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Miss Netiquette’s guide to using Craigslist without acting like a total weirdo

Miss Netiquette's guide to using Craigslist without acting like a total weirdo

The Internet is a wonderful if confusing world – and that’s why you sometimes need to be pointed in the right direction. Lucky for you, some of us spend far too much time online and logged in – and that wealth of experience translates into some social networking know-how. Consider Miss Netiquette (who you can reach at your guide to Web manners, and this week, she’s got all the advice on Craigslisting.

Craigslist is one of the most helpful websites around and also hands-down chock-full of some of the creepiest stuff I’ve seen since Scott Disick tried to grow a mustache but it turned out to be a bunch of baby spiders in one of my dreams. It’s an interesting digital destination where you can say “Wow, what a fantastic deal on a bike,” and “Is that a penis?” within a few seconds of clicking. Here are my tips for using Craigslist without succumbing to its freak-a-leek underbelly.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m an artist and I really need people to sit and model for still life drawings. How can I solicit models without, ya know, soliciting models?

Make yourself look as legitimate as possible with links to your work, and ask to meet for coffee in a public place before the modeling session. This will help you establish yourself as a non-John and it will help you attract models that aren’t actually sex workers who lucked into a plum gig of just sitting there. Also, police are pretty big into Craigslist prostitution crackdowns, so this will help you avoid one of those awkward undercover-cop-thinks-you-want-to-pay-someone-for-sex-but-you-just-want-to-draw-them situations.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I had the most amazing, serendipitous conversation with this guy on the subway. I’m thinking about writing a “Missed Connection” but I don’t want to freak him out – how should I word it? 

Has anyone actually successfully found love based on a “Missed Connection?” I feel like any successful Craigslist “Missed Connection” romance would’ve been horrifically adapted into a romantic comedy by now. Sorry, got sidetracked – even though I think your “Missed Connection” will likely just result in more romantic disappointment when only single guys with lizards who are emphatically not your Subway Dreamboat respond, I will counsel you now.

Be specific, but don’t infuse the post with too many details. For instance, say “you had blue eyes and we talked about Jesse from Breaking Bad,” not “you had gorgeous blue eyes and I thought you were hotter than Jesse from Breaking Bad and I wanted to make love on the subway platform.” You’re just trying to re-establish connection, not overtly hit on someone. Try to make sure they know it’s them you’re writing about, but don’t bother with trying to seduce them via the Internets just yet. Get them to respond and agree to hang out before you lay on the moves.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I need some extra cash. How do I find odd jobs on Craigslist that are legit and not just backup dancer gigs or sleazy promotions?

The “Gigs” section is basically a dumpster for hope. But like any dumpster, if you look around long enough, you can usually find something that’s not meant to be there. Most of the jobs are the, but you can find a decent way to make extra money. Do not ever say you will be in a student film if you want to actually get paid, they are broke. Do not sign up for dancing jobs of any kind on Craigslist. They will involve some form of humiliation. Some bars post dishwashing positions there, and they generally turn out to be fine – obviously, it’s just dishwashing, so it’s not great, but you won’t end up murdered or robbed of your dignity.

PRO TIP: if you are looking at the Chicago Craigslist and a reality TV show is saying you will get paid $50 for two hours of your time, you might think it’s a great gig. But it is a terrible, degrading trap. It is a very bad reality show called “Weiner Circle” and you should not participate unless you like being cooped up in a verbally abusive hot dog shack while people throw condiments at you and implore you to dance.

Dear Miss Netiquette: I’m driving cross-country and I’m thinking about doing a ride share to lower my gas bill. I don’t want to get stuck with a creeper or weird anyone out with my posting. How can I ensure the best possible experience?

As with the model and artist question above – and any situation involving doing something that makes you vulnerable – it’s always a good idea to be cautious. Make your posting fairly simple and unadorned, so the widest range of people will feel comfortable volunteering to come along. Then prepare a few questions to ask that will help you decide who to bring: If one of you hates country and the other one is a bluegrass singer who planned on playing banjo the whole trip, that’s something good to know.

Don’t be too crazy-specific or rigorous – making people complete a 10 page personality test will scare off the normals, not weed out the weirds. But just attempt to get to know the person a teensy bit and you’ll have a much better time. Give your potential roadtrip buddies a quick Google or Facebook creep to get a general assessment of their personality, and know that they’re probably doing the same to you.

Dear Miss Netiquette: Is there any way to find sex on Craigslist that’s safe? I’m so lonely. 

Not really, no. Though it’s not really more dangerous than any other online way you can arrange for a random hookup, it’s still illegal. If you really want to get jiggy with it now and want to make arrangements via the Internet, just use BangWithFriends already, since then you can maybe hook up with someone you already know. Ew, I can’t believe I just recommended BangWithFriends as an actual solution, but such is life. 

Dear Miss Netiquette: I need to sell my used phone, but I’m worried about being Craigslist-killed. What should I do to avoid murderous crazies?

Don’t invite them to your house. OK, in some situations when you’re selling heavy furniture, it’s easier for them to come to your house, but if you want to really avoid murder-y stuff, just take your home off the table and always meet in a public place. Or have a friend (or two!) be home with you when they arrive, if the thing you’re selling is super heavy. Actually, good rule of thumb: a friend at your side makes it twice as hard for someone to kidnap you. Not impossible, so still aim for a public place, but public place and an extra trusted person will make your encounters much less scary-seeming. 

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