When you post a craigslist ad you have the option of using the craigslist anonymous email feature. This option places an anonymous email link at the top of your ad. People that reply to you use this link and their email get routed through the craigslist anonymous remailer. They never see your real email. This protects your privacy. In addition when your ad is deleted (or expired, etc.) the anonymous email dies so you do not get further replies.
When people email you using the anonymous remailer you do see their email. It may be a forgery however. If you reply to someone then of course they will see whatever email you use to reply. It is wise to use a throwaway web email.
One problem with the craigslist anonymous remailer is that it puts the anonymous email links in the same place in every ad. This makes it fairly easy for spammers to use robots to scrape up lots and lots of the links to use for sending out spam. So you post an ad and even though your personal email address isn't listed, you get spam anyway. You may also get innapropriate solicitations from local businesses, hate mail in reply to a posting from various people, etc.
To combat this sort of abuse, craigslist has added a special flagging link to all emails sent through the anonymouse remailing system. Clicking the link automatically sends a notification to craigslist that you think the email is abusive (spam, scam, etc.).
If you get crap email through tha anon system, ALWAYS use the link to flag it. This takes a half minute but it is the only way to stop this stuff. Craigslist can keep track of who is getting flagged and cut them off from using the anon. email system. If you are tired of the garbage, it really is up to you to clean it up.
There are some tricks to help you spot fake scam or spam replies to your ads. One simple trick is to ask that anyone responding include their phone number in their reply. Then if a reply does not contain a valid, working phone number you know it is a spam or from someone who didn't bother to read your ad. Spammers get flagged and people that didn't read your ad just get ignored (delete their email). Dealing with people that don't read your ad tends to go down hill. There are a ton of flakes out there, ignore anyone that is flaky right up front.
Another trick is to ask someone to put something distinctive in the subject line of their email. This one can work in the same way as the phone number trick. However having a phone number, and actually talking to the person you will be meting on the phone, can add a measure of safety to your transactions. It also knocks out more flakes with less email tag.
As of this writing (9-1-2011) there are still bugs to be ironed out in the system. If you have problems, it can be helpful to report them in the FeedBack forum. Be sure to read the information about the forum in the right pane when you arrive. Go Here You will need to log in and choose a forum handle.
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