"a craigslist for service"

"a craigslist for service"


Well, I explore that metaphor, and make some real suggestions, but decided to do first at The Huffington Post.

Please indulge me and check it out.



Brian Dunbar

Americans already do a lot of volunteering – getting the government involved, even as a clearinghouse, might meddle with that formula.
Yes, it could get better. But we don't like a lot of government and slapping a layer of bureaucrats on top of the process might deter volunteers or drive away the ones that already do volunteer.
Aside – I was describing an idea I had a few weeks ago to a friend over dinner.
'It's .. Craiglist for retail' I said.
And the concept I'd been struggling to describe for a good minute suddenly fell into place and a light went on over his head.
Now, in truth, the idea really has nothing in common with CL – but Craigslist as a metaphor worked to get the point across.
Does it bug you personally when people use CL as a metaphor?


I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


re: "If you have the time and inclination to get out, you might volunteer for an existing service organization, probably a recognized *for-profit*." [my emphasis]
then again, if you have the brains and the inclination to think… you might donate your time to those who actually *need* the help… (as opposed to those who are out to make a profit, the *for-profits*, and would be trilled to have your free labor…)
P.S. not at all surprised to hear this sort of non-sense from you… (it's just hard to believe that people still fall for it) D.


The problem with this view is in it's assumptions. Calling for "a Craigslist for service" disregards the many organizations that already exist (volunteermatch, for example, as Craig pointed out) and completely misses the question of accessibility.
In other words, the problem is not we don't have such a website, the problem is that we have many and people can't find the information they need efficiently. Think about it – volunteer opportunities and people's needs spread out across dozens of websites (including Craigslist already) creates a situation where people can't quickly find a good match.
So then the assumption is to create one big website – but that's wrong. The correct answer is to build the websites so that the experts at finding information – the search engines – can find it. How do you do this? My using intelligent markup and feeds (microformats, etc). This is a problem that has been technically solved, but needs wider adoption.
Think about it: Google (for example) works *really hard* at trying to figure out what you're looking for, and then serving you the best match from millions and millions of possibilities. If we (everyone who publishes data on the web) would just mark up our data a little more, Google (etc.) could recogonize it when it found an event, or a "wanted item" listing etc.
Freeing and structuring the information is the efficient solution to the problem, not creating an immense information silo.
Best Regards,


Maybe you meant to write "not-for-profit", since volunteermatch.org says they are a nonprofit?


sorry about the delay (was away fro the day)
re: "Maybe you meant to write "not-for-profit", since volunteermatch.org says they are a nonprofit?"
I'm assuming you are referring to my quote — that was a direct quote from "A Craigslist for service" — the link Craig provided (numeral one under what should be the forth paragraph).
If you are saying that Craig may have made a mistake and meant not-for-profit, I doubt that, for a number of reasons:
#1. craigslist is itself a *for profit* (although by using the dot.org designation — abusively in my opinion — makes it very difficult for plenty of people that are providing free labor in the form of flagging etc. to realize this)
#2. volunteermatch.org, while itself a non-profit, gives the option of volunteering for *corporations* (which are *for profit*) –> I believe this should not be allowed under the non-profit set-up (the non-profit is basically forgoing making a profit from the free labor *themselves* but passing that profit to *the corporations* it intermediates for) and if it is not clearly spelled out at the moment, I hope the IRS is going to spell it out…

Joe Duck

Short review: Great idea, and wonderful to see influential folks like you working to build the needed tools.
Longer review: Great idea, but Aerik and Delia's points are important from a tech perspective and prioritization important from a social architecture perspective. At some level it's imperative we start to *act globally*. Volunteerism in current forms keeps people local. That is nice, but the *major huge problems* are not even in the USA, and often we work at cross purposes (e.g. global warming mitigation vs economic development). I think we need to address this at the same time we all work to be better volunteers and give back from the prosperity many of us so luckily and skillfully enjoy.

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