McGinnis: You suck at CraigslistWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In the mid-1990s, Craig Newmark began the experimental email-list-then-webpage known as Craigslist in the San Francisco Bay area. People would post job listings, classified ads, announcements and so forth. Among the first users of the site was a woman who is known to thousands of readers as “drmk,” one of the authors of the hilarious site “You Suck at Craigslist” (YSaC).
“Not to be the old grumpy man who insists on telling stories about walking to school uphill both ways barefoot over broken glass, but I really do remember when Craigslist was actually just a small group of people, and when you could trust everyone on it. I found jobs, roommates, subleasers, co-workers,
friends and things to do on Craigslist,” drmk said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star.
She continued to use the service throughout its explosive expansion, which would see it grow to include cities around the world. A few years ago, inspiration struck.
“I was spending more time than usual on Craigslist during the summer of 2008 because I was bargain hunting, and I kept seeing ads that made me laugh, cringe or both. I started posting them on my personal webpage, with snarky comments, just for my friends. They made the mistake of encouraging me, and here we are now,” drmk said.
Yes, here we are, three years and more than 1,000 posts later. The blog has become an exhaustive archive of entries on Craigslist from around the world, including everything from people selling nonsensical items, pictures that don’t go with the description, sub-literate and misguided text and so on. Each entry comes accompanied by snarky and hilarious commentary by drmk or her husband, Dan.
“I wrote the posts for about the first year of the site; I would always run them by Dan, though, to see if he could think of anything, or could think of a clever title. Eventually he started writing posts, and we now share the post-writing responsibilities. When one of us is busy, the other will go on a spree and write a bunch in a row,” drmk said.
Ever since the early days of the site, drmk and Dan have maintained strict anonymity. The only clue to drmk’s “real” identity she will provide is that she works in academia. When she started YSaC, “drmk” was just a nonsense alias she had used for all her online writing.
“When I kept writing the site, I was glad I had started it anonymously because I realized that if my colleagues and supervisors knew what I was doing, they would ask me why I was wasting my time doing this and not writing more professional articles. Academia is on a publish-or-perish model; if you don’t get articles published, you don’t get to keep your job … so I didn’t want there to be any questions about whether I could have done more professional writing when it came time for my reviews,” drmk said.
Still, drmk and Dan are far from reticent in participating in the community which has formed around their work.
In addition to maintaining Facebook and Twitter pages devoted to the site, both are frequent participants in the “You Suck at Craigslist” forums, where their unique avatars have given rise to the curious nicknames “Llama-nun” (drmk) and “Ostrimu.”
drmk credits YSaC visitors with much of the evolution the site has gone through.
“They’re the ones that pick up certain ideas and run with them, creating memes and recurring ‘in-jokes.’ I frequently say that I think that the reader comments are the best part of the site,” she said.
With such expansive and passionate readership, it’s unlikely that the authors behind YSaC will run out of material anytime soon. They receive between 75 to 100 new submissions a week, drmk estimates, and post a new installment every weekday, with weekends spent spotlighting older entries from the expansive archives.
Such a wealth of material would seem to be naturally transferable to the printed page, though drmk said not to hold your breath for a YSaC book anytime soon.
“I was told by a couple of different publishers that I would need to dumb things down. Sorry, I like that we make references to the Maginot Line, modern art and physics in posts — sometimes in the same one! — and if we remain with a small core of readers who enjoy that as well, then we’re happy,” she stated.
And happiness is the key to the enterprise for its two authors.
“Dan and I have an agreement: we will keep writing the site for as long as it’s fun for us. If it stops being fun, we will stop writing the site. It’s still fun,” drmk said.
Email Jeff at PopGoesJeff@toledofreepress.com.