Craigslist's former HQ in SF, 2012. (Getty)

Craigslist has somehow stayed exactly the same over its many years in existence (21!). Aside from the endlessly amusing/terrifying Missed Connections, the classified advertisement website lists jobs, apartments, furniture and other items for sale. While other sites offering a similar service exist, Craigslist is the most widely used, so if you're looking for something, or looking to sell something, your best shot is jumping into its trenches. It is hugely popular, so you already know all of this.

The thing is, Craigslist could be so much better if we acted like decent humans while using its services. Sure, there will always be the lone murderer/scammer/scalper lurking around, but we can't control that (just never meet anyone in a desolate area, after dark, alone!). What we can control is our own behavior, especially when it comes to the simple task of selling or purchasing a piece of furniture. Some rules:


Have you contacted someone on Craigslist about purchasing an item they are selling? You are totally within your rights to ask questions and be a little non-committal here. You can even set up a time to come check the item out in person. But once you verbally agree to purchase it, even if you cannot pick it up for another day or so, you should, you know, purchase it. Sure, the seller may be some naive fool going through life actually trusting people, but don't you want to live in a world where we can all trust people? You can be a part of that, by not being a dick and flaking out at the last minute after committing to purchase something.

Next time, think about how the seller may have passed up other offers in order to not screw you over, since you had committed to buying it.

On that note, sellers, you are correct to assume that the deal isn't done unless money has exchanged hands, but once a buyer promises they'll be purchasing the item on X day, you should take their word on it. If you are concerned they will flake, and another potential buyer reaches out who can come pick the item up ASAP, then you owe it to the original buyer to let them know, and give them a chance to pick it up ASAP before losing it.


Did you set up a time and place to hand-off or pick-up an item? Then show up. If you cannot show up, then let the other person know as soon as possible, preferably at least 3 hours ahead of time. Don't be flakey, people have other things they could be doing that don't revolve around you getting your hands on a slightly scuffed Noguchi coffee table.


When you are listing something on Craigslist, you pick a price knowing that any potential buyer is going to try to talk you down. It's fair, a savvy consumer always tries to get a bargain. However, buyers should keep in mind that they are purchasing an item from someone who spent money on it, and is probably in need of money now, or at least deserving of it because they are providing you with something? Bargain within reason. If an item is listed for $200, and all internet research you've done proves that the item is worth as much, don't try to bargain down to $75. Don't act like you are doing the person a favor for taking what may very well be an item they don't want to part with off their hands. And don't undervalue what they are offering. BARGAIN. WITHIN. REASON. The end.


Sellers, please post accurate photos of what you are selling. Be honest about its condition. And list its actual price—do not put $1 if it is not $1. (Tip to buyers: no one is ever going to go through the trouble to sell someone something for $1!) And if you live in a 6th floor walk-up and are selling a heavy item, let the potential buyer know what to expect.

A few other etiquette tips:

  • Take your listing down once you have sold the item.
  • Don't murder anyone. That is SO IMPORTANT here. Do. Not. Murder. Anyone.

We can do this, everyone, we can create a Craigslist that wastes less of our time and leaves less people scammed or dead when all they were trying to do was buy/sell a lovely mid-century armoire.