Craigslist Green Ghosting: 7 Questions and Answers

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One of the perennial problems facing apartment marketers is how to get the most out of Craigslist. It's a free service with massive reach so everyone wants to get in on the fun—which means that actually succeeding with Craigslist is more difficult than one might expect.

One particularly nasty problem is Craigslist green ghosting. In this post we're going to walk you through the basics of green ghosting.

What is green ghosting?

Green ghosting is when Craigslist displays a post as "live" (green) in the poster's account but blocks the post from being displayed to their users.

Why does Craigslist use green ghosting?

Craigslist is a somewhat unique company in the tech world—their CEO describes himself on his bio page as a communist and "socialistic anarchist." The company, unsurprisingly, has a mission to help ordinary people exchange goods and services rather than promote huge businesses.

The downside to this vision is that most of their services are free, which means they don't have as much money as you might expect a site of their size to have. This, in turn, means that they also do not have as large a staff as you'd expect for a company with their reach online.

This creates an obvious problem: You have tons of users and a tiny staff. How do you prevent the site from being taken over by spammers? Solution: Green ghosting.

Green ghosting is done automatically by Craigslist's anti-spam bots. So if your account is green ghosted it is not because someone at Craigslist judged it to be a spammy account, but because your account had enough characteristics of spammy posters that Craigslist's anti-spam bots thought it was spammy.

What causes green ghosting?

The classic cause for green ghosting is over-posting. Traditionally Craigslist's terms of use have stated that the company does not allow users to post "similar content" more frequently than once every 48 hours. This is done to prevent a single user or small group of users from overwhelming a classified listing with identical or virtually identical posts, crowding out all other posters and making the user experience far worse for people wanting to see a variety of listings.

Who is affected by green ghosting?

Generally green ghosting seems to work by identifying a specific Craigslist user account or IP address and blocking those from posting to Craigslist's listings. So if your community has a single account on Craigslist, that account could be ghosted. Or if you have multiple accounts but all are working from the office with the same IP you could be ghosted that way as well.

Is it possible to get unghosted?

It is, but it can be difficult. As a rule, it tends to get more difficult each time you have to unghost the same community. Eventually Craigslist's systems start to recognize not only the account or IP address, but even the company name and will start blocking posts that use certain language. So if you get ghosted once, the best thing to do is stop all posting immediately until you figure out what is causing the problem. Once you have done that, address the issue and begin posting, but do everything you can to avoid getting ghosted again.

In the worst case situations where a community has geen ghosted multiple times, it becomes almost impossible to get them unghosted.

What do you need to do to get unghosted?

In the best case scenario it is simply the account that is causing you to be ghosted. So all you need to do is set up a new account and, in most cases, you'll likely be able to post again. (Note: in "most"cases.)

However, in some situations the problem isn't limited to the account; Craigslist is also blocking your IP address. In that case you will need to reset your IP. To learn about changing IP addresses, use this article. To test your IP, you can use any number of free online tools including this one.

In the worst situations, even changing the IP doesn't fix the issue. In that case Craigslist may be blocking posts with your community name or some specific language that you were using in the ad. In that case, your best bet is to test various posting strategies on IP addresses that will not be linked to your office, such as on a home network or at a coffeeshop.

Is there any automatic way to guarantee being unghosted?

Sadly, no. As we explained above, green ghosting is an automated process and there is no manual review at Craigslist. So you can't guarantee that you'll get unghosted. That said, in the vast majority of cases a new account or IP address should resolve the issue.

If you want to learn more about green ghosting, download the whitepaper linked below!


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