Craigslist brings sweatshops online

I’ve recently started using Craigslist as a source for design job leads, and largely, I think it’s a great resource. With sites specific to 450+ cities around the world, it’s easy to target certain geographical locations, and as it’s the world’s most widely known online classifieds stop, there’s often no shortage of postings to browse.

Craigslist has got to be the fugliest site ever, and at #45 on Alexa, you’ve got to admire that. It truly looks like it hasn’t had a spec of design done to it since its inception in 1995. As a designer it irks me, but it’s hard to argue its success.

However, what does irk me about it is that it allows crap like the following get put on their site:

Reply to: [email protected]
Date: 2007-09-18, 8:47AM CT

I need a photoshop artist for a photo editing job. The job requires you to cut out a person from a green screen portrait photograph. The person is standing in front of a chroma green screen, and you will use the magic wand to cut most of the person out and quickmask with paint brushes to finish the cut to perfection.

Each photo takes 7 to 10 minutes, and I am paying $0.75 U.S. currency to start for each person cut out. Some photos have more than 1 person and they will be $0.75 per person cut. The average pay should be better than 4.50 per hour to start if you have decent skills. If you are really good at the job you can do 9 per hour and make $6.75. If you are very accurate and I do not have to fix the work, I will raise to $.90 per person cut out. You can make about $8.10 per hour then.
Payment will be made using or other nationally recognized international bank of your choice.

Work is seasonal and part time, at times work is unpredictable. In october i need maybe 5-10 hours per week. In November, and December I can promise at least 25 hours per week. In the spring it will be slightly less. Once again the work is unpredictable and I need somebody who has ability to work hard some weeks (25 hours) and less other weeks (10 hours).

Please email resume and portfolio, or request a test picture.

* Location: us
* Compensation: 4.50 to 8.10 (U.S.) to start, Depending on Experience and Reliability
* Telecommuting is ok.
* This is a part-time job.
* Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
* Please, no phone calls about this job!
* Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Now, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to what to charge for design (read what Peter and Chris have to say on it), and granted cutting people out of chroma screened photos isn’t exactly creative design work – but $4.50/hr.? Are you f’king kidding me?

Judging from the poster’s location (the US) and the post’s location (Beijing, China), it’s quite obvious that the guy is trolling for some cheap labour. Throwing that “depending on experience and reliability” is just salt on the wound though – who doesn’t have enough experience to work for $4.50 an hour?

6 thoughts on Craigslist brings sweatshops online

  1. Despite the bad taste that the ad leaves you have to admit there are probably many people that would take that on. $4.50/hr isn’t bad money for somebody that is bed ridden or agoraphobic living in China.

    Now, regarding the ugliness of the site, I cannot agree with you more. I remember an interview with somebody that works for the site and they are happy sticking with the technology that they use to run it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I shiver at the thought. I bet there is a grease monkey script or the like to reformat the craigslist pages just floating around.

  2. Hey Shaun, there’ll definitely be takers – which is why I use the “sweatshop” analogy. That’s the problem with sweatshops right, they prey on someone’s disadvantagedness.

    To do what he’s asking you’d need at least a mildly in depth knowledge of photo manipulation, as well as how to use a sophisticated piece of software like Photoshop – I’m sure there’s no shortage of people that will do it for the price he’s asking – but in my opinion it just doesn’t make it right.

    From what I’ve read about Craigslist, I get that sense of “we’re cool because we’re not flashy”. But fugly is fugly and a great personality can only take you so far.

  3. Easy to bash Craigslist on their design — but your design for this site is horrendous. It looks like you just learned how to use Layer Styles in Photoshop — hey, make sure everything has a drop shadow or inner glow. And what’s up with stealing the old Photoshop logo for your icon buttons? Google’s logo?

    It’s a market economy. Waiters in China make 400-800 RMB a month. So, if someone can make 30-60 RMB per hour, obviously there will people who will happily do this job. Sweatshop labor? Are YOU f**king kidding me? Sitting at a desk, using Photoshop is sweatshop labor? Go ahead, remove my comment to keep your shitty blog nice and clean.

  4. @Whatever: Remove your comment? And miss the chance to call you an anonymous asshat? Naw. Anonymous asshat.

    Good or bad, this site “has” a design – Craigslist doesn’t. They’re obviously not too concerned about it, and all the power too them – but you can’t for a minute call that a “design”.

    Honestly, are you so dense as not to see the connection to having Photoshop’s logo in the header of a design category, and equally so the Google SEO bit for a category about making money online? Pretty weak critique bro.

    I don’t follow your point about the waiters. It’s an unspecialized skill set that anyone can do (and anyone does). You wouldn’t compare what a KFC counterboy makes to a graphic designer in the US, why are you trying to do it with China?

    Your point about it being a market economy is valid, and I don’t feel quite as harshly about the ad as I did when I wrote the post. But one question, what do you think people in sweatshops sit at? Sans-PhotoShop, but well…

  5. I was a construction worker once. A genetic illness surfaced and just like that, I was unable to do the only thing I knew. I would have been glad for an indoor job like that-I could have lived simply on it (I always lived simply anyway). And I could have gone back to school while doing it. Too bad I knew more about foundations and walls than I did about the Internet and photoshop. And as far as CL’s format? Hey, it’s functional. No one cares about it. It’s just a big E-classified section, with larger print, thank goodness.

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