SafeList: Providing Security to Web Classifieds
August 20, 2009 4:54 PM   Subscribe

SafeList: Providing Security to Web Classifieds is an easy to use classifieds and local coupons site that is about to go into beta. We invite you to try it out as one of our testers, in exchange for free lifetime access to the site. The concept behind is quite simple: Verified Identity. If the system knows the identity of the user, then that person is not likely to commit a crime. We believe that criminals will prefer to find their victims on sites that allow them to be completely anonymous. Please sign up, and if you've had any unpleasant experience(s) with online commerce, please share them with us on our blog.
posted by andihazelwood (13 comments total)

The concept behind is quite simple: Verified Identity.

The site has a lot of justification for why more security is needed (which I agree with) but it doesn't have any technical details of what the security will be. How exactly is the identity verification going to work?
posted by burnmp3s at 8:35 AM on August 21, 2009

We'll be doing physical address verification - no post office boxes allowed. Thank you for the comment burnmp3s!
posted by andihazelwood at 11:07 AM on August 21, 2009

Cool idea.
posted by odinsdream at 1:08 PM on August 21, 2009

Thank you odinsdream - I hope you registered?
posted by andihazelwood at 1:28 PM on August 21, 2009

You say that you'll never share my email address with a third party, which is good. But what about all the other information? I have been very careful since I set up my first livejournal years and years ago to keep my name -- a rare first and last combination -- almost completely off the internet. While I appreciate the concept behind verified identity, I'd probably rather go with craigslist if I can't get a 100% promise of identify privacy.
posted by MoreForMad at 5:24 PM on August 21, 2009

Needs way more details about how the verification is supposed to work. Right now it looks like you're mainly concerned with harvesting personal info to sell; you need a serious dose of transparency.

Many of the standard guidelines for avoiding internet frauds (avoid stuff that's "too good to be true", beware of escrow services, meet in a public place and don't give your real address) apply to your site every bit as well as they apply to some random craigslist scammer.
posted by equalpants at 5:33 AM on August 23, 2009

Sorry, no I didn't sign up. It's an interesting idea, but it isn't something I see myself using primarly because I only use craigslist occasionally for buying or selling items. I don't use it for personals, or anything where the risk of someone actually not being who they claim to be would cause a problem with the transaction.

For example, when I bought a computer I didn't actually care that the person was who they said they were. I only cared that they had a computer and wanted to exchange it for cash. In this particular instance it was in their own best interest to be who they said they were since they would be unable to otherwise cash the cheque, though.

I'd wonder if the majority of classifieds don't work similarly.
posted by odinsdream at 4:58 PM on August 23, 2009

MoreForMad, we offer verified anonymity as well - when you set up your username at SafeList it can be anonymous. The SafeList team are the only ones with access to any of your personal data, unless you specifically choose to display it on the site yourself.

Equalpants, fair enough - I don't expect you to believe me just because I say it is so. I'll pass your feedback along to the rest of our staff.

Odinsdream, thanks for your feedback as well. As for buying a computer and not caring who the seller really was, the same dangers exist in those situations, as illustrated by this story:,w-cops-attacked-chicago-craigslist-072509.article

That situation very likely wouldn't have occurred had the sellers been required to verify their identity before placing the ad.
posted by andihazelwood at 5:24 PM on August 23, 2009

The BBB thinks that you guys are in the "advertising/marketing" business. Might want to get that changed.

Come on, be honest--you guys do sell the information you collect, right? If the identity verification stuff actually works, I wouldn't necessarily consider that a bad tradeoff; it's not like 500 other companies don't know where I live already. But you've gotta be open about it.
posted by equalpants at 5:05 AM on August 24, 2009

andihazelwood: Your suntimes link doesn't lead to a story - could you check it again?
posted by odinsdream at 7:21 AM on August 24, 2009

Equalpants, I am being 100% honest when I say we absolutely do not sell any of the information we collect. Again, you have no reason to trust me on that, but it is the truth. I will be looking into the BBB listing today, we're in the process of getting our BBB accreditation. Thanks for pointing it out.

Odinsdream, that link worked last night when I posted it! Here's the same story elsewhere:,0,6169736.story

Two off duty police officers went to look at a car advertised for sale and the sellers attempted to rob them.

Thanks all for your input. It does give me some indication of where we need to clarify the verbiage on our website.
posted by andihazelwood at 8:02 AM on August 24, 2009

Thanks. That link worked correctly. From the story:

They were walking through a gangway shortly before 10:20 p.m.

This violates one of the main rules of safely dealing with people - meet in a public place during the day where there are lots of people around.

When I was selling my car with Craigslist I met people in a large open parking lot in front of the busiest Starbucks in town. If I had asked people to meet me under a gangway at 10:30 PM, I would not expect reasonable people to show up.

Anyway, on the topic of your website, I do see how the barrier to entry could limit the number of scams, but I also don't see clearly how, if someone did post as themselves, and still scammed customers, that would be processed by your site. Through which process are you intending to handle complaints about fraudulent activity and mark users? If they pay for a slot on your site, verify their identity, and then a complaint is filed against them, what is your website's response plan? I would be interested to know how this would work before signing up.
posted by odinsdream at 8:09 AM on August 24, 2009

Keep in mind that the site is still in development, so we're working out the details on that. But the plan has always been that users will be able to leave feedback and ratings for each other similar to eBay.
posted by andihazelwood at 11:18 AM on August 24, 2009

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