Late last month, Craigslist dealt a big blow to apartment search website PadMapper, sending creator Eric DeMenthon a cease-and-desist letter demanding that he take down any Craigslist postings on his site. Now DeMenthon has found a way to bring Craigslist back to PadMapper, though not in the way he would have liked.
There was a bit of an Internet outcry when the news went out, but it hasn’t made a noticeable difference in Craigslist’s position. Instead, DeMenthon says he found a workaround by partnering with 3taps to access “data about Craigslist postings.” Apparently the 3taps data isn’t subject to Craigslist’s restrictions, because it’s gathered “via indirect means.” The language here is a little confusing, but apparently it means Craigslist postings can return to PadMapper’s results, legally.
This solution probably won’t make Craigslist happy. DeMenthon says he has been told it’s “legally kosher since it doesn’t touch their servers at all,” but he also admits that “it still seems somewhat dickish to go against their wishes in this.” So why do it? He writes:
“I did some back of the envelope estimates of how much of people’s time and effort it would waste if I didn’t, and it became clear how much less nice it is to waste the time of millions of apartment hunters out of stubbornness or some clearly inaccurate assumption about the will of the community. If it takes half of PadMapper’s millions of monthly users 3 hours longer now to find an apartment, that’s over 350 man-years wasted per month, or 5 lifetimes. That really pisses me off.”
I’ve emailed Craigslist for comment and will update if I hear back.
PadMapper is a location-based apartment rental search engine with real-time filtering. PadMapper’s entire browsing interface is taken up by a full-screen map, and listings are loaded as the user moves around the map. Zooming into the map loads more listings in that area, zooming out broadens the search. Listings are filtered out or allowed back into the results as filter sliders are moved. Apartment listings from hundreds of sites are included, including Craigslist, Apartments.com, ForRent.com, and Oodle.
Craigslist is a supremely popular listings site. Craigslist was founded by Craig Newmark in March, 1995, as an email list site for San Francisco and Bay Area events. In June 2000, it added its second city, Boston, and then expanded to the major metropolitan cities in August 2000. As of February 2008, Craiglist now covers 450 in 50 US States and 50 Countries. Craiglist.org – note the .org domain suffix – is interesting in that...