Craigslist Quietly Begins Testing The Feature It Sued PadMapper For Adding

from the market-research? dept

Craigslist is somewhat famous for keeping its rather antiquated design, and refusing to make changes. Even when well meaning fans have suggested ideas for improving the site, Craigslist has resisted, insisting that it’s really just about design companies who are trying to get hired.

So that makes the following story all the more interesting. You may recall that Craigslist has gotten itself into an unfortunate and petty legal spat with the site PadMapper, because PadMapper dared to make Craigslist more useful, in part by putting Craigslist housing entries on a map so people could see where they are. This is a pretty small, but incredibly useful tweak, and Craigslist — normally a defender of internet freedom — suddenly turned into a protectionist legal aggressor and sued.

However, as Aaron DeOliveira points out to us, Craigslist has just started quietly testing out its own upgrade… using maps. They’re using OpenStreetMap (which is interesting in its own right as more and more companies are moving away from Google Maps to the much more open (duh) OpenStreetMap).

While there may not be a direct connection between PadMapper and Craigslist’s decision, the timing certainly raises some eyebrows, and hints at the idea that Craigslist might just be suing PadMapper for improving Craigslist before Craigslist had a chance to launch the feature itself. Or, even worse, Craigslist thought it was such a good idea that it sued PadMapper while using its idea. That’s not quite the “open innovation” model that Craig Newmark tries to champion.

For what it’s worth, PadMapper’s Eric DeMenthon is actually quite conciliatory about the whole thing:

“I’m glad something good came out of all this,” says PadMapper creator Eric DeMenthon. “Lots of people wrote to them about the PadMapper cease and desist [letter], so maybe that convinced them that it was worthwhile to do some mapping themselves.

Market research by suing those who try to improve you? Doesn’t seem like the most effective system.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: craigslist, openstreetmap, padmapper

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Comments on “Craigslist Quietly Begins Testing The Feature It Sued PadMapper For Adding”

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16 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

nothing different to what Apple does. waits for another company/person to put a really useful program or feature, sue using god knows what reason or excuse, start using that same feature yourself anyway for free or almost free. the well-off company wins all round, the originator who couldn’t defend himself because of a lack of funds, is still just as bad off as before. originator then stops originating so everyone loses out for the future. cant think of a better way to stifle innovation whilst keeping control, can you!

Brent (profile) says:

Craigslist had to be in the process of developing the this long before PadMapper announced their version. It doesn’t make sense to suddenly develop it (after PadMapper’s announcement) then let the media know shortly after suing another company for making the same tool. Perhaps PadMapper even heard about the development of the tool directly from Craigslist and rushed to develop their own version before CL could release theirs.. This post seems to condemn Craigslist simply b/c their news came second w/o knowing the complete background.

I’m just trying to keep hope alive that Craigslist isn’t becoming evil.

UninterestedViewer (profile) says:

“Market research by suing those who try to improve you? Doesn’t seem like the most effective system.”

Let’s be logical here.. Craigslist may have been planning this feature for a year when Padmapper began its service. Craigslist would be stupid to allow them to continue to piggy back on them and become popular when they have already planned rolling out a service like that.

Even if they hadn’t been throwing that idea around (unlikely), you still absolutely do not, as a business, want a 3rd party to be able to ‘represent’ your product. In this case, Craigslist would have no control over how Padmapper presented user’s with the Craigslist content. Controlling you brand is SUPER important.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re:

Craigslist had to be in the process of developing the this long before PadMapper announced their version.

PadMapper’s version had been out for a long time before Craigslist threatened them… and then it waited a while before suing as well.

then let the media know shortly after suing another company for making the same tool.

Craigslist didn’t let the media know about this new thing. People spotted it…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

PadMapper’s version had been out for a long time before Craigslist threatened them… and then it waited a while before suing as well.

Yes, masnick, that is the way all legal proceedings work, as you should well know, as you claim to be some kind of legal expert.

you cannot sue someone before you ‘threaten’ them, that threat is “we are trying to come to some resolution to this, do you want to work with us, or do you want us to get the law to resole it”.

if that company then decides to ‘fight’ it, they ignore that offer to make amends, and the case proceeds to a hearing..

Dan Whaley (user link) says:

Excuse me, this is pitifully bad.

So– I don’t know about the rest of you, but I just went to actually try to use this. All I’m seeing is an occasional map at the bottom of a listing. Really? This is innovation? My 12 year old nephew could have implemented this in fifteen minutes– probably less.

Unless there is something substantially more in the pipeline, I’d have to say that CL still doesn’t get it. Not surprising, but a continual disappointment nonetheless. Where is the city map view of all listings. Come on.

And check out this one. 48th and Balboa. The pin is out in the ocean!!!! Pffft.

http://sfbay.craigslist.org/sfc/sub/3237512654.html

There should be a Razzie awards for tech. I think we have a winner.

Dan

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