Foursquare is a mix of social media technology, mobile technology and GPS technology, resulting in a service that is broken and difficult. It is the best example I’ve ever seen of making lemons out of lemonade.
Special note: This all may be true of the other social check in service Gowalla, but I haven’t used it since I have an Android phone. So a lot of this complaining may not be particular to Foursquare – it’s just the only one I have access to in order to complain about it.
Foursquare cheating is a major problem for… well, people who like to use Foursquare. What’s Foursquare? The latest social media fad, which allows you to “check in” to locations through your mobile phone, so people can know where you’re having lunch or getting gas – because that’s seriously important stuff to know.
And what’s cheating in this sense? It’s doing any number of things to elevate your non-existant Foursquare status. See, there are points and mayorships on Foursquare that you get by using the site – the points are meaningless, and everyone’s still trying to figure out why they issue them.
The mayorships are more about bragging rights, though some of the more ambitious businesses give prizes or specials to their mayors as a carrot on a stick to get more people coming in.
Which is smart – if you have that many dummies going to a business just so their phone can tell them “good job,” by all means get those suckers to come in!
So you can gain points and mayorships by checking into places you aren’t at, checking into places multiple times, or doing any number of other things that misrepresent where you are. I actually came up with a couple on my own, which I think are, frankly, ingenious.
You see, I have a problem with Foursquare as a concept. First, I’m not all that wild about letting complete strangers know I am not at home right now, so please feel free to come on over and rob me. Some Foursquare maniacs actually check into their home address using Foursquare, so they can become the “Mayor” of their own homes.
I often think about going over to these people’s places, parking on the street and “checking in” to their homes. What a thrill it would be for them to realize I’d become their mayor when they weren’t paying attention!
The second problem I have with Foursquare is the technology is ass. Not just Foursquare’s, but my phone’s. Foursquare uses my GPS location to determine if I am really where I say I am. As a result, when I try to legitimately check into my local Target store, Foursquare tells me I am actually 500 meters away. I’m standing in the middle of the store, and my own phone is telling me otherwise.
There are many times I’d like to send a picture to Foursquare and say, “No! Really! I’m right here! Check me in you bastards!”
Finally, there are a number of people who go crazy when you cheat on Foursquare – a service they do not pay for, that they have no stake in.
Bottom line: Foursquare is a buggy service with inherent security flaws, used by whining bastards who, ostensibly, want to socialize with me so I can see their fake accomplishments.
I know what you’re saying: “Where can I sign up!?!”
Therefore, I fully intend to keep cheating at Foursquare, not because I’m in it to earn bragging rights or a false sense of accomplishment. That’s what the actual users of Foursquare use it for.
Instead, I will continue to do this because it is the best way to show my discontent. I will not shrug my shoulders and say, “oh well” when their server is busy, or they get inflexible about my GPS location. I will not not cheat just so other users don’t have their day ruined.
If and when this service ever works correctly, I’ll play along. Until then, the gloves are off.
And if I get kicked off of the site, so be it – I’ll take that as a response in itself: “Sorry, but it’s just easier for us to get rid of you than to improve the way our site works.”
Whatever – I’ve still got Brightkite, which has the virtue of consistently working.