How to Effectively Flag on Craigslist

By Christina Ash

Ads offering domestic pets for sale should be flagged.
i Hemera Technologies/ Images

Craigslist users who post classified advertising on the website are responsible for ensuring that their ads comply with the company's guidelines and rules. However, with over 60 million new ads posted on the popular website every month, it's not surprising that some of them don't conform to the terms. Craigslist moderators do limited moderation of ads, but for the most part, it's up to the community of users to flag posts that they believe violate one or more of the website's rules.

What Is Flagging?

Flagging gives Craigslist users an opportunity to highlight ads that they believe violate the website's posting guidelines. All classified advertising on Craigslist is self-published, so inevitably, some non-compliant ads will get through. According to Craigslist, millions of ads are removed each month through flagging.

Deciding to Flag

The key to effectively flagging posts on Craigslist is to be familiar with the Terms of Use and posting guidelines. The rules prohibit the sale of certain items and services. The most obvious prohibited items include obscene materials and child pornography, drugs (both prescription and illegal), weapons and stolen goods. Some not-so-obvious items are prohibited, too, such as vouchers and goods from government programs, bulk mailing lists and domestic pets. One rule that is often broken is that an ad can be assigned to only one geographic region and only one category – cross-posting is not allowed.

How to Flag

The links to flag a post are on the top right corner of each advertisement. You have a choice of four reasons to flag. Click on the "Miscategorized" link if the ad is in the wrong category or discusses other ads. Click the "Prohibited" link for posts that violate the Terms of Use or posting guidelines. The third link is for spam and over-posting; choose this one if you find multiple instances of the same ad or if the ad is blatantly commercial. The last link is totally different – you can use it to positively recognize an ad as memorable or funny, and you can view these "Best of" postings on the Craigslist site. Be sure to choose the correct link, as it registers immediately and doesn’t ask you to confirm your selection.

What Happens Next

Craigslist automatically removes any free classified ad that has a number of flags. Likewise, Craigslist staffers review paid ads that accumulate flags, and those found to be in violation are removed. Some ads and postings may be rewritten to conform more fully to the guidelines. If one of your ads is removed and you don't know why, you can post details in the Craigslist flag help forum and other users will help you figure it out.