Valid Foursquare Venues

Foursquare logoI’m a huge fan of Foursquare. I use it everyday. For a while now, I’ve also been a “super user,” meaning I can make edits and suggestions to the Foursquare database. With the help of 4sweep, I’ve been busy tracking down invalid and/or inappropriate venues. There are so many “bad” venues out there, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what makes a valid Foursquare venue.

Foursquare defines a “good” venue as, “Real places. Places people can meet up. Places that already have a Foursquare category. Places where people like to check in.” That’s a pretty good description, and if people lived by those rules, we’d be fine. The problem is new venues are popping up every day that don’t fit that mold.

The biggest offender I see is venues that are actually actions. “Watching The Big Bang Theory” or “Running a mile” are not valid venues. You can’t meet up at “running a mile.” Those are shouts and you can add them as you check-in to a valid venue. For example, check-in to a park and shout “out for a mile run” or check into your buddy’s house and shout “watching Big Bang Theory with Todd.”

The next one is mis-categorized homes. I know you like to think “Sally’s Pink Palace” is a castle, but we all know it’s just your apartment. The same goes for your home brewery operation. If it’s your home, just make it a home. It’s more beneficial to you too, because it will be more private and you won’t end up with a random person showing up at your door, demanding a can of PBR from your dive bar.

I can’t tell you how many car venues I’ve cleaned up. Cars are not venues. They just aren’t, so please stop creating them.

Getting too specific is also a large problem. You can check into “Dunkin’ Donuts,” but you shouldn’t be checking into “booth #4” or any bathroom, anywhere, ever. Let’s keep it simple and uncluttered. Your Xbox is not an arcade. Your big screen TV is not a theatre. No seats, no toilets and no desks. Please and thank you.

Vague check-ins like “Work,” “Planet Earth” or “The Store” don’t work either. Foursquare venues are there for more than just your personal fun. Foursquare has created a huge database that can actually help people explore their surroundings. It becomes less helpful when you create a burger joint called “Work all day long.” These are the kinds of things you can shout in your check-in to a real venue like “McDonalds” or “BigCorp Headquarters.”

Those are just a small sampling of some of the bad venues I’ve been coming across. I hope it was helpful to learn a few dos and don’ts for Foursquare venue creation. What’s the craziest venue you’ve come across in Foursquare?

Happy Foursquare Day!

Foursquare Day Badge 2013

If you haven’t already checked-in today, what are you waiting for? It’s Foursquare Day and time to unlock a badge. Foursquare Day is a great time to spread the love by adding a few quality tips, creating a list or even getting a friend to try it out. A while back I wrote a getting started guide to Foursquare, that for the most part should still be relevant to newbies.

There are Foursquare events and meetups all over the world today. If you can, try to check one out. I’ll be swinging by for a Bell’s Brewery tour later tonight if you’re in the Kalamazoo area. Be sure to check out all the other great Social Media Week events happening around town too.

Kalamazoo Social Media Week

Next week will be the annual Kalamazoo Social Media Week with a variety of events designed to promote social media and local businesses. It also happens to be Foursquare Day (4/16) on Tuesday. Be sure to check out the all of the events and details at, and stop on by if you can. I hope to see you there!

Foursquare Tips: Lists

When foursquare announced lists a while back I got really excited. It seemed like such a cool way to build up a collection of hot spots. A few days later I all but forgot you could make them. The problem was, I just didn’t have a need. Around my town there’s about a dozen lists for “Best Mexican Restaurants” that all have the same 5 or so places. Why do I need to make yet another list of the same old spots.

Then foursquare launched the #VisitUS challenge. It was a really cool contest that would award a few cities badges based on user-sourced “best of” lists. About Foursquare has a good write-up on it. That’s when I created my first useful list. I collaborated with a friend and we gave Kalamazoo a city guide, foursquare style. Kalamazoo didn’t end up winning a badge but it was a great exercise in creating lists.

Fast forward a few months and I actually pulled up that list again and shared with a couple of friends who were in town for my wedding. They had never been to the area and wanted to know where to go for food and fun. The list was perfect, it was already created, offered and easy way to share the info and gave them directions to and info about each place on it.

This re-ignited my passion for foursquare lists and I set out to make another. This time I planned to make a list of disc golf courses in Michigan (yes, disc golf is an obsession). It was mainly for my benefit. I liked the idea of exploring the state and playing disc golf along the way. I used review websites to compile nearby courses I was interested in playing and then found them on foursquare so I could add them to my list. It’s quickly grown from a small list of nearby courses to a giant list of courses all over Michigan.

the "save" button menu on

Making lists are easy. Adding new places to your list are even easier. Here’s a quick how-to so you can start creating your own lists. When you come across a venue you’d like to add to your list, just click the “Save” button. A menu will pop up listing your current lists (and a “Create a new list…” option if you don’t have any). Just select the list you want it saved to and you’re all set. You can do this on the website (see screenshot) or in the mobile app. It’s the same basic procedure either way.

If you’re creating a brand new list, a dialog pops up for you to add a name to your list. Don’t worry, you can always change it later.dialog for creating a new list on

Editing your lists is easy too. Just navigate to your list on the website (pull down menu under your name > lists) and then hit the big orange “Edit” button. You can then put the venues in a certain order, add tips or photos and remove venues. Near the top of the list you can edit the name and description of your list and use the search box to add more venues. When you’re all set just click “Finished Editing.” Be sure to share your list when you are done.

a list in edit mode on

Do you make a lot of foursquare lists? Maybe you just like to follow them. What lists are your favorite?


Happy foursquare day!

4sq Day 2012 logo

Today (4/16) is foursquare day. Get it? What started as a clever play on numbers by a blogger in Tampa has turned into an international celebration. Foursquare has even jumped on board and offers a special 4sq day logo, badge and t-shirt. There are meetups and events all over the world today that will bring people together. Other platforms that use the foursquare venue database like Untappd are getting in on the fun. All of this over a little app that people use to check-in and explore the world around them. It’s really pretty amazing if you think about it.

Here in Kalamazoo the fine folks behind Foursquare Kalamazoo have organized an entire week of social media events. There’s some really cool events happening and I’m going to try to attend as many as I can. I will definitely check out tonight’s 4s Day event at Celebration! Cinema. It sounds great. If you’re in the area, you should definitely check it out too. Aren’t on foursquare yet? Here’s a post to get you started.

CityMaps Shows You What’s Nearby with Logos

A while ago About Foursquare reported on a really cool new map service called CityMaps. They’re billing it as “the social map” because it’s connected to a number of social media services like Twitter and foursquare. What I find most interesting was the inclusion of logos on the maps instead of just names. As a designer I’ve got a soft spot for logos so an entire map full of them makes me smile. I think it’s a really unique way to convey the information. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot more useful too. If I’m looking for the nearest Starbucks or McDonald’s, their logos are going to pop out at me much quicker than just their names. In this day and age logos are so recognizable that this approach seems to make perfect sense. I’m actually a little surprised this hasn’t happened sooner.

an example CityMap of San Francisco

Beyond just the unique logo integration, they pull in foursquare tips and recent tweets. It’s a really great mashup of social information on top of a nice looking map. Right now they just have maps for New York, San Francisco and Austin but there are more on the way. There is even an iPhone app so you can enjoy CityMaps on the go. With all of that info combined together it really shows just how powerful APIs can be. I think they’re trying to make it a useful “explore your city” services but so far I don’t think it has much on foursquare. I’ll be keeping an eye on CityMaps because it’s already cool and has so much potential to become even better.

Starter kit: foursquare

I’ve always been the guy people turn to with technology questions. I read a lot of blogs and news sources and love to share that knowledge whenever possible. My good friend Rachel once told me I was a maven of technology. So keeping all that in mind I started making “starter kits” for people when they’d get a new phone or joined a service I was also on. The first one is foursquare. I thought I’d post it here as it could be helpful to anyone just joining or thinking of joining foursquare.

I love foursquare. I think it’s fun. Earning badges is a blast and it has really gotten me to explore my surroundings. I check it for recommendations all the time. Through my badge pursuits I’ve discovered some really tasty joints around town. I know a lot of people are afraid of privacy issues with location-based services but foursquare has done a really great job of safeguarding you and allowing you to control who’s seeing what. Anyway, here’s what I’ve been sending people after they join:

First, you can optionally share your check-ins and badges from foursquare to Facebook and Twitter. If you log into the foursquare website you can set up these options pretty easily. I usually share my mayorships and badges automatically and then pick and choose which check-ins I want shared from the app.

Next, is a great blog that covers all the latest and greatest foursquare news. They’ve also got some good guides for getting started and common questions.

If you’re curious about the badges you can earn and how to earn them check out Matter of Grey’s Badge List. Some badges require you to “follow” certain brand pages. Most of the instructions on that site spell it all out pretty well though.

In your badge pursuits these next few website might be helpful: — Shows all your check-ins, broken down by category and even on a map — Shows you what badges you could earn nearby and with how many more check-ins

Feel free to direct your questions to me and I’ll do my best to answer them. I’m also a super user so if you come across venues that are incorrect, let me know and I’ll clean them up (yup, I’m that big of a nerd). An extra pro tip for you: you can only earn mayorships with a profile picture. Enjoy!

There you have it. A guide to getting started on foursquare. I’ll post some more of these guides later. I’ve got a pretty handy iPhone starter kit too.