Prevent rental ads from being flagged as spam

Monday, November 4, 2013

What steps can be taken to prevent ads from being ‘ghosted’ on Craigslist?

Ghosting is a term used for posts that have been flagged by Craigslist’s anti-spam system. The system monitors all accounts and IP addresses and tries to determine if the quantity, frequency or content of the ads suggest that they are spam. If it feels that the posts are spam, it will ghost them.

When the system ghosts a post, the user will not know it is happening, as they still receive an email with a confirmation link. The only thing is, if they log out of their account and search for the ad, it will not appear in the listings.

To avoid being ghosted, it’s important to understand what factors the system looks for when determining if the post is indeed spam.

Title and content 

Just as posters should avoid duplicating content on their web pages, they should do the same on Craigslist. The system’s software automatically cross-matches the content in all posts to make sure they are unique. So no more copying and pasting ads and only changing the bedroom types and pricing. Posters should be diligent in changing the content and layout in each post. They should avoid using duplicate keywords, similar titles or similar layouts and structures. Basically, they should try to make each ad look and read differently. Also, using the same URLs or emails in ads can also make posts easily flagged.

Frequency of IP address

Some people try to create multiple accounts thinking that tit will confuse the system. It won’t. The system monitors posts relative to IP address, not account. This means that if someone is posting from the same location, all of the posts will be subject to analysis.

This creates difficulty for apartment marketers who have one department posting all of the ads. They’ll need to gather up the troops and get their individual building managers involved. If they post from their individual buildings, then they are less likely to be flagged, as they will all have different IP addresses.

Posting frequency

Craigslist’s system only wants one post per account in each category. As a general rule, posters can probably get away with up to three ads in any one given category in a 48-hour time frame. Any more than that amount will increase the risk of ghosting. So no bombarding the system with posts.


Images seem to increase the likelihood of ghosting, but not in all cases. The safest and most reliable kind of ad on Craigslist is a plain text ad without any HTML code, hyperlinks or images. If the poster chooses to insert an image, they should host it on a different site like Flickr or Photobucket. Craigslist is much more likely to block a small, unknown website than a larger one like these.

Carissa Drohan-Jennings is an account manager at

One thought on “Prevent rental ads from being flagged as spam

  1. Wow that's great info. It makes sense, but what a pain with the IP and having to get other employees involved. A real hassle. Craigslist in doing this counter measure is making the site less enjoyable to use. Pretty lame imo.

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