What Craigslist Is and How Its Online Classifieds Work | TechBoomers (2024)

Have you heard of the Craigslist website? Want to learn more about what it is and how the site works? If so, you’re in luck. In this article, we’ll be telling you all about Craigslist to introduce you to the site and kick off our Craigslist course. Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • What Craigslist is
  • How safe it is to use
  • The three best features of Craigslist
  • The history of Craigslist
  • Its pros and cons
  • Alternatives to Craigslist

Let’s start off by talking about what exactly Craigslist is.

What is Craigslist?

Craigslist is a classifieds website – the online version of the classifieds section in a newspaper. It allows people to post ads to sell their goods and/or services, for local companies looking to hire, and to advertise local events. Other Craigslist users can respond to these ads if they’re interested.

When you open up the Craigslist website, you can choose your city so that you’re only viewing ads from your own area. Craigslist sorts ads into various categories, like housing, jobs, pets, and more, which makes it easy to browse classifieds ads around topics and categories that interest you.

What Craigslist Is and How Its Online Classifieds Work | TechBoomers (1)

You might be wondering, is Craigslist safe to use? We’re going to answer that next.

Is Craigslist safe?

Craigslist is safe to use if you’re careful about using it properly. Some people may post listings on Craigslist with the intention of scamming people, so you do need to be cautious. If a post violates Craigslist’s terms of service, it will be flagged. Just make sure you trust someone before making a deal.

If you want to read more about this topic, check out our article on Craigslist safety. Now, we’ll get into how Craigslist works.

How does Craigslist work? 4 best features of Craigslist

1.A focus on the local

As we just mentioned, the unique thing about Craigslist is that it isn't just one website.It's split into over 700 websites that serve advertisem*nts in major cities and urban areas around the world. This makes it easier to find what (or who) you want closer to home.

What Craigslist Is and How Its Online Classifieds Work | TechBoomers (2)

2.Simple and free

Besides what its users post, Craigslist doesn't allow any other advertising on its websites. In addition, most advertisem*nts are free to post, even without a Craigslist account. The main exceptions are for companies looking to hire or sell expensive items, such as event tickets or cars and trucks.

Craigslist also doesn't take a cut whenever a purchase or sale is made over the website. However, this also means that buyers and sellers are left to hash out a transaction's details on their own. This is why it's important to include at least some contact details with an advertisem*nt, whether that's an email address, phone number, or something else.

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3.Cheap prices

When buying things on Craigslist, you’re usually going to find lower prices than you would on normal online shopping sites or in stores. Many things being advertised and sold through Craigslist are used, end of season, extra stock, etc., so you’re likely to be able to save yourself some money.

4.What's the word?

If you don't feel like using Craigslist for its advertisem*nts, it also includes discussion forums where you can chat with other Craigslist users on topics ranging from arts and beauty to travel and writing.

What Craigslist Is and How Its Online Classifieds Work | TechBoomers (4)

Those are three of Craigslist’s best features. In the next section, we’ll get into the history of the website.

History of Craigslist

Named after founder Craig Newark, Craigslist began in 1995 as an email distribution service, letting people know about upcoming local events in his hometown of San Francisco. Incorporated in 1999, Craigslist has expanded beyond event listings and now features listings for job openings, available housing, goods for sale, services for hire, relationship seeking, and general topics of discussion.

Craigslist now has local websites for over 700 cities or general urban areas in 70 countries around the world, and is available in 13 different languages.

Now that we’ve told you a little about the history of the site, let’s talk about some of Craigslist’s pros and cons.

Pros and cons of Craigslist


  • You can post ads for free
  • Ads you’ll see on the site are also based on your location, so they should all be available close to home
  • You can also use the site to chat with other users about all kinds of topics!


  • The site’s interface is almost too simple – it’s not overly professional or attractive to look at.
  • Since Craigslist only acts as a connection between sellers and buyers, it doesn’t give you any of the safety or guarantees that most online shopping sites would.

Does Craigslist not sound like your cup of tea? Don’t worry – there are lots of other alternatives available, and we’ll tell you about a few of our favorites next.

Alternatives to Craigslist

If you aren’t interested in using Craigslist, there are some other similar sites you might want to try instead. One of them is Kijiji, which is set up quite similar to Craigslist, but is only available in Canada. Another is eBay, which is a popular online auction and e-commerce website. A newer Craigslist alternative is LetGo, which is a mobile app for people to buy and sell items. Read about these websites and more in our Craigslist alternatives article.

Craigslist is one of the most popular online classifieds websites in the world – and there’s good reason for it. So, if you think you may have a need to buy or sell something you have lying around at home, or you are seeking a handyman, a new employee, want to meet someone, or just want to talk, Craigslist might be for you. Make sure you move on to the next article in our Craigslist course for our full review of the website, so you can learn about how to use it, and more importantly – how to use it safely.

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What Craigslist Is and How Its Online Classifieds Work | TechBoomers (2024)


What is the Craigslist? ›

Craigslist (stylized as craigslist) is a privately held American company operating a classified advertisem*nts website with sections devoted to jobs, housing, for sale, items wanted, services, community service, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.

What is Craigslist most used for? ›

Craigslist is a website for viewing and posting local advertisem*nts. It works a lot like the Classifieds section of a newspaper, and it's completely free to use. You can find a listing for almost anything on Craigslist—jobs, apartments, garage sales, used cars, personal ads, and a whole lot more.

Does anybody use Craigslist anymore? ›

Do People Still Use Craigslist? Absolutely. You can search your local area on Craigslist and find used furniture, cars, rentals, and even jobs.

Why use Craigslist? ›

It lets people offer and find rentals, jobs, stuff for sale, services, and much more in their local area. People have been using Craigslist to sell stuff for cash for years.

What is the best alternative to Craigslist? ›

Here are the top five Craigslist competitors to consider.
  • OfferUp. OfferUp is a popular alternative to Craigslist, and you can find almost any item on there. ...
  • Oodle. ...
  • 3. Facebook Marketplace. ...
  • Gumtree. ...
  • Locanto. ...
  • For Electronics. ...
  • Decluttr. ...
  • Buyback Boss.
Apr 26, 2024

Why is Craigslist so popular? ›

Additionally, craigslist has always been free to use for most users, which has helped to build a large and loyal user base. Another key factor in craigslist's success is its strong focus on local communities. The site is organized by city and region, making it easy for people to connect with others in their area.

What is the goal of Craigslist? ›

craigslist is about:

giving each other a break, getting the word out about everyday, real-world stuff. restoring the human voice to the Internet, in a humane, non-commercial environment. keeping things simple, common-sense, down-to-earth, honest, very real.

What are the benefits of a Craigslist account? ›

Anonymity and Flexibility: Craigslist functions with more anonymity compared to other platforms, and it offers flexible options for sellers and buyers to negotiate and arrange their transactions, providing a more personalized experience for both parties involved.

What is the most sold item on Craigslist? ›

12 Items That Currently Sell the Most Money On Craigslist
  • Home Appliances. Gently used or well-maintained appliances like refrigerators, washing machines, and dryers are always in demand. ...
  • Furniture. ...
  • Electronics. ...
  • Cars and Motorcycles. ...
  • Power Tools. ...
  • Sporting Goods. ...
  • Garden Equipment. ...
  • Tech Accessories.
Jan 24, 2024

Why is Craigslist so sketchy? ›

Craigslist is a legitimate website, and most Craigslist posts are legitimate and trustworthy as well. However, just like any other online platform, it can be used by scammers. Some people may post fraudulent listings only pretending to sell goods or services, so take precautions to ensure your safety.

Should you put your phone number on Craigslist? ›

  1. Use your real email or phone number in your Craigslist ad.
  2. Respond to these messages.
  3. Click the link in the message.
  4. Give out your credit card number, social security number or any other identifying information that could be used to steal your identity.

Why is Craigslist blocked? ›

Craigslist states that “you may post to one category and in one city, no more than once every 48 hours.” So, if you attempt to post too many ads in a day or post the same ad multiple times, it's going to trigger Craigslist to remove them and block your IP address.

Why do Craigslist buyers ask for a phone number? ›

What can a Craigslist scammer do with my phone number? If a Craigslist scammer has your phone number and gets you to verify a code sent to that number, they can use it to open a Google Voice account. With that account, they can continue running scams using your phone number.

Should you give your email address on Craigslist? ›

Craigslist automatically hides your email address from listings with an email relay system. But once you start communicating to messages in your Craigslist inbox, it will use the name in your own email address. As well, it's not difficult for a scammer to get your email address using a Craigslist email address decoder.

What is better, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist? ›

Unlike Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist functions with more anonymity. The seller chooses how much information to include, so a buyer may know very little about the person or business behind the product. This lack of transparency has inspired more local marketplace competition.

Why do they call it Craigslist? ›

a little history:

Craig wanted to call it "sf-events", but more knowledgeable friends suggested calling it "craigslist" to reinforce its personal and down-to-earth nature. He still finds it awkward that such a visible site is named after him, but he'll get over it.

Why do people flag you on Craigslist? ›

Craigslist does this to prevent one person from spamming their site with too many ads at once. Many car dealers at single locations only have one IP address to work with, so using the same IP address to post on Craigslist is often the cause of flagged posts.

Is Craigslist still legit? ›

Craigslist is a popular online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers. Unfortunately, Craigslist scammers have a reputation to target unsuspecting victims. There are a few ways where you can safely use Craigslist to buy, sell or trade goods and services.

How does Craigslist make money? ›

Craigslist's business model is based on providing a free classified advertisem*nt platform to users. They generate revenue by charging users a fee to post some types of ads in select cities and by running paid banner ads.


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