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Ah, Craigslist. That oddly-named, terribly-designed, mind-blowingly useful website. I have quite the love-hate relationship with Craigslist. It’s got a ton of information and a ton of users, but without any kind of standard for what to put in a post, what to include and exclude, etc. it can be difficult to find what you’re actually looking for.
Other people evidently feel my pain, as a number of Craiglist mashups have sprung up on the Web that take the Craigslist data, and use it in a better way. These Craigslist tools don’t have everything Craigslist does, but they typically help you look at one category or region of Craigslist far more easily and productively.
Here are five of my favorite ways to navigate Craigslist, which you should use in tandem with Craigslist search engines like Search Tempest.
One of the things I like the least about Craigslist is that it’s limited to a particular place. If I want to buy, say, a bike, I’m limited to only the small regions Craigslist selects for me, unless I’m willing to do a lot of duplicate work.
With Craig’s Helper, you’re able to set how far away from yourself you’re willing to search for a particular item. I’m in Central Virginia, but I can set Craig’s Helper to search Craigslist to Washington, DC, or even to Vegas if I really want that bike. You set a price range, a category, and a distance, and Craig’s Helper parses Craigslist to find only the results you’re interested in and willing to go get. It does the same thing with eBay, and you can choose to search either or both sites.
Real Estate prices are frequently skewed on Craigslist, but many people don’t know what to do, what the right price is, or even what they’re looking for. With the Craigslist/Zillow mashup made using Yahoo! Pipes, you can be more prepared.
All you have to do is input a real estate feed from Craigslist, by clicking the “RSS” icon at the bottom of the page when you search for real estate. Then the pipe shows you on a map where the housing options are, as well as the estimated price on Zillow, a users’ guide to real estate. You’ll get a sense of where things are, what’s available, and what the normal prices are – a major leg up for anyone trying to buy real estate from Craigslist.
3. Typo Buddy
People are notoriously bad at spelling, and notoriously bad at caring about it. With Typo Buddy, you get to use that to your advantage. Say you want an Apple computer. Type that into Typo Buddy, and it searches through both eBay and Craigslist for all the ways people could misspell that word.
Incorrect spelling means fewer people see the listing, which means cheaper prices for you! Since it relies on the stupidity of other people, it works pretty much all the time. I found eBay to have more results than Craigslist, but with some gold to be found in both places.
Craigslist’s results page doesn’t show you pictures, which is the thing I like least about it. For every listing that sounds remotely interesting, you have to click through to see the picture, only to decide that “in good condition” actually meant “in thirteen pieces scattered about my house.”
With ByeByeList, you can search through the listings on Craigslist, with the pictures on the front page in a more eBay-style look. If there’s no picture, it says so, but for every listing with a picture you’re able to search just like on Craigslist, but see the image right on the results page. Helpful for when “use for parts” means “only if you’re savvy with a blowtorch.”
Who doesn’t love other people’s junk, that they can’t wait to get rid of? With Weekend Treasure, you can do a search for all the garage sales nearby. Though the listings come from more than just Craigslist (a good thing, if you ask me), most of them do seem to be pulled in from Craigslist.
They’re mapped out for you, and each listing provides both an address and a link to the sale site (again, mostly Craigslist). Weekend Treasure suggest searching on Friday afternoon or Saturday morning, but there are almost always some listings to be found.
Craigslist is awesome at aggregating material and information, and not so great at displaying it. Using these Craigslist mashups, you can be a better informed, more efficient and more powerful Craigslist user.
Are you a Craigslist fan? Got any Craigslist Tool you like, or wish you’d see?