Sunday, February 17, 2008

craigslist

Back in the fall I discovered craigslist!

Of course, I had heard of it. I'd viewed the occasional apartment listing and read articles about it's phenomenal, almost cult-like popularity, but beyond that I hadn't had occasion to actually use it myself.

That is, until receiving a less than enthusiastic response for something I posted on Freecycle™ one lazy Sunday afternoon. I remembered that my cousin had mentioned getting stuff through craigslist so, on a whim, I decided to give it a whirl. How bad could it be? I set up an account, posted my item in the "free stuff" section, and didn't give it too much more thought. However, when I checked my email later that day, I was astonished at the response my post had received, since the same item hadn't gotten so much as a nibble on Freecycle™.

I selected a respondent, made p/u arrangements, and the rest is declutter history. Let me tell you, I got rid of more stuff in the month after that than I would have ever thought possible. I'm talking even the odd or unusual stuff that mysteriously accumulates over time. The kind of stuff you can't imagine anyone else would want, but, therein lies the problem for the Packrat, eh?

That is not to say craigslist was not without its drawbacks, which I'll get to in a moment, but in spite of the pitfalls I encountered, it was like discovering a Secret Declutter Weapon, and craigslist remains an extremely vital tool in this Packrat's arsenal. Again, I only have experience with posting items in the "free stuff" section. I haven't tried to sell anything through the site, so I can't speak to what the experience is like using any of those categories.

The good news. . .

  • there's no charge to set up an account and it is very easy to do
  • you can upload photos of your item at the same time you enter your written description, also quite easy
  • you can choose to anonymize your email so it is not exposed to the "elements". The site creates a unique email for that post which responders see, and their queries are then forwarded to your email. You decide whom to contact after that.
  • although your posts remain available to you indefinitely on your Acct home page, they "expire" or are delisted from public viewing after a certain period of time. You can also manually de-list an item if you want. Alternatively, it is easy to relist an item as well. I find this feature to be hugely convenient, since on Freecycle™ this must be done manually.
. . .and the not so good news
  • be forewarned, craigslist is strictly no frill's. If you are looking for a slickly designed site, with java script animations, flash displays, etc then turn back now! The craigslist interface is plain, Plain, PLAIN!

  • for completing certain tasks, the site's design is less than intuitive, so it can be tricky to navigate or figure out how to do what you want, or why something occurred

  • like Freecycle™ there is the problem of people indicating they are interested in an item, but then not following through when you contact them about P/U arrangements, however, I have been fortunate that given the number of items I've gotten rid of using craigslist, this hasn't happen too often.

  • there are numerous craigslist communities for different cities or regions both in this country as well as all over the world. You must post to the one to where you (and your item) are geographically located. craigslist communities are "self-policing" and may vary in their thresholds for what they consider to be bad or inappropriate behavior. Community members can flag a post for removal if they deem it to be spam (i.e. advertisement or promotional in nature, or too many posts from one user within a certain timeframe) in violation of site policy, or otherwise inappropriate. If a post receives too many flags, it will most likely be removed.

    The problem is you have no way of knowing beforehand what that threshold might be, nor are you necessarily even alerted to the fact that a particular listing has been flagged, that is a message in your Acct while you are logged in as opposed to an email that may not be sent until sometime later. If you even get that. From what I could gather after wading into the help forum, some people said the didn't even get an email.

Fortunately (or unfortunately) I got the first email, perhaps 30 minutes after initially posting what I thought to be a mere four items (not a problem on Freecycle™). Up to that point I had just posted one thing at a time with a day or two in between. But Hey! It was the beginning of the New Year and I was feeling ambitious! I would later find out that apparently all four posts were flagged. Luckily only two received a threshold number of flags, but they were still up long enough that a few responses trickled through so I was ultimately able to carry out my Exit Strategy for them.

However, obtaining even that much information was a hassle. The email I received was an automated thingy with a boilerplate advisement stating that the vast majority of postings were usually removed because they violated craigslist guidelines and it suggested that I check the terms of use to make sure my post was in accordance with it (as far as I could tell they were). For a more detailed explanation I was directed to post a question in the appropriate craigslist help forum. After some minor difficulty figuring out how to access and post to the help forum, I was able to glean several possible reasons as to why my posts had been flagged, but It I was still left feeling a bit nebulous about the whole thing.

Be all that as it may, I have still found craigslist to be an extremely effective declutter tool. After My Experience I made sure to space my posts out or tried listing multiple items in one post and don't seem to have had any more problems.

1 comment:

trisha said...

I am in great need of some fabric. I make and then donate numerous amounts of lap blankets for anyone who is wheelchair bound, regular full size blankets for the homeless, less fortunate. I donate to two different hospitals for sick children. I already used everything that I have in my sewing room, and I have already spent a lot of money on fabric. My husband is going to kill me, but I need to help people. So can anyone donate some fabric to me to help people who need to stay warm but can't on their own? I also make little dolls and teddy bears for children for Christmas. If you have any lace or ribbon that would be great also... Thank You Kindly. My name is Trisha, and my email is trishacrafts@gmail.com . Again thank you for helping...