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.

Filed Under: ecosystem, spam
Companies: craigslist


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  1. identicon
    Josh, 6 May 2008 @ 9:41am

    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.

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