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CRAIGSLIST ADDS BUFFALO TO WEB COMMUNITY

Craigslist, a well-known on-line aid aimed at singles, job seekers and renters has come to Buffalo.

Fans of the Internet site designed to turn American cities into chatty, casual on-line communities now have local information.

In attracting a Craigslist forum, Buffalo has joined 56 other cities -- including places like New York City, Boston, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Baltimore -- where thousands of people use the site to post and view messages.

The Craigslist trademark?

It's low-key, community-driven and free.

The Buffalo site -- www.buffalo.craigslist.org -- debuted in early September, joining several others already focused on Buffalo-Niagara.

As of this week, 317 personal ads had been posted, 277 items were listed in the "for sale" section of the site, and 42 messages had been swapped in the "jobs" category.

"The Buffalo site is a mere shadow of what it will become," said Jim Buckmaster, chief executive officer of Craigslist, which is based in San Francisco. "These sites are an all-in-one place you can find anything available in an urban area. Whether it's jobs -- our bread and butter -- or the oddball request. . . The sky is the limit."

Buckmaster said that Craigslist added Buffalo as an online community due to requests from current and former Western New Yorkers.

Craigslist was founded in 1995 by Craig Newmark, who started the site as a down-to-earth place for people in the San Francisco Bay area to communicate, swap stuff, post job ads and resumes, and hunt for housing. Newmark remains chairman of the company.

Today, Craigslist gets more than 5 million visitors and 1 billion page views a month, which puts the site in the Top 20 among high-volume web sites, according to tracking data by Nielsen and other sources.

The company supports itself and its Web sites by charging employers and recruiters to post job listings in three cities: San Francisco, New York City and L.A.

In Buffalo, the arrival of the site -- while not known yet by many -- was met with excitement.

"In Buffalo, it'll be most important for helping those who are Internet-savvy connect with one another," said Brian Smith, 30, co-chair of the fledgling group Revitalize Buffalo, which is working to turn Buffalo's future around.

"Some people like to say that there's nothing to do in Buffalo. To some degree that's wrong - Western New York has some world-class cultural amenities, good restaurants, some lively, vibrant neighborhoods," Smith said. "But Buffalo doesn't compare well to a lot of other cities . . . in getting people with similar interests networked to one another, especially via cyberspace."

e-mail: cvogel@buffnews.com

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