Monday, 25 October 2010

Why I Hate Foursquare

I suppose the title of this post is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t really hate Foursquare itself; in fact, I’ve never actually used it. And it’s not just Foursquare, but it’s the biggest example of a growing irritation – no-content posts cluttering up my Twitter feed.

To explain, when one ‘checks in’ to a location on Foursquare, one has the option to post this to Twitter (at least, this is my understanding; please correct me if I’m wrong). Some users clearly take advantage of this feature more than others. And while I’m sure it can be a valuable addition, and a shortcut to posting the same thing again, it risks creating the very thing that Twitter-critics bring up time and again – that Twitter is boring because it is full of boring people shouting out boring minutae of their everyday life.

New users of Twitter (and Facebook to an extent) often make the mistake of posting everything they do. Mostly, they learn quite quickly that nobody cares that they’re going to Sainsbury’s or to bed or having a cake and stop posting about it. These things aren’t interesting in themselves - they’re only relevant when some context or comment is added. So give me something else in addition to this bland statement; make your post unique and interesting to read. Twitter is often cited as ‘micro-blogging’, and this is how I choose to use it, both as a follower and poster. I wouldn’t want to read blogs devoid of any actual content, so I don’t post them either. And sites like Foursquare are driving us back to this trend.

It’s not just Foursquare either. GetGlue is another example - ‘I am watching X-Factor’. Whoop. So are millions of other people. Say something interesting about it! I have to reassert that I’m not against either of these sites as a concept – I think they’re both useful when used properly. And sometimes, and in moderation, simply driving a check-in from one of these applications can be beneficial, particularly when it’s something a user would have tweeted anyway, and is something interesting in itself. But using them as a substitute for writing actual Twitter content is neither useful nor interesting.

Overall, I think the main crime of using applications like this is that there is no personalisation to a tweet, and no thought has gone into it. The best use of Twitter, and other social networking sites, is when a post has been carefully written and considered, with a target audience and purpose in mind. When used as a means of spitting out automated posts, it’s of little benefit to anyone.

And this is before I even get started on my biggest pet-hate – the automatic cross-posting of Facebook posts!

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