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Is there any site that will take a craigslist RSS feed of cars for sale and sort it by make, model, price, etc (as far as it can parse the listings)? Couldn't find anything myself, but thought I'd ask before I went and wrote a little script to accomplish what I'm looking for.

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Woah, someone care to explain the down vote? –  Tim Lytle Sep 23 '09 at 16:26
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up vote 1 down vote accepted

This Wired article explains you cannot find such services because the founder does not want them. Craig goes so far as to install technical obstacles to specifically block them. YMMV if you only occasionally use the script for personal purposes, but don't be surprised if your little script invokes the wrath of Craig Newmark:

[Craigslist is] hostile to outsiders who want to pull neat technical tricks to improve the site. A few years ago, independent programmer Jeff Atwood created a service that would allow people to search multiple cities at once or even search craigslist globally. Buckmaster arranged some technical interference to kill it off. Another programmer named Ryan Sit created a service called Listpic, which scraped images from craigslist and dumped them into an interface for browsing: You could scan through all the photos from the apartment listings or see pictures of all the dogs up for adoption. Buckmaster banished Listpic, too.

Update: added more context from quote to explain Craig's objections to such services:

He had specific objections to both. Listpic ran ads, it put a high burden on craigslist servers, and when he looked at traffic records he noticed that Listpic was being used mainly to enhance enjoyment of the sexy images people posted in their erotic-services ads. Universal search subverts craigslist's mission to enable local, face-to-face transactions; it increases the risk of scams and can be exploited to snatch up bargains, giving technically sophisticated users an advantage over casual browsers. But the very surfeit of these practical objections—many of which probably have technical solutions—hints that the real explanation lies elsewhere, and with a minimum of pressure Buckmaster will state it plainly. It is the same reason that craigslist has never done any of the things that would win approval among Web entrepreneurs, the same reason he has never updated its 1999-era Web design. The reason is that craigslist's users are not asking for such changes.

"I hear this all the time," Buckmaster says. "You guys are so primitive, you are like cavemen. Don't you have any sense of aesthetic? But the people I hear it from are invariably working for firms that want the job of redoing the site. In all the complaints and requests we get from users, this is never one of them. Time spent on the site, the number of people who post—we're the leader. It could be we're doing one or two things right."

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Understood, I figured using the RSS feed might help with that - since the purpose of that is to distribute/display/format information. The opposition to extension puzzles me, considering it's a popular site that really could use some 3rd party features. –  Tim Lytle Sep 4 '09 at 1:10
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I am not sure if there is a easy to use program, however if you go to the category you want, perform a search for the terms, you can then generate a RSS feed through the icon at the bottom that will be a feed of just the searched items.

No idea on sort - sorry.

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Yeah, I know I could search for a specific model - and return those results only, but I'm more interested in seeing the listings grouped, to get a feel for pricing, availability, etc. Guess it wasn't just bad searching on my part... –  Tim Lytle Sep 4 '09 at 1:12
I don't think it is possible to filter Craigs list. It isn't like eBay where a seller fills out all the info... People can just list whatever they like as text only. –  William Hilsum Sep 4 '09 at 1:32
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I do not know of a site, but copying the search results and pasting them into excel is where I would start. Is is not too difficult to parse out the terms you want to sort on, though I think you could only parse the terms that show in your search results page. So if you were looking for say motorcycles, you could expect to get make, model, year, price, location, posting date, whether there is a picture, and the URL. Once parsed out, it is trivial to sort on teh fields you want.

There may a cuter way of getting the search results into Excel.

Also crazedlist.org does a nice job of searching across different CraigsLists, Read the Faq before use it.

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