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1/11/2006
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Craigslist Founder Forges Ahead With Site

After years of relying solely on participant flagging and human monitoring, Craigslist has another tool in its belt for tackling people who abuse the site.

After years of relying solely on participant flagging and human monitoring, Craigslist has another tool in its belt for tackling people who abuse the site.

On Monday, the site deployed automation that sweeps for chronic abusers, Craig Newmark, founder and chairman of craigslist, said in an interview in New York City Wednesday. Newmark said automation is just the first step in a series of improvements the craigslist team is planning for the site, but it's already making a difference.

"We partially automated 36 hours ago, to my great relief," he said.

Newmark said that he realized recently that the number of "bad guys," posting bigoted or malicious remarks, has remained relatively constant over the years while craigslist's overall traffic has increased. The automation is part of a plan of continuous improvement, he said.

Newmark responds to many of the problems himself and plans to be directly involved in other site developments.

"I haven't coded in six years and I miss it," he said. "I'm hoping to do some client-side work."

Though Newmark said he's not sure exactly what he'll do, he sees potential for internal and external tools. The open source supporter said he can envision some external mapping for the goods and services offered on the site.

He's also trying to figure out how much -- or little, in his words -- to charge for rental apartment listings in New York City.

"For the most part, the rentals are a big deal," he said.

The decision to charge fees is based on customer requests. Newmark, who calls himself a customer service representative, said they believe it would improve the quality.

He said the site will begin charging for brokers, but it's yet to be decided whether owners advertising directly will also be charged. Brokers should be charged in a way that the smaller ones aren't hurt by the fees, he said.

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