Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Foursquare Thursday – Merging and editing venues

jamieandjd This is the second in a series of posts about Foursquare.
One of the things that makes Foursquare great is that any user can add a venue. A startup like Foursquare doesn’t have the resources to add venues itself across the world, and while it has, in the past, imported venue information from other sources, it’s unlikely to cover every possible thing that can be added as a Foursquare venue, especially considering that you can (if you wish) add your own house to it.
But this can also cause problems. While Foursquare does have ‘house rules‘, which touch on which venues are appropriate, some people insist on adding things which aren’t. Other times, users will add venues which already exist, resulting in duplicates.
Duplicates, unfortunately, have been quite a major problem for Foursquare, for several reasons:

  • In the early days, Foursquare imported data to help build out its database, but some of this data was poor quality, with venues in the wrong place; users couldn’t find these venues so added them again.
  • Geolocation on phones sometimes doesn’t work very well, especially indoors when it’s very difficult to get a GPS signal, so people will add venues because their phone’s estimated location is some distance away and they can’t see it on the list.
  • The venue on Foursquare is spelt wrong, or the user is spelling it wrong when trying to look for it, or the venue goes by more than one name (branches of Wetherspoon pubs, for example, which all have their own names).
  • Users deliberately create a duplicate to try to become mayor of a venue that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
  • Users click the ‘Add venue’ multiple times due to network problems.

Foursquare’s mobile apps do have a ‘report duplicate’ button on each venue, but in my experience these reports are not acted upon quickly. Thankfully, if you’re willing to be more pro-active, it’s possible to get duplicates and errors fixed.
To do this, go to Foursquare’s page on GetSatisfaction, and find the relevant thread for the area where the problem venue is located (i.e. USA, UK/Ireland, Europe etc.). You’ll then need to post a link to the venue, plus links to any duplicates and any missing information – venues can’t be merged without a full address. Hopefully, within a few hours, a ‘superuser’ will be able to make the corrections, and/or add any duplicates to a merge queue. Once two or more venues are merged together, their checkins and tips will be combined, so no information is lost.
If you spot an inappropriate venue that someone has created, such as their bed or bathroom, or somewhere that isn’t a venue (like a traffic jam), you can also report it on GetSatisfaction.
You can go further, if you wish. Tidysquare is a site that is designed to find venues with missing information, such as an incomplete address or missing category. Point it at your home town and it’ll provide a list of venues which need work – you can then copy and paste this into the relevant thread on GetSatisfaction and fill in the missing or incorrect details. Through this, I’ve been able to suggest edits for a number of venues in Bradford.
Do this often enough, and you may be promoted to Superuser status yourself, allowing you to edit or merge any venue on Foursquare.
If more people help out with tidying up Foursquare, as well as adding venues if they’re missing, then the service will become more useful and more fun.

One Comment

  1. As a level-3 Superuser, I find myself spending ridiculous amounts of time cleaning up after idiots. Even major venues get duplicates, probably because people want the extra five points for creating a new venue. (At least I assume they realize someone else has already created the local concert hall, etc. by now.)