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Old 12-07-2007, 11:42 AM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Craigslist posts as a cool city indicator

In this post, Santo Rugger asks "How does Craigslist make any money, if they don't charge for placing an ad?" The answer is here

Quote:
All craigslist postings are free, except for:
1. Job posts in the San Francisco Bay Area

* The fee for posting a job in the SF Bay Area is $75. This fee pays for one job in one category.
(One job posted in two different categories would cost $150.)

2. Job posts in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Orange County, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, Seattle, and Washington DC

* The fee for posting a job in these cities is $25. This fee pays for one job in one category.
(One job posted in two different categories would cost $50.)

3. Brokered apartment rental listings in New York

* The fee for posting a brokered apartment rental in New York City is $10.
Note the cities; you have to pay for a job listing in Portland or Sacramento, but not in some larger metros like Detroit or Cleveland? Why?

Browsing through individual city listings on Craigslist, I found that the amount of posting in hip, trendy, tech-savvy cities tends to be several orders of magnitude higher than traffic in more mundane but equally-populated locales. (This is just from personal observation, with no stats to back it up.)

Based on the number of posts in categories that really wouldn't be related to the economic health of a region, such as furniture, personals, appliances and so on, CL Seattle probably has about ten to twenty times the traffic as CL Cleveland, even though the regions have a similar population.

Some medium-sized metros, such as El Paso (MSA population 736,310), have very little CL activity, even compared to much smaller but trendier metros such as Eugene (MSA population 278,990).

El Paso furniture by owner: http://elpaso.craigslist.org/search/fur?addTwo=by-owner (20 days on one page)
Eugene furniture by owner: http://eugene.craigslist.org/search/fur?addTwo=by-owner (two days on one page)

Could Craigslist posting activity be used as a quantitative indicator of a "cool city?"

Last edited by elmwood; 12-07-2007 at 11:42 AM..
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Old 12-07-2007, 11:59 AM
NightRabbit NightRabbit is offline
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Hmmmm. I would also guess that a higher percentage of post-college 20-something types would result in a more active CL. IMHO, this tends to be the audience for most of the job postings, cheap furniture postings, and date posts. So, if "cool" means "large population of young people", then this seems to work, loosely.
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Old 12-07-2007, 12:24 PM
EmAnJ EmAnJ is offline
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It may also have to do with the populations' knowledge of CL's existence. For instance, everyone in SF knows what CL is, but not a ton of people in Calgary know what CL is. It's just not common knowledge yet.
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Old 12-07-2007, 02:48 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elmwood
Based on the number of posts in categories that really wouldn't be related to the economic health of a region, such as furniture, personals, appliances and so on, CL Seattle probably has about ten to twenty times the traffic as CL Cleveland, even though the regions have a similar population.
These might be more linked to the city's economy than you think. As noted, the primary users of Craigslist are people in their 20s, but it seems likely that most of them are educated and tech-savvy; the sort of people who are more likely to take professional jobs.

If we assume that the amount of CL traffic in a given city is proportional to the number of potential users, then you've got an indicator of which cities have large young populations. Young people tend to go where the jobs are, so it's plausible that the amount of CL traffic is an indicator of how open a city's entry-to-mid-level professional job market is.
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Old 12-07-2007, 03:16 PM
sugar and spice sugar and spice is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrafilter
These might be more linked to the city's economy than you think. As noted, the primary users of Craigslist are people in their 20s, but it seems likely that most of them are educated and tech-savvy; the sort of people who are more likely to take professional jobs.

If we assume that the amount of CL traffic in a given city is proportional to the number of potential users, then you've got an indicator of which cities have large young populations. Young people tend to go where the jobs are, so it's plausible that the amount of CL traffic is an indicator of how open a city's entry-to-mid-level professional job market is.
What's more, CL appeals to the specific subset of young people who are mobile enough to follow good jobs (not all young people are like this, of course). Mobile job-followers need things like roommates, apartments, used furniture, and dates, and what's more they often lack a pre-existing network of friends and family to help them find these commodities locally. CL is perfect for this.

What I've also noticed is that beyond being computer and Internet savvy, there is a certain mindset that one needs to participate in CL commerce -- in particular, you have to be comfortable interacting with complete strangers. Those with said pre-existing network have less need to get over that hump. Can't tell you how many times I've had perfectly Internet-enabled people ask me, "So you just go inside some stranger's house???". If most of your furniture comes from your mom's garage who lives the next town over, then you have less need to buy a sofa on craigslist.

Last edited by sugar and spice; 12-07-2007 at 03:17 PM..
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Old 12-07-2007, 03:40 PM
elmwood elmwood is offline
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Good points, ultrafilter and sugar and spice.

Just to play around, I came up with a basic formula to determine how popular CL is in a given area - and, possibly, the appeal of that area to young, tech-savvy professionals: Furniture by owner listings per month / MSA population * 100,000. Here's a test:

Austin: 13,568 furniture by owner listings within the month
13,568 FBO / 1,249,763 MSA = .00638
* 100,000 = 1,085

Denver: 15,387 furniture by owner listings within the month
15,387 FBO / 2,408,750 MSA = .00638
* 100,000 = 638

Charlotte: 5,137 furniture by owner listings within the month
5,137 FBO / 1,583,016 MSA = .00324
* 100,000 = 324

Seattle: 8,759 furniture by owner listings within the month
8,759 FBO / 3,203,314 MSA = .00273
* 100,000 = 273

Albuquerque: 1,760 furniture by owner listings within the month
1,760 FBO / 729,649 MSA = .00241
* 100,000 = 241

Grand Rapids: 1,756 furniture by owner listings within the month
1,756 FBO / 1,088,514 MSA = .00161
* 100,000 = 161

Cleveland: 2,980 furniture by owner listings within the month
2,980 FBO / 2,148,010 MSA = .00138
* 100,000 = 138

Buffalo: 1,318 furniture by owner listings within the month
1,318 FBO / 1,219,054 MSA = .00108
* 100,000 = 108

El Paso: 220 furniture by owner listings within the month
220 FBO / 736,310 MSA = .000029
* 100,000 = 30


There's a HUGE difference between Albuquerque (241) and similarly sized El Paso (30), four hours away.
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Old 12-07-2007, 04:27 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Msa?
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Old 12-07-2007, 05:24 PM
aktep aktep is offline
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Metropolitan Statistical Area
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Old 12-07-2007, 07:58 PM
Troy McClure SF Troy McClure SF is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EmAnJ
It may also have to do with the populations' knowledge of CL's existence. For instance, everyone in SF knows what CL is, but not a ton of people in Calgary know what CL is. It's just not common knowledge yet.
Makes sense to me. Around here, CL is the default option for the services it offers; the first and usually last place people will look. But in an area where it's not so dominant, it'd be just one of many options.

Same thing with Yelp; it's huge here so they plaster it with ads and fix it up real nice. In smaller areas where it's not as popular, it's still pretty much on v1.0.
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