eBay and Craigslist differ so much that a question like this one is difficult to answer, yet the two get compared enough for this question to be asked on a regular basis.
At its core, eBay is a fairly complicated bit of software. It’s purpose-built for buying and selling, and so the things that members can do are limited to buying and selling-style activity.
On eBay, sellers:
- Post highly structured “listings” for items
- That must contain specific kinds of information
- And that are not allowed to contain others
- That are associated with a particular price
- That represent a contract between buyer and seller
- That eBay knows about and records
- Search or browse through listings
- Evaluate complete selling biographies for sellers
- Click a button to purchase things they like
- Pay online via PayPal (credit, debit, or bank transfer)
Both parties then:
- Rate each other on the transaction
- Repeat their roles (sell another item/buy another item)
Craigslist, on the other hand, is far less structured. In fact, it’s essentially a giant moderated discussion board. There are areas for buying and selling, but there are also areas for innumerable other things:
- Community events and activities
- Classes that can be taken
- Personal ads
- Discussion areas about topics like haiku or veganism
Anyone can post almost anything on Craigslist. In the buying and selling areas, when people post, ads are typed as freehand textthere is no particular kind of information required by Craigslist, and there are few things excluded from Craigslist.
Purchases in Craigslist are informal, negotiated affairs. The seller provides some sort of contact information in their ad, and the buyer contacts them to indicate an interest in buying. Transactions often occur in person. Cash is often exchanged.
Craigslist maintains no record of purchases and never knows whether a purchase or a sale has been made. There is no “rating” information available either for buyers or sellers.
Craigslist Has its Uses
The discussion above is a good comparison, but a set of bullet lists giving the big opposites between the two platforms, as well as some bullets on when you might choose to buy or sell on Craigslist, might help to clarify things even more.
Read on for just such bullet lists.