Geoffrey Meredith
Thoughts on Technology


(posted on 13 Jul 2008)

I posted a job ad on yesterday that got quickly flagged and removed.  You don't get any indication as to why and ad was removed, just a link to a forum where you can post the details of your ad and get suggestions as to what you did wrong.  I had no idea as to why my ad was pulled so I spent some time on that forum looking for clues.  Nothing in the examples I saw there helped me understand what was wrong with my ad so I posted my ad to the forum and and awaited responses.  I only received one comment about my ad.  The comment was sarcastic and suggested that the compensation was only appropriate for a third world country.  Maybe I'm cheap or out of touch with salary expectations (or both) but I do think that there would have been people interested in responding to the ad.

The responses to a number of other rejected ads seem to expose either personal or political agenda.  People just didn't like the ads because they didn't properly address their political ideals, even if those political ideas were tangential to the posting.  It became obvious that to post in any particular category and city, you have to abide by mostly unwritten "community standards".  Who's standards are those "community standards"?  It's not the community of people in that city interested in that category, it's the much smaller community that comb through Craigslist ads looking for ones that do live up to their standards.  That to me sounds like a vigilante mob; the darker side of crowdsourcing. 

I don't think that it has to be this way.  I think there are technological solutions to improving moderation on websites like Craigslist.  Meta moderation and sophisticated algorithms that websites like,, or even the use of more descriptive flagging, can be added to raise moderation beyond the level of vigilantism.

Of course, this may be the way that Craigslist wants their website to behave.  It's certainly within their rights to do so.  I actually see an opportunity here for someone to build a better Craigslist.