - people who aren't actively looking for jobs - who are extremely valuable to the recruiter and the hiring manager."  Tribe.net, raised $6.3 million, and encourages users to join "tribes" of mutual interest.  A free service that charges for classified ads posted on its site.  Tribe had 243,000 unique visitors in March, according to comScore Media Metrix, 3.7 million people turned to CraigslistFriendster received ~$13 million in funding...and found itself eclipsed by a pair of newer, more narrowly focused social networking companies, MySpace, specializing in music, and Thefacebook.com, geared to university students. Friendster had 975,000 uniques in March, according to comScore, 11.3 million users visited MySpace, 4.1 million to Thefacebook.  FULL ARTICLE @ IHT

Mark Brooks: These sites are also doing a good job of reaching the 18-30's crowd...which is an increasingly valuable, and hard to reach demographic.  They're tuning in to the TV less, in preference to the internet.

Craigslist to Beam Ads One Light Year Into Space

SILICONVALLEY.com -- Mar 1 -- Craigslist plans to collect millions of ads and beam them into deep space May 15, accompanied by a videotaped greeting from craigslist founder Craig Newmark. "We believe there could be an infinite market opportunity.''  Users consent by checking a box next to their listings: ``OK to transmit this posting into outer space.'' CEO Jim Buckmaster won an eBay auction over the weekend -- at $1,225 -- for the chance to send a message into outer space.  Rumor has it that Hollywood has already commissioned a TV show about the event -- called ``List in Space.''  FULL ARTICLE @ YAHOO

Mark Brooks: Jim/Craig, what side of the light do your mushrooms grow on?  A brilliantly bizarre word-of-mouth/PR ploy in keeping with characterful Craigslist.

Honeymoon Nearly Over for Internet Dating Services

OMAHA WORLD-HERALD -- Feb 9 -- After a dramatic takeoff, the online dating industry seems to have reached its cruising altitude. US consumers spent ~$228 million on online personals the first half of 2004, up 6% from 2003. Two years ago, spending on online dating had quadrupled in a year and then grown by about 49% the following year. The recent plateau forces online dating companies to do some soul-searching to keep attracting young singles. Nate Elliott, Jupiter Research predicts more modest growth - about 20% over a four-year period. Some seekers are joining singles groups, helping their memberships surge. Some are finding free ways to meet and greet online in places such as Craigslist. Even industry insiders acknowledge that they need to do a better job. "We've been slack," said Kristin Kelly, senior director of public affairs for Match.com. FULL ARTICLE @ OMAHA WORLD-HERALD

Mark Brooks: Barry, meet Kristin, Kristin meet Barry.

Craig's Quiet Revolution

MOTLEY FOOL -- Dec 30 -- With people using craigslist as a way to meet others in their neighborhood for free online dating services could suffer. Of course, you can sell your stuff on craigslist, too. Which brings us to the big heavyweight in community-based buying and selling, eBay. Both eBay and craigslist boast loyal communities, although craigslist's can be described as grassroots. Is eBay worried? Well, it did take a 25% stake in craigslist this past summer. What's the secret? Craigslist appeals to the young and hip. It's rebelliously anti-corporate; eBay purchased its stake from a former employee. MOTLEY FOOL

Mark Brooks: I wondered how eBay laid their mitts on 25% of Craigslist. Anyone know who the former employee is?

Three Minutes With Craig Newmark

PCW: What are the most popular sections of Craigslist?
Newmark: Jobs, housing, for sale, and personals. YAHOO NEWS

eBay Acquires Minority Interest in craigslist

SAN FRANCISCO & SAN JOSE, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Aug. 13, 2004--eBay has acquired a preexisting minority ownership interest in craigslist of approximately 25%. The resulting relationship will allow eBay and craigslist to share expertise, resources, and creativity on behalf of online communities everywhere. With dedicated sites in 45 cities around the world, craigslist is an online meeting place for millions of people looking to share ideas, meet a friend, find a date, find a job, or locate an apartment. YAHOO NEWS