(First off, this is from the perspective of UX and behavior analysis)

There are a bunch of services that use platforms like twitter or facebook to publish the change of state in their own systems.

Why is it, then, that a foursquare tweet is less offensive (or more enjoyable) than a farmville post or other similar comparison? (i.e. a tweet about a high-score, new recipe, or trending topic)

Figure 1) A typical foursquare tweet:

A Friend: I'm at Your_Favorite_Sandwich_Shop (123 Main St.).

For whatever reason I actually feel kinda good when I see these. Obviously that's good for foursquare, but I'm curious about the UX. What makes this a good experience?

A few things I've considered thus far:

  • Social group mentality — knowing that something is going on makes a person feel included
  • Curiosity — if someone is tweeting about their location that's more significant than average.
  • Experience — Perhaps I feel that I live vicariously through what I read.

(Bonus points if you can include references.)

  • 10
    I disagree with your initial assumption: I find foursquare tweets equally annoying. Perhaps even more so: 4sq tweets tell me nothing about what's happening to someone, only where they are. At least farmville reports the result of some activity so I could comment on that. So it's hard for me to see how I could answer such a loaded question.
    – Rahul
    Sep 11, 2010 at 10:48
  • Yes, I agree, it is a bit loaded -- that's a failure on my part in formatting the question. But this also raises another question: "Just because it's a subjective experience, does that mean it's invalid?" There should be good ideas we can draw from both 4sq and farmville. Sep 11, 2010 at 17:45
  • 3
    They are annoying. I filter them out. Nov 26, 2011 at 2:45
  • 1
    Rahul just unseated Garrett as the mayor of this question!
    – DA01
    Nov 26, 2011 at 8:11

4 Answers 4


It think it has two sides.

The point made by ChrisF about the format and how "human" it looks.

It also has to do with the relevancy of the data to the user. As a non-farmville user it might seem annoying to receive something that is not interesting to them and has nothing to say about the followed person. On the other hand farmville user are very welcome to that message as they see their and the friends effort result into something.

Foursquare has an advantage over farmville as it tells something about the well being of the user that is followed. It combines the idea of personal data sharing with personal state. This is what part of twitter is about.

If we go deeper into the idea of twitter everybody has their personal way of writing tweets. I personally only rarely tweet about something that is happening. I tweet about public transport delay when i'm in one, blog post I write or interesting articles I've read. Almost everything has to do with sharing data that other might find useful. Other twitter users have been known to tweet about what to eat every evening or when they enter the toilet. It's completely up to the user what they want to write. Relevancy is determined by the follower. If a follower would find all the data un-interesting they would un-follow. If one would find it relevant enough for them they will keep following it.

ps: I follow the tweets of the plant from my friend. It tweets when it needs water. I harass him about it because I gave him the plant. An example of pure self relevancy from me to the tweets of that plant.

SHORT: its about:

  • natural formatting
  • relevancy to the follower

I think part of it is that the format of the tweet is very much like what somebody would actually tweet. When I started seeing them I initially thought that it was a regular tweet and that the link was to a photo of the place they were at. I didn't immediately spot that the shortened link wasn't a "normal" shortening despite the 4square name in the "tweeted from" footnote!

Now whether that says more about me than about the application I'll leave as an exercise for the reader ;)


Farmville and other vill's posts are annoying because I dont care if they 'done clobbered a monkey' or somesuch. Seeing where folks go is 'less' annoying, because it's a little more interesting to see what venues people use.

But the real difference is how concise your foresquare example is. I can visually skip it quite easily. Even though the ville posts are easy to spot (via stupid icon pics on facebook for instance), they take up a lot of room and take some time to scroll past.

Frequency of ville posts also make them annoying.

  1. Foursquare checkins reflect things actually happening in the real world as opposed to a virtual farm
  2. If I follow someone on twitter, I have already decided I am interested in what they do and say
  3. Twitter's UI makes it cheaper for me to scan and parse tweets than Farmville updates on facebook. Therefore I waste less time parsing non-useful information.

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