By the very nature of online classifieds sites like craigslist, their operations still rely on a certain amount of trust from its users. Unlike sites which allow businesses to have online shops, thus the ability to establish and maintain a reputation system, classifieds sites are based on a person-to-person business model, so it’s hard for the site to keep a track history of the transactions made a single user. Especially websites like craigslist, which allow anonymous postings.
Even if the site is able to detect and remove fraudulent users from its service, that user can still signup again and again with made up credentials. Making and effort to control this issue is critical for the success of a classifieds site, since it ensures trust amongst its users. One step towards this would be by de-automating the task of publishing ads to avoid bots being able to do it on a massive scale. Also, some degree of social features to a classified sites could help out, since it allows a personal communication to happen between the buyer and the seller, and once that is established, it’s the user’s responsibility to determine if the other party is trustworthy or not.
There’s a fine line we try not to cross though. At Spekios, we’ve given a lot of thought about to be or not be another social website. For the time being, we’ve decided to add only the minimum social features needed so registered users can rest assure they’re dealing with real people, selling real stuff, and not scammers.
You can’t “friend” or “follow” people, since this is not the point of a classifieds website. We try to hold true to our goal of getting buyers and sellers together, and making the buyer’s job easier. You can though, have private conversations with other registered users and get to know them before you actually buy their stuff. If you end up wanting to be friends later, you can always go offline for that 🙂