So you’ve got a new startup, right? You’re building a reputation system for Craigslist users, allowing them to rate and review each other. For it to really work, you need to convince your audience that every interaction on Craigslist could potentially lead to them getting robbed, harassed, or stuffed in a freezer. So… how do you do that?

The answer, at least for the guys at Replyboard: Respond to Craigslist posts and act absolutely bonkers. On hidden camera, of course.

I’ll let the videos do the talking:

There’s a discussion lurking somewhere in here about whether or not these guys are actually exacerbating the very problem they’re trying to fix…and a small part of me (the part that was pretty much raised on the Internet) wants to yell “Faaaaake!” to at least one of the clips. But hey, it’s Monday, no one wants to hear that. These guys found the one startup idea where hidden camera show-type pranks could be used as marketing, so I applaud their creativity. Plus, they were smart enough to have everyone sign waivers.

In fact, there’s at least one video they say they can never share because someone they pranked wouldn’t sign. Says Steinar, the guy behind the camera:

There was one particular time when we were responding to an ad… these two guys were selling a bed and it was a pretty sketchy house. Nick is saying all kinds of stuff to provoke them like ‘Let’s hang out… you guys want to order some pizzas?’ to which they would respond with something like “Nah, we’re just trying to sell the bed” … Nick then brings out a can opener and a can of pears, opens it and starts eating the pears with 2 fingers, then offers one of the guys some of his pears. It basically got to a very uncomfortable point and I said… “you guys are actually on a hidden camera show. I’m the co-founder of a site called Replyboard, which is a user review site for online classifieds… etc etc.

 

One guy was pretty pissed even after the confession. The other guy was pretty cool about. The guy who was pissed wouldn’t sign the waiver, so we weren’t able to use the footage.