Are Your Craigslist Ads Being Flagged? Try This Next

I promised a few people I would post a few simple and unique ways to tackle the ignominious “flagging” issue that seems to have leapfrogged to the front of the line in terms of obstacles people are having in keeping their ads live. So rather than not going green, these are ads that are being flagged by either editorial staff

I promised a few people I would post a few simple and unique ways to tackle the ignominious “flagging” issue that seems to have leapfrogged to the front of the line in terms of obstacles people are having in keeping their ads live.

Important NOTE:

This post was written 4 years ago…….and MUCH has changed in regard to the CL filters over that time.
They are smarter, quicker and far more aggressive in being able to automatically detect when someone is over posting……OR, posting in an area that is geographically incompatible with their IP address or location.

(a tech head I am NOT…….but as much as this was an issue many moons back when I wrote the post below, it’s even MORE of an issue today, and quite simply, all bullshit aside, if you are trying to make a living off of posting an avalanche of ads in a myriad of markets and a cacaphony of cities around the world……you probably ain’t having much luck, and if you are……..the going ain’t gonna be great for long..:-)

In my view – the REAL opportunities to earn an amazing income online are FAR beyond what is offered on Craigslist – it certainly serves a purpose and if you are a service provider or profesional, it can be a great way of generating leads.

However – I encourage you to read many of the other posts I’ve shared about other traffic techniques that are far superior.….and far LESS stressful as well.  (after all – life is short, and worrying about your ads being “ghosted” all day isn’t a very visionary, or smart strategy for building your brand, your blog, your business…..or your bank account to boot)


Continue reading on below……and remember, for 2013 check out for free hassle free posting – it takes more ads to get great traffic – but the ads are EASY to post – no hassles – no BS – and they have a really inexpensive premium area (to the right of the regular ads) that REALLY converts well in some cities for us – so hopefully you’ll have similar success!)

Continued below..:-)

So rather than not going green, these are ads that are being flagged by either editorial staff, or – more commonly in my best guess, by other peers with too much free time and too little tolerance for good old fashioned competition.

I’ve had my fair share of ads flagged, and it’s almost ALWAYS in the same categories, which leads me to believe it’s more of a function of my peers, rather than problems with the CL review process.

( As none of the ads are inflammatory or a TOS violation beyond the obvious..:-)

Plus there are a few auto posters that have (flawed, but still) plugins or add ons that are explicitly designed to flag competing ads.

Overall – I think, if looked at through the right lens, flagging is good for us as marketers, as it keeps us from getting lazy, and forces lots of adaptive approaches to writing good copy for CL.


One of the most obvious reasons to be flagged in over posting.No one wants to see the same ads over and over again, in profitable categories, especially when they’re own ads aren’t making it up.

Spite, jealousy, anger, a sudden self righteous bonding with the law of the land, etc – these are in my opinion, the primary reason why your ads are get flagged.

( It takes a *few* flags to bring down an ad, but remember, the amount of eyeballs viewing your ad on the competitor side is growing larger day by day).So the key is – to simply keep your ads as unique as possible, WITHOUT obviously having to write an inordinate amount ofads each day in each market you are posting.

As there is very LITTLE you can do about the people who will willy nilly flag any ad that competes with them, or offends their sensibility, let’s instead focus on what we CAN control – the uniqueness, or at least APPEARANCE of uniqueness of our copy.Here is what I’ll do:

WordPress is your friend.

Whenever I promote a new affiliate product, I will at a minimum, register at least one new domain for that topic ( usually many more).I will upload at least 10 unique templates for each domain.

This process, as most of you know, is VERY quick – in less than 30 minutes I will have a minimum of 10 different aesthetics for my content.Now, and this isn’t totally necessary, I will usually customize my templates with a little more detail – i.e. – I will use a graphic header logo on some, others I’ll leave the default WordPress title call, etc.

As I’m pretty familiar with the templates I use, I can get this done in a few hours, even while paying close attention to the Flavor of Love reruns, my favorite TV show of all time.I will then write a good solid piece of content that prominently features my content, and will take SCREENSHOTS of that content using every available template I just installed.

What does this do?

It leaves me with a minimum of 10 different looks for the very same offer, simply by changing the theme in the presentation of my WordPress admin panel.No coding, no html or CSS editing, simply 10 reasonably unique ads in 5 minutes or less once the first step is complete.I do use some premium editing software to make some changes to each image – i.e. – adding URL’s – putting call to action icons in appropriate places, etc – some I will leave totally as is, and so forth.

The truth is, on really close inspection, obviously the offers are the same – as if you are prominently positioning a free eBook, or opt in form in your image, one of your more astute competitors WILL eventually notice.

But – and I speak from experience here, you CAN have multiple ads like this running simultaneously, even in a small city…and have no one be the wiser.

People really don’t pay that close attention too many layers down from the surface in any area of life – and I this one is no different.

Of course you can even scale this up a few notches in the creative chameleon approach to Craigslist…but I will have to leave some of this to your OWN imagination ( rather than mine..:-)

But suffice it to say, you can have one affiliate product covered 14 ways from Tuesday – redirects, site building, using SEO keywords for natural traffic and site building, generating a list – you name it, this strategy is great for saturating a market and simply dominating it on CL.

It’s “bending the web” at it’s finest, only using the simple captive audience and power of Craigslist to do it in a fishbowl.

And of course if you are worried about being too obvious – simply get multiple domains for the very same effect, each new domain you incorporate adds an exponential degree of scalability and flexibility to the process.

I have a few really good WordPress templates I use for this – a really GREAT one for writing killer copy that simply stands out perfectly for these sorts of offers is Stripped by Upstart Blogger, it’s a totally free and makes for fantastically prominent CL copy – especially for those who can’t get their hands dirty with design.

Have fun!

UPDATE FOR 2013: For anyone struggling with Craigslist posting issues……

We’ve had great luck using Backpage.Com – it’s free – no ghosting – they have automatic resposting – and a premium section that is very inexpensive -and converts really, really well.

(you’ll need to post more ads to really “Crush it” using Backpage…..but it takes HALF the time and if you keep at it – and keep your ads highlighted – you WILL get good traffic – or at least that’s been our experience over the last 3 months in multiple cities! Check them out – PAIN FREE posting – what a concept… Enjoy!



  1. i get on cl to post tree service and firewood ads. i get flagged and removed all day long by competitors. then i got an email the other day from a person that says they have nothing to do with it but i am overposting. what about the other ppl why point a finger at me. then i see these other ppl up # or more times on one page. i am sick of craigs list. after so much harassment they should cut the ppl harassing off instesd of violating me. is there another website to post freely and why cant we block flaggers.

  2. We are currently having the same issue here in Sacramento Craigslist Nez has. However I believe I know who the person is that is doing it since must of us have been on here for about five years. There is a new guy that just started in November and now, all my ads are getting flagged. Very frustrating after building our business from scratch on Craigslist to have some fly by night carpet cleaner under cut our hard work. I’ve written hundreds of ads for my business and other carpet cleaners nationally. I know how much time and effort can go into an ad, and not afraid of a little hard work. However, I think this is just getting old. Luckily we no longer put all our bags into one basket.

  3. I am a personal trainer in ny city and I post my ad everyday in order to get a new client but someone a son of bitch I wish I could find him he always keep flagging my ad he sees my mascular nice pictures and he get jealous he might be one of the competitor trainers in ncraigslist he thinks that all people will respond to my ad and I wi;ll get all the clients on line my ad title is PERSONAL TRAINER TRAIN WITH 19 YRS EXP TRAINER CHAMPION BODYBUILDER he sees my ad with my picture above at the corner he flags it everyday and I am in rage I want to kill this guy he is trying to kill my business Please I NEED HELP.

    1. Hi there nezih – why not change the ad up a little bit and see if that helps? One of the most common problems with advertising on craigslist is, lots of small minded, silly people are so afraid of competition…..that they spend they’re days flagging or reporting the ads of their closest competitors. The easiest way to overcome that… quite simply, to proactively change up your ad copy so it’s more difficult to identify. I think you’ll be surprised at how well a new ad might serve you – and in NYC – where every new client is potentially very valuable to your business….the 30 or 60 or 90 minutes you take to rewrite or re-create a new ad should be well worth it. Hope that helps….and know that you are not alone..;-) (lots of people who arrive here…do so searching for help on the same very frustrating issue )

  4. My name is Cindy M. I am having a serious problem posting in CL. not because Craigslist is ghosting or flagging me but, my competitors are destroying all of my ads. and I don’t know who to ask or where to go. I am new to this HTML world and …well, maybe you may direct me to a more accurate source or maybe you are the source.
    However, I have noticed that in their ads, they are using special coding to prevent their flagging as well.
    I would like to send you an attachment of their ads for your expert analysis. Do you think you would be open for this?

    I post under dealerships in the Los Angeles & Orange County Sections. The worst part of this is that the work that I am learning to do, is also what they have learned from me and my brother, which is why I know my competitors.
    Thank You, Happy New Years Cindy From Los Angeles

  5. Hi, I don’t even get to the flagging stage CL just rejects my ads in the therapeutic section. I do a non-sexual tantra session with breathwork. I don’t even use the word tantra in the ad anymore and they still reject it. I send them emails asking how to comply but they never answer. I advertised in this section for over a year with no problem, and all of a sudden they started rejecting them. What is up with that? Abbigail

  6. I have a lucrative credit consulting business that allows people to work from home, call auto dealers, mortgage companies, etc. and sell our service for a wonderful commission, a few months ago placed an ad in houston and one in los angeles, my experience was amazing, now I cannot keep an ad on craigslist for more that 20 minutes without being booted. I use a different email address and a different job posting title and a different but yet simple ad each time I advertise and I cannot beat the flagging and removal of my ads. The time I was successful with this a few months ago, I had a lady from phoenix come aboard with us and she’s doing great. I don’t know what to do but I truly have a business that not only helps people with challenged credit but helps people needing to make a secondary income. Please advise!!!

  7. My advice to some of you is to simply use 2 different numbers and 2 different pictures.(1 real pic and 1 fake pic)

    i use to do that a while back because there was a hater out the end i won because all my ad’s using my real picture where flagged while the ad with the fake picture and different number remained.

    i’m not saying to lie,cheat and rip off the clients, but you do what you gotta do..(with a positive intent of course!)

    and another thing, i am so tired of the asian agency spam. they post so many times a day that it’s no good posting unless you purchase hella phone verified accounts yourself.. would be great, but where the hell is all the traffic?
    my friend in utah had a few girls working for her and she said the calls where amazing and came allot day and night..

    i’m in vegas and try to spread the word about various other places but the downside to backpage is that you have to pay and your ad can be flagged there as well..

  8. I agree David! There is a gigantic conspiracy theory by all of YOUR competitors to flag YOUR ads….but they are keeping it a secret lest you figure it out. Everyone who is making money on CL is in on it too – next time someone offers you the secret handshake – you would be well served to say yes.


  10. nicole, i have the same freaking problem here in boise idaho….i wish i knew who it was… hurting, etc…all same here too sister….we need to figure out a way to either find another place to post, or get some program to post anonymously for us. if say for instance we came up with a program to recognize a flag to our post, it will automatically repost it, even from different proxies or something…..hey….smarties out there….take this idea and run with it….us erotic’s need you!!! pleeeze!!! niclole, hey..i wanna talk to you private k? how do i do that?

  11. Hi Nicole – I would simply change up your ads using some of the above techniques so that they are completely unique, if you are using 3 CL accounts – use 10, or 20 and rotate the ads accordingly. I would imagine that someone hellbent (no pun intended..:-) on flagging ads he or she felt were unsavory would probably stick with the most recognizable ones, and wouldn’t be effective ( or allowed) to simply report everything in a given section. Unfortunately flagging is a more difficult hurdle to leap in certain respects, simply don’t take it personally and understand that there is NO way one person is going to effectively flag an entire section for long. In the meantime you could have a garage sale or something..;-) Good luck!

  12. I have a question about flagging. I post on the erotic section for my business but my posts are constantly being flagged.When I first posted I was fine but now there is someone who goes on there everyday and flags everyones posts because he does not like what we do.Is there a way around this? My business is hurting and money is getting short.I have 3 different accounts I post from but if each post gets flagged then CL blocks me from reposting.I can afford this anymore and there seem to be no other places to post.

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