Foursquare Makes it Harder to Unlock Badges

By , CIO |  Internet, Foursquare, Social Networking

Foursquare, the popular location-based social networking service where users "check-in" to earn points, unlock badges and become "Mayors" of their most frequented establishments has undergone some significant changes in recent days.

The changes, made both behind the scenes and to the Foursquare.com desktop user interface, were meant mostly to help the company handle its rapidly growing user base--Foursquare currently has more than 2 million registered users and upwards of one million check-ins daily. Additionally, the changes were designed to alter the way Foursquare users find specific locations to "unlock" hidden badges and make it more difficult to determine those specific venues. And some are simply meant to crack down on folks who feel the need to check in all over the place without actually visiting venues, a.k.a., "cheaters."

I was curious about the new Foursquare tweaks, so I asked the company's PR Manager Erin Gleason for details. What follows are specifics from Gleason regarding the ongoing changes and their impact on "Foursquarers."

Ongoing Infrastructure Enhancements

Foursquare is growing by leaps and bounds, and if the $20 million in VC funding the company secured last month is any sign of what's to come, that growth will only continue. Of course, that's a good thing for the company and its users. But it also means scaling the service to keep up with demand.

So Foursquare has been doing some major infrastructure work. Gleason wouldn't get into specifics, but it's likely the company has been adding servers and expanding databases to ensure it can keep up with users' check-ins. (Foursquare recently hit a 100 million check-in milestone.) During the past month or so, the company has announced scheduled downtime multiple times via Twitter and other outlets, most recently last Sunday, July 25.

Unfortunately, the infrastructure changes were more extensive than just a few random nights' work, and as such, some valuable Foursquare features were disabled for weeks. Which leads to my next section.

Foursquare Tag Search Down But Not Out

Due to the ongoing back-end enhancements, Foursquare decided to disable its desktop-based Foursquare.com "tag search" feature a few weeks ago, but as of today, tag search is reactivated, according to Gleason. (Note: Though tag-search was disabled, users could still add tags and unlock badges.)

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