Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Foursquare Thursday: Ways to make Foursquare better

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This is the sixteenth post in a series about Foursquare – read part one, part two, part three, part four, part five. part six, part seven, part eight, part nine, part ten, part eleven, part twelve, part thirteen, part fourteen and part fifteen.

It’s clear from my regular posts on here that I like Foursquare – it’s fun to play, useful for seeing where your friends are and is evolving rapidly, with continual improvements and new features. But there’s still room for improvement, and so here are my suggestions. Most of these come from my point of view as a superuser, but should benefit everyone.

More tools for Superusers

Superusers get a rather basic set of tools on the Foursquare web site. Extensions exist for Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari to enhance these though, and they work quite well when you’re on a desktop computer. What would be nice are some tools on either the mobile version of the Foursquare web site, or the mobile apps themselves, allowing superusers to make changes whilst they’re out and about. For example, I’ve wanted to check in somewhere, only to find it spelt wrong, or there to be duplicates – right now, it’s difficult to make quick edits and usually has to wait for me to get home later on to fix. Whilst we have various tools from both Foursquare and third parties to help clear places up, sometimes you can only spot errors when you see them for yourself.

Another suggestion which would help superusers ensure that as many venues as possible have categories and addresses, is a tool which shows venues with more than, say, 100 checkins which lack either a category or an address. This means that we can focus on those venues which really need to be tidied up first.

More categories

All venues should have a category, but sometimes there just isn’t an accurate category for some venues. New categories do get added from time to time – the latest being ‘Portuguese Restaurant’ (great for Nando’s) and ‘Historical Site’ – but there are many others simply classified as things like ‘Miscellaneous Shop’ or ‘Other Great Outdoors’ – the latter in particular not really meaning anything. I’m not asking for loads more, as there already are many, many categories to choose from, but here are my suggestions:

  • Railway station platform – though it’s a contentious issue, individual platforms at railway stations can be individual venues but are categorised as ‘Train station’, which by default gives it a very large check-in radius. Something more specific would be nice. Airport gates already have their own category.
  • Nursery school – we have ‘School’ and ‘High School’, but nothing for the under-4s.
  • Mobile Phone Shop – currently classified as ‘Electronics Store’ which is a little general. This is for shops like Carphone Warehouse, Phones4U or shops from the networks like Vodafone, Orange, O2 etc. There’s usually at least one from each network in each town centre.
  • Garden Centre – somewhere that sells plants and garden furniture. Currently limited to ‘Hardware Store’ (more for DIY) and ‘Flower Shop’ (more for florists).
  • Forest – we don’t have anything for woods or forests that are open to the public, like Sherwood Forest.

These are 5 examples, although I could come up with more. I’ve suggested these to Foursquare in the hope that they’ll be accepted in future.

New general badges

Foursquare usually add at least one new badge every couple of weeks – the most recent being ‘It’s a boy!’/’It’s a girl!’ for including those phrases in a checkin at a hospital, a South Park badged linked to this year’s Comic Con, and a special one for checkins to a cinema mentioning ‘Harry Potter’ over the weekend. But here are my ideas for some other badges which need not necessarily be tied to brands:

  • Crossdresser – 10 checkins at clothing stores for the opposite gender (i.e. you’re male and check into 10 womens’ clothing stores). Also unlockable by partners who get dragged shopping with their significant others.
  • 10 feet long – 20 checkins at a Subway or Quiznos (because you could have bought 10 feet worth of 6 inch subs).
  • Planes, Trains and Automobiles – check into a train station, airport and either a gas station or parking garage all within a 24 hour period.

That’s about all I can come up with for now. I actually had some more suggestions, such as streamlining the checkin page, but recent updates to the Foursquare mobile apps have implemented this.

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