How to monitor lots of Craigslist sites at once

If you’ve spent much time trying to search multiple Craigslist sites at once, you’ll know that you can’t do it on Craigslist itself and, for some reason, Craigslist habitually shut down other sites that are set up with that intent. One thing you can do that’s perfectly fine with Craigslist is set up RSS feeds to track your favourite searches – however, it’s rather laborious doing this for every single Craigslist site you want to track. Well, I found a (slightly) quicker way of doing it. Perhaps some time I’ll write a web site to do this, but for the moment it’s manual.

To do this you will need:

  • A text editor
  • Some patience
  • An RSS reader which can import OPML files. I’m going to use Feedly here, although I’d recommend using a mobile app that isn’t Feedly’s own horrible one – I use gReader

First you need to get a list of the prefixes of the Craigslist sites you want to search (e.g. seattle.craigslist.org). This is the most laborious part. They’re listed state-by-state. For each of the states you’re after, go to the equivalent of http://geo.craigslist.org/iso/us/wa (change the state prefix at the end). The easiest way to get the prefixes out is to view the page source in your web browser, then copy and paste the list into a text editor and do some search-and-replace and some manual editing. Hopefully you can end up with a list something like this:

http://kpr.craigslist.org

http://lewiston.craigslist.org

http://moseslake.craigslist.org

You’re probably also a bit bored. Fortunately, the next parts are less repetitive. Now you need to go to one Craigslist local site and search for whatever it is you’re actually after. Copy and paste the URL into a text editor. It should look something like:

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/sss?catAbb=sss&query=dog+biscuits&zoomToPosting=&minAsk=&maxAsk=

You need to turn this into an RSS URL – ou can do this by adding “&format=rss” to the end of it. So you’ll end up with:

http://losangeles.craigslist.org/search/sss?catAbb=sss&query=dog+biscuits&zoomToPosting=&minAsk=&maxAsk=&format=rss

You now need to make a search-specific URL for every single one of the specific sites. I just did this by doing a search and replace on my site list and replacing “.org” with “.org/search/allmysearchstuff“.

If you’re carefully following my instructions, you should now be in posession of a list that looks like this:

http://kpr.craigslist.org/search/sss?catAbb=sss&query=dog+biscuits&zoomToPosting=&minAsk=&maxAsk=&format=rss

http://lewiston.craigslist.org/search/sss?catAbb=sss&query=dog+biscuits&zoomToPosting=&minAsk=&maxAsk=&format=rss

http://moseslake.craigslist.org/search/sss?catAbb=sss&query=dog+biscuits&zoomToPosting=&minAsk=&maxAsk=&format=rss

Excellent. if you only have a few of these you can add them to Feedly one-by-one, but if you have a lot then it’s much easier to do it via an OPML feed import file. Go to the feedshow OPML generator and just paste in the list of RSS links you have above. Click “Create OPML”. Hopefully your web browser will show you an XML file. Save this somewhere.

Now, off to Feedly. Under “My Feedly”, click “Organize”. You should see an “Import OPML” button – click on it, and import the OPML file you created above. Some time shall pass and then… tada! You now have RSS feeds to all the Craigslist sites you were monitoring. Depending on which app you’re using to consume the Feedly feeds, you should be able to get alerts on your phone when new listings appear.

There. Don’t say I’m not good to you.

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5 Responses to How to monitor lots of Craigslist sites at once

  1. David says:

    I’ve been looking for a good craigslist reader since the demise of google reader. The problem I have with Feedly is that Craigslist seems not to return complete or latest results.

    My search on CL is:
    http://newyork.craigslist.org/search/cta?catAbb=cta&query=%28mercedes|benz%29+%28300|300e|320|320e%29&zoomToPosting=&minAsk=&maxAsk=&autoMinYear=1993&autoMaxYear=1995&autoMakeModel=

    When I type this into my browser bar, I get 15 items returned, including two from Jan 7.

    However when I add &format=rss, I only get 6 records, and none from Jan 7.

    Please advise if you have any experience with this. I need the latest CL posts to be shown when I check the RSS feed.

    Thanks,

  2. chris says:

    Hi David – when I view those two URLs, I actually see the same number of results. I see 6 right now for the web version and 6 for the RSS one. In the RSS feed it’s excluding all the “nearby areas” results… this was part of the reason that I wrote this post in the first place, as the only solution I could find was to go around enumerating all the nearby areas. :(

  3. Brad says:

    A really easy way to make the RSS is to go to searchtempest.com. Put in all the parameters you want and press enter. Click the “Get feeds for this search” and follow the prompts until it downloads an OPML file to you. Import the file to any RSS reader you desire and takes less than 5 minutes to do.

  4. pete says:

    i use feedmyinbox.com to build and subscribe to feeds on craigslist:
    feedmyinbox.com/feedBuild

  5. Use an app like CLMonitor I use it everyday and it saves me so much time.

    http://www.craigslistmonitor.co/clmonitor/clmonitor.php

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