26 Feb 2017 
Support Center » Knowledgebase » How to avoid flagging, ghosting, deletion of ads on Craigslist?
 How to avoid flagging, ghosting, deletion of ads on Craigslist?
Article Our software has many features to help you get ads live and avoid common mistakes that lead to flagging, ghosting, deletion of your ads or even blockage of your account or IP address. At the same time, it is important to understand that the software itself does NOT guarantee that your ads, accounts or IPs don't get blocked. The software is only a tool, and there are billions of ways to use it. In this article we explain the most common mistakes that cause your ads, accounts or IPs to be blocked, and how to avoid these mistakes. We suggest that you study this article carefully before starting any major campaigns, to verify that your setup is more or less safe.

First thing that needs to be understood is that there are many possible reasons for your ads to get blocked. The decision making process is somewhat similar to fraud prevention algorithms used by payment gateways. Many factors are taken into consideration when deciding whether a particular ad is legitimate or not. This fact makes it very difficult to develop step-by-step guide that will work in any situation. The good thing is - the number of contributing factors is finite. There are only so many things Craigslist or other sites can analyze when making decision to block your ads. So success in posting is achieved through understanding and careful consideration of these factors when composing your campaigns.

Before getting into specifics, one important item deserves to be mentioned. All Craigslist security mechanisms were built with two simple goals in mind: to ensure that ads are posted by real people (not by the software) and to enforce the requirements of Craigslist Terms of Use. It is a good idea to always keep that in mind, and ask yourself: (1) do my ads look like those posted by real legitimate users? (2) do my posts look like they are in line with the TOU? This article will help you to answer these question.

We will split all affecting factors into 2 large groups:
  1.  Those that are directly related to the autoposting software.
  2.  Those that are NOT related to the autoposting software.

The first group contains the following items:
  • Information about browser sessions (cookies, local storage, browser identification). Our software automatically manages these to ensure that every post appears as if it was posted from a separate computer/browser.
  • Time delays between actions in the posting process. Our software manages timings automatically to ensure that the ads are not posted faster than human beings can type in the text or click the buttons.
  • Software footprints in the ads that could enable remote servers to detect that the ads were posted automatically, or link posted ads together. Our software does not add any extra information to your ads and takes every possible precaution to ensure that it does not expose itself.
We mentioned the first group of factors briefly just so you know that they exist. We won't go into much detail on them simply because they are already taken care of by the software for you and you don't need to worry about them.

The second group of factors is much more important, because it is directly related to you and your input. That's where your understanding is really critical for success. Here go these factors:

1. Geo-correspondence. 

There are 5 items that carry geographical information along with them:

  1. the city where you want your ad to appear in the listing,
  2. the city of IP address that is used to post the ad,
  3. the city of IP address that is used to verify the ad by E-mail,
  4. the cities recorded in your Craigslist account that you use to post the ad (if the account has prior posting history), and the city of the IP that was used to create/confirm the account, and
  5. the city of the phone number that is used to verify the ad by phone (if phone verification is requested).

Ideally, all 5 must match. In reality, the more match - the better. Let's take an example. You live in Dallas, TX and you regularly post ads locally with your account.Now you want to post some ads in Los Angeles, CA. Suppose you don't even use the software and do everything manually. So you log in to your CL account from your home computer, select Los Angeles and place your ad, then open your E-mail to confirm it and maybe answer that phone call with the authentication code to finalize your ad. With all these simple action, you have given plenty of information to Craigslist to analyze and decide whether your ad is legitimate or not, and should it be blocked or allowed through. Here is what you just revealed to Craigslist:

  1. Your IP address is from Dallas.
  2. You use the account that was created in Dallas and you posted in Dallas before with this account.
  3. You want to post your new ad in Los Angeles. Here is where the bell starts to ring - Craigslist has found potential problem. It doesn't want you to post to remote location. If you posted to Dallas before - it expects that you post to Dallas (or at least to nearby locations) again. But Los Angeles? Suspicious.
We aren't saying that this post will be blocked right away. Noone knows exactly how Craigslist security works, and this issue alone may not lead to immediate block. But it will raise some red flags for sure.There is a solution though, to trick Craigslist into believing that you are sitting into LA. Here is how:
  1. Clear your browser's cookies so Craigslist can't detect that you posted from this browser in Dallas before.
  2. Use IP address that comes from LA.
  3. Use new account that was created with LA IP, and wasn't used to post outside LA.
  4. If Craigslist asks to verify via phone - use LA phone number.
As mentioned above, (1) is taken care of automatically. The software will also help you will the other 3 items, but it will need to you to provide IP from LA, phone number from LA (if required by Craigslist), and a new CL account (optionally, you can ask the sofware to create it for you).
If all of the above is done, Craigslist won't be able to tell that you are posting from TX. No red flags are raised, and your ad has more chances to go through seamlessly.

Here is how the software can help you with this (just one of many possible setups):
  1. Load your proxies into the software. You may have proxies from different cities - perfect, the software will help you manage them.
  2. Load your CL accounts into the software and bind every account to the proxy. If your accounts have prior posting history - make sure that the city of the IP corresponds to the city of the posts recorded in the account. If you don't have accounts - you can ask the software to create them for you using your proxies, and in this case the software will automatically bind your accounts to proxies. Also make sure that correct city is selected in the account properties in CLAD.
  3.  Set phone numbers in your CL accounts. The city of each phone number must correspond to the city of the IP and account, of course.
Now you can set up a single ad and ask the software to post it to many cities for you, as many as you have IPs, accounts and phone numbers for. And for each post, the software will automatically select an account from the destination city, will use IP and the phone number from the destination city. Thus making your ad appear fully legitimate to Craigslist.

The above setup is only an example. There are many other possible ways, depending on your particular situation. For example, you may be using proxy service (such as ProxyRental or DslRoot) instead of proxies, and you will not bind accounts to IPs in this case. Or, you may use hardware IP rotator (such as DSL), that provides IPs from the same area. Or, it may so happen that Craigslist allows you to post remotely with your local IP - that also happens. Rarely, though. It is also possible that Craigslist allows you post in locations other than recorded in your Craigslist account, and in many cases this would be considered legitimate. For example, you could travel from Texas to LA or even move there permanently. On the other hand, if you post an ad in Texas and the next minute in LA from the same account, then even if you use LA IP address - you are in trouble, simply because it's not possible to move from Dallas to LA in a minute, and Craigslist is most probably aware of it. So you have to always ask yourself - is what I'm doing looks like a real person? The goal of this article is not to provide step-by-step solution, but to give you as much information as  possible so you can develop your own working solution using our software and these guidelines.

2. Number of posts

is the next big factor. Here are the ways to count the number of posts:
  1.  Per IP address
  2.  Per Craigslist account or E-mail account
  3.  Per city
  4.  Per section/category
  5.  Per phone number
and combine each of the above with the time frame. For example, how many posts per day you make from a single IP address? single account? etc.
We know from Craigslist TOU that the recommended (allowed) number of posts is one per 48 hours. Roughly, this is the limit you have to consider when building your campaigns. In practice, this may be violated without any obvious consequences. The reason for that is the fact that one IP address does not necessarily represent a single person. There are many cases when a single IP address used by a big office with dozens of employees. Many cellular providers use one IP address per base station or even for the city, and it is shared by hundreds of users. Craigslist has to account for that and relax its limits correspondingly. Similarly, Craigslist may apply different restrictions for different cities and sections. For example, cities with very high traffic may have more strict limits on the number of posts than those with just one or two ads per day.
In practice, it is a good idea to experiment with different number of posts and see what happens. Eventually you will find the optimal value for your particular case.
The software will be of a big help with this, because it has a setting for every case mentioned above. For example, number of posts per IP and account that the software will do before changing IP/account can be set under settings/posting/craigslist/resources. The default is 1 post per IP/account per 48 hours (as per CL TOU, but you can easily change it to whatever you need). The number of posts per city/section is regulated by the scheduling settings in your ads. The number of posts per phone number coincides with the number of posts per CL account, because phone number is always atached to an account.One other thing you have to keep in mind is that your IP addresses may be used elsewhere, and/or may have prior history with Craigslist. For example, if you post from your office - it is possible that some of your co-workers also post, and they probably use the same IP. If you purchased private proxies - you never know how they were used before, their past owner may have posted thousands of ads on them. If you post from your home and your IP is dynamic (that is, changes when you re-connect your modem), it means that before you got your current IP someone else may have used it and maybe posted ads with it. So with IPs, there is never a 100% guarantee that they are clean and virgin, and you need to account for that.

3. The next factor is your content.

This breaks down to:
  1. The text you use in your ads. In each section there is usually a list of words/phrases that are not allowed in that section. Be nice and don't use such words. In certain sections the length of your ad makes a difference. For example, if you plan to sell a house, then probably a 3-words ad will look suspicious. The text is your responsibility. The software can't help you here at all - there is no artificial or any other intelligence in the software to determine whether your text looks good or not.
  2. The images. Some sections expect that you post images. For example, real estate ad without an image makes little sense. The number of images also makes a difference. It does not mean that adding 6 identical pictures of your house will help you get the ad live. Craigslist will be able to tell that the images are identical, better don't do that.
  3. HTML content. There are many HTML tricks to make an ad stand out, add hidden text to the ad to make it appear unique to the CL security, use in-place image links etc. Most of these don't work, and if you try using them - they will probably trigger some alerts in CL security. So better don't try, unless you know what you are doing. See below recommendations on content randomization and uniqueness. And try to use plain and simple text.
  4. The names of the images. At times we hear from our users that names make a huge difference. You know that digital cameras and smartphones have their own naming conventions, like DSC_XXXX.jpg, etc. We have heard that Craigslist sometimes favors these names. The software will help you experiment with this, there is a setting "Template for image names" under settings/mutations.
  5. Randomization of text. If you post more that 1 ad per 48 hours, it is very important that they look unique. Otherwise, even if you use clean accounts, ips, phone numbers, if you geo-correspondence is perfect - Craigslist will be able to find you by your identical content. The quick and dirty way to solve this is to add some random text at the end of the ad - the software will help you with that, search our knowledge base for $randomtext. But we don't recommend that. Much better way is to use tokens. You will need to invest some time initially to set them up, but afterwards you get millions of unique combinations of your ad that the software will automatically generate for you each time you post. Search our knowledgebase for "tokens" to find out more.
  6. Randomization of images. Providing unique images is not as simple as generating unique text, but still possible. One way is to resize an image within some sane limits on each post. The software has this feature built-in and will resize your images within +-10% when uploading them. This ensures that Craigslist will not be able to do simple matching of the images, as their byte-stream content will be completely different. However, this doesn't help with more sophisticated AI-based matching algorithms. We are not aware whether Craigslist uses these or not, but to be safe - we recommend to just take more pictures of your house than you intend to post in a single ad, and then use tokens to rotate these images, thus providing unique set for each ad.
  7. ID string in your ads. Sometimes you want to provide contact information in the ad (phone number, address, E-mail etc.). Even if your content and images are tokenized properly, but each of your ads contains the same exact phone number - you are in trouble. Better put it in the images - it's much harder to find it there using automated algorithms.

Article Details
Article ID: 206
Created On: 04 Sep 2016 9:55 AM

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