Craigslist Dealer Inventory Software

Craigslist inventory distribution turned out to be quite an unexpected challenge. Craigslist has a very simple user interface to a standard user but it is cunningly sophisticated and uses advanced software technologies in the backend to ensure their policies. First of all, they do not want anybody to be posting automatically or even semi-automatically or too frequently even if done manually. This is depicted very clearly in their terms of use at http://www.craigslist.org/about/terms.of.use. When you create an account at Craigslist, you agree to pay $100 for each ad that is posted outside of the terms of use. If you exceed certain posting limits, your IP or ads may be temporarily or permanently blocked, your account may be deleted and you may be sued for non-compliance. Reading their terms of use, it is no wonder that they do not provide an API for automatically posting your inventory. Our opinion is that this is complete nonsense since the category that we are trying to post to is called the dealer inventory - it just does not make sense to try to block it but the fact of the matter is that Craigslist.org has billions of visitors per month and we just have to live with it for now and make the best of it.

Cross domain access: Since there is no API for craigslist, anybody that is trying to make the posting easier has to simulate the browser. This is a challenging task for web based dealer management systems like Carsinia because when you are using one domain, accessing another is not allowed as a security standard. Because of this, many companies opt for creating a windows based tool that dealers need to install on their computers separately (and have problems with UNIX or Mac). Most of the time, this additional software actually belongs to some other company and needs to be synced with their own inventory through other means and can use limited number of templates, etc. In short, it is really not the recommended way to go. Carsinia goes the proper way of performing this task with Java applets so that dealers do not have to install anything. Once you give proper permissions to our applet, it takes care of everything. It does require Java to be installed but most modern computers already have it anyways and if not, it can be setup in a few minutes. Java can run on all platforms and can be used from UNIX or Mac as well as Windows.

Random Inputs: The other challenge with Craigslist is that they change the input names continuously and there are many hidden inputs during the posting process as well as cookies. When you use a browser to post something, you do not see these challenges and your browser takes care of these for you. When you are trying to automate this task, this makes it harder. Our posting component parses the pages at a level that can be called artificial intelligence and handles the inputs properly as you or your browser would.

CAPTCHA: During each post Craigslist shows an image containing a text and wants you to enter the text in the image before finalizing your post. This is something that most computers cannot do at this point and it is meant to differentiate computers from humans. For this reason, it is simply not possible to do complete automatic posting to Craigslist. There are some companies that offer such automated services but you would need to hire an actual human being in your payroll not to violate the terms of use and install their software to your computer so that they can come and do the post from your computer (and you are supposed to take their word that they will not touch anything in your computer). Craigslist clearly bans any third party doing such posting services and there are quite large sums of fines for them. Moreover, these services are pretty expensive ($150 - $500 per month). With Carsinia, you would pay only $99 for all inventory distribution components (cars.com, autotrader.com) including Craigslist. You just would need to enter the image values yourself.

Dealer Craigslist Software

IP/account limits: Craigslist puts limits on the number of posts you can do from one IP or account. No one knows for sure what these limits are but the general consensus is: no more than one per day. We will start hosting emails soon and our clients will be able to create as many emails as they want but Craigslist requires a different phone number for every account. You would need to provide a separate phone number for every email you have. For whatever reason, it looks like they also want you to do a captcha verification and a password reset and another phone verification at your first post. Hacking to Pentagon is easier. In any case, in order to increase the number of posts you can do per day, you would need to use every email account and phone number you can use. With Carsinia, you can enter them all and bulk post your vehicles and cycle through these accounts for each post. In order to overcome the IP checks you would need a service called Socks5 Proxy. You would need to signup with a service that allows you to change your IP all the time. Here is one such service: http://uniqueinternetservices.com/pfsetup.html. The rates for these services change between $30 - $50 per month but they will increase your posting bandwidth significantly. Once you setup the proxy in your browser, Carsinia posting applet will use those settings - no additional setup needed. Otherwise, you can try to post from different ISPs (home, work or hotel). Please note that Carsinia provides the automatic posting tool for your convenience but it is simply an automated browser utility and you have the full responsibility on the ads you post.

Ghosting: As if all these checks are not enough, Craigslist can pull another number on you: You may think you have posted a vehicle successfully to Craigslist but you may not be able to find it when you search for it. Most probably your ad is "ghosted" by Craigslist. This is something they do when they think your post is repetitous or "too commercial". In this case, it is best to just delete that ad and wait a couple of days before trying to post again. Craigslist performs these checks based on a lot of criteria including the IP/account posting frequency but most importantly, they look at the content of the post. In general the more unique a post is, the less probably it has of being ghosted. In order to fight back, Carsinia provides a few methods. You can automatically convert the entire post or part of it to images before posting. When the text is converted to image, Craigslist cannot read them and check them (the downside is that it hurts your SEO). These conversions are totally configurable in the posting templates. You can put random tokens in your post to create unique content. Also, some companies use repetitive tokens to lower the possibility of ghosting and Carsinia provides this feature as well if you want it. In general, try to create unique postings to prevent blocking or ghosting. Write unique comments for your vehicles. Also, using different templates for your listings will help their uniqueness - Carsinia can cycle through them in bulk posts. Please see http://enam.wordpress.com/2006/08/05/tips-on-craigslist-ad-posting for Craigslist best practices.

Tracking: Carsinia has a special token in the templates for generating a tracking image in the posts. With this token, you can view from the Carsinia backend, the IPs that viewed your vehicles and the post they viewed.

In general Carsinia provides a very competitive Craigslist posting product (there are a lot of companies that do just this). You can do manual posts (copy and paste) or single/bulk automated posts (no copy and paste). Please Contact us for more information.

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