Craigslist: The Crucifixion of Craig and the End of Free: Page 2

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The problem that has bedeviled Craig the Good and eBay the Avaricious boils down to the slow and inexorable disintegration of the “free” model of Internet commerce that has dominated business models in what is still a pioneer phase of evolution.

Free sounds good until you see what free email, free postings, and free access are able to do not just to the individuals who are scammed but the brands of the companies that end up playing the willing role of co-dependent, in the case of eBay et al., or victim, in the case of Tiffany et al. in these scams. I can assure you I never use eBay or Paypal, happily pay for my email services, and am wishing there was a comparable paid service I could use to replace Craigslist (there isn’t, or I would.)

I admit to being in the minority in terms of my refusing to keeping going back to those mugger’s malls, but I know I’m not the only one who is sick and tired of being ripped off in the process of helping e-commerce Web sites accumulate more eyeballs.

Here’s my prescription for solving the problem, and I guarantee it won’t be popular: start forcing “free” users of any and all e-commerce services to do the following: Pay a nominal fee for the service using either a viable credit card or debit account, or, absent either (and in a nod to those who are legitimately not financially able) provide some bona fide identification that establishes who they are.

In other words, stop letting “free” be a shield for anonymous criminal behavior – not to mention all the other nonsense that goes on when users are able to act “anonymously” on the Web, such as spamming and flaming blogsites – by largely doing away with it.

I’m going to guess that these restrictions – if applied fairly and broadly – would curtail a significant amount of illegitimate business while basically having little impact on legitimate business. Absent some solution, I don’t have to guess where this will all end up: over and out. Legitimate customers will eventually rebel, and vote with their eyeballs by moving their business to safer sites, assuming they exist.

And they do. Look at Amazon if you want an example of how it can be done right – they know who I am, I know who their sellers are (screened and approved), and boy do I do a lot of business with that company. No scammers, no caveat emptor, no warnings about how to detect fraudulent deals. That’s the kind of online mall I want to shop at. Wouldn’t you?


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