Thank Craigslist for the fake “sharing economy.”

It occurs to me suddenly that if Craigslist hadn’t totally dominated the very concept of free online classified ads in the US market, all these fake “sharing economy” sites — really just middleman parasites in a thin disguise — may well not exist, or exist in lesser numbers.

Put another way, because Craigslist has dominated the market and mindshare in free classified ads for all categories with its horrible, unsearchable, unfriendly, eye-bleeding site, nobody dares put up a free or volunteer classified ad site for a specific subcategory of goods or services. I mean, why would you? Craigslist will just make it irrelevant, right?

So in order to compete in a specific subcategory, or “vertical” (gack), you actually need a profit motive to beat Craigslist, which means taking a cut of all that “sharing,” which means vastly more infrastructure for billing and invoicing than for a free specific classifieds site, which means a far greater need for capital.

Trust me, Richard Stallman exists, somebody would have made a free version of if Craigslist weren’t around.

I hate Craigslist. I hate it a lot. The site is awful. The company is awful and litigious, stifling innovations by the dozen because they dare scrape its data and try to make it genuinely useful.

But much like Windows, it’s “good enough,” and it was there first. So we’re stuck with it, turd though it may be. Thanks for reading; in my next post perhaps I’ll flame Paypal and Bashar al-Assad.


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