It's a fantastic example of the strength of a community website. Some background from a recent NYT article:
- The foremost lesson would be about community and how to sustain one online. Craigslist started in 1995 as an e-mail newsletter that Mr. Newmark sent to friends informing them of San Francisco cultural events. As interest grew, the newsletter became an online flea and job market and an essential community bulletin board.
As investor-backed Internet companies began to surge in the late 1990's, Craigslist remained the tortoise. When the dot-coms fizzled, Craigslist was celebrated as an antidot-com, achieving - despite its lack of business plans, profit projections and tchotchkes with logos - the kind of mass acceptance that high-tech investors clawed for. When the bubble burst, Craigslist was left standing - a low-maintenance community site used by, among many others, former dot-com workers looking for jobs.
Craigslist.org accepts no banner advertising. It posts no pop-up ads, requires no visitor registration and charges no fees, except to employers posting job offers.
- The other key to the success of Craigslist was Mr. Newmark's fastidious personal commitment to keeping scammers off the site ... Mr. Newmark ... has a kind of condition: obsessive customer-service disorder. He is not totally at peace if there are e-mail messages in his in-box complaining that someone is falsely advertising, defacing or hacking into the site or blanketing various forums or channels with sales spam.
Craig Newmark is the founder and chairman of Craigslist, but his primary job is as its foremost customer-service representative. He is the vigilant overseer of the company's integrity.