Let Your Fingers Do the Blocking: Craigslist's Paranoid Plate Appendages

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
let your fingers do the blocking craigslist s paranoid plate appendages

TTAC commenter Piston Slap Yo Mamma has given us a great gift.

While perusing used cars on his local Craigslist site, he noticed a trend occurring in the vehicle images. Fingers. Lots of them. Obscuring license plates. Possibly, revealing more about the driver than the plate itself.

So numerous were these crooked appendages, often topped with purple or naturally yellow nails, that he felt the need to share them. So, this Tumblr page was born.

“I developed a weird and unhealthy fascination,” he told us.

Craigslist is often a wild and woolly place — I mean, we’ve all looked for…used articles before — but placing a vehicle ad simply means you’re looking to lure invite someone over to check out and buy your faded and rusty heap of crap.

The fact that it’s plated only shows the prospective buyer that you might be reputable. Or at least licensable.

Still, people who drive their vehicles all over town with plates in full view suddenly get bashful when it comes time to invite the world over to check out their Honda’s horrific paint quality. It’s enough to make you believe there’s a number of weirdos on Craigslist. Or Witness Protection Program participants.

Or, that a vehicle’s sagging rear suspension wasn’t caused by carrying trunkloads of goodwill items to the Salvation Army every weekend.

Whatever the reason, the phenomenon is growing. And so are the online tribute pages.

As for Yo Momma, his trip down the Craigslist rabbit hole netted him a nice, grandmother-owned Subaru Legacy wagon. Fingers not included.

[Image: dabidoh.tumblr.com]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
4 of 79 comments
  • Ryoku75 Ryoku75 on May 03, 2016

    I've only done this once, but instead of using my ugly finger I carefully draped a cloth around the plates. I dunno what turns me off more about a craigslist ad, a filthy finger, or the statement "No problems". Then theres always "runs great bring battery", since people cant at least charge their batteries for free at an auto parts store.

  • Chan Chan on May 03, 2016

    There is a cultural sensitivity here that may be missed. In some cultures, although you have no legal expectation of privacy in a public place, it's customary respect to hide the plate of a stranger or friend. This removes potentially permanent evidence of a particular car belonging to a particular person appearing at a certain place and time. On car spotting forums based in Hong Kong, if you photograph a particular car as a subject, you will likely get reminded to blur out the plate. If it's just an overall street scene focusing on no particular vehicle, plate numbers are OK. This may also be true for mainland China, but I'm not sure. Blocking with your finger on a sale ad is just lazy and shows a lack of effort in presentation. If the car is worth any significant sum of money I would likely pass based on that plus the probable treasure chest of spelling errors.

  • TDIGuy TDIGuy on May 03, 2016

    Happened to be looking something up on Google Street View today and noticed that plates are all blocked there as well.

  • Japanese Buick Japanese Buick on May 07, 2016

    The blurring and blocking has really gotten ridiculous. Watch any type of reality TV and you'll see blurred: license plates, airplane registration numbers (really distracting on small planes where the registration numbers cover a significant percentage of surface area) logos on hats or clothing being worn, manufacturer's insignia on vehicles (on those real estate house hunting shows the Ford Oval or GMC bowtie or whatever is often covered with black tape on the agent's car), phone numbers on the doors of tradesmen's cars, etc etc. Particularly funny was a show called Swamp Loggers that always blurred the logging company's phone number on their vehicles, even though the whole show was about that company! I just figured they had the blurring software, they paid a lot for it, and they're going to get their money's worth! To me all the blurring just detracts from the whole show.