FourSquare Cheater Rant

One of my favorite iPhone apps is FourSquare, aka #Foursquare and #4sq on Twitter. FourSquare is a location-based social networking website, software for mobile devices, and a game. Registered users can update their location and connect with friends via mobile application (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android, Palm, etc). FourSquare gives you the option to connect to  Facebook and Twitter to share your checkins as you choose to. It’s a great way to see where your friends are, get ideas on places to eat, and highlight local businesses.

Points and incentive badges are awarded for adding new venues, checking in with a certain frequency, or for visiting a specific venue a designated amount of times. When a user has checked in more times at a specific venue than any other user, they will be crowned “mayor.”

When you have a suggestion that other visitors might enjoy at the venue, pay it forward and post a tip. You may save someone a really awful meal/experience by giving them the heads-up.

I have to admit that FourSquare can get very addicting. I started “playing” at the end of January, and I was one of only two “players” in Spanish Fork. The southern Utah County area was barely touched with places to check in, and I racked up points like crazy going to all the places I frequent. One problem is that there are no firm/established guidelines or rules for Foursquare use, and it would be helpful if new users were given some type of etiquette tutorial. The etiquette for FourSquare use seems to be constantly evolving. Unfortunately, as anything gains momentum and becomes popular, people are going to start cheating.  Within the past 5 days, I’ve gone from 31 mayorships to 14, due to two particular local newbie cheaters. Can you guess who?

Is it really worth your integrity to cheat on a social networking game? Why knock off the rightful mayors, who actually support local businesses, with driveby checkins at places you don’t even frequent? The two particular cheaters have already put in 50+ checkins in 4 days, and are threatening to oust me from the rest of my local spots. Why would someone want to be the mayor of a physical therapy office, if they’ve never had an injury? What’s the street cred (other than drug seeker) in having twice-daily stops at a pharmacy? What’s the worth in checking in at a library when they aren’t even open on Sundays? Most of my frequent stops in town know me by name, appreciate my business, read the reviews I’ve written on my blog, and smile when I walk in their store. I’m a competitive person, and this game is right up my alley, but I’m not willing to cheat to stay on top.

A personal word to cheaters: If you REALLY want to rack up mayorships and points, add your own venues. Don’t steal the mayorships that are valid and earned honestly? You get +5 points for every place you add. Sure, it’s easy to open the app, punch in rapid-fire driveby checkins, and hurt feelings. But also…once you’ve ousted me, I’ve got your info. I have a personal contact at FourSquare that has asked me to tattle on the local newbie cheaters. Once you show a series of invalid checkins, you WILL be banned. And what fun is that?

To all the FourSquare Cheaters out there…this badge is for you:

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