Craigslist has just been given a cartographic facelift of sorts; it’s now embedding maps to help users easily locate real estate listings on its Portland, Oregon and San Francisco websites.
Unsurprisingly, the new maps are not Craigslist’s own creations. A quick look over their sites tells us that the classified listings service is hardly the most innovative of organizations, so instead it’s gone and borrowed its data from OpenStreetMap, a foundation that provides free and reliable location data from an army of volunteers scattered across the globe, (a bit like how Wikipedia operates).
Apparently Craigslist didn’t inform anyone that they were going to integrate OpenStreetMap, with the foundation only realizing it had been done after the fact. Nevertheless, the foundation applauded a decision that ARS Technica says is a belated response to pressure from rivals such as PadMapper, which are attempting to better the popular but simple classified listings service.
You may have heard about PadMapper – the service was recently hit with a lawsuit by Craigslist, who accused PadMapper of stealing its precious listings data. Craigslist is absolutely right of course, PadMapper does indeed pilfer its real estate listings, displaying them in a far more attractive and intuitive user interface, and adding maps that show the exact location of each property listed.
PadMapper refuted the ‘theft’ allegations, saying that it scraped Craigslist data from search engines, something that is perfectly legal by all accounts. Frustrated, Craigslist has now gone and started removing listings from search engines, and updated its user agreement, forcing posters to give the website exclusive rights to any ads that are posted onto it.
Tech bloggers far and wide have decried Craigslist’s decision to sue the startup, pointing out that it goes against the company’s long standing tradition of web openness, which makes it rather ironic that the company is now using a crowd-sourced solution to bolster its own services.
On another note, it’s also fairly significant that Craigslist chose OpenStreetMap ahead of Google Maps; the company is just the latest in a long line of big tech names to turn its nose up at Google’s offering, following previous snubs by the likes of Wikipedia and Foursquare.
It’s believed that these players dropped Google after the web giant decided to start charging developers to use its Google Maps API.