How to Scrape Data from Craigslist

Craigslist is an online network providing users with a central database for classified ads and forums from across the globe. Craigslist started in 1995 in Sanfransisco, California and is run by a programmer named Craig Newman. It has sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, items wanted, services, community, gigs, resumes and discussion forums.

When you talk about scraping the net, Craigslist comes across as one of the difficult sites to scrape. Developers on most social and commercial sites provide an API, allowing users to scrape data and output it in their preferred format. Craigslist, however, only allows you to post data. This you can do even in bulk. It does not allow you to harvest read-only data. This gives businesses, individuals, and Craigslist the advantages of posting on here. But as Craigslist gains nothing from allowing this same information to be scraped and displayed in non-Craigslist sites, it is structured with the intent of making harvesting from this site an impossible task.

Measures Taken to Avoid Craigslist web Scraping

There are some measures taken by Craigslist to deter people from web scraping.

  • Data can only access Craigslist via a web browser or by emailing the client.
  • You can only post on Craigslist using a web browser or their back posting API.
  • It is impossible to scrape data with spider, crawler, script or bot of any kind.
  • You can’t harvest users’ personal data or contact info.
  • There are basic anti-spam measures.

It is important to mention that scraping is against Craigslist terms of use. There are, therefore repercussions for those who do manage to scrape data from Craigslist. Lawsuits and out of court settlements have been seen over the years due to webs scraping Craigslist.

So, we know it can be done. Craigslist can be scraped. Whether you are ready and willing to face the consequences after that is the big question. Information on how to go about scraping Craigslist is readily available online. This information more often than not comes with a tutorial. It also comes with a disclaimer, so it’s really up to you to decide.

Choosing a Craigslist Scraping Software

The most important thing you need is to choose a web scraping tool that will harvest all the data you need. Some people love to work with tools that they can develop, but it could be much easier to work with a tool that is ready to use.

There are many options to choose from but there some that stand out. Below, let’s look at a free and a paid quality web scraping too. Then you can decide what to work with.

Free Craigslist web Scraping Tool

Scrapy

Scrapy is one of the best craigslist web scraping tools. It is not only used for craigslist web scraping, but it is an all-purpose web scraping tool. It does not cost a cent and it is easy to configure. Even better, the tool comes with tutorials and documentation to help you work with the tool.

Paid Craigslist web scraping tools

Visual web scraper

If you are looking for a powerful and incredible web scraping tool, visual is the tool for you. The tool is easy to use and only require a click; it can point out the direction for you. If you are new to the tool, you do not have to worry since there are tons tutorials for beginners.

However, using visual we scraper has some drawbacks. It has a free trial that only allows you to scrape 100 elements and thereafter should pay $350 to continue using the tool. The price of the tool is high and does not include any upgrades. If you plan to scrape craigslist for a long time, then this can be an investment.

Now that you have information about craigslist web scraping, you can easily pick up your tools easily.