Why I’m leaving Foursquare

This content is 12 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

For the last year or so, I’ve been religiously “checking in” to all venues on my business travels (not personal ones though) to try and get a handle on Foursquare. This and Farmville (long since forgotten) were part of a quest to understand two of the examples of gamification that were often quoted (back when gamification was the current buzzword).

Well, I have to admit, I don’t really see the advantage. Not to me at least.

  • I’ve been the mayor of a few places (I was even the mayor of Fujitsu’s UK HQ for a while, although I suspect the CEO may have a different view) but no-one has ever offered me a discount.
  • Not once have I been alerted to the fact that one of my friends was also at the same venue as me.
  • I frequently forget to check in at the station on the way home – Foursquare doesn’t let you edit your timeline.
  • Even as the mayor of a location I was unable to do anything about the “tip spam” – and Foursquare didn’t respond to my requests to remove the offending items either.

Meanwhile I have given Foursquare plenty of information about my travel patterns and the offices I visit. That information might be useful in a broader context but, as with every other “free” social platform, I am the product – not the customer – and I’m simply providing data for potential analysis and even sale. Foursquare, along with Google Latitude and Facebook Places, holds no interest for me any more (especially since Foursquare awarded me the “trainspotter” badge!)

So, in the words of the famous BBC “dragons”, I’m sorry, but “I’m out“.

[Updated 21:42 – added point about “tip spam”]

13 thoughts on “Why I’m leaving Foursquare

  1. Mark – I use FourSquare and enjoy seeing where my friends have checked in as well as reading tips from other people. I also like the idea of leaving tips at locations for other visitors to benefit from. I share your frustration at not being able to retro actively check in somewhere though, and it does feel as though FourSquare could do so much more as an app than it currently does. For me, it’s a distraction and a bit of fun – but there’s little or no benefits in using it.

  2. The only place I’ve ever seen FourSquare mentioned is at the cinema we went to to watch The Princess Bride. If you checked in there, you got a discount on food in the cafe…

  3. Mark / Richard

    I agree. I too used to ‘play the check in game’ and see who I could beat in terms of check in points per day. A trip from my home to the office by train could net at least 6 station locations as a minimum but then it dawned on me…………………… what is the value ?

    I could see a benefit as per Richards comments regarding tips etc but the reality is that it’s not of value for me and over time I have checked in less and less.

    I know I am sounding like an old man [40, it’s the new 25!!] but I could see a benefit for 14-18yr old on wanting to see where friends are and keep tabs on ‘the crowd’ as they meet and exchange ideas, but for me…………….. it’s been fun, but time to put my efforts into Blogs writing and Twitter me thinks ;-)


  4. I’m not ashamed to admit it… if you didn’t want to, you shouldn’t have approved my unedited comment!! :)

  5. Agreed with Mark. To ease the pain, try Placeme (www.placemeapp.com) on iPhone & Android. You never need to manually check-in again. The app just remembers all the places you visited automatically for you.
    It’s a personal private journal, not automatically shared with other people. You can select some places to share with other people later.

  6. Hi Sam – good to see you dropping by my little blog and I’m sure your PlaceMe app is wonderful. Unfortunately it doesn’t address my core issue which is “Why bother?”.

    I’ve seen the coverage that talks about automatically alerting emergency services if I have an accident, etc. but really, I am the product not the user – PlaceMe is creating a huge database of my activities – ripe for mining by Alohar or others if Alohar chooses to allow that access. To be honest, I might as well use Facebook or Google as at least we know they are advertisers first and IT companies second ;-)

    I wish you well with PlaceMe and I’m sure it will be a success – particularly in the US where you guys are less hung up about privacy than us Brits!

    All the best, Mark

  7. You are doing the right think. I also stopped using Foursquare about one month ago. And i have to agree with Sam, placeme app is great :)

  8. I use foursquare for a few reasons

    #1 As a game.
    Games don’t have to have value, does Angry Birds have value? No, I don’t think so. It helps that I have quite a few keen Foursquare users as real friends so we can compete against the leaderboard as well as Mayorships

    #2 To explore.
    Finding new places to go using the “explore” feature or other people’s lists of places can often help you find somewhere new to go even in your own home town. I find Foursquare to be much more widely used than other services that promote a similar feature (Bing Local Scout I’m looking at you)

    #3 Sharing.
    If I wan’t to share my location with a photo to Facebook or twitter, then I’ll use Foursquare so people get a richer update. I may also use Instagram but that links to Foursquare

    #4 Rewards.
    OK, so the rewards aren’t that great but a free coffee with your breakfast or 10% off your first purchase is better than a slap in the face. My colleague at work got a visit from Stella Artois who dropped off 6 bottles of their Cidre to him because he was mayor of our London office but I think that was a rare exception! I just wish more companies would take advantage of all this rich data people are literally giving to them for nothing and reward them suitably.

    From reading the other comments it seems a few people aren’t using it properly, i.e. checking in at every train station they pass. This is “cheating” and cheats never beat! If you aren’t actually visiting the place then you shouldn’t check-in. This is also the reason Foursquare should NOT allow you to check in retrospectively. Also,the whole “tip” thing is crowd-sourced so don’t forget to add your own tips & facts that will actually be useful to others. If it is popular then it should rise above any spam.

    Overall, I would agree that they could definitely make improvements to the service (like many other web start-ups e.g. twitter) but on a personal level it is fun for me to do so I’ll keep doing it.

  9. Sure Thom, there are many other uses for Foursquare that maybe I’m not exploiting. I guess the fact that I only ever used it in my business activities (I’m not advertising that I’m out for dinner with my wife, or that I’m on holiday and my house is unoccupied, for example) limits the usefulness somewhat.

    Can’t imagine who you mean who checks (checked) in at railway stations ;-)

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