Thinking of buying, selling, hiring, or dating close to home on Craigslist? Before you get started, we'll give you an overview of some of the things we like and don't like about the website.
Put your wallet away — With a few exceptions, most advertisements on Craigslist are free to post. This means that you aren't losing money while you're waiting to buy or sell an item.
Deal close to home — By default, Craigslist organizes its advertisements by geographical location, so it's easier to do business with someone who lives near you!
Email verification helps curb spam and scams — Craigslist requires all advertisements posted to be confirmed via a hyperlink in an email. This makes it difficult for troublemakers to post fake advertisements en masse or while pretending to be someone else. Craigslist also partially anonymizes your email address when dealing with potential buyers or sellers, so they don't flood you with unrelated emails.
Stay and have a chat — You can also simply use Craigslist to hold discussions with other users on different topics, such as beauty, celebrities, gardening, marriage, pets, and more!
What am I supposed to be looking at? — The simple user interface on Craigslist is overly simple; it's cramped and not very visually appealing. This may make it difficult to navigate the website.
No safety net — Unlike conventional e-commerce websites, Craigslist doesn't facilitate transactions between the people who post listings and those looking to buy, rent, or hire. This means that buyers and sellers have to work out the details of their deals on their own, and that Craigslist won't intervene if a dispute arises. This makes Craigslist users more vulnerable to scammers, so you'll have to take extra precautions to make sure that you're getting a square deal from your opposite number. We'll help you out with these in our Craigslist Scams article.
Forget me not — Craigslist doesn't have any mechanisms that allow you to easily delete your account if you want to stop using it. Your best bet is to delete or anonymize as much information associated with your account as possible, and then contact Craigslist directly and hope that they'll be nice enough to close your account for you.
The bottom line: 7/10
The main draw of Craigslist is its simplicity and flexibility. Most advertisements that you post on it are free, and it doesn't play man-in-the-middle with your transactions over it by showing you unwanted advertisements or driving up the cost of your business with service fees. Another major point for it is the fact that it groups ads into local areas by default, so it's easy to find what you're looking for nearby instead of having to sort through where your goods or services are coming from or going to. The fact that you can use it as a general discussion forum, and don't have to use it for advertising, is also a plus.
The main knock against Craigslist is that, because it doesn't mediate transactions, you're left to deal with anyone who wants to buy from you (or sell to you) on your own. This means that it's much easier to get scammed over Craigslist than it is over a traditional e-commerce website, so you're going to have to take some extra precautions in order to keep yourself safe. Another point against it is the bizarre fact that it doesn't include a mechanism for deleting your account if you want to stop using it. The best that you can do is delete or randomize as much of your information as you can, and maybe contact Craigslist customer service and see if they'll get rid of your account if you ask nicely.
If you are confident in your business skills, Craigslist is a simple, low-cost way to buy or sell goods or services in your local area. However, we'd recommend having some experience using traditional e-commerce websites, such as Amazon and eBay, before you give Craigslist a try.