Oneupweb Reviews: Foursquare’s Cheater Code

If Your Check-Ins Are Fake, Foursquare’s Gonna Catch You!

Foursquare has had a problem for a while. Although it’s a location based service, users have been able to check-in when they aren’t actually… on location.

foursquare logo

Foursquare has tried to downplay the problem, as I mentioned in Oneupweb Reviews: Gowalla. Foursquare’s founder Dennis Crowley defended the user-driven check-ins:

“what spamming problem? there’s a few fake checkins here and there but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s constantly 5-6 venues with 100+ checkins. people down here [SXSW] chosing where to go not based on party schedule but venues are trending on 4sq….we ll always let people checkin wherever they want… people are often more accurate than gps”

According to Gowalla investor Chris Sacca:

“Foursquare has a spam problem. Which leads people to believe that Foursquare is more popular than Gowalla. He argues that it’s not that more people are using Foursquare, but that people are able to take advantage of the loophole.”

The Solution:

To fix this problem, Foursquare has announced its “cheater code” – which is basically an attempt to catch some of the folks that are checking-in from their couches to steal mayorships. Users can no longer check-in to a location, and earn points or badges, without actually being there.

Foursquare has stayed true to its promise that users will always be able to check in, and tell their friends where they are, even without GPS enabled. But now, unless the GPS feature is enabled, users will no longer be able to earn points or badges.

What are my thoughts?:

It’s about time. I couldn’t believe that Dennis Crowley had such an indifferent view on this problem. For me as a user it took the wind out of Foursquare’s sails. But I can only imagine the problems this caused businesses. If a business is offering people rewards for visiting their location, those people better actually be there.

The negative side to the “Cheater Code” is GPS isn’t always reliable. For example, if you are in a building sometimes GPS doesn’t work (not to mention GPS isn’t always accurate). Obviously this could be frustrating for the more honest foursquare users out there, who are on location, but receive no credit for it.

In the long run this is a healthy compromise for Foursquare, and it will help businesses adopt the service and offer rewards for users. And in turn more and more users will adopt the service because of the rewards. For cracking down on Foursquare abusers, we give Foursquare an…

Official Oneupweb Review: Thumbs Up

If you experience GPS problems, Foursquare has created a place for you to report any issues: http://4sq.com/4sqGeoWoes

Below I’ve added a link to Foursquare’s response to user concerns about the cheaters code:
The follow-up to our “mayorships from your couch” post