The 4 types of responses you get when selling on Craigslist

We’re definitely not having any more babies, so as Younger Brother has outgrown his newborn stuff, I’ve been looking for ways to get rid of it.  Craigslist offers a nice win-win scenario: I get a little extra cash, while someone else gets gently used gear at a good price.  I’ve made $55 in the last month—nothing to retire on, but nothing to sneeze at either.

I learned pretty quickly to not get too invested in any particular response to my ads.  These responses tend to fall into one of four general categories:

1. The Scammers—”Is Item,,still available”

Message literally says “item”?  Delete.  Scammers copy-paste the same email to everyone.

2. The Window-Shoppers—”Are the baby clothes still available?”

Plausible grammar?  Correctly references the thing for sale?  Might be a more sophisticated scammer, or it might be a legitimate person doing some virtual window-shopping.  I don’t really understand why people use Craigslist this way, to be honest.  They haven’t yet decided whether they want the thing, but they go to the effort of sending an email anyway.

This group used to annoy me (if the ad’s still up, it’s still available!) but now I just write a five-second “yep, still available” reply and move on.  They rarely answer.

3. The Non-Readers—”What part of town are you in?” / “Location?”

Craigslist sales are in-person, cash-only transactions, so location does matter.  I completely understand why someone wouldn’t want to drive 25 minutes across town for some used baby clothes.  Which is why I use Craigslist’s handy “Show on Maps” feature.  All of my ads include street map with a pin dropped at the nearest major intersection, with the names of the cross streets written in text below the map.

Obviously, when it gets to the point of finalizing a pickup, the buyer will need my full address.  This category isn’t about that, it’s about the people who ask for my location right off the bat (or as their immediate response to a “yep, still available”).  Like the window-shoppers described above, these people haven’t actually decided if they want to buy the thing.  They also haven’t bothered to spend more than two seconds looking at the ad.

I reply to these people, but I’m a little snarky about it.  “I’m at Maple and Elm, like it says in the ad.”  Does this drive away potential buyers?  Possibly.  Were they likely to follow through on the purchase in any case?  Nope.

4. The Buyers—”I’m interested in the Graco swing.” / “Can I get both sets of swaddles for $15?”

The serious buyers—the people who are likely to show up and pay for the thing—send non-generic messages.  They indicate a definite interest.  They correctly reference the item for sale, and they’ve actually read the ad.  Maybe they offer a price, or ask for a deal buying multiple items.  (I say yes to any reasonable offer, because I’m not interested in drawn-out negotiations.)

Not all of these people will end up buying the thing; some will stop responding, while others will set a time for pickup and never show.  But all of my eventual buyers have come out of this category.

I’ve only been selling on Craigslist for a month, so I suspect there are a few types of replies that I haven’t encountered yet.  Do you have anything to add to the list?

My baby has a smartphone?!?

My husband bought our Little Boy a smartphone.

OK, it’s not a real phone.  It’s a toy.  It has a panel of touch-screen-like buttons and lots of flashing lights and music.  Touch the weather “app,” and it will tell you that it’s sunny.  Click on the “camera,” and the phone cheerily instructs you to “say cheese!” Basically, it’s the kind of toy that’s going to be awesomely obnoxious on long car rides.

My baby's "smartphone."

I haven’t even figured out what all the buttons do yet.

I had a wide range of reactions to the arrival of this toy in my house.  This is roughly how my thought process went:

What?  Little Boy doesn’t need any kind of smartphone—he’s not even a year old!

OK, calm down.  You had a toy phone when you were a baby.  (It was one of those classic Fisher Price rotary-dial phones on wheels—remember those?  They’re still making them, although they’ve changed the design a little.)  This is just what phones look like nowadays.

But… I don’t want Little Boy thinking that smartphones make good toys.  Or wanting one of his own.

Let’s face it, a toy phone is going to be the least of your worries in that regard.

Fair point.

Little Boy is going to grow up in a world of hyper-connectivity.  He’ll see his father texting on his phone, his mother on browsing on her iPad, and his friends watching movies in the car on their tablets.  There’s no way he’s not going to want a smartphone / smart watch / smart pair of glasses /  implantable chip / whatever is popular in 5–10 years.  And he’s almost certainly going to want it long before we think he’s old enough.

As a generation, we’re forging new parenting ground here, and it’s a little nerve-wracking.  I mean, all of parenthood is about making stuff up as you go along.  But at least with something like newborn care, you can take comfort in the knowledge that humanity has been doing this for thousands of years.  Innumerable generations of mothers and fathers have managed to keep their babies alive without massively screwing them up in the process.  We have no cultural history for managing our toddlers’ web use.

I got my first email account when I was in middle school.  My parents never demanded to know my password or read my messages, mostly because I was a goody two-shoes, but also because I was old enough to understand that there were some things I just shouldn’t click on.  It was also incredibly easy for them to monitor the time I spent online—this was back in the days when you had to yell a warning at the whole household every time you dialed up.  “NOBODY PICK UP THE PHONE, I’M GONNA GO CHECK MY EMAIL.”

Consequently, I can’t draw on my childhood experience when it comes to Internet connectivity.  We are really going to be making this one up as we go.  I guess I better start reading up on parental control settings.

Readers, at what age did you start using the Internet regularly?  What are your thoughts and experiences on giving kids access to cell phones and the Internet?  Does your child have a musical smartphone toy?

The cycle of hate-reading

It always starts off so well.

You find a new discussion forum to read, a new online group to follow.  It looks interesting, valuable, useful.  Maybe it’s in support of a cause you find important.  Maybe it challenges you to look at the world a little differently.  Maybe you enjoy finding silent camaraderie with those whose lives are in similar places right now.  Maybe it’s just focused on a topic you think is cool.

You might join officially and post a little here and there, but mostly you just lurk.  It becomes a regular part of your online routine, wondering what people are discussing on this subject.

After a while, you begin to notice the drama.  It’s entertaining.  You start to head to the site when you’re bored, thinking, “I wonder what’s happening in the XYZ group right now.”  You’re metaphorically breaking out the popcorn.

Then the drama sours.

Maybe the group discussion has become increasingly dominated by bullies, or maybe you realize that it always has been.  Either way, you become aware that your opinions are not just in the minority on this particular forum, they are actively shamed.  You read even more intently, happy whenever someone gets in a good point for your side, always hoping for the bullies to be met with a good take-down.

But they’re not.  You start mentally writing arguments yourself, words that you would never post but that drive you to frustration because you cannot share them.  Now you’re just reading the discussions out of anger, unable to look away.

Eventually, you realize that you have to stop.  That there’s no reason for this much anger.  That whatever benefit you once got from this forum is far outweighed by its negative impact.  You’re not even an active group participant.  Nobody will even notice if you leave.

So you leave the group, delete the app, block the page – whatever it takes to prevent you from going back there and getting caught up in the drama again.  You fight the temptation to look again.  For a while, you harbor secret hopes that the group will implode upon itself (or come to its senses).

But in the end, for the sake of your own sanity, you try to let it go.


I’m in the cooling-off period from one of these cycles right now – a particularly complicated one with lots of drama spillover.  For a variety of reasons, it was unwise for me to take an active role in the argument, so I got out.  There was no grand exit, just a quiet click of the “Leave Group” button.  I’m still processing a lot of rage from it, though.

Anyone else go through this kind of thing?