Growing out of Foursquare

It seems like after two years of using Foursquare, I’ve reached check-in fatigue. I’ve written my thoughts before after a year of usage.

Today I don’t turn the app on. I visit places but I can’t be bothered about checking in. If I’m visiting a new place, I might fire up the app to check on reviews. And I will continue using it for the Topguest integration. Beyond that, I can’t imagine why I’d be firing it up.

Some reasons to my lack of continued interest in Foursquare:

  • if I wanted to meet you, we’d be meeting. Coming to “catch” me at a place is not useful for me. I fixed this by checking into locations after I’d left.
  • many duplicate venues. Tips spread across all of them. No way to clean it up.
  • tips becoming increasingly less useful. People aren’t using it, ads are coming in, etc. frankly I’d like some way to not just see what my friends recommend, but friends whom have good taste/tastes similar to mine
  • hardly many establishments even care to offer check-in rewards, mayor discounts, etc. in fact the establishments in Malaysia/Singapore are easily countable. This I attribute to the company being disinterested in penetrating the market – I hope google places and Facebook check-ins become more useful as they both have local offices
  • after a while, the gamification, badges, etc just get boring
  • frequent roaming means I don’t frequently have a data connection enabled, which has helped me deplete my usage of Foursquare

In short, I don’t see the value from the application. I know that when I’m in San Francisco I can see value. Budapest surprised me with value again. But generally, it seems like value is tough to come by.

From a merchant standpoint, I’d like more control. If I know people frequent an area, I’d like to tell them about my establishment.

I do find the Explore function quite useful when I’m in a new city or I’m just looking for something to do. Sometimes I use it to gauge the parking situation at certain malls (a 10km radius from where I live covers some rather popular places :P). But it could be more useful again. Let’s say I want to search for the term “pork satay” in a 10km radius. Some people spell things like “sate”. Sometimes there’s no tips. Shops don’t normally label themselves after a food even though that might be their main pull.

Addresses are generally incomplete. Map locations can be wayward. Phone numbers and opening hours are non-existent.

The problem for me is largely dirty data. Foursquare would be a lot more useful if it were edited. And provided to me information, rather than data.

The idea is that dirty data gets fixed via crowd-sourcing. Get your users to do the work for you! Have you seen the lengthy application process to become a Superuser Level 2? Compare that to how easy it is to edit Wikipedia.

There used to be a movement to clean up Foursquare locations in KL. Eventually though, I think the users moved on, found busier jobs, and life took over. Crowd sourcing works; barriers matter.

Facebook and Google are at their primes here. They can win by providing information, rather than data. User generated comments are always useful, but building further filters with a wider network probably helps. Besides, I bet there are more connections on Facebook and more loose connections on twitter and google plus, in comparison to Foursquare for most. Google is already pushing getting merchants online, why not make them also focus on Places?

In the meantime, Foursquare is still on my phone. It’s usage is just severely reduced.


  1. Sabre23t says:

    Duplicates. Now anyone can mark venues as duplicates via flag problem on clients as well as web. I’ve been pproving about 20+ venues per day.

    Recommendations. I find discovering venues I like on other lists, is good way to find new friends with similar interests.

    I find google places, google+, latitude checkins a bit confusing for me … don’t you?

  2. Ron Peled says:

    I never really got into the foursquare craze… it just seems too trivial: I meet people for the sake of meeting people not playing games or adding points somewhere… cool read.