Craig Newmark, who founded Craigslist in 1995 and who, according to lore, first thought of it more as a hobby than a business. Today Craigslist is the 37th most popular Internet site in the world, according to Alexa.com, which tracks online traffic. It receives more than 15 million unique visitors per month, people who are placing classified ads or looking for things – jobs, household items, information, tickets, personal connections, and much more.

With a few exceptions, placing ads and responding to them is free. And since Craigslist operates as 450 local listing services in all 50 states and 50 countries, whatever you’re looking for is probably going to be nearby.

Despite its under-the-radar way of doing business, Craigslist has attracted a bevy of critics. It’s regularly skewered as a “newspaper killer” because it pulls classified ads away from local papers and contributes to that industry’s woes.

The site also must fight an ongoing battle with spam and inappropriate ads. Users may enlist themselves in the bad-ad war by clicking a button to flag an ad that violates discrimination laws or hypes illegal goods or services. Spammers sometimes violate site rules (advertisers may not place ads in more than one city at a time, for example).

Craigslist makes money by charging $25 for job postings in six major US cities (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, Boston, Seattle, San Diego) and $75 per job posting in San Francisco. It also charges New York apartment brokers $10 per listing. The rest of the ads, as well as numerous discussion forums on subjects from fitness to travel, are free

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