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The Courts Your Rights Online

US Launches Criminal Probe in eBay-Craigslist Trade Secrets Case 59

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the you-don't-want-to-be-on-craig's-other-list dept.
angry tapir writes with an article in Tech World about the longstanding spat between eBay and Craigslist expanding from a civil case into criminal case. From the article: "The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether eBay executives broke the law and stole trade secrets while sitting on the board of Craigslist.org. The investigation is centered on the activities of eBay executives who managed the Craigslist relationship between 2004 and 2007, a period when eBay morphed from a US$30 million Craigslist investor, with a seat on its board of directors, into a direct competitor in the lucrative online classified advertising market."
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US Launches Criminal Probe in eBay-Craigslist Trade Secrets Case

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  • What the hell could EBay have possibly stolen from Craigslist? The site only charges for job postings in a few cities, and that's an easy and publicly declared business model. The webpages are statically generated on a periodic basis, and that's as dumb-down simple as it gets. Unless Ebay walked off with Craiglist's super-secret-neverf-get-spam-through implementation (which I don't think they have), I don't get it.

    Craigslist is nothing special, just simplicity done right.

    • Re:Uh... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @08:03AM (#37397710) Journal

      Craigslist is extremely special. Very few people do simplicity anymore, and very few people do it right. Craigslist is a great example of what the rest of the web should be.

      • Their website is ugly as sin and a mess. They aren't the only the site on the web that does just one thing.

        http://www.wired.com/entertainment/theweb/magazine/17-09/ff_craigslist [wired.com]

        • Their website is ugly as sin and a mess. They aren't the only the site on the web that does just one thing.

          http://www.wired.com/entertainment/theweb/magazine/17-09/ff_craigslist [wired.com]

          No irony there... Other than the slow loading, ugly site, with pop-over adds to close before I could read it. Give me craigslist over wired any day.

          • by Hylandr (813770)

            I couldn't agree more. What if a government held the same world view? That would be awesome.

            - Dan.

          • There are people on Slashdot who don't use ad blockers?

            • some are called subscribers.

              I'm not one, but for some reason, I've never felt the need to block Slashdot ads.

              I even have a little box appear that offers me the option to opt out of ads because of my supposed 'contribution' but I've never felt the urge to tick it.

              half the time I wonder if it's a trap, some times I think it'll take me to the subscription sign up page, but mostly I feel like the occasional ad (which may be relevant, may not) that catches my eye is not such a 'annoyance' or detriment for what

              • I have a slight moral conflict.

                I want to support companies who produce content for me. I know many providers make money off ads. But enough ads are full of malicious code that I feel I need to block ads from a security standpoint. I usually block everything but Google Ads.

                That "super-slow-loading" Wired page that someone complained about loaded for me in less than 3 seconds. I made the initial post at home, and just loaded it from work where it isn't in my cache. Ad blockers work wonders.

        • by Nyder (754090)

          ... is ugly as sin ...

          yes, i agree, Sin is ugly. The whole concept of sin, is just plain ugly. It sounds like a word that would get made up to further the power of some religious cult. And that makes it very ugly.

          Of course, the things that are called "Sin" is rarely ugly. It just feels that way because you got people telling you non stop that "Sin" is bad, and if it feels good, then it's probably "Sin".

          But that isn't because Sin is bad, it's because those people don't understand that that Sin is natural and healthy, so

      • Craigslist is a great example of what the rest of the web should be.

        Why impose a false dichotomy of simple versus complex? Craigslist is an extreme. The rest of the web should not be extremely simple as some people prefer complex controls. Some solutions, by definition, are inherently complex. Glancing at my tabs, Yahoo Fantasy Hockey and Google Docs would not be at all usable if they were implemented in a Craigslist sort of way. They could truly be reduced to their basic elements, not use GWT or AJAX or whatever and just get by on the marriage of function and function

        • So thats why the most popular sites on the internet-- Google, Craigslist, Wikipedia-- are or have been moving towards clean, simpler designs?

          • So thats why the most popular sites on the internet-- Google, Craigslist, Wikipedia-- are or have been moving towards clean, simpler designs?

            I think in your mind they're the most useful. But Wikipedia lies behind Facebook, Yahoo and a number of other complex UIs [google.com]. Craigslist is number 37 on that list. You also don't define what "clean, simpler" means in terms of UI. It's part magic and part science so until you can tell me what makes wikipedia cleaner and simpler than, say, a bulletin board system I can ask why we're not all recording articles and editing them in some sort of encyclopedic bulletin board system.

        • I think that the OP is painting with a broad brush, but what the rest of the web can learn from Craigslist is that you should let the content of your site drive its design, rather than shoehorning the content into whatever gizmos seem coolest.

          Certainly there is content that needs some complex underlying technology to be presented at its best. Your example might be great ones, I don't use them, but I'd say something like Gapminder.org [gapminder.org] fits as well. But for every one of those there are probably 50 sites that

          • you should let the content of your site drive its design, rather than shoehorning the content into whatever gizmos seem coolest.

            Thank you for demonstrating what Rule #2 of IT is all about: never let the web designer design your web page.

            Web designers, by default, will give you the wildest, flashiest, monkey-punchiest web page they can manage to show off how l337 they are without regard to whether the site is usable or offers the visitor a good experience.

            We all made fun of Geocities pages whi
        • by Hatta (162192)

          Not every site could take it to the extreme that Craiglist does, but every site could be improved by removing a lot of clutter.

      • by neokushan (932374)

        Ugly?

      • Craigslist is extremely special. Very few people do simplicity anymore, and very few people do it right. Craigslist is a great example of what the rest of the web should be.

        Although I agree with you in principle, I think craigslist could be more aesthetically pleasing without sacrificing simplicity. I find I've gotten used to the ugliness of the site and have just tuned out the bad aspects; also, I frequently use text-only interfaces, so such an experience becomes normal. It's wise to keep in mind that our judgment is colored by our experience, and try to view interfaces through the eyes of others. We shouldn't forget young users, those who have never used a command line in

        • by Hatta (162192)

          Although I agree with you in principle, I think craigslist could be more aesthetically pleasing without sacrificing simplicity. I find I've gotten used to the ugliness of the site and have just tuned out the bad aspects

          Really now, is Craigslist any uglier than, for instance, Slashdot? In what world is plain text ugly? God forbid you people ever read a book.

          • Really now, is Craigslist any uglier than, for instance, Slashdot? In what world is plain text ugly? God forbid you people ever read a book.

            I didn't call plain text ugly. There is more than that involved; take any Wikipedia article, turn off the images in your browser and try to think about the layout in general...a lot of work goes into MediaWiki to make that all happen. Craigslist stays stagnant in that regard, preferring the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" maxim. Although that isn't the worst philosophy to apply to design, we wouldn't have any browsers at all, or any Web, with that mindset. And so what if slashdot is cluttered and ugly? S

            • by Hatta (162192)

              take any Wikipedia article, turn off the images in your browser and try to think about the layout in general...a lot of work goes into MediaWiki to make that all happen

              OK. I see content in the middle, separated into sections with a larger header. Navigation on the side, top and bottom. Looks a lot like Craigslist actually, except that Craigslist only has navigation on the top and bottom of its listing pages. I wouldn't call either of them ugly actually. What exactly should I have accomplished with this

          • I tried reading a book once, but apparently it's batteries were dead and I couldn't figure out where the hell to plug it in..
      • by cHiphead (17854)

        Every website layout and design I came up with from 1998-2001 was the same as Craigslist. Its not 'special,' its just USEFUL.

      • by autocracy (192714)

        I suppose I mis-stated myself. They have nothing special in the trade-secret sense; ostensibly nothing that can't be derived from looking at their website.

      • by danlip (737336)

        regardless of how special you think Craigslist is, what does it have that could possibly be a trade secret?

    • Re:Uh... (Score:4, Informative)

      by techsoldaten (309296) on Wednesday September 14, 2011 @08:22AM (#37397920) Journal

      Methods for metric analysis, which is the core of Craigslists' valuation. They do a really good job at understanding who is coming to their site. This would be of interest to anyone looking to build an online community.

      I had been waiting for this to come down. Something told me the board of CL had mangy ethics and I could see how this was a conflict of interest.

      • I thought no business cared about the individuals any more. At least that is the feeling I get when I listen to the 25th recording of how valuable a customer I am to them... Could also by why I am on craigslist so much.
      • by Trepidity (597)

        EBay was oddly pretty open [craigslist.org] about this when they acquired a stake.

        "The reason we did this minority investment really was for learning purposes: it gives us access to learn how the classified market online works."

  • Craigslist has a board?
    • by index0 (1868500)

      What I find funny is there seems to be a shortage of CEO type workers. Why were board members from one company need to be board members in another company?

      • Because back in the early days of the internet, when Pets.com still roomed the land and Yahoo’s claim that they would dethrone E-Bay, E-Bay was looking for other options then selling Pez dispensers. Not know what was coming next they look for new opportunities.

        They found Craigslist employee who had gotten stock and wanted to cash out – and bought in. Now they’re stuck with it.

        Their like a devoiced couple who both live in the same home – with Craig claiming the house is not worth much

  • Pretty sure you would get arrested for posting Craigslist type services on Ebay. Never seen those services offered on Ebay!
  • God! eBay is a nightmare to use, is covered with graphics to slow it down and has one of the worst user-interfaces I've ever had to deal with. But worst of all, they force all seller-buyer interaction THROUGH ebay.com -- you can't email each other, you can't pay with any method except paypal, etc., etc.

    Craiglist, on the other hand, is easy to use, clean interface, pretty much text-only, fast, and forces the buyer & seller to deal with each other OUTSIDE of Craiglist, so transactions happen much more cle

    • by Trepidity (597)

      Relevant rant: eBay Patents 10-Click Checkout [blogspot.com]

    • eBay's online auction site is not a competitor to Craig's List, so your comment is pointless whinging.

      eBay's classified ads business -- *is* a competitor to Craig's List and has pretty much decimated newspaper classifieds (and Craig's List) in many areas outside of the US. At the moment they are hosting over 4,000,000 ads in Canada, 1,000,000 in the UK and God knows how many more around the world.

      And, incidentally, it's quite well designed. Or at least the version I use is (it varies from region to region)

  • Personally, I'd like to see eBay's grip on the online auction market go away. I say if they did steal trade secrets, break eBay down so that another potential online auctioneer could conceivably get into the market.

    Yes, I know, there are currently no competitors out there. But I am also positive that, give the opportunity, Google or Apple or even Yahoo! could make an investment into an online auctioneer OR develop an in-house alternative. Hell, it could be the one thing that saves Yahoo! - or at least reinv

    • It's the opposite. eBay has been trying to get into the classified ads business for years. During the same years referenced in TFA, they tried to buy out Craigslist's biggest competitor in Europe. When the owner refused eBay came out with their own clone.

    • by fallen1 (230220)

      Maybe I should have been clearer - I understand what is going on with this case. I know eBay wants to get into the Craigslist model of doing business.

      What I am saying is that this is a perfect opportunity to break some of eBay's monopoly on the online auction market -- IF they are proven to have stolen trade secrets from Craigslist, then why should they not suffer? If an individual steals trade secrets, and is proven guilty, then they are dealt with harshly. Just because eBay is a company does not - and sho

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      Personally, I'd like to see eBay's grip on the online auction market go away. I say if they did steal trade secrets, break eBay down so that another potential online auctioneer could conceivably get into the market.

      Yes, I know, there are currently no competitors out there. But I am also positive that, give the opportunity, Google or Apple or even Yahoo! could make an investment into an online auctioneer OR develop an in-house alternative. Hell, it could be the one thing that saves Yahoo! - or at least reinv

  • puttin' strings into databases, retrieving them,
    and html formatting them!

    Damn it feels good to be a gangsta

  • While I loathe eBay and use Craigslist as my primary buy/sell stuff site, CL has really been pissing me off lately. They attack and shut down aggregator sites, yet provide no easy way to search several local CL sites. If CL had an advanced search to simply type in a mile radius from your location to search, then there wouldn't be a need for aggregators. They refuse to implement this, yet still shut down aggregators.

    I use Craigslist frequently for hard to find items, like parts to restore classic cars, un

  • Why is the Justice Dept spending taxpayer's money getting into the middle of what is basically a private dispute between the two companies?

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