Why I Uninstalled Foursquare (and Swarm)

Uninstalling an app I've used for years is a big move for me, because I hate giving up on things - but this weekend, after a couple of weeks of debating it, I finally gave Swarm and Foursquare the boot.

I've never really cared all that much where my friends were checking in - beyond the basic thrill of voyeurism - but it was entertaining to compete with them for mayorships and points. When traveling, my friend and I would often race to be the first to check in to a new place, just for the extra points. It was incredibly stupid and arbitrary, but like many things that are stupid and arbitrary, it was also pretty fun.

I was hopeful when I first heard that Foursquare was breaking out check-ins into their own app, Swarm, since Foursquare had started to feel a bit bloated lately, and an app devoted entirely to check-ins could have been a great move. What I didn't know it that they were also taking away the things I cared about most - I had to hop over to Foursquare's blog to find that out.

Long story short:

  • Points? Gone, because apparently they "became arbitrary and less reflective of real-world achievement". You know what they say - if there's something slightly broken with a core system in your product, throw it out entirely.
  • Mayorships? Neutered in favor of Mayorship 2.0: "With these new mayorships, if you and a couple friends have been checking in to a place, the person who has been there the most lately gets a crown sticker. Mayors 2.0 means that places can have many different mayors, one for each circle of friends, instead of just a single mayor at each place." Of course, if you rarely check in to the same place as your friends do, this is a completely worthless "upgrade". That was the purpose of points; to compete with friends without having to go to all the same places they do.
  • Badges? Gone, because apparently "badges stopped feeling special a long time ago." Thanks for telling me how I feel, Foursquare. Now, instead of badges, we get stickers - because apparently stickers are what makes me feel special now. Oh, Foursquare - how did you know?

Foursquare has, essentially, mined the information I've given them for years, then removed everything that made the product attractive to me, all in a (perhaps desperate) attempt to become more like Yelp. The problem is, I don't need Foursquare to be like Yelp, because I already have an app like Yelp - it's called Yelp. What I need is for Foursquare to be like Foursquare.

The current version of Swarm currently has a whopping 2 stars on the iTunes app store from 256 users, so it seems appropriate to close with a rant from one such dissatisfied customer:

As someone with 17,000 Foursquare checkins over the last 4 years, I would like to say a few things.

I got into Foursquare for the social gaming aspect. It was so fun to check in everywhere I went and earn points, badges, and mayorships. I met friends through Foursquare and tracked my long distance family. I even became a super user to help build the amazing database of locations and information that Foursquare has become.

Fast forward to present day Swarmsquare. What do you have here? A simple app to flush the original users out of the system. The ones that created the database Foursquare is now selling to the public. All the original users lose everything they enjoyed about Foursquare and must now juggle Swarmsquare apps if they want even the slightest semblance of what used to be.

...

0/5 stars for alienating your original customer base and losing the entire soul of Foursquare.

Originally posted on writing about tech.