Do you want to harvest and extract data from Craigslist, but you don’t know how to go about it because of its difficulty? This article provides you with a list of the best Craigslist scrapers you can use to harvest and collect data from Craigslist.
It is important to know that Craigslist is particularly tough to use in terms of harvesting data. This is a direct result of the way they’ve organized things. As a result, data scraping is completely out of the question. Most social media sites include APIs that allow users to scrape data and export it in a format of their choosing.
Facebook is a wonderful illustration of this. In other words, if a page is public, you can access the data on it, regardless of who owns the page you’re trying to access. This is pretty straightforward. The situation is rather different on Craigslist, however. But the functions of their API are completely reversed. You can get data from Facebook’s API, but you can’t post anything.
It has a Facebook app so that you can post material. As far as I know, the Craigslist API does not allow you to pull any data for read-only purposes. This implies all is backward, yet from Craigslist’s perspective, it makes perfect sense.
The reason for this is that firms, particularly those in the real estate industry, can upload listings in bulk through their API. Allowing other parties to extract and show their data on another website that isn’t theirs, on the other hand, brings no benefit to them at all. So, even if you just want to do some simple data analysis, you’ll run into problems.
You can’t subscribe to RSS feeds on Craigslist. While this is permitted for personal purposes only, attempting to scrape large amounts of data with this will result in a ban. This is explicitly stated in Craigslist’s terms of service. The question now is: What does it all mean?
Let’s take a closer look at it. Craigslist can only be accessed via email or a computer browser. Only their bulk posting API or a web browser can be used to post to Craigslist. Scraping data is not possible with scripts, bots, crawlers, or spiders.
It is illegal to obtain a user’s contact information or other personal data through scraping. Basic anti-spam procedures are in place, as they are on most other social media platforms. As a result, what we’re going to say violates the terms of service of Craigslist. This year’s top Craigslist scrapers are presented to you.
8 Best Craigslist Scrapers in 2023
1. Bright Data — Best Craigslist Scraper for Authentic Craigslist Data Scraping
- Price: Begins at 5 USD per 1,000-page loads
- Data Format: Excel, HTML, CSV, JSON
Using Bright Data as a tool to learn how to scrape data from Craigslist shows how concerned Bright Data is about meeting the requirements of its customers and how committed it is to provide them with tools that are specifically targeted at this sort of scraping activity. They claim that you may get publicly available data on Craigslist using their data collection tools. Craigslist data can be promptly retrieved and exported to a spreadsheet in any format, including Excel, email, or HTML. Their all-in-one technology interfaces effortlessly with industry-leading proxy networks and have scraping functions that are available without scripting, which means they are simple to use. If you want to keep your personal information secure when scraping Craigslist, you can use a proxy to do so. Additionally, our Craigslist proxy scraper is scalable, which means that you may collect as much data as necessary from Craigslist in a short period of time.
2. Apify (Apify Craigslist Scraper) — Easy-to-Use Craigslist Scraper
- Data Format: JSON
Hundreds of pre-built tools for web scraping major sites are included in Apify, a platform for web scraping. Using the Apify Craigslist Scraper, you can easily and freely scrape for postings based on any search parameters. The scraper will extract and download the photos, pricing, the date they were posted, and the URLs of the posts that it finds. There is no limit to how frequently the crawler can run, and it will send you an email anytime new entries are discovered. You don’t even have to worry about setting up proxies when you utilize the Apify proxy service with the scraper.
3. Octoparse — Best for Scraping Craigslist Data
- Price: 58 USD monthly
Using Octoparse, you can easily scrape all the information you need from Craigslist, even if you don’t have a lot of technical expertise yourself. For those who are new to the IT field but don’t want to learn all about coding, these guys are an excellent option. According to the company, their features may allow you swiftly collect all of the essential online data from Craigslist, and you don’t need to know anything about coding to achieve it. They want you to be able to transform web pages into spreadsheets with only a few mouse clicks, and the greatest thing is that you can do it for free. They’re all free to use. A two-week trial period is included in the offer. When it comes to Craigslist scrapers like these, I often use them to my advantage!
4. Phantombuster — Best Craigslist Scraper for Scraping Available Data from Craigslist Ads
- Data Format: CSV, JSON, Excel, Google Spreadsheet
Phantombuster is a great tool for safely and secretly scraping data from Craigslist. They know that their clients want everything to be done quietly and properly, and they can assist you in achieving this. In addition to the fact that this Craigslist scraper provides a lesson on how to utilize their capabilities, we also like that they make regular changes to their features, ensuring that you’re constantly using the most current technology. These folks can even harvest emails from Craigslist. With a chat box on their webpage, you’ll be able to get help anytime you need it.
5. Cloud Crawler — Best Craigslist Scraper for Scraping Craigslist Data in the Cloud
This crawler is a web spider that only works in the cloud. However, it’s a bit of a challenge to master. There’s not a lot of information available on it. If you want to learn how to code but don’t want to start from scratch, this is a fantastic option. On the bright side, it’s an open-source project that is completely free.
6. Visual Web Ripper — Best Craigslist Scraper for Extracting Data from Any Website you Visit
- Price: Begins at 350 USD (Lifetime plan)
When it comes to writing HTML, Cloud Crawler uses a text file in Notepad, while Visual Web Ripper uses a program called Dreamweaver. A graphical web ripper that allows you to just point to the information you want to extract, and the computer will perform the rest available. It features video demos, a snazzy website, and all the bells and whistles. However, there are certain limits. For the free trial, you can only scrape up to 100 pieces from a page, which might be slowed down by scripts and coding. For the same reason, you can only have it for fifteen days. Despite this, it’s a pricey option. The complete version of the software costs 350 USD for a license that includes lifetime updates.
7. Scrapy — Easily Extensible and Powerful Craigslist Scraper
- Language: Python
- Data Format: JSON, CSV, XML
Personally, I think this is one of the most helpful and robust scrapers available. As an all-purpose web crawler, it’s capable of much more than merely crawling Craigslist listings. It has fewer restrictions, is simple to set up, and is completely free. Honestly, the finest was reserved until last. Scrapy’s documentation is by far its strongest suit.
8. Python Craigslist Scraper — Powerful and User-friendly Craigslist Scraper
Compared to the other open-source code scrapers, this one is more user-friendly. Everything on Github is free, and it’s written in one of the simplest languages around. It’s among the most renowned free Craigslist scrapers in the market.
Easy Guide to Carry out Craigslist Data Scraping
It’s unfortunate that the approach you choose to scrape data will be heavily influenced by the tool you choose to work with. This is how the procedure will look in general.
Step 1: Decide on the Craigslist Scraper to use
The first step is to choose a scraping tool for Craigslist that you like. If you like, you may create your own. As a programmer, this is an intriguing challenge. If you’re not, there’s no use in making one when there are so many other options out there. You can make use of the resources I’ve provided.
Step 2: Make Use of Proxies
Remember when I said Craigslist was proactive in preventing scrapers from using their site? Using proxies is a good idea. If they detect that the same IP address is accessing many pages fast, they can identify a scraper. This individual might be doing nothing but surfing, exactly like Google’s crawlers. There is a good chance that Google has been whitelisted, but they won’t whitelist you. To mask the origin of the traffic, proxies route it via a slew of different web servers. As opposed to seeing one IP view 100 pages, Craigslist would see 20 different IPs, each visiting five pages. In this case, it’s a more fair quantity, and you won’t be punished for it.
Step 3: Extract Data
It’s as simple as launching your scraper and collecting the data you need. Most likely, the CSV file will end up in a spreadsheet tool like Excel or Google Sheets, which can open it. Take a look at the information and do what you want with it! I’ll remind you once more not to utilize it for business purposes. C&D attorneys are far more likely to come after you if you use Craigslist. Personal usage is a lot more secure, as the worst they can do is block your IP address, which doesn’t matter if you’re using a proxy to hide your identity.
Some Craigslist Issues
Craigslist has a lot of problems. When it first appeared in 2006, how much has changed? Just compare the present design to an Internet Archive of the site’s inception to see how much has changed over time. It hasn’t altered a little in a long time. It’s nicer looking and more legible because it’s centered rather than left-aligned, but otherwise, it’s the same. In spite of the fact that the user interface hasn’t altered much, it now hides more information from the user. There are now three sorts of adverts that you see on the internet.
1. Adverts contain contact information in plain text.
Businesses often use these as a means of enticing customers to get in touch with them. Because these companies employ phone operators, they can screen out unscrupulous calls.
2. Obscured contact details in advertisements.
Personal advertisements on Craigslist are typically posted by people who use both numbers and words to describe their phone numbers. This is to ensure that people can decipher the phone number, but a robot will be unable to.
3. Adverts without contact details.
Craigslist provides an anonymous email address as a forwarding address if you wish to get in touch with the person who posted the ad. You can’t see the poster, but they can get back to you if they want to.
Aside from that, there are concerns with what is and isn’t permitted on CL these days, as previously mentioned. In fact, it’s more effective to utilize Unicode symbols in post titles than standard text headlines because they don’t stick out as much. Scrapers will have to find out a way to parse or delete these special characters as a result of this. There is, of course, the ever-present issue of spam. Real estate and other “serious” areas, which are monitored, don’t have this problem as often. Personals areas like Free, Jobs, and Personals all have an issue with spam.
Anti-spam procedures are in place on CL, after all. They may ask for a phone number to verify your identity on occasion. Except for the bulk post API, which only works in select parts, all have a posting limit. People who breach the rules are automatically barred by a computerized system. It’s all a complete failure. The saddest thing is that, just a few years ago, Craigslist was taking steps to increase the site’s adaptability and sustainability. The thin site itself might be made to seem more substantial and informative by using a lot more HTML in your postings. Those features were deleted from Craigslist in 2013, reverting the site back to its original black and white design. Web monitors and marketers are nothing if not over-the-top when it comes to hype.
When it comes to the good things Hurricane Craig has done, there’s just one thing to take away from it. In contrast to having to search for and digest information in code, it is significantly simpler for a robot to get information from a browser window. This is a good thing since it allows us to do what Craigslist doesn’t want us to.
Q. Is Craigslist data scraping legal?
Craigslist has even taken legal action in the past. If you’re going to be scraping a lot of data, you’ll need a lot of storage space. Analyzing data is a cinch. Commercial use will irritate the beast, especially if it infringes on CL’s area. Craigslist vs. 3Taps API developer 3Taps was the most recent example of this type of legal dispute. Basically, 3Taps developed a Craigslist API. With Padmapper, a startup that used Craigslist real estate data to create a map of the area, they were able to find homes for rent. That this wasn’t done by Craigslist is astounding; it’s astonishing that they haven’t created anything similar on their own. That’s for the next chapter, though.
This was clearly not acceptable to Craigslist since their terms of service forbid the usage of their data on a third-party site. They filed legal action against 3Taps and Padmapper in June of 2012, and it was only just resolved in June of 2015 after a lengthy legal battle. Craigslist was paid a million dollars by 3Taps to stop gathering data. As long as 3Taps and Padmapper are still in existence, the settlement stung, and it’s just one example of what may occur if you attempt to extract CL data and utilize it for commercial gain. When CL issued a stop and desisted notice and blocked their IPs, these firms ignored it. They proceeded to break the rules and steal data, which resulted in more legal action. What’s my advice? If you receive a C&D letter, you must comply. Most likely, it’s not worth your time.
That is all for Craigslist scrapers. It is a good idea to have in mind that Craigslist is more likely to take action on your behalf in the event you do. If you’re using a proxy, you won’t have to worry about Craigslist censoring your IP address, which is what they can do if you don’t use a proxy. Best of luck!