Web

PadMapper regains access to Craigslist with the help of data defenders 3taps

padmapper regains craigslist listingsLast month, everybody’s favorite apartment-hunting application PadMapper lost the majority of its content when Craigslist sent notice that it needed to stop using its listings. At the time, PadMapper creator Eric DeMenthon said he would give in to Craigslist’s Cease and Desist letter after the site failed to respond to his many inquiries about using the database of apartments.

But now, DeMenthon says PadMapper is pulling in the Craigslist listings once again thanks to a loophole. PadMapper is working with 3taps, a service that can grab Craigslist data even though the site doesn’t have an API. 3taps creates its own API using the Craigslist content that it’s gathered by “indirect means” that developers can pull for their own purposes. This workaround means that PadMapper isn’t technically violating Craigslist’s Terms of Use by not accessing its servers anymore.

3taps, for the record, is a platform for turning the publicly available information on Craigslist into a distributable API. “People have the ability to discovery publicly available facts about items offered for exchange,” the site’s advocacy page reads. “These facts are public property, and are made discoverable without a need to ask permission.” Founder and CEO Greg Kidd actually published a white paper last year about Craigslist, pinpointing user and developer frustration with the site and prophesying the situation PadMapper recently found itself in:

“Whereas Twitter postings are free and its data visible in different viewing formats – e.g. as provided by Flipboard – Craigslist positively frowns on such UI innovations for the display of its content. Craigslist has been masterly with its aggressive Terms of Use strategy in creating copyright-like tripwires around the data that is, really, just public facts. Craigslist has aggressively invested in the use of ‘cease and desist’ legal actions to deter competition.”

In addition to providing Craigslist data, 3taps also recently launched Craiggers to show how outside developers can build better applications using the closed-off site’s information.

Still, despite the legality of this new arrangement, DeMenthon isn’t feeling all warm and fuzzy about it. “I’ve always had a lot respect for what they’ve done for the world,” he says about Craigslist via blog post. But after failing to connect with Craigslist and come to an agreement, he felt that giving people access to the PadMapper service in combination with Craigslist apartment posts is simply in the user’s best interest. He also notes that he’s still sending traffic back to Craigslist’s site.

Anyone that has used PadMapper knows he’s right. Craigslist sits on a veritable mountain of information with its apartment and home hunting section, but it’s an incredibly time consuming effort to wade through it all and find what you’re looking for. PadMapper ingeniously took that, wrapped it up in Google Maps, hugely improved filters, added alerts, and skimmed tons of wasted time off the whole process. So apartment hunters, rejoice, PadMapper just became infinitely more useful (again). As for Craigslist, it may want to reconsider its position on outside developer ecosystems. 

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