Edgeio, a Web 2.0 answer to Craigslist?

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To be honest, we were a bit skeptical of Edgeio, when we first heard about it from co-founder Michael Arrington a couple of months ago. He called the company a search engine for classifieds on blogs. Blah.

Looking at it now that it has launched, the idea has an elegant simplicity to it.

Let’s say you post a classified ad on your blog. You tag it with the word “listing,” and Edgeio will spot it and add it to its database. You add more tags (e.g., “San Francisco” and “couch”) and these give your post/ad a way of appearing in the appropriate category within Edgeio.

In fact, you can post a classified ad pretty much anywhere. There just needs to be an RSS feed or something for Edgeio to track it. Your ad then gets picked up in a centralized marketplace. You post it, then you’re done.

Blogger Jeff Jarvis wrote a piece about Edgeio here, where the comments sparked an informative debate.

First, Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist, the reigning online classifieds site, comes in and leaves a comment about how Edgeio will encourage a lot of spam from people trying to hawk their goods by endlessly repeating tags.

Keith Teare, another co-founder of Edgeio, and who is actually chief executive, has a pretty good response.

Basically, he explains, once you’ve listed an ad on your blog or site, you go to Edgeio and register. It’s what Edgeio calls “claiming your blog,” whereby Edgeio authenticates a publisher. Edgeio can then point readers of the classified to the original place, i.e, your blog, where you listed it.

Publishers who go through this process are rewarded by having their listings appear above anonymous listings, in reverse chronological order.

In the future, Edgeio will also introduce a small fee — 25c or so — whereby Edgeio members (authenticated publishers basically) will be able to push their items above the regular members listings, again in reverse chronological order. So anonymous listings will be pushed further down.

Edgeio will have to figure out how to get critical mass at a time when the vast majority of users still can’t figure out what RSS is. Tags? What are those? Indeed, we were just at a Fremont Starbucks, where a 30-year-old school teacher told us she didn’t know what a blog was. Let alone RSS or tags. So Edgeio is a beguiling concept, but is it too early?

Finally, this commenter has a good point. He says anyone can create an engine to search all blogs with a “listing” tag. So there are few barriers to entry. Technorati may be able to do that in a few hours….

So is Edgeio a Google or an AltaVista? Is it a late arrival, armed with better technology, about to vanquish clunky incumbent Craigslist? Or is Edgeio the eager-beaver path-breaker, too early, too vulnerable to more considered executions down the road?