Competitors Using Software To Mark Each Other's Craigslist Postings As Spam

from the now-that's-impressive dept

One sign of a successful software company is when an ecosystem starts to build around it. We’ve seen this with companies like Microsoft, eBay and Google of course. And, while there definitely have been some products built on top of Craigslist, I hadn’t realized it had gone so far as to include software that will try to trick Craigslist into deleting a post as spam. As you may know, Craigslist has a little link on each post that allows any reader to “flag as spam.” There’s an automated system that takes note of these clicks, and if enough such clicks come from enough unique users, the post is automatically pulled off the site. For the most part, this system is both effective and efficient. But, according to the linked article above, there’s software out there that will let you “flag as spam” any post you want, sending multiple clicks pretending to come from unique users. It’s being used by some companies to maliciously pull down perfectly legitimate posts from competitors. Craigslist says it’s constantly tweaking its systems to avoid this kind of thing, but why not have a Wikipedia-style setup, where “deleted” spam posts can be reviewed by folks who can “undelete” the not-spam ones? It can use the same basic system, where if enough people vote that a “spam” post is legit, it goes back online. Or if it’s really an issue, then certain posts that get jerked back and forth could finally be “locked” by an admin based on their discretion.

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Comments on “Competitors Using Software To Mark Each Other's Craigslist Postings As Spam”

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DittoBox says:

Re: Re:

One man’s opinion, but captchas are terrible and inaccessible ways of keeping the bots out. They’re also increasingly ineffective and as of late are getting almost completely illegible for humans as well.

The last 5 captchas I’ve had to deal with I have not been able to use. I’m young, smart and have 20/20 vision. It ain’t me.

These things are pure evil.

TX CHL Instructor (profile) says:


CAPTCHAs have been pretty handily defeated. There is one company that farms out CAPTCHAs all over the ‘net, offering free porn for solving a CAPTCHA. Typical CAPTCHA is solved in about 10-15 seconds with that system.

Even the OCR (and neural net) programs are getting pretty good at solving CAPTCHAs.

CAPTCHA is not the answer. Wish I knew what was. Concealed Handgun License Training in North Dallas, Tx.

Dr. Slobber says:


It’s not the competitors that you have to worry about on Craigs, it’s the idiot flaggers that have nothing else to do but maliciously flag other user’s posts. It’s actually a sport over on Craigs to see how many posts you can have taken down. There are flagger mobs that spend a great deal of their lives just taking down other’s posts.

Craigs defender says:

Perception is part of the problem. Craigslist TOS do NOT allow commercial services or businesses to post in the categories save a very few exceptions. Craigslist is not meant for businesses, it is meant for individuals as spelled out in the TOS. Anything business oriented posted there is spamming if not placed in the SERVICES section unless for a very few exceptions. (car dealers and some Craigslist areas like NY apartments which must be paid for to post) Another thing is that the TOS prohibit selling for third parties, ie…Realtors and consignment brokers. Lastly, the TOS prohibit page graphics which link to the dealers site such as many Realtors use. These are all spam and need to be eliminated as Craigslist becomes to unwieldy to use. I support the individual user concept and do my best to flag dealer ads as spam. I do go to an extreme to assure that it is indeed a business by googling the phone number or name of the person listed but most are so blatant to list the business name. If there is a question, I leave it alone. The magnitude of the dealer/business ads is making Craigslist unusable and everyone should do their part to help out. Yes, there are some Aholes flagging willy nilly but one can find them in everyday life everywhere but if you are a business, READ THE TOS, you aren’t allowed so, piss off.

Ashley says:

Re: The problem is people like you

The entire problem was illustrated by your ridiculous post. There are morons who feel it is somehow their duty to police Craigslist…which 1) is owned by a BUSINESS, actively making millions of dollars from its use; and 2)is meant to be open-source. This is not a public-funded government organization, nor a non-profit service to help the ‘unfortunate’ people-who-have-crap-they-need-to-get-rid-of. It is open to everyone to post whatever the heck they want. Unless someone is posting hateful, abusive things, attacking people unfairly, making dangerous, inciteful, or illegal posts…you should mind your own damn business and leave their posts alone! Do you really have nothing better to do with your time than RESEARCH every ad you come across? How unbelievably sad for you!

jack makokov says:

Re: Re: The problem is people like you

You don’t seem to get what cockpitinferno was saying. For example, I’m currently looking to pay cash for an “inexpensive” vehicle ($3500 or less). Nothing wrong with most dealerships, but I’d prefer to purchase a vehicle from somebody not looking to make a ridiculous profit and selling something overpriced. So I check out the cars + trucks section in my area only to find the place loaded with car dealership ads, along with car dealers posing as private sellers. Yeah, I’ll flag ’em, especially when I call a number and it’s a dealership. Usually if a dealer is that desperate,deceptive, that’s not someone I’d like to do business with. Most people would RESEARCH an ad if they were making a major purchase. Yes, Craigs is free for everybody to post, but dealers take advantage with auto-posters–er, “marketing solutions firms”–posting their whole damn inventories numerous times throughout the day.

Pitabred says:

Escalating war

The problem with your solutions is that there would simply be an escalating war. There are already the bots (or whatever) to nuke posts, so it wouldn’t be a huge leap to create one to “un-nuke” a post. I don’t think making it a fairer system like Wikipedia would have the intended effect due to the transient nature of Craigslist posts, as opposed to the more permanent articles in Wikipedia.

Josh says:

I think it’d be interesting to know how this program actually works. I see two possibilities:

1) The maker of the software has some kind of botnet under his control, and the “report as spam” link gets sent to them to “click” – this is obviously illegal.

2) When you install this software, your computer will download and “click” those links sent in by other people every day/hour/whatever. Legally in a grey area, its an opt-in botnet (I would bet the EULA says you agree to have your computer used to report other messages as spam), but likely violation of Craiglist TOS.

Option 1 can be dealt with by law enforcement, option 2 is a technical problem that could be solved with a blacklist of certain IPs from reporting posts as spam.

Deep Doo Doo (profile) says:

Re: Help Me!

what to do poor Julie.

quit spamming the fucking site.

If everyone started acting like human beings again instead of selfish me, me, me, assholes, everyone could do business on craigslist, you only NEED one ad up every day to sell you stuff or advertise your business if it weren’t for the selfish fucking pricks who post 20 ads and more and KNOCK THE OTHER POSTS OFF THE PAGE.


If it weren’t for the spammers everyone’s post would be up long enough to generate some business for them.

But the spammers turn it in to a cesspool of pigs wallowing in there greed.

Steve Baylot says:

It's not right the way people flag things online

I have a business and I advertise on CL, I also use paid advertising. There is a jerk who is flagging everything in the automotive section of Jackson, Mississippi’s CL. He has gone so far as to contact us and tell us we have no right to use CL. Is there any software I can use to get around these guys. Thanks.

anonymous (user link) says:

Re: It's not right the way people flag things online

Steve… your car lot is spamming Jacksonville. How can you say you’re being flagged with software when you have a bunch of repeat ads up for the same cars going back a MONTH?

You spammers and your stupid “flagger software” theories are morons.

YOU are the reason craigslist is becoming more difficult to use. You spam, making craigslist make things harder. Then you COMPLAIN (for no reason) making craigslist “guilty” to make things harder.

98% of problems on craigslist are SPAMMERS’ faults.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's not right the way people flag things online

I have news for you, dumbass :

Craigslist is NOT for businesses. It is for individuals. You are WRONG to expect that your business has the right to post spam on CL.

If you were a real business instead of some dumb fucking hick you’d pay for ads like the rest of the world does.

I wish I lived in MI so I could flag you all day long. No, actually I don’t.
MI is a shithole. Good place for a cocksucker like you.

Cat says:


I can sympathize with Steve on this one. There is someone flagging and deleting people’s ads in the computer services section here in Phoenix. It’s sad when a competitor resorts to such tactics because they can’t handle the competition. This person has completely destroyed a section that was once peaceful. A person shouldn’t have the right to decide what’s best for the customer. The customer should have the right to decide which company is the best for their service needs.

People who flag other business competitors ads because they simply either don’t like them or because they don’t want any competition whatsoever show not only how unethical they are but it puts the customer at great risk of getting ripped off. Then again, the person that has their competition’s ads deleted probably don’t care who they are hurting or why. It’s a very bad way to conduct business and sooner or later the customer will wise up and choose a competitor anyway.

anjum says:

i support this , sometimes a bunch of flaggers just sit for fun flagging legitimate posts for nothing ,i dono if they get the ip adress or what but whatever you do they flag it.. even if its some baby item or piece of clothing you want to sell.. craiglist should do something about that other wise soon ppl will be frustated enough to leave the site

Den Locke says:

similar issues all over cl

I agree that it is the spammers causing the issues. They don’t even bother to read the aups. I also see a lot of employers using the gigs section to post free employment ads that are obviously FT positions offering 401k, salary, etc. I flag them all the time. It’s petty that I pay $25 (read: CHEAP employment ad) and these guys spam the gigs section to save $25.

Phil (user link) says:

Software that assists flagging has its merits...

Not for vanquishing competitors ads but for fighting spam and scam artists.

The amount of spam in the electronics, computer and photo sections of NY craigslist is astounding and this is not only spam it’s a scam as well. It seems there’s a group of folks from China that are generating this using some auto-posting software. I’m talking about hundreds of ads by a single poster.

Helps in the fight against spam/scams of this nature.

vern says:

This new phone verification is not working on CL new yorks computer services

There is 1 individual constantly spamming going under many many different business names, one can tell they are the same person its basically the same phone numbers and a flat rate that would be considered a slap in the face to any technical professional, not only that but he uses others ads from around the U.S. as his own, this person could not have an original thought if they were for sale at the 99cents store. He really needs a bitch slap. I won’t stoop to that level, but it’s ashamed at whats going on. I am only one person but I state my facts to everyday, sometimes it works, other days it’s a losing battle.

nr says:

Abuse of Auto Flagging Software

Same in Atlanta CL esp under the “Cars for Sale” and and a few other places–talk about your ad getting flagged at the speed of light! Daaaym these greedy scumbag dealers are SCARED TO DEATH of any competition! Add these clowns to the malcontents who just flag ads because the don’t happen to like and item and you can pretty much forget about doing any listing–almost sounds as bad as the computer services section of CL Phoenix….

I’m looking into somehow getting the auto flagging software (without spending a ton of dough and one thats Mac compatible)….Only getting to protect myself–they wanna flag my ads? I’ll flag their azzez right back 😉

gypsybutterflyy (user link) says:

Craig's List jewelry scam - names/emails

Publishing names/email addresses of recent Craig’s List jewelry scammers in case someone (smartly) Googles their names before commencing business with them: Barry Wood –, Heather Freret –, Teresa Perez –, – this is a bogus address: Most of these are part of the Nigerian Craig’s List jewelry scam. Don’t fall for the fake payment/shipment authorization emails “from PayPal”. Report emails immediately to and Hope this all helps!

Jeff Mathias says:

Criaigs Flagging Software is Outdated

Ya, since software was created to flag down ads on craigslist, craigslist has been there to stop those programs using footprints as identification…

Post flagging is now a industry, you can have ads shot down in mass with Craigs Hitmen. You can just go to their site at to have tons of ads flagged.

Craigslist won’t be able to stop that I bet

Dick Hurtz says:

Spammers killed craigslist

The autos for sale on CL is just a mess now with spamming skuzz dealers from all over the United States posting autos in Chicago as well as local skuzz scum bag dealers. They polluted it so much it’s no good. A dealer friend of mine received a postal ad from a company that sells the software to list all your cars on CL, I told him many months ago they will just ruin the auto section as they have done. CL should just shut it down.

CW says:


I found this post searching for answers cuz I am so friggin pissed of right now it isnt even funny. The CAPTCHA isn’t the problem, the problem is self-righteous, lazy, losers who have nothing else better to do than flag. I have posted several legit ads today for employment and some idiot keeps flagging them. If you dont know…wake up, one person can flag a post if you know how to do it (which I wont mention here) This is not a one time thing for me it seems to happen more than 50-60 percent of the time and these people are OUT OF CONTROL! There has to be something that can be done to stop these guys???

jugstore cowboy says:

They Got it Coming

I don’t mind dealerships posting. The thing I don’t like is when some jackass posts his whole damn inventory (this is when most people feel the need to flag). Dealers are getting worse than the scammers there. BTW, if people are browsing CL looking for a vehicle, they probably aren’t looking for something in the $20k-40k range.

Dee (profile) says:

Someone is Flagging/Deleting my Ads

Okay, I work for a legit business offering office spaces etc for lease/rent and storage space for rent. In the past 3 days, all of my recent ads have been flagged. I was doing some ads with, and these were the ones flagged/deleted. I have tried posting a regular text ad and so far that has not been deleted. I post, on average 3 ads a day in various categories (ie storage in parking/storage etc.)

Has anyone else had this problem with html style ads? Any suggestions? Thank you.

karate tortoise says:

Why do people have problems with dealers posting ads? The For Sale by Owner section is loaded with retards who obviously have no intention of selling a vehicle. At least a car dealer WANTS to unload inventory. Here’s a few tips for posters and some idiot ranters here:

1.120k-plus is not low mileage for ANY model year
2.If a vehicle has been wrecked and damn near totaled, Blue Book value is of no consequence
3.Try posting a phone number or some sort of contact info if you’re serious about selling your car
4.Type your ad in MS Word or other word processing program and check for grammar and spelling errors
5. A 1985 Buick Ciera is NOT a classic or antique
6. A potential buyer doesn’t give a rat’s ass about your emotional attachment or sentimental value to a vehicle
7. Spammers, don’t post photos of vehicles with palm trees and/or desert in geographical areas where neither would ever occur. The incoherence of what you cut and paste is bad enough.

CL SuX now says:

the ONLY solution to flagBot retards

The problem is the auto-flaggers and pathetic self-appointed censors with no lives that are NAZI flaggers are just another form of SPAMmers on craigslist. This has been going on for years and CL admin has done virtually ZERO about it. Must be that CL admin are lazy, indifferent or incompetent, but this BS is a cancer that is slowly killing their site from within.

The ONLY solution: NO unaccountable flagging allowed!
If we have to go through the BS of Captcha and phone verification to place any legit ad, so should ALL the flaggers, every time. Otherwise CL is just a pointless idiotic Bot vs. Bot pissing contest!!

spammersblow (profile) says:

sw florida spammers are horrible!

i run a owner operated power washing business. i post in the household services section, sometimes the skilled trades.
i post once.
every time i post, ill check to make sure it actually made it (sometimes it doesnt and i dont know why) and on top of me is 15-20 posts from the same company also advertising power washing.
they must have someone sit in the office and check it all day to see if they get top posted, then they splash an insane amount of ads to stay on top.
i know when i post im asked for a phone number every so often. i am only 1 guy, i have a landline and a cell. this company must be using the emails and phone numbers of all of thier employees.
craigs should only allow 1 post a day, per section, per ISP, this might help that. also, when are they going to require a license number to post in ALL services sections? right now where i am at, its only required in the theraputic section. unlicensed contracting is ILLEGAL. it should be required by ANY contractor looking to provide a service.

John Sev says:

i traced a flagger

i have a computer repair company in new york city and someone kept flagging my ads nonstop. I decided to find out who they are and i traced them. I called the guy to confront him about and he says yes i flag, what you going to do about it. What should i so about this cl flager????

this is the address of the flagger

billys t shirt shop

1248 Fulton Street Brooklyn, NY 11216
(718) 789-2273

call or text my phones



Paul Wendt says:

Craigslist is a collaborator with the police state

Be assured that all “policies” that require any form of ID verification are deliberately engineered into existence for police state purposes. This IS 1984 being put into existence. What are we supposed to expect them to do? Admit what’s going on? No. “It’s for spam.” “It’s to stop stalkers.” “It’s to cover our liability for insurance purposes.” Whatever. The endgame is: There will be no more anonymity, safety, security from govt online anymore. They intend to know every single thing you do online, with timestamps, location data, and everything else. Don’t go along with it. If necessary, just print out a flyer yourself with your sale items or your yard sales and post them on bulletin boards around town. The only proper attitude toward Craigslist’s collaborative, un-American “policies” is contempt, disgust, and rebellion. Fuck ’em.

Dealer says:

Response to: Craigs defender on May 6th, 2008 @ 8:38am

You’re one of the ignorant twits causing part of the problem with craigslist. Why would craigslist make sections for dealers to advertise if it was against tos? They also spoon feed search options like “by dealer” just so people have nothing to complain about… Blindly flagging legitimate posts based off dumbass personal opinion, IS against the tos. Hypocritical sheep.

Kai (profile) says:

UNETHICAL? Give me F*****ing break!!!

I am so sick of reading stupid thread comments that say flagging craigslists ads is unethical. UNETHICAL? Two clicks to the left and you’re in Casual Encounters….hosting at YOUR place for some NSA kind of fun. How can people bring up ethics when it comes to doing ANYTHING on craigslist? You can have your diamond ring stolen from you and listed in your same zipcode on CL in less than a day. Someone fencing your stolen goods and CL is there to help them do it. There was…or is…or was human trafficking (now on backpage) until CL got rid of the Adult Services section. Point is (yes I have one believe it or not) that Craiglist is a fkng ZOO! A ZOO I tell ya but we wanna pick and choose which categories we want to be ethical about. You all who say “Ethics” and “Craigslist” in the same sentence should be banned from using the internet. The same people saying flagging ads is unethical are the SAME MORONS looking for “No Strings Attached” sex just two clicks down.

Kai (profile) says:

I'm MISS Unethical. It's nice to meet you!

I’m flagging anyone’s ads who post more than me and drowns me out in my category. Who gives a shit. I don’t play fair and neither did Donald Trump on his way to the top. The nice guy ALWAYS finishes last. It’s not just a saying…its the truth! I am one of the people with craigslist auto-flagging software under development as we speak. I will make a decision once i’m done developing it if i want to distribute it or keep it for myself. A couple quick bucks might not be so bad but then providing proper support of the application will take up every moment of my time…fixing bugs..etc.

Kai (profile) says:

sw florida spammers are horrible!

So buy an auto-flagging software and hit him. He is spamming your category and probably flagging your ads. I’d flag his ads which would be removed almost immediately and them go HAM posting all day. Wouldn’t you love to see all of his ads but maybe 3 removed? Can’t lie…that would be a “Yes” I know. Ive been there. It led me to developing my own auto flagging software. I’m not done but when I am, my competition who post over 20 of the SAME ads with the SAME title EVERYDAY can kiss my arse!!!! Buy bye competition:)

Scott (profile) says:

Novice question

I am a small ?one truck operator?, in the home improvement business. I focus on windows and door installations in my area and city. Mostly sell the installation and install materials, but the customers supplies some repurchased product. Although , I will supply as most contractors do when asked, I am not a reseller. But sell product with installations only.

I am lic, and Insured and EPA reg, as according to the local laws.
So I have a web site, and I advertise on Cl . There is no other real venues for small local guys like me unless you have a big operating budget.

Locally, Craigslist has been taken over by bigger window and door companies . If I flag them I get kicked off Cl. If I post honestly two to three time a week I get ghosted. Or the big competitor includes me in their flagging operations. I almost seem like there is a inside deal going on somewhere…

Is Craigslist a dead end for me? I seem that it was made for folks like me but now I don?t get any business from it unless I spend as mush time nursing my ads as I do working by business.

What should a simple carpenter do, Craigslist seems to have lost its way and we get no business form it any more.
Resorting to using flyers door to door.

Please be nice.


f says:

robo flager robbing my money n income.

I am going to get the so that flag my ads off for selling cheaper than him , blood will flow, thinks he is smart running software on cl his ads are always 1st and my like ads get flagged off and now I am ghosted. He his store will soon be gone he will be a ghost see who’s smart now. he is going to get it good real soon boom boom picked the wrong guy to f over.

jones says:


the flagging problem on CL is a nuisance. and you know what? people flock to it anyway. the answer to the problem is to GO SOMEWHERE ELSE! and to hell with craigslist! go to! ever hear of flagging problems on no? because they don’t HAVE that problem!

but you don’t want to go to because nobody else goes there. craigslist gets all the traffic…

stupid is as stupid does. you are getting what you deserve.

adsflagger (user link) says:

Craigslist Ads Flagging Software

Craigslist Ads Flagging Software ( Automatically flag down any craigslist ads with proxy API.)


One Click CL ads Flaging (Automated)
You Can Add 100 URL And Import URL
Get URL By Keyword
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Per Flag Send Every 2-5 Seconds
Auto count flagg done or removed
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You can add multiple Proxy Server, RDP,SSH



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