Craigslist Blocks "ListPic" Tool For Viewing Craiglist Pictures

ListPic, a tool that was like Google Image Search for Craigslist, has been blocked and people are freaking out. With good reason, too. ListPic made craigslist easy to navigate for those of us who like pictures better than words when we shop.

There’s even a sort-of flame war going on between Craig, founder of craigslist, and Ryan the Listpic guy. Craig claims Listpic was stealing their bandwidth and attempting to monetize their site, Ryan says that it’s not wrong to make money and points out that craigslist isn’t a non-profit despite the .org at the end of the URL. Craig says its his bandwidth. Ryan says Craig won’t write him back. Here’s the original TOS violation notice emailed to ListPic. In his last email, Craig says, “Do like the visual aspect, taking internally.” We think this means, “Nice idea, we’ll block your site and use it.”


The main page for ListPic dumps readers to a craigslist forum where they are free to express their outrage.

Sit back and watch the backlash unfold. —MEGHANN MARCO


PREVIOUSLY: See Only Craigslist Pictures


Edit Your Comment

  1. mantari says:

    I really don’t know who’s side I’m on here. But if the concern was bandwidth, wouldn’t a good compromise be for Listpic to download the images (once) from Craigslist, and then serve them up from their own site?

    It seems like a fair resolution, at least.

  2. Landru says:

    I don’t know much about this, but going up against craigslist is like going up against eBay.
    Oh, wait…

  3. Mojosan says:

    It’s craigs site and its free.

    As a webmaster I really dislike when people compalin about free websites.


  4. dbeahn says:

    If they were loading the pics off the craigslist servers rather than storing them locally on their own servers, then I think they have a point.

  5. TehRev says:

    I’m going to have to size with Craig on this one.

    Was listpic serving ads? I never used it so I don’t know but if they did then they should be blocked. It would then boil down to reformatting some other site for profit and that is pretty bad. If I did that to say and made a cleaner site but just used all their content I’d be in a lawsuit quickly. If listpic made 0 dollars then its not so bad and they just need to update their implementation.

  6. ancientsociety says:

    If Listpic was jacking bandwidth from CL, then they only have themselves to blame.

  7. proginoskes says:

    Does anyone know what is technically being done? Are they doing something like loading pics into a thumbnail view on their search pages? If so I agree with the whole bandwidth-stealing-is-wrong argument. I offer up a candy bar for anyone who can confirm the technical details.

  8. steinwaytony says:

    Swell crusade yet again, Marco. Sorry, but I have to fall on Craig’s side here.

  9. BeastMasterJ says:

    Hot linking is a form of theft that no one has yet gotten arround to making formally illegal.

    listPic needs to either come to an agreement with Craig to kickback some monies for band width costs, or keep the hell off of his jpgs.

  10. ReverseCarpetbagging says:

    Since I am incompetent when it comes to hosting and bandwith, the following may be completely impossible.

    Any chance that CL would work with Listpic, so that pictures would be hosted by ListPic? Could it be something similar to where a blog uses a company to host a photo that the blog uses and then, instead of CL directly hosting the photo, when the ad loads, it loads a pic from ListPic? Of course, it’s Craig’s site, so he may not want to give up his autonomy on this one.

    ListPic was pretty cool.

    Then again, so was Napster.

  11. VG10 says:

    man, i was just using this and needed to use it a lot over the next few weeks. :(

  12. dvddesign says:

    I unfortunately have to side with Craig on this one. It’s a bandwidth issue, really.

    Craig is a jerk, and I don’t like him or how he runs his site for various reasons (random banning of “for sale” items for undetermined and non-argueable reasons), but this one is in his court.

  13. MeOhMy says:

    Craigslist could have handled this better. They are supposed to be a community-centric “little guy” organization. Community members extending your functionality and driving additional usage is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Craigslist certainly has valid concerns when it comes to the use of bandwidth and ads, but a nasty C&D letter is not the response I expect to see from an entity like Craigslist. Would it have killed them to contact the listpic people and ask them nicely before whipping out their “We can demand $3000/day”?

    To me this is the internet equivalent of calling the cops on your neighbor without at least first knocking on their door and asking them to kindly stop doing whatever it is that you don’t like.

  14. slapstick says:

    Hotlinking is lame, so ListPic is the loser.

  15. nucleotide says:

    I’m kinda torn here. While profiting off of someones else’s bandwidth is lame, it seems like ListPic service would benefit the craigslist users by giving their listings more exposure.

  16. joemono says:

    I recall seeing ads on listpic. It’s been a while, though, so I can’t be sure.

    Despite hearing that Craig is a tool I would have to side with him as well. The bigger question is – why didn’t craigslist include this feature to begin with?

    I wonder if crazedlist is next?

  17. mattbrown says:

    if craig wasn’t so wack, he’d’ve bought listpics and kept their employees. when craigslist “internalizes” the listpics idea, listpics should make their own personal listing service; “internalizing” the craigslist idea; then mail some dead roses to craig.

  18. Vortex8 says:

    Craig’s the one paying the bandwidth bills, so he’s the one who gets to decide what to do with the bandwidth. Whether or not ListPic was making money shouldn’t matter.

  19. kamikasee says:

    I never used or even heard of ListPic, although I do use craigslist. I have to say, I agree with all the commenters that think this is a legit call on the part of the craigslist folks.

    No matter how useful the ListPic feature is, its popularity is based on the popularity of Craigslist, not the other way around. Even if it makes craigslist much better, even if it drives traffic there, no one held a gun to the ListPic creator’s head and made him do all that development.

    Ultimately, it sucks for the listpic folks if they lost an opportunity to make money because craigslist co-opts the idea and implements an image browsing feature. But they left themselves wide open to that by essentially screen-scraping the CL website. *Maybe* Listpic can start their own online classifieds, complete with image browsing. *Maybe* if the backlash from this is bad enough, everyone will move from CL to Listpic. But they shouldn’t whine if CL decides to shut down their freeloading.

    Ultimately, it comes down to free competition and consumer choice, which is what folks here are (or should be) about.

  20. gondaba says:

    I’m sure ListPic is cooking up a workaround for the CL block. Coming from a development perspective, it should be fairly easy to workaround any block.

    I just checked and they haven’t even disabled hotlinking — anyone can still embed a craigslist image into their webpage, I guess just not ListPic!

  21. andrewsmash says:

    Craigslist can exist without Listpic, but ListPic can’t exist without Craigslist – so basically ListPic needs to deal with it. If you design a business that exists like a remora, you can’t get pissy when the shark tells you to go bother someone else.

  22. tcp100 says:

    @Mojosan: Yeah, it is free, and yeah, I don’t like it when people complain about free sites – but Craig and Craigslist has always had kind of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude, implying that their bare-bones site is somehow more “pure” than the rest of the internet, and above the money-grubbing corporations (re: the whole ebay situation)..

    So, it’s kind of ironic that Craig is throwing his balls around to intimidate the little guy.

    That, and I think Craigslist, while amazingly great and useful, needs to get off its high horse. It’s not exactly the pinnacle of hippie-huggin friendship they make it out to be. Their TOS is basically “if we don’t like something you did, we block you, tough luck.” That, and well…. check out Causal Encounters sometime and see what I mean.

  23. tcp100 says:

    @joemono: “The bigger question is – why didn’t craigslist include this feature to begin with?”

    Because that may require some features that are not Mosaic-compatible and were implemented later than 1997, and that just ain’t what Craig’s about, man.

  24. nidolke says:

    @tcp100: Mmm, casual encounters. Making prostitution as easy as checking your email :)

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    @tcp100: “it’s kind of ironic that Craig is throwing his balls around to intimidate the little guy.”

    Kinda, sorta. But Listpic not only steals CL bandwidth from the pictures, but also takes the text content and repurposes them. Then turns around and tries to monetize it. That’s wrong.

    CL is awesome. I use it to price things, to enjoy Google map mashups, to get concert tix, to find a new kitten to replace the cat that (sniff… bawl…) died a couple days ago… I could go on. All for free since Craig decided not to charge for these uses.

    I’m sceptical of the “Craig’s a big meanie” comments I see here, and even if true, who cares? His product’s great. And free if you’re not a corporation or a landlord. By his choice. We’re all richer because of it.

    “The little guy” is stealing bandwidth AND content AND popularity AND concept. “The little guy” is a little thief. He deserves to be smacked by Craig’s big balls.

  26. Lazlo Nibble says:

    Hot linking is a form of theft that no one has yet gotten arround to making formally illegal.

    That’s because you can prevent people from doing it with a trivial config change in your web server. It literally takes less time to disable hotlinking than it does to write two sentences complaining about it.

    Plus there’s that special frisson that comes when, after waiting a few weeks to let the offending site build up a nice big audience, you push the button enabling the rule that responds to every hotlinked image request with the filthiest image you can possibly find online.

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  28. swalve says:

    “As a webmaster I really dislike when people compalin about free websites.”

    That is a logical fallacy of some kind. If people are on the site, they’ve made some sort of time investment in it.

  29. Havok154 says:

    While Craig is in the right, he definitely seemed to handle it more like a 12 year old then a grown adult. Especially since the community that keeps his site popular like the program. If he wanted to please his users, he should of attempted to find a middle ground that could please everyone. If listpic is making money off of Craig, then the most logical would be a fee from listpic’s owner or a way to share revenue. Even working with the guy to integrate it into Craigslist.

  30. Trai_Dep says:

    Well, it mucks w/ Craigs List business model. One that’s served them quite well. Precident setting and all of that. It seems that the guy is strongly wedded to the idea of extracting some kind of rent for “his” feature, so it’s hard for Craig to split the baby in two. There are UI issues as well.

    Agree that Craig could have been more responsive, though. Even if only to constantly say, “Sorry, no. But *great* effort!”

  31. emjsea says:

    Craig is right. It’s his bandwidth, he can decide how it gets used. You hippies don’t like it? Don’t use craigslist or create your own service. You don’t get to decide for him how his business operates. Unless of course CL goes public and you buy enough stock to have a say. Oh, wait, right, most people would rather whine and complain that the free service isn’t exactly what they want because it’s all about them.

    And the jerk that was making money off of “repurposing” the listings was just a parasitic scumbag.

  32. Russellkhan says:

    I just checked out listpic, andnoscript says that there are scripts from quantserv and google-analytics trying to run. This tell me it was an ad-driven site, for those who were interested in knowing.

    BTW, a suggestion from a posting in the CL thread linked above:

    download firefox
    install greasemonkey addon
    then install greasemonkey script and walla images will appear

    I haven’t tested it out as I don’t use Greasemonkey and I already find craigslist perfectly satisfactory as it is, but I figured I’d mention it in case it help anyone get over a listpic jones.