Saturday, August 29, 2009

Gary Wolf tells the truth but holds on to many assumptions


EVEN MORE: As promised, I read your follow-up post. I continue to be very disappointed. As I do not find that your follow-up comment adds to the discussion in any way, I'm sorry but I don't see the point in publishing it or continuing any of this -- Good luck & good bye! D.

MORE: my answer


re: "I've committed myself in writing to the story as I understand it."

That would have been perfectly fine, would you have written it as such. That's not at all how your article reads -- at no point is there any hint that this may not be what is actually going on. That's why I thought that pointing out those assumptions would be really helpful.

I'm really disappointed if you don't even realize those are important assumptions at the core of your article -- you are kidding yourself if you truly believe that you were able to "confirm" those things or that those things are "known" or knowable at this point. (e.g. "Newmark was wedded to the idea that craigslist was a community service." 2nd page, middle of 4th paragraph) There are strong reasons to believe they are false and I explained as much as I could in a short post but the truth of the matter is that we don't really know at this point -- we can't! unless you have some way to read Craig's mind and I'm sorry but I don't believe that you do. As I said before, you appear to just believe him! That's fine, I suppose, as long as you acknowledge it.

"The remainder of your post has a lot to say about what the real intentions of craigslist are. But how, in good conscience, can I take this speculation as anything but one person's unsupported opinion?"

I'm not sure what you mean by "the remainder of my post" : I listed eight core assumptions -- that was it! Gary, you presented the intentions of craigslist in your article -- without indicating any doubt! You apparently got those things straight from the horse's mouth...sorry, Craig's mouth. Whether it was directly from him or by believing many others that just believed him is irrelevant. So how can you in good conscience present Craig's story as "the truth"?

Regardless, I do believe you deserve a lot of praise for the things you got right (three major ones!)


P.S. If you ever change your mind about the things we disagree about, I'd love to hear about it! D.

EVEN MORE: Gary's comment

Delia - A lot of reporting goes into a story that is not described in the piece. It would be very boring to into detail about who I talked to and what they said, when the upshot was to confirm a lot of what is already known (or, as you say, "assumed"). I've committed myself in writing to the story as I understand it. I think if you are going to tell me I'm wrong, you ought to say what, exactly, I'm wrong about, and how you know I'm wrong. I'm willing to be corrected, if you have anything to offer. But all I see here is a set of leading questions that imply nefarious goings-on, unsupported by facts or evidence. The exception is your assertion that more that half its profits (I think you meant revenue) come from the adult/erotic ads. I did not talk about this in the story, but I'm going to publish the correct estimate when I have it.

The remainder of your post has a lot to say about what the real intentions of craigslist are. But how, in good conscience, can I take this speculation as anything but one person's unsupported opinion?

Posted by Gary Isaac Wolf to craigslist criticism at August 31, 2009 3:41 PM

STILL MORE: @agaricus Gary, just read your comment for my blog --I'll have an answer for you tomorrow evening; wil publish bot comments at the same time

MORE: Twitter: @agaricus Gary, here's the list I promised ( ~Delia


As I already told you (on Twitter) , I believe you did a marvelous job figuring out the truth about craigslist's "customer service." You also did a very good job on describing the retarded development of the site and the modus operandi -- "low-key dictatorship." Not surprisingly, you got plenty of criticism from "Craig's friends."

Anyways, here is the list of assumptions I promised:

#1. Craig's story of craigslist is true (you appear to just believe it, I see no evidence of any doubt on your side at any point; much of the article, aside from your accurate description of the customer service, underdevelopment of the site and the mode of operation, should really be prefaced by "Craig sez")

#2. Craig's persona is authentic (it is funny and entertaining at times but it's very hard to believe it's real -- again I see no evidence of doubt on your side)

#3 craigslist is on solid legal footing (even though more than half of its current profits come from adult/erotic ads ( -- many of them illegal --, the law requires craigslist to remove ads once they are made aware they are illegal and craigslist has nowhere enough employees to be able to do this)

#4 the craigslist profits are really sitting in the compay's accounts waiting to be used for expansion -- adding more cities -- (although craigslist is quietly and steadily adding more cities to the pay list even though current profits would more then suffice for offering a craigslist site for each and every city in the world)

#6 "the ambiance of neglect is not a way to extract more profit" (although this is the undeniable direct effect)

#7 the intention is not to maximize profits in the long run by keeping expenses as low as possible while expanding as much as possible and quietly and steadily adding cities to the pay list

#8. it would be no problem if craigslist got sold at some point (although craigslist was really built by the community under the constant assurance that it would not be sold)


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