Recently I read an article on Stv.TV about a relatively new search engine. But though it was positioned as a recycling/green search engine, it’s really more of a metasearch for free stuff and swaps. Ecofreek is available at http://www.ecofreek.com/.
Pick what you’re looking for and pick a country (the US options are listed country and state.) You can also pick a city if you like. I searched for computer in Florida and got 698 results. Yikes! I suggest you use the pulldown menu to sort your results by date, because many of the results I looked at had already expired.
The results show a picture if there is one with the listing, along with part of the ad (actually in many cases all of the ad), and the date the item was put up. There are also a few listings that let you get directions to the area, mark an item as taken (or a listing as expired) or “thumbs-down” a listing as a scam or fraud. Most of the listings I looked at were free, while some were trade, and a few more were actually items for sale but for which the buyer would accept a trade. Click on the title of the result or the [more] link associated with the result and you’ll go directly to the original ad/listing.
Most of the listings were also Craigslist. Maybe I picked a bad term, because according to ecofreek’s FAQ the engine searches over 45 sites, including Backpage.com, Kijiji.com, SwapAce.com, and ZooZag.com. Looks like the Craigslist items tend to overwhelm them all, which isn’t surprising.
I would love to see RSS feeds available, but failing that you can register for a free account and get e-mail and text message alerts whenever new items for which you’re searching are added. Depending on what you’re searching for I can imagine that ending up as a lot of text messages…