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Location Etiquette Tips: Foursquare 'Faux Pas' to Avoid

3) Don't Automatically Send All of Your Check-Ins to Other Social Networks. Please.

Many foursquare users mysteriously feel the need to share their various check-ins with all of the other social networks they employ, such as Twitter and Facebook. This is a bad idea, and it's bad social-networking etiquette overall because, well...nobody cares. It's that simple. Even if you think they do, they don't. I promise.

Sharing all of your check-ins with foursquare connections is fine; those folks should have known what they were getting into when they connected with you on foursquare or vice versa. But automatically posting all of your check-ins to Facebook or Twitter is a great way to anger your followers and lose a few of them in the process.

Do you really think that your Twitter followers care where you buy your morning java? Do your Facebook "Friends" need to know the supermarket at which you regularly pick up dinner fixings? I assure you, the places you frequent on an average day are much more interesting to you than they are to all of your social-networking connections.

I'm not saying that foursquare users shouldn't ever share check-ins via other social networks. But it makes sense to post only check-ins that are noteworthy or that might interest the people you're sending them to. For example, if you're at the baseball game at Fenway Park, it might be worth sharing that particular check-in because the venue is the oldest baseball field in all of Major League Baseball. And, as such, other people may have visited the park and may have connections or memories of their own associated with the venue.

4) Creating Venues for Your Home is a BAD Idea

One foursquare "faux pas" I regularly see is the dreaded "home check-in." This is when you create a foursquare venue for your home or residence, with address information and, possibly, other data that could be used to identify you, contact you or determine the specific location of your home, all so you can become the Mayor of your own residence.

This is a very bad idea for a handful of reasons. And I see it all_the_time, from people I otherwise consider to be Web-savvy, intelligent individuals. First of all, when you create a public venue, it's viewable and accessible by anyone and everyone on the Internet. Not just other foursquare users, not just friends and colleagues you've connected with on foursquare, but everyone with an Internet connection.

So, if I were to create a venue for my home on foursquare, with address details, finding my home would be as simple as searching Google for "Al Sacco home foursquare" or something like that. Even if I decided to call the venue just "Al's Home" and I left out my last name, it would be simple for anyone who knows just a little bit about me, like the fact that I reside in Boston, to search Google or foursquare and find venues in the Boston area called something like "Al's Home."

It's even more risky to become the Mayor of such a venue, because then you're basically telling everyone and anyone who views that venue page that you live there--or spend a lot of your time there, at least.

Some folks who create home venues choose to leave the address details blank or unspecific, so, for example, they might only include the city they live in. However, this is a an equally bad idea, because foursquare displays the rough location of check-ins on venue pages, and even if you don't include your specific address on the venue page, it's fairly simple to look at the check-in map to get a rough idea of where your home is located. Then potential miscreants, or people who you might not want to know your home address, could be a single Google search away from having the ability to show up at your doorstep.

So, to sum that up, it's not a good idea to create a foursquare venue for your home and then become the Mayor. Sure, there are ways to help protect the location of your residence if you do decide to list it on foursquare, but there's little reward for creating such a venue, and even if you do become Mayor, the associated risk clearly outweighs the potential prize.

5) Don't Create Random or Redundant foursquare Venues

Another foursquare no-no, creating random or redundant foursquare venues for places that already exist or "places within places," etc.

For example, if you search for your local Dunkin Donuts on foursquare, and three results come up, two with spelling errors in the venue names and one with a wrong street address, don't simply create another venue with the correct spelling and address. This just causes more foursquare "clutter." Instead, check-in to one of the venues, and then report the venue issues on the foursquare support forum, where someone will help you correct the inaccuracies.

Excessive venue creation is annoying, and it can cause foursquare confusion. So, if you're at the ballpark watching a baseball game, you don't need to create and check into venues for your specific section, row, and seat, etc. Or if you're staying at the Marriott Marquis in NYC, you don't need to create a new venue for your room, etc. Creating legitimate venues for missing locations on foursquare is a good thing, but there can be a thin line between helping the system and abusing it.

6) Leave Valuable Tips on foursquare Venues, or Don't Leave Tips At All

One of my favorite things about foursquare is the ability to gain valuable information on venues from the people who know them best. Foursquare users who regularly check in and spend time at certain venues can offer some really great "inside information" via venue tips.

Unfortunately, some people just don't understand this concept or simply don't care.

Overall, I probably see more worthless tips on foursquare venues than valuable ones. For example, a tip at McDonald's instructing me to "Try the fries," is worthless to me. As is a tip at the local diner that reads something like "We ate here in September. It was okay."

Also, overly negative tips that don't offer any constructive criticism or tips that are really just complaints rarely offer any value. "This place sucks," is not a valuable tip, even if it's a fact. It's okay to leave critical tips or to point out negative things about foursquare venues. But you're only doing your fellow foursquare users a service if that tips is genuinely helpful. So, instead of writing "This place sucks," write something like, "Every time I go here, my food is served cold and the beer is warm. For a better experience, walk two blocks east on 4th Street and try Paddy's Pub."

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