Home Crgslst: The Endangered, Sexy Craigslist Search Tool

Crgslst: The Endangered, Sexy Craigslist Search Tool

Denver, Colorado based Superhero.es has built crgslst, a very slick multi-city search tool for Craigslist. Craigslist itself doesn’t offer a multi-search service. By combining the publicly available RSS feeds from Craigslist with AJAX, crgslst fills this need “so fast, we left the vowels behind.”

Unfortunately, crgslst may be in violation of the Craigslist terms of use and could face the same shutdown that other similar projects have in the past. This situation brings up a number of questions about intellectual property, RSS and mashups.

Three years ago developer Jeff Attwood built a service at his site Coding Horror that performed a multi-city search of Craigslist, only to receive a shutdown order from Craigslist by email. That email included lines from the Terms of Use that are still present today.

Additionally, you agree not to:… use automated means, including spiders, robots, crawlers, data mining tools, or the like to download data from the Service – unless expressly permitted by craigslist;

What’s an RSS feed though, but an API that lets 3rd parties download data from a site by automated means? Isn’t Craigslist, or at least Housing Maps, the long-time darling of the mashup world? Some folks at least contend that an API is a way for noncommercial mashups to be developed without a lengthy, formal business development process.

There’s no indication that crgslst has received any contact from Craigslist, but the history of similar services and the continued presence of the language above in the Terms of Use don’t bode well.

Just the thought of a service like this getting shut down is sad. It’s a great little site, offering a user experience that Craigslist itself would do well to offer. Who’s IP is at work at crgslst, though?

For now, you can check out crgslst and see just one more example of the kinds of magic that becomes possible when a website offers its data in a standards-based format like RSS.

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