How Does Craigslist Work?

By Johnno Cary

Users view the classified ads online with Craigslist.
i LWA/Dann Tardif/Blend Images/Getty Images

How to Post Ads was founded by Craig Newmark and works much like Ebay, Facebook Marketplace or other internet forum and online garage sale websites. It divides its ads into several different categories. Anyone can post ads with or without a Craigslist account. Creating an account allows you to easily access all of your postings to revise or delete them. Without an account, you receive an email after posting with links to modify the ad. Click the

Post to Classifieds

link at the upper left corner of the Craigslist home page to create an ad. Fill the template fields including Posting Title, Posting Body and additional details such as Price and Condition. The ad may take a few minutes to appear in the category on the selected city's Craigslist posts page.

Finding Ads

If you're interested in browsing the Craigslist ads, select the closest city on the right side of the Craigslist page. The main page of your city's page shows the ads organized under different types of postings. Subcategories appear below to help you find the specific items you want. The For Sale section includes categories such as Antiques, Appliances, Books, Furniture and Jewelry. There are also many job postings on the site, where you could browse through local gigs and classified ads. Click on the desired category to see a list of ads posted from newest to oldest. You have the option of sorting those ads by price instead of chronological order. You can also see the ads from the selected category represented as expandable info-bubbles on a map based on the buyer's location.

You can also find many different real estate or apartment rental options on various Craigslist sites. These can often be scammers operating in bigger U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, so be careful handing out your phone number and try to vet as much as possible.

Responding to Ads

On Craigslist, all negotiations and transactions happen directly between the buyer and the seller. An interested seller contacts the person with any questions, then eventually may commit to buy an item and make arrangements to meet. Read all of the ad details before responding. Each Craigslist ad features a Reply button in the upper left corner. Click the Reply button to show all of the contact methods provided by the poster.

Craigslist provides a service that masks the seller's email address so it appears as a Craigslist email address and any mail sent to the address, Craigslist automatically forwards to the seller's personal email address. Users choose if they want their actual email addresses or the Craigslist version to show when creating the ad.

Staying Safe

Since you interact with strangers when you use Craigslist, take precautions to protect your identity from scams when inquiring about an ad, meeting to pick up or when selling items to others. Plan to meet in a public location, such as a busy parking lot, and be careful about giving out your cellphone number or personal contact information. In some neighborhoods, police stations encourage Craigslist users to meet outside the station for transactions. Take someone with you or tell another person where you are going. If the situation seems suspicious, trust your instincts and leave. Never wire money or pay for something before meeting with the person.