Six Ways to Use FourSquare Without Annoying People

In Tech and Internet by Daniel M. Clark12 Comments

It's been said that 2010 will be the Year of FourSquare (via Peter Shankman) but it's also been called annoying and worthless by folks who'd rather not see FourSquare updates on Twitter and Facebook. Like any technology or social application, there are ways to use FourSquare without annoying anyone – or, with minimal annoyance at least.


  1. Turn off notifications to Twitter and Facebook
    This seems counter-productive, but users that login and search nearby areas will see you. FourSquare doesn't break when you don't send updates to Facebook or Twitter. If you don't want to go all the way, at least turn off the notifications of unlocked badges and achievements.
  2. Think about where you're checking in
    There is no reason why you should check in at your house. Remember, locations you create, like your home, are publicly searchable. While paranoia shouldn't be the rule of the day, there are few compelling reasons to put the location of your home out there for all to so easily find. Checking in at  church, at a bar, at a movie theater? That's one thing. Checking in at your doctor's office, your (for the ladies) gynecologist, or your kid's preschool? That's altogether different.
  3. Updating every 20 minutes isn't necessary
    There's no need to check-in at every store you visit while you're out running errands. “At Walmart” followed by “At Ace Hardware” 15 minutes later followed by “At Staples” 20 minutes after that gets old pretty quick. If you wouldn't take the time to type “I'm at Walmart” in your Twitter client, don't bother checking in with FourSquare. Like anything else that goes out to the social web, ask yourself if it's worth putting out there.
  4. Participate with people that want to participate
    Seek out businesses that want to use FourSquare as part of a marketing strategy. They will often offer discounts to customers that check-in at their location. Bars have been quick to jump on this. Don't go overboard! The previous three suggestions still apply.
  5. Don't be rude in real life, either
    Whatever you do, don't hold up the line at the grocery store trying to check-in while you're standing at the cashier. Don't belly up to the bar, get the bartender's attention, then make him wait as you check-in. True, there are people online who are annoyed by FourSquare updates; there's no reason to annoy people in real life, too.
  6. Show you can have fun with it without taking it too seriously
    Check in from someplace like Missy Ward's Ample Cleavage (wish I'd known about that little bit of comedy while we were all in Vegas). If you're making people laugh, you're probably not annoying them.

Like anything (especially abusing services like twitterfeed), FourSquare can be used in ways that others don't like. While I do believe that there aren't any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to social applications, I do believe in strong guidelines. Are you on FourSquare? How do you use it?


  1. I was literally just accepting FourSquare friend requests and wondering if it had to Tweet my check-ins. I've never used my account because I didn't want to annoy everyone with my Tweets. I just went in and made sure that my alerts were not enabled. Very timely and helpful post!!

  2. Yeah, FourSquare can be VERY annoying if somebody is going to checkin everywhere they go and broadcast it.

    And the privacy thing is really important – people are crazy to have kid's schools, daycare, their own homes, etc.

    I think I'll stick to checking in once in a while, and maybe increased frequency at conferences.

  3. Excellent post! I've been getting tons of grief from my FB friends regarding the annoyance of my FourSquaring (did I just invent a term?) and I'm definitely going to take some of your advice to heart!

  4. My first impression of FourSquare was just what a lot of people have been tweeting about – it's overkill, it's spammy, it's annoying – but like you, I made sure alerts weren't enabled, and I feel a lot more comfortable with it. Thanks for commenting, Tricia 🙂

  5. I can't imagine setting up a system in which I tell the world where my children are on a regular basis – not like this, anyway. It's one thing to say that your kids are in school 3 or 5 days a week or whatever, it's another thing to tweet their geographic location at the moment they're there. I agree, Shawn, I like the idea of checking in once in a while, and it can definitely be very helpful at conferences.

  6. Loves it! I agree with all points except for I am guilty of point number 5. Sometimes when I am somewhere with a friend and they are talking to me before I can do anything else I have to check in first. Great post!

  7. I am annoyed with point #1. That's all. You know who you are, so stop it TRTJ! hehe. he's not that bad.

  8. While I limit what I send to Twitter and FB, I think I'm one of the few people who aren't annoyed by other ppl's foursquare feeds.

Leave a Comment