Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Does Foursquare’s Mayor System Promote Monotony

Let me preface this by saying I like Foursquare and am more or less addicted. However I was having lunch the other day at my one of my normal spots in San Francisco’s financial district when it struck me that Foursquare’s mayor system is flawed. The system itself works but to strive to be the mayor feels flawed.

I had just checked into Pasta Paradiso in the One Market building and the Foursquare app said something to the effect of “Congratulations you are still the mayor of Pasta Paradiso”.

And I thought – is that a good thing. Of all the places to eat in the city why am I the mayor of this one. Does that even matter?  Why have I checked in here six times in the last month or so.  I know exactly why. I usually eat there when I need a quick lunch and am stressed about work or just have a lot of work.  In that respect Foursquare is a good way for me to analyze my work/life balance.

I have another mayorship in the same plaza and another around the corner. Of my 5 mayor-ships all are lunch spots. I recently lost two mayorships: One Market Bar and Bullit Bar – and I am glad I lost these.  I still love the venues, but am glad I don’t have the mayor title. It means I have been going to other areas for my happy hour and weekend outings.

Until Foursquare becomes much more mainstream the mayor system is flawed because you are the mayor among people in the Foursquare ecosystem. Barely any of my friends use Foursquare, else they would likely be the mayor instead for many places. So basically you are winning mayorships over people you don’t know.

Overall I think Foursquare is hot, but the point/mayor/ranking system needs an overhaul. Maybe something more game like similar to MyTown. I am not going to comment on Gowalla because I haven’t used it enough.

Rather than put a focus on becoming the mayor of a place more focus (and perhaps a point system of sorts) should be put on being at places with your Foursquare friends (who are hopefully your real friends where as in with Twitter they might be random people). Maybe group mayorships, bar crawls (I know the swarm badge is kind of like this), group badges (that would be fun), etc.

Now, time to go check-in somewhere…new.


johann said...

i don't think the problem is with mayorship specifically, but it's that mayorship is all there is. other than certain hard-to-get badges, there's nothing else really worth striving for with 4sq, and even then, mayorship is the only thing that's tied to a public entity (the location) and not to the specific user. i think it'd be better if they added more public recognition things (who is the mayor of the 1 market food court, who bar hops the most in russian hill, who is the king of japanese food in SF, etc.) and added some badges / titles that are tied to your 4sq friends (who is your wingman, movie buddy, etc.). no idea if any of that stuff is implemented with gowala, but if it is, i could be enticed into switching.

ecpersson said...

I think you're on to something. To build off of your comment, "It means I have been going to other areas for my happy hour and weekend outings."
. . . it seems like there should be an Explorer Badge -- for those people who try new places.
And then, if venues (like restaurants) entice an Explorer back, the restaurant gets recognition for that -- it could inherently mean that venue is doing something well.


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