tips@lastplaceonthe.net

Checking out from Foursquare & Gowalla

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Photo credit: The Shane H (Flickr)

Any Twitter user with more than a handful of followers will, no doubt, be familiar with some of the automated messages that we see in our timelines.  These come from various sources but one of the more common appearances we see are Foursquare status updates.  These are where those we follow announce where they are and on some occasions what they are doing wherever there is.  Besides these updates there are various “achievements” and mayorships published too.  Historically I’ve been a user of two location based check in services however I’ve decided I’m calling it time on them and checking out.

You might wonder why, after a year or so of making use of these services (predominantly of Foursquare) why I’ve had this change of heart and am ditching them.  There are numerous reasons and many thought processes I’ve gone through over the last couple of weeks before I’ve reached my conclusion.  It’s been one of those situations where I decided to weigh up the pros with the cons in order to make a decision.

Pros

  • Some venues offer deals to whomever holds the mayorship to their premises.  This can range from discounts to free offerings.
  • If enough of my friends and family use the service then I can see if other people are near me at a given time and might want to meet up for an impromptu meal or drink (e.g shopping centres).
  • I can see new venues close to me that I might not otherwise have been aware of.
  • Friendly competition with others in my home area to see whom can maintain the most local mayorships.

Cons

  • I am aware of several people who intentionally block this kind of content from their Twitter timeline.  I don’t mean users whom tweet the content, but the status updates themselves.  They do this because the automatic updates of achievements being unlocked or mayorships gained can’t be prevented from being published.  I find these kind of tweets hugely frustrating and don’t feel it’s fair to impose it upon others.
  • I’ve found myself compulsively checking into venues I’m visiting, but can’t think of any real reason for doing so.
  • Personal security compromises.  The information you publish is kind of secure in the sense of you can regulate a portion of who can see what you’re recording however it’s not 100% and lets be honest, there are plenty of undesirable people out there who would gladly rob another person’s home if they knew they were away for an extended period of time.

FaceBook recently released their own location based service, Places. This is typical of their business model when adding new features.  They copy others success and roll it out to their own much larger platform.  I’ve checked into just one place using FaceBook and that was to see how it compared to Foursquare and Gowalla.  I can see the sense in how FaceBook have implemented their version i.e. associate the status updates people already make with a place so that people get a “bigger picture” feeling of the updates posted.

In all honesty I’ve been gradually reducing my usage of the services to the point of just not doing it anymore.  Right after I finish writing this post I’m going to suspend both my Gowalla and Foursquare accounts.  I can’t see me using FaceBook Places anytime soon either.  I’m not saying I won’t ever use any of the services again, but right now I’m struggling to see any point or benefit in my doing so.

I’d be interested to hear from others to see how they feel about the services, be it as a user or as someone who has experienced the other side of things by seeing others updates.  Were you a past user and have now moved on from the services, are you looking to start using them, or are you a current user and have a very different story to mine that you can share to provide readers with an alternative, and therefore, balanced view?

  • I did exactly the same a month or two ago, though a big part of that was the app being unstable as well.

    I did come back but only really for finding tips and the odd checkin, I think of more businesses in this country did specials and not just mayor specials, maybe something like if you check into mcdonalds 4 times in a month you get a free mcflurry and the app gives you a coupon code or texts it to you.

    I can see this probably being a bit more fun in the likes of san Francisco but not so much here

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