Working around craigslist’s all-negative-keywords deficiency

Craigslist is great, but if you’ve used it at all, you’ve likely noticed it has a number of … imperfections. One of these is that you can not do a search with only negative keywords. For example, a SearchTempest user wrote on our forums recently that he was having trouble with his motorcycle search. He basically just wanted to browse the motorcycles/scooters category, but didn’t want to get all the atv and scooter posts. He knew he wanted a bike, and the price range, but otherwise wanted to browse. Logically this would be a simple matter of using -atv -scooter as your keywords. Unfortunately, craigslist barfs when you do this. (And since SearchTempest passes your keywords through to craigslist, we got some barf on us too. Never fun.) Fortunately, there’s a work-around. Every craigslist post ends with “You may [not] contact this user for commercial purposes”, or something to that effect. And for whatever reason, their search system actually indexes that part of the post. (A bit of a waste, but I won’t complain since it turns out to be useful. 🙂 ) So for the search above, we can use contact -atv -scooter as our keywords and we’ll match every post, except those with the words atv or scooter in them – just as we wanted! And now, SearchTempest takes it one small step further. It now automatically checks for search strings like -atv -scooter and automatically adds that ‘contact’ in there for you.