KrazyDad: Mayor of the North Pole

February 16th, 2010

I’ve been blatantly cheating at foursquare for the past week … At some point last week, I devolved into a 12 year old hacker, and I spent many spare hours (and my computer’s spare cycles) abusing the system with a set of scripts operating fake accounts. Not only did I add new venues like the North Pole, but I started persistently checking into coveted landmarks, like the Statue of Liberty. – Jim

I would have thought that cheating at 4sq was so easy as to not invite this kind of concerted effort. Afterall cheating is implicitly allowed in the social contract of the site, a fact that may or may not have gotten lost as it expanded beyond the ex-Dodgeball early adopters, and the game mechanics forefronted.

I assume that Foursquare are carefully monitoring the return they get on the game mechanics, and at some point they’ll burn down the game, which was necessary to get the early adopters in the door, but which will forever strand the product on one side of the chasm, and move to a more utilitarian product — critical mass reach, social cascade ignited.

4 responses to “KrazyDad: Mayor of the North Pole”

  1. Tom Insam says:

    The cheating I can ignore. If someone I follow in 4sq starts cheating, I’ll just drop them. The site has a purpose, which is meeting people. If I know you’re cheating, then fine, you’re no longer interesting.

    Where I got annoyed was “So I started identifying high-traffic places via the above Twitter search, and then adding the tag “boat”. Suddenly, visitors to metropolitan airports and various sports arenas got free sailboats”. For some reason, stealing mayorships seems ok, if childish. But here he’s actively poisoning the place database. I can claim a mayorship back. I can’t un-get a badge. Handing them out at random devaules them.

  2. Kellan says:

    I agree. Of course if Foursquare didn’t have “Flickr-style” tagging, aka 1 tag instances per object aka broken, and instead had an interface where tags coalesced into agreement, then this would be a hard enough attack that there would be a strong signal that you were poisoning a commons. Still possible w/ socket puppets, but harder, and much more socially discouraged.

  3. Having fun with mythical locations is one thing; doing anything that damages real businesses and users by corrupting the information – even if it is “easy” – is another.

    Our choices and actions always affect others so it is wise to carefully consider them before we do anything that can cause harm. To do less is simply selfish.

  4. KrazyDad says:

    I believe Foursquare has fixed a lot of the more obvious holes since I wrote the article. However the fundamental problem, authenticating location, remains and is not likely to be fixed soon.