And I don't, really. Well...for those not visiting from the IF blogosphere...it's complicated. (Why don't you get lost in a mind vortex of topics that have nothing to do with shopping or antiques for, say, a year? Please read my blogroll while you're at it. Thanks for stopping by!)
This is a fact I probably should have featured a little earlier in the month: craigslist is sort of a natural haven for stay-at-home moms. Have a fairly flexible schedule for furniture pick-up and drop-off, and trying to pinch a few pennies being on just the one income? Yes, well, there you go. So trolling the 'list can offer just as much of a baby-related ambush as the dreaded 'book.*
For example. I have run eleventy million searches on the word "gate," and because I don't know whether people list them under "household," or "materials," or "antiques," or what, I hit "all for sale/wanted" as my major filter. Which means I get lots of results. Like so:
(I have no idea why that image is shaded in gray, by the way. Blogger is mysterious.)
Anyway, there you can see my first nine results. Zero are for what I would call actual gates. Five are for baby stuff. I did not see this eventuality coming at all when I innocently typed in my "gate" search. But it happened every day. Eventually I wised up (sometimes this takes me a while). I had options: scroll past all the baby results. Definitely possible, if possibly annoying. Another option: narrow my search. I tried "iron, gate" a number of times, but I began to fear I was missing out on excellent gate options that their owners simply didn't know were iron. (I believe I've already established that "wrought" would have gotten me nowhere as a search term.) And what about lovely wooden gates? So, some days I would run a narrow search; every few days I would run a broad search, grumpily passing by baby gates and trucks with gates in search of a real gate. You all know how that search turned out:
I built my own. No complaints.
I did figure out that I could eliminate the truck-with-gates category from my results by using a $5 minimum (to get rid of those truck sellers who think they can lure you in with their $1 trucks. Good riddance!) and a maximum somewhere south of $1000 (since motor vehicles tend to cost a bit more than yard materials). But I never conquered the baby paraphernalia problem. (Of course there are lots of categories other than baby stuff that could be a frequent hazard with particular searches. And, hey, there are people who use craigslist to search for things other than gates. True story.)
Then I started writing about craigslist for 31 days and realized it might be helpful to someone somewhere if I knew something other than what I naturally learned through disordered obsession. (Though I think it's important to note here that disordered obsession is probably the single most effective method of learning enormous volumes of information about a very narrow topic. Methodical study doesn't even come close.)
So this would be the search term that you want (combined with the dollar restrictions to eliminate the trucks):
Magic, right? (It's very similar to the negative restrictor I learned ever so long ago for ebay.) And with that (oh, I'm not using the dollar restrictor, but you should), you get...
Top nine results; only two are for baby stuff. Hey, that's a 50% improvement!
On the other hand, given that the whole thing is digital, anything less than 100% improvement is completely ludicrous. So, here is where we must return to the first lesson of craigslist: never underestimate the human element. I mean, really...
Are you going to craft a search term to eliminate that? Of course not. (Also: "House"? What??)
So, that might save you just a smidge of time and headache on your regular craigslist searches. Which I assume you're undertaking. And if you're not, there's no time like the present. October is almost over...
*That is obviously false. It would be impossible.