The Physical/Digital Ethics Of FourSquare & Gowalla

Much like calling "punch-buggy" or "shotgun" ('calling the front passengers seat of the car) there are unwritten rules or ethics about a great many things. Like, you can't call shotgun in a building, everyone must be outside; or with punch-buggy there's grey mysticism around whether you must call out the color first or not before bringing the pain.

Well as my wife, a very highly competitive person and consiquently a lover of digital games (i.e. Mafia Wars, Vampire Wars, Farmville and most traditional gaming platforms) and I are now on FourSquare (and I'm on Gowalla too) together. We're starting to see way one could cheat, or manipulate the system to get ahead of the game – so to speak. Therefore on an "Overshare Badge" weekend we started to discuss the physical and digital ethics of FourSquare and like-minded applications. I thought it so compelling I figured that I would open it up and see what 'rules' you have applied to your own FourSquaring, Gowalla–ing and related check-in applications.

Here are just a few to get started thinking (or debating):

  • If there's a Starbuck's inside a Target do they count as two stops?
  • Can you rack up stops in a mall by shop-hopping?
  • If you're in a restaurant and you know you're going to go to some place afterwards do you check-in then, or only once you've stepped foot in the place?
  • Can you check into a gas station if you're the passenger and didn't go inside?
  • If you live somewhere that has a check-in how close do you have to be in order to get that location gratis? (i.e. Live in a golf-course community can you check into the club house if you live nearby?)
  • Should you make your home a check-in?
  • Cross streets, should you be able to check-in or not?
  • How long do you have to be at a location before you can make it a check in?
  • Picking someone up from the airport, does that count as a check-in?
  • Can you check into a place twice, in the same visit, if you've been there for a long time? If so how long?
  • Can you create a fictitious place and check-in that location?
  • Can you assign a city as a location and check into that location?
  • If you leave work and return the same day should you check-in again?

While there's no right on wrong answer here; I can see a whole new world of people pissed because someone took shotgun and didn't do it by the book!