Is it possible that Craigslist is embarking on a mission of self-improvement? Yes. After it’s been tried by several external sites, Craigslist has finally embedded maps into some of its real estate listings.
So far it’s a limited effort, appearing in just two cities — San Francisco (and the Bay area) and Portland, Oregon. TPM reported on it today, noting that Craigslist is relying on OpenStreetMap, a free, open mapping tool that’s rapidly growing in popularity as a replacement for Google Maps.
Whatever the source, the step by Craigslist seems to be an acknowledgement that maps and real estate listings go together. It appears in this stage of the project that maps are only added to listings for apartments in those markets, rather than homes for sale.
Still, it’s a step forward for Craigslist, which has been roundly criticized on tech sites recently for its early 1990s design and for suing PadMapper, which added some really nifty tools to Craigslist listings to make apartments easier to search.
There’s good coverage of the Craigslist mapping addition by Talking Points Memo, so rather than rehash it further we’ll link to it.
We sent the obligatory note to Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster and media representative Susan MacTavish Best, asking questions about the mapping tool. However, they haven’t replied to us in almost three years and they almost never respond to press questions unless they think it’ll give them some free publicity. So we’re hopeful, but we’re not holding our breath for a response.
Here’s what we asked:
— Do you plan to expand this to other cities? All cities in the U.S.?
— If so, do you have a timetable?
— Are you going to add or allow additional mapping functions, such as seeing multiple locations on a map for housing?
— Is this just for apartments? Or are you offering it, or planning to offer it, for houses for sale as well?
— Was this tool added as a result of requests from users? Or because of the extreme popularity of external mapping tools that improved on Craigslist? Or for other reasons?
— Was OpenStreetMap chosen for any particular reason? Did you consider Google Maps or other tools?
It’s worth noting that Craigslist still has the “Craigslist is hiring” page on its San Francisco site, looking for front end / user interface / user experience developers; experienced programmers; a systems administrator, and customer service representatives. The company touts the benefits of working for Craigslist, and notes: “Craigslist — No crap. OK, maybe a little … but it’s your crap.” Hmmm?
Another short Craigslist note: Craigslists.com — note that extra “s” in there — won a challenge in the Uniform Domain-Name Resolution Process. Craigslist.org, the real one, sought to take away the Craigslists domain because of potential confusion. An arbitration panel ruled against Newmark, Buckmaster and Co., lost out since the site been operated since 2003 by Craig Solomon without being challenged by Craigslist until earlier this year.
The ruling reminds us of a decision about a year ago that allowed a link farm site to keep the name AutoTrade.com, despite a challenge from AutoTrader.com.
Craigslists.com, the one with the extra “s,” generates more than 100,000 visitors per month. It’s just a site that links to other sites for pay-per-click advertising.
(We learned about this first from a post by Steve Levy on Business2Community.com.)