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from Courier-Post, December 28, 2003

A click can get you anything at Craigslist
By Matt Katz

From parakeets to people, site gets great results, users say

Jeanine wants gay men to be friends with.

Nicole needs a loving home for her parakeet.

And Ed is looking for the woman he saw two weeks ago in the back of the Acme in Berlin.

Nicole, Jeanine and Ed have all turned to one place: Craigslist.org, a free, bare-bones Web site where everything - and everyone - is available to be bought, sold, traded or found.

Need a new coach for the Moorestown Rowing Club? Lost your "weed connection" and need to find a new dealer? Are you an "attractive man," but you're "in a rut and need a release" with a woman "who wants a night of no-strings fun"?

Just click that mouse to Craigslist. The site revolutionized life in San Francisco when Craig Newmark created it in 1995. It has since moved east, to New York City and Philadelphia, where it launched in October 2002.

Although usage figures were not immediately available, in the past several months Craigslist has gained popularity in South Jersey as the latest, easiest and cheapest way to use the Internet to connect with the immediate community. Listings mostly free

There are dozens of Craigslist sites delineated by city, with a total of 3 million users. It is essentially a miscellaneous community bulletin board where people post messages under main categories: community, housing, jobs, personals, for sale, discussion forums and services. All postings, except for job listings, are free and anonymous.

"There is nothing in the past five years in San Francisco that I bought, sold, found a roommate through, got an idea for a recipe from, that I didn't get from Craigslist," said Claudette Silver, who now lives in Washington, D.C.

"That's what you do; you go to Craigslist."

Silver works for the band Jane's Addiction, which will play Camden next month. She posted a message on the Philadelphia Craigslist looking for people to set up information booths on alternative energy at the upcoming show.

"It's a community forum, and it's something that our culture craves because our sense of community has been a little warped," she said.

"It's not even about buying and selling, it's about finding out who's in your neighborhood, what's going on, and ways to plug in."

Jennifer Stinsman of Collingswood is a Craigslist veteran.

"I have found someone to clean my home, repair my sump pump, build items around my home, paint my home and give me glassblowing lessons," Stinsman said in an e-mail. "I'm sure it won't stop there."

Stinsman particularly likes to barter. She owns a Web design business, www.half-past.com, and offers professional services like Web design on Craigslist, along with nonprofessional services like tutoring, baking and guitar lessons.

"That's the best part of Craigslist, it's like fishing," she wrote. "You drop a line and you never know what you are going to get!" Looking for people?

And like the rest of the Internet, people are often fishing for other people. Craigslist users represent a younger generation that uses the Internet not to escape the real world, but to connect better with it.

A man named Ed, who asked to remain anonymous, met, according to his posting, a "beautiful blonde woman with great eyes." He said they glanced at each a few times in the back of the Acme on Route 30 in Berlin at about 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 18.

"I felt a connection but couldn't get the courage to talk," he wrote. "If anyone knows her or can point me in the right direction, I would be grateful."

A 46-year-old man from the Mount Laurel area is looking for Gloria - the one who got away.

"Gloria, we never made love . . . because you wanted to save yourself for marriage. Well, now you're married, so we've got that out of the way."

Bryan Dean, who lives near King of Prussia, logged onto Craigslist to find his old Navy buddy Michael Stuart, who grew up in Haddon Heights.

Dean hasn't found his friend yet, but he has used Craigslist for more discreet adventures.

Craigslist offers a number of matchmaker categories, from "strictly platonic" to "casual encounters." The latter is strictly for sex, and some ads offer financial compensation.

Dean, 27, said he e-mails many women who post on the casual encounters section. "I use the shotgun approach," he said.

But online strangers provide more than sex. Kelley Lake said in an e-mail that she found people to split gas money with on a road trip from Philadelphia to Chicago. Actors found

Meanwhile, Rosalee Laws in Mantua found actors for improvisational scene studies every Sunday. "Since some of us cannot afford classes, we can learn from each other," she wrote in her ad.

The response to Craigslist postings is shocking, users said. Within 30 minutes of posting her ad for a jazz band for her wedding next November, Melissa Hawk of Haddonfield already had three responses. Two days later, she had heard from a dozen bands.

"Rather than opening up the Yellow Pages and making a number of phone calls, all I had to do was post an ad about what I was looking for and they contacted me," Hawk said in an e-mail.

It's grass-roots marketing.

Tara Stewart, mother of two in Willingboro, posted an ad offering to baby-sit on New Year's Eve.

She hasn't received any responses yet, but her posting reads like a traditional advertisement: "With me, you can trust that I am a mom, I don't go anywhere, we're not drinkers, so your child(ren) will be safe and sound while you enjoy your night out."

Nicole LaGorga, 29, of Cherry Hill, posted an ad for her parakeet, Smartie. Smartie's companion had recently died, and, she wrote, she needs to be placed in a "loving home with another parakeet or small bird where she will be allowed to fly free."

As of last week, LaGorga had spoken to many potential adopters. She loves the site, and sees a great future in it.

"I think Craigslist will become more and more useful as time goes on and people become more used to using the Internet as a tool for everything in their lives," LaGorga said, "not just Google searches."