Foursquare has quietly added a new feature that allows venue owners to revoke the mayorship of users they believe have won their titles illegitimately. Mayorship is a title bequeathed to the Foursquare user who checks in to a location the most times in a two month period. It's generally a symbolic badge of honor, but sometimes comes with real-world discounts if a venue wishes.Location based social network
Reasons listed for removal of a mayor include that person being an employee and "other": including not really visiting the venue, checking in when simply walking by or checking in from far away. Why does this matter? Because for the first time, there are rules. And where there are rules, there can be commerce, participation and meaningful investment.
The new feature was first reported on the company blog of marketing firm MGH. MGH runs the Foursquare venue account for a Baltimore restaurant called Miss Shirley's, where the Foursquare mayor gets automatically bumped to the top of the waiting list on busy nights. MGH has written a case study about its use of Foursquare in promoting the restaurant. The new feature was subsequently reported about on AboutFoursquare this afternoon.
Mayorship at Miss Shirley's is a big deal and this is the kind of feature that will enable other businesses to leverage the Foursquare service with the knowledge that users and customers are playing fair.
Why does anyone use Foursquare? Mayorship is hardly the only reason, but public recognition is psychologically rewarding. Foursquare is expected to roll out other stations in addition to Mayorship, for less frequent visitors to a venue, in the coming months.
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The ability to subscribe to layers of location annotation from trusted brands and receive push notifications when you check in near an annotated place ("you follow the History Channel and just checked in near a place of historical significance... ") is the feature of Foursquare that interests me the most.
It's not hard to imagine a future wherein an app like Foursquare (or the as-yet-to-be-launched geofencing app Geoloqi) treats all Points of Interest that have been mapped in a standard format as something that can be subscribed to. ("Foursquare, ping me when I check in within 1 mile of a museum of science and industry, or a noted place from the local chamber of commerce.")
Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said on Twitter today that just such a feature is "on the roadmap," along with many other developments to-be.
In order for any innovative features to expand beyond the earliest of adopters, a social network needs to have a social contract and a set of rules. That, in general, is what will help people feel like they understand the service and feel comfortable using it. The new ability for venue owners to revoke mayorships from employees and people not actually patronizing their venues is just one step in that process.