Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Foursquare Thursday – Points

Sofa Disposal
This is the sixth post in a series about Foursquare – read part one, part two, part three, part four and part five.
Last week I promised a post about Partner Badges on Foursquare. That will have to wait until next week, mainly because I normally write entries ahead of time and haven’t had time to do one so far this week. This entry will be shorter than usual, as I’m writing it late at night whilst hoping that CHKDSK can sort out Christine’s laptop and get it booting up again. To give you some idea, it’s still on 1% after 20 minutes.
Anyhow, Foursquare Points. When you check-in, you’re likely to earn one or more points for the checkin. Last week saw the release of Foursquare version 3.0 for iPhone and Android – if you haven’t already, give it a try as it adds a whole new ‘Explore’ tab to help you find interesting venues nearby – but it also re-invigorated the points system.
Before Foursquare 3.0, points were becoming increasingly sidelined. Your first check-in of the day gained 1 point, second 2 points, third 3 points and so on. You also got 5 bonus points if you had never checked in at a particular venue before, and 5 if you created a new venue. The exception to this was that no points were awarded for your third check-in to the same venue that day.
It was quite basic, and although there was a leaderboard for each local area, over time the leaderboard became more and more hidden in the Foursquare app.
With Foursquare 3.0, the points system was overhauled. Most check-ins still award one point, but there are new bonuses, for example an extra 2 points if it’s your third time at that venue in a week, 3 points if you’re the mayor, and extra points for checking in with friends. Foursquare hasn’t released a definitive list of bonuses – like with badges, they’re quite coy about how points are obtained – but there’s a good list at About Foursquare. Some check-ins will still earn 0 points but I’ve had occasions where even the third check-in at the same venue on one day has still earned a point.
The leaderboard has also been brought back in to play; it’s now shown on your ‘Me’ screen in the app as well as after each check-in, and compares you to your friends.
I think the new points system is good, and the overhaul of the leaderboard is welcome. In particular, it re-emphasises the ‘game’ element of Foursquare by encouraging users to gain more points than their friends. It’s great for users like me, who have got most of the ‘easy’ badges and a nice number of mayorships (22 now!), and may otherwise lose interest. The ‘game’ aspect of Foursquare is what sets it apart from its competitors, like Facebook Places and Gowalla.

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