Unfortunate: Craigslist Continues To Be A Walled Garden
from the share-a-little,-guys dept
For many years I’ve been a big supporter of Craigslist, both as a user and an observer of innovative businesses. I’ve even argued that the company itself is too modest in pretending that it isn’t a profit-maximizing firm. I’ve frequently defended the company when it was attacked with bogus lawsuits. However, for years, I’ve been baffled by Craigslist’s insistence on being isolationist against the rest of the internet. Almost exactly seven years ago, we were disappointed to see they were shutting down a search tool that made Craigslist easier to use. And, over the years, we’ve seen this same consistent pattern, whereby the company gets upset at anyone who builds on their work — even if it takes no money away from Craigslist and likely drives more traffic to the site. Just last year, for example, we wrote about Craigslist bullying an online aggregator.
Late last week, it went down this same path yet again, but this time it picked on a service that’s really really popular (more so than most of the others it targets): PadMapper. PadMapper is a pretty neat tool if you’re looking for a place to live. It builds on a few different listings sites — including Craigslist — to provide much more value to the listing itself, such as by including an embedded map. It sends all the traffic to the original site, so it’s not taking away any traffic. It’s enhancing Craigslist’s value. When others increase your value, you should applaud. But, here, as in the past, Craigslist sent a legal cease-and-desist.
Craigslist has regularly defended these takedowns, by claiming that it just wants people to come directly to its site, and that’s part of its view of the “community.” But, again, PadMapper was driving more people to the site and making it even more useful to them.
What’s interesting this time, however, is that given how popular PadMapper is, and the fact that the guy behind PadMapper is asking people to (politely) suggest to Craig and Jim that they rethink this policy, I wonder if the company will finally change its mind. It’s been getting a lot of attention in the tech/startup community. Even though Craigslist has done this before many times, this is the first I can remember doing it to a site that is so popular.
As I’ve said in the past, I think Craigslist is making a big mistake in blocking these kinds of things. I recognize their reasoning, but at this point, it’s just silly. The rationale for blocking these other sites just doesn’t add up. There’s simply no reason to not be “neighborly” and allow others to drive more traffic to them. It’s definitely disappointing to see the company keep this policy up for so long.