Open Letter to CL (Craigslist) Administration

This letter was forwarded to NO!SPEC.
(Please note: Discussions are open, but inflammatory comments will be deleted)

Open Letter to CL Administration
Reply to:
Date: 2007-09-03, 8:34AM

To all creative professionals; please read this, and if you agree, please forward it in an email to Craigslist administration by sending them a note at this address;

Dear Craigslist,

I would like to take this time to bring a problem to your attention that you may not be aware of. It is a problem that is seriously affecting myself, my peers, and our clients… and it needs immediate attention!!!

The problem, in a nutshell, is freeloading.

You see, here on the creative gig boards (and, I’m sure, on many other gig boards, as well.) you will find a plethora of talented, hard-working, highly skilled professionals from many different fields. Designers, Illustrators, Photographers and more. These are not people who are hard-up, or starving. Some of us just seek the occasional extra bit of income to supplement our salaries. Some of us use CL as a primary source of that income. Either way, using CL does not, by any measure, define us as some sort of discount day-labor or bargain-basement boobs who will do anything for a dollar.

We are PROFESSIONALS, first and foremost, and expect to be treated as such.

This is generally not a problem, when dealing with serious, professional clients; True businesspeople who understand the value of hiring someone with specialized skills. They understand that their time is valuable, and so, then, should ours be.

Unfortunately, these clients are being driven out of Craigslist by an avalanche of “freeloaders”.

Every day, the CL gig boards across the nation are being inundated with posts seeking skilled, professional services for “free” or “cheap”. Some offer the “opportunity” to “build your portfolio”. Others offer payment “Once my project is sold” to a publisher, etc. Some are even bold enough to equate compensation with the chance for your work “to be seen” on their website/business card/letterhead/etc.

In short, they are looking for free work.

Now, I am not begrudging anyone’s right to ask for free work. But I am making you aware that, because of the hordes of these posts appearing on CL daily, it is becoming increasingly difficult and frustrating for myself and my peers to find serious gigs.

It is also forcing us to scrutinize what serious gigs we do find, to the point where, I am sure, many serious professionals are no longer willing to post on the CL gig board, for fear of being lumped in with these freeloaders. In short, it is hurting everyone but the freeloaders.

Now, I am not here just to bitch and moan. This is a problem we CAN solve, and I think I have an idea of how to do so… an idea, I pray, you will see merit in.

I ask you to create a separate, “FREE” gig board for these people. This way, they can post to their heart’s content, and be sure to reach their target audience, as only those looking to work for nothing will read this board.

Additionally, to further discourage them posting on the real gig boards, change the “pay” entry field to accept only numeric entries. (And restrict the entries from starting with a zero.) You could possibly also enter a “negotiable” choice, as well for those who do not want to offer a solid dollar amount.) Then, change the gig rules to plainly state that this board is for PAYING gigs ONLY.

This way, when we flag the non-paying ones, there will be no question whether or not we are in the right in doing so.

This is a fairly straightforward and simple solution to a plaguing problem. I urge you to take this action immediately. Myself, and my peers, would be eternally grateful!

* Location: All creative professionals, PLEASE READ!
* it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests
* Compensation: FREE the FREE GIGS!!!

Original URL:

17 responses to “Open Letter to CL (Craigslist) Administration”

  1. I’m writing in support of this letter. Craigslist provides phenomenal service to the local community, however does disservice to those hard working designers nationally, and internationally when those not educated in design are posting for FREE work. You will certainly reach your correct market if you divide out the FREE jobs from those paying. We as a community understand that this change may seem a simple solution for us, and may be a difficult endeavor for you, but we ask that you consider this change in your system.

    Thank you.

    Maryann Little
    Principal Creative Service Director
    Big Bull Creative

  2. Mary Ann, as usual you are far more temperate and eloquent than I.

    Some of you may remember me as having written the original gripe letter to CL about freeloaders, which is still featured on the
    front page of this site under the “I wish I Had Written This”

    After seeing the response that post got (My inbox was full for weeks.) I realized that our community is not only large, but motivated.

    And so I figured, if we have this large, active and focused community, why not use it to solve the problem, instead of just complaining about it?
    (Better to light a candle than curse the darkness, as they say.)

    So I wrote this follow-up letter to CL administration, in a hope that it would also be well received by my peers, who would help me make a difference, here, by promoting an e-mail campaign to Craigslist.

    It’s not like we’re even asking for very much, folks. We basically just want CL to implement the very same mechanism that they’re already USING for the “jobs” posting board.

    You cannot post an employment position that does not pay. In fact, you must state, in your posting, a monetary amount of compensation.
    So the device is already there. We’re just asking it be attached to the gigs boards, as well.

    As for the separate board for UNpaid gigs… that was really just a caveat to those wishing to beg for pro-bono work.
    And don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of honest, well-intentioned people out there who are asking for nothing more than that.
    I’ve been known to do a bit of it, myself. (pro-bono work, not begging.)

    But there’s a difference between pro-bono and “gimme”.
    Asking for help with a website or print ad for a homeless shelter, soup kitchen or basic, non-profit community service is pro-bono, defined.
    Trying to convince someone that you’re doing them a favor by LETTING them design all the logos and corporate identity packages for your startup business is a “gimme”.

    You’re trying to make money. Why wouldn’t you expect the same from us?
    Takes money to make money, as they say.

    Besides, giving the freeloaders their own space is kind of like putting all the criminals in one prison.
    You get to know exactly where they are, without ever having to go spend time with them.

    So please, folks… write a letter to CL. Ask them to use the same pay requirements and mechanism for the gig board as they do for the job boards.

    It’s our community, after all. So it’s our responsibility to protect it and improve it.


    Dave D’Esposito
    ArtMonkey Studios

  3. UK Small Business Forums…

    I really doubt the censorship was CL administration’s doing.

    CL is a community, patrolled and moderated, predominately, by that community.

    My post was likely removed by one or two angry freeloaders or scam artists who don’t exactly embrace the idea of being relegated to a no-pay board that nobody but them will ever bother visiting.

    That’s one CL mechanism I don’t really like.
    Any ONE person, with enough time on their hands hitting the “flag” and “back” buttons, can remove a post in about 10 minutes.

  4. I completely agree with the above letter. As a freelance writer I am getting very tired of even bothering with these so-called jobs. I inquire, which takes up my valuable time, to be told it is a non-paying article, once a COVER STORY for a well distributed magazine 2500 words and she wanted me to research and write the thing in a cramped time frame for FREE! Its ridiculous. Please please please help put a stop to this abuse of CL.

  5. I agree completely, this free loading is getting old.

    I’ve come to a point where I hardly use CL anymore because I waste SO much time weening through the non paid ones it’s ridiculous.

    CL should either
    a) Provide a section as suggested for PAYING GIGS and NON PAYING GIGS.
    b) Make it a rule of thumb that in a job post title PAID, DEFERRED PAYMENT or NON PAYING is entered so we may choose if even to click on it and give it the time of day.

  6. I have an alternative viewpoint to offer in regards to this. I am completely on board with the no-spec work philosphy, but there are realities about CL which are unfortunate and sort of take it out of the realm of professionalism. First off 99% of the people who respond to ads placed for work are scammers so to speak, and pretty much just spam every single post out there with form letters. I think work found in this manner tends to be regarded as expendable, and seems to breed a certain irresponsibility. Everyone claims to do everything, be ‘experts’ in web 2.0, or SEO masters, ‘high end designers’ or whatever. It’s hard for me to sift through it all, and I know what I’m looking for. Imagine an employer at an ad agency, not knowing the technical end of things, and having to sort through 100s of, I’m not goign to mince words, liars and cheaters, to find the one honest guy.

    I pay real money for people, I put a detailed description and the rate in my add but the honest to god truth is people end up wanting money for nothing, ignoring the rate or wasting my time with calls where they try to hook me in on these shady contracts. So, in my opinion this is not a one sided problem. It is like looking in the classifieds for work but far worse.

    Overall, everyone needs to become more responsible for this system to work. Quality employers are being driven away and all you have are scheisters left and right.

    Just a thought.

  7. And sorry, one more thing. I’m an accomplished designer with too much work. So I hire people to help. And so I have the unique viewpoint of both sides, so please don’t flame me just because I don’t totally agree with you.

    the gigs section is for more open ended work, whereas the jobs section is more legit. Stay off the gigs section if you want more legit stuff. I understand the point, but you guys have to look at both sides. In the spicier markets, ie SF, you have to pay to post an ad in the jobs section, because guess what, it’s legit. The gigs section is for more small, or no budget stuff. If you are looking there, be prepared for some zero budget jobs

  8. Absolutelly agree with the letter!
    Honestly, within the last fews years I just had a handfull of design jobs coming out of CL, the rest of the prospects ended up in bull…as usual.
    I am one of the many that everytime I see an ass trying to hire quality work for pennies or no money at all..I post a complaint on CL, and believe it or not, many times I get angry e-mails from fellow designers, saying that “at least I am doing something to expand my portfolio”… you can see, even some so called professionals don’t even get it!
    They are not only hurting themselves but everyone else!!!

    And I have to disagree with Tom when you say: “the gigs section is for more open ended work, whereas the jobs section is more legit.”

    Although honestly I don’t even waste time reading what’s on the gigs section (it’s a joke) the jobs section is equally as BAD! I am sure fellow designers will agree with me on that one…

  9. i agree with having the separate “free gig” board.

    years ago, i was at my favorite domain name website and i asked upfront for anyone who was giving away domain names for FREE, yes for free…

    i was very upfront and i scored some excellent names that way, but never at any time would i ever consider scamming someone or misleading anyone into giving me something for free. i too am a designer of sorts, i do web design and i NEVER do spec work and as a matter of fact, for the past few years i refuse to do ANY work without full payment in advance. i have found that the more legitimate appearing companies are actually the ones who jerk you around the most at payment time, holding your money hostage for numerous revisions…

    ack, it sucks being in the business, but at least i control my business, not the client. it is hilarious how clients think they have control over my policies and procedures.

  10. There is an even easier way to solve this. Charge something absurdly low to post a job on Craigslist. Even $5 would work.

    Morons who want free work simply won’t invest the vast sum of $5. They’ll go to the MANY other job boards where freeloading is rampant.

    As pathetic as it sounds, $5 is going to be a barrier entry for 99% of the shitheads out there who need some confused or just plain freaked out creative person to subsidize their journey down capitalism lane.

  11. I agree that separating the payers from the beggars is a great idea, but if they are going to do that, why not also make another separate gig board for non-profit orgs? They usually have links to show their non-profit status, and they won’t be relegated to the beggar boards. I for one, would gladly look through such a board to see if there is a pro-bono request that I would be willing to do

  12. We are looking for ways to solve (or at least alleviate) these problems, starting by sorting between paid work vs. unpaid work.

    Since Workpost doesn’t have many users right now, we can experiment and make big changes to the site when necessary; please do not hesitate to write us with suggestions.

    Thank you,


  13. If I can’t ask for free labor then none of the charities can ask for free help. There goes free labor for charities.

  14. Here it is 2015, and nothing has changed. The Creative Gigs section on Craigslist is a foraging ground for unscrupulous business owners, cheapskates and predators to target artists of all types. This section is free to list and not monitored by Craigslist staff, so there is no incentive for improvement or benefit to professional artists. The sad part is any legitimate business posting here gets lost among hundreds of other predatory ads. Craigslist has made no attempt to even respond to thousands of complaints. There are no replies to email and grievances posted on the community forum are met with disdain such as. “What did you expect for free?” Artists can only respond by flagging the scammers and opportunistic posts in hopes of triggering automated removal. Some may even call out the offenders with a new post that references the original listing. But for what purpose? Craigslist is not listening. It is only a matter of time that creative minds come up with an alternative marketplace to fill the void which Craigslist once served ages ago.

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