Becoming the Mayor of Someone Else’s Apartment

Close-up of a laptop on the tableAs someone who’s been using Foursquare since it was in its ghetto/doesn’t always function/impossible for you to add a new location phase, I’ve found it very entertaining to watch this platform grow.  As it becomes increasingly accessible, more and more people have started to use it (especially since the Blackberry app came onto the scene!).

For me, the defining moment of when Foursquare had become “acceptable” was when my boyfriend started to use it after months of making fun of me for insisting on telling the world where I was.  I never thought that moment would come!  Besides its growing popularity, I’ve also noticed an increase in discussions surrounding its purpose and the proper way to use it.  In fact, TJ wrote a post about her foray into Foursquare just last week.  This is to be expected for any new medium, just as we saw with Twitter before. 

One of the Foursquare “trends” I’ve been noticing recently is the tendency of certain users to habitually check in at a) their home/apartment or b) a subway station or other transportation hub.  To me, this completely goes against the purpose of Foursquare (or at the very least, the reason why I use the service) and only encourages non-believers to keep saying “So? Why do I care where you are?”

I use Foursquare to see the fun places my friends visit, receive tips about great places to eat or drink, keep up to date with what my friends are doing, and maybe even encourage the opportunity to run into people I know when I’m out.  Honestly, checking in at a place of residence or transportation accomplishes none of those things for me.  I severely doubt I’m going to get a great burger at the NRQW station in Brooklyn and I know there’s no chance of me accidentally running into you at your apartment or stealing its mayorship from you.

I’ll admit I’ve been known to check in at Port Authority on my morning commute; but lately I’ve been questioning why and if there’s really any point. You might notice that I didn’t include places of employment in my previous paragraph.  I’ve noticed a lot of people who have made earning the mayorship of their office a competition among co-workers.  I think this utilizes an aspect of Foursquare which often gets overlooked-the game.  It makes it that much more fun when you know the people you’re stealing the mayorship from.  But I’m not exactly itching to be the mayor of my local subway stop.

As Foursquare continues to ink deals with major media and entertainment brands, and dining establishments and nightlife hotspots figure out how to use this service to their advantage marketing-wise, how will peripheral locations such as these fit in?  Am I discounting the voyeurism factor too much?  I’d really love to hear from people who have added their apartment to Foursquare and regularly check in there.  What am I missing?

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  • missmotorcade

    Jess, it's like you read my mind! Last summer, I added my father-in-law's beach house on the CT shore as a “new venue” (I wouldn't do that today, but back then I was still experimenting with foursquare and figuring out how it worked/what it would do for me). I checked in a few times over the summer (I was the only person to check in there) and I became the mayor. Last week, I got an email telling me I'd be ousted as the mayor of “John's Beach House” by someone I had never met! Unless he was there doing work (or was a really dumb burglar, checking in at the scene…) – there is no possible way he could've been inside John's Beach House. My in-laws haven't been there in months! Talk about creepy – and silly.

    I realize this raises a different issue – what's the point of foursquare (which, by the way, I love and use the same way you do) if people aren't even truthful about where they're checking in? Should we be expecting foursquare spam, where people are checking in and giving tips for places they've never been as part of a venue's marketing plan?

  • Normally I would agree with you on the apartment/house front, but I'm gonna play devil's advocate a bit. I was about to make an argument only against the transportation stops, but then I realized it kinda applies to both!

    I think for me part of the fun of Foursquare is knowing if there are people nearby. If I'm near my friend's apartment and wonder where they are, I could always check Foursquare to see. True, I could just call their cell phone, but maybe I don't have it or maybe it's late at night/early in the morning. But if they've recently checked in on Foursquare, I know it's safe to go visit. Also, if there are roommates, the battle for mayorship could be similar to that of the battle among coworkers. Maybe a bit more silly, but still the same idea.

    As for the transportation stops, I always check in at my CTA stops! I know that there are friends who live on the same lines that I do, and I have had an experience where a friend saw I checked in on the Brown line and asked which direction I was traveling. We ended up meeting up half way to the city. 🙂 I think transportation stops can be the same ol' routine, but it still leaves the possibility that you'll find someone out and about nearby.

  • Glorimar Perez

    I haven't decided yet how I want to use Foursquare and have been experimenting checking in more frequently (including transit stops) for a couple of weeks. Having done it, I have to say that I agree with you in not seeing the point – besides trying to just up the number of mayorships one holds. And while I understand the idea of checking in to see if friends are in the area, the truth is, if I'm checking in at the subway that means I'm likely not going to be there for very long.

    On a related note – it's also got me wondering, is it worth checking in at places like Starbucks when you're only there long enough to grab a cup of coffee and run?

  • I have less of an insight and more of a funny story to share. When I joined Foursquare, obviously I checked to see what check-in points there were near my apartment. Not a ton, as it's pretty residential, but I DID see lots of check-in points that were people's homes. One very close by was given a very, erm, descriptive name, indicating that the ladies that lived there were my sort of people. So while I probably will never check in at their casa, I at least got a sense of who is living in my neighborhood, and who I can give a little high five to at the bus stop!

  • Honestly, I'm not a fan. I completely disagree. Are there rules to Foursquare? No, except that you can't check in every two seconds. I've actually met people by checking into my apartment complex. People were like, “oh i'm three blocks from you!”

    I don't believe that rules should be put on Foursquare, it's just the way you use it. Was there a point to Twitter before it was made and how it is used? As mentioned in one of my posts months ago, some people use twitter to find people to have sex with. I don't, but that's just the way they use it.

    I like knowing when people are home if they are ignoring me. I like being the mayor of their apartment too. Its a fun competition.

  • I don't have an issue with checking in at subway stops. It's almost along the line of checking in at airports, which everyone does. It's more about seeing who's around, racking up points or attempting to become mayor. Plus, you can still get tips about these places (trains that are never on time, etc.).

    I agree with the apartment thing, though. I'm always seeing people checking in to their friends' apartments (or worse, their own) and sending the update to Twitter. WHY would you want every single person on the Internet to know exactly where you or your friend lives?

    From a privacy standpoint, this seems ridiculous. Do you really want some creep who follows you on Twitter to know where you live and when you are or are not there? Sure, many people make this same argument about the use of Foursquare in general, but checking in at public places is completely different.

    If you don't send every single update to Twitter (which I think is pointless anyhow) and don't accept just anyone as your Foursquare friend, this apartment thing isn't as much of an issue. But, like I said, I'm always seeing these apartment updates on Twitter.