I’m not the type of person who goes by what other people say about a website. If I don’t care to know, I won’t bother with it. This is my opinion of 4chan prettymuch. I know enough about that site to know I want to know nothing to do with it. I’d heard the trash talk about Craig’s List for about 10 years. The media did its part to portray the site as nothing but a hunting ground for sociopaths and rapists, too. Mind you, I’ve known about Craig’s List since 1999. Despite all that, my genuine curiosity in the site got the better of me earlier this year.
It wasn’t until early February that I decided to make an account and use the site. The website was founded by Craig Newmark in 1995, who cut all ties with the site in 2000 and never looked back. He has a Facebook account on that note. Any attempts to complain to him about the site he founded will be ignored and deleted on sight. It is what it is but I digress.
When I set up my CL account, I also set up a disposable email account specifically for Craig’s List using an alias I never used before. Then I dove right in, perusing the Boston version of the site for the last 3 months. I spent most of my time specifically in the imfamous Personals section. You’ve all heard the horror stories about CraigsList Personals: Just last month a young mother was killed, cut to pieces and thrown in a dumpster by a man she met via CraigsList. The thing worth pointing out is these are extremely rare incidents. The sad truth is there really are alot of sick people online in general. That said, let’s just say my expectations when I started using CraigsList Personals were met in some regards and exceeded in others. I’ll explain what I mean by that in a bit.
I did use other parts of the site. The forums, unlike the actual site is worldwide. You can chat with basically whoever uses the website in short. The problem is the only people who use the forums are trolls, scammers and spammers. CL has gained a pretty bad track record in recent years with people posting fake ads, bogus ads and dealers mass spamming the site in the last few years.
More and more police departments nationwide are asking people who arrange exchanges via CraigsList to do it in front of a prcecinct. There has been a noticable rise in people getting robbed or mugged by the very people they arrange transactions with from CraigsList so…yeah. Try to practice this common sense safety tip: Only agree to meet in a public place or bring at least one person with you. I never met with someone I met via CL on that note. Mostly because not owning a car limits how I get around a bit.
Now let’s get back to CL Personals. Before I proceed, let me explain the main sub-sections of CL Personals:
- Strictly Platonic: Folks looking for an activity partner or a friend. No romance.
- Misc. Romance: Folks with a particular fetish looking for a like-minded person. Romance with Sex in mind. Also for those who identify as Binary or Transgender.
- Casual Encounters: Folks looking for sex and only sex with “no strings attached” aka no commitment. Just a purely physical relationship is expected be it one-time or recurring.
- M4M/W4W: Self-Explanatory. Folks looking for a relationship with someone of the same sex. These are two different categories.
- M4W/W4M: Self-Explanatory. Folks looking for a relationship with someone of the opposite sex. These are two different categories.
- Missed Connections: Folks who may have met up with someone before and are trying to reconnect.
- Rants & Raves: General Chat. People can say whatever they want in short as long as it isn’t illegal to say. Be warned: People like to post very offensive things here.
…There are filters in Casuals, Misc. Romance and Platonic. Aside from M4W/W4M/M4M/W4W there are also T4X/X4T (T for Transgender) and even filters for groups of men/women such as M4MW (Man looking for a Man and a Woman), W4MW (Woman looking for a man and woman), MW4M/MW4W (Man and Woman looking for a man/woman) and even W4MM/M4MMW (Woman looking for Multiple Men/Women). It doesn’t necessarily mean they want an orgy on that note.
Anyway, according to many of the people I’ve talked to who’ve used the site for years, CL Personals was a half-decient place. You were at least guaranteed to arrange a meetup within 24 hours of posting a Personal Ad. Starting about 10 years back, Prostitutes showed up in droves and prettymuch took over Casuals. In recent years they’ve overrun Misc. Romance, the main X4X categories and are even moving in on Platonic, which is strictly for non-sexual/romantic connections. To make matters worse, there is a verification scam running rampant that’s effectively rendered using most of CL Personals nearly impossible. Folks are afraid to both post ads and reply to ads for fear of getting spammed.
You will notice I never mentioned to site’s admins. This was not an oversight on my part: CraigList staff are hands-off: In fact, the site strictly uses community policing. In short, the lunatics run the asylum. This means anything not flagged can stay up forever and anything can be flagged for any or no reason with ZERO oversight. Oh, there is a Help Forum and a Flag Help Forum but only go there if you wanna be judged by the sociopaths who frequent those two boards. Actual CL Staff are not around. Like I said, the lunatics run the asylum. LOL.
…Would I reccommend anyone use CraigsList? Absolutely not. The sheer amount of precautions that must be taken every step of the way from making an account to arranging a meetup regardless of the reason. CraigsList for the vast majority is the epitome of the saying “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Those who have things go well for them are the exceptions. More of than not, you wasted your time posting an ad or replying to one. I mean this in general, not just Personals.
The site’s been around 20 years and hasn’t changed AT ALL. This despite the bad press it continues to get from the extreme cases the media decides to pick up. I consider myself lucky I went in not expecting to actually meet anyone. 3 Months later, I don’t feel as bothered compared to many others who use CL Personals. I had realistic expectations is all. Said expectations were met. The amount of crap on CL…well, it has to be seen to be believed.
It’s no wonder Craig Newmark cut all ties with the site he created and still bears his name. I’m pretty sure that at some point after he left, he quietly asked himself “What was I thinking when I made this website?” yet rather than do the humane thing and have it shut down, he’s content letting the wildfire burn itself out. The obvious problem is the process is gonna take YEARS.