FourSquare assignment details

Purpose of the assignment

FourSquare is the most popular example of the newest wave of location-based social media. This assignment will ensure that all students are familiar with the basic functions of FourSquare, and understand how it can be used to create a knowledge base for a given geographic area. This assignment will also directly benefit the ASU community by helping to create and enhance a valuable knowledge base about the campuses and their surrounding areas for students, potential students, and visitors.


Students  must create create an account at The account must be publicly visible (unlocked). You may use a pseudonym and limited bio information to protect your privacy if you wish, but I must be informed of your ID so I can grade your assignment. If students already have a FourSquare account, they may either use it here or create  a new account specifically for this class.

Over the course of the assignment, students must add tips for locations on any of the ASU campuses, as well as for sites of interest in the surrounding communities: the parts of Tempe near ASU; downtown Phoenix; Mesa and the East Valley in the vicinity of the Polytechnic campus; and the Glendale/Peoria/West Valley area near the West campus.

Other places of interest around the Valley and even destinations for daytrips or weekend getaways are also appropriate, but the emphasis should be on places on and around ASU campuses.

You will be expected to craft 20 useful tips, of which at least 12 should be on or near Arizona State University sites. Tips will be graded on quality (accuracy and clarity), substance (containing useful content), appropriateness (suitability for the intended user base), and originality. Since you may want to add other FourSquare tips during this time unrelated to the assignment,  you must submit a list of the tips you wish to be included, copying and pasting directly from your profile page on Please include your FourSquare username. At the top of the page, provide a one-paragraph explanation of the types of users you think will find your tips helpful, and why.

How to write good  tips

Always think about the potential users and the kinds of information they would find interesting or helpful. Prospective, new, transfer & current students, parents, faculty and staff, visitors to the campus, or even simply people new to the Valley might all make use of the information you provide, so keep them in mind as you select your venues and prepare your tips.

While hastily-typed tips of the “I love this place!” variety may be fun to add for your favorite spots, they are not very helpful. Tips should always provide specific information or suggestions that add to people’s understanding of the location. It is fine to offer an opinion, but always support it with an example: e.g., “I love this place–it has the best New York-style pizza in town, and is open past midnight every night” is a much more helpful tip than the previous example.


Be creative! Aside from campus buildings, parks, restaurants, and shops, also consider the following types of venues:

  • Non-building areas, like Palm Walk on the Tempe campus;
  • Non-profit organizations (especially those seeking to recruit volunteers);
  • Campus clubs and student organizations;
  • Organizations where you have had internships (again, think carefully about what you write);
  • Historic neighborhoods, such as Garfield or Willo in downtown Phoenix;
  • Quirky landmarks, such as the Phoenix Bat Cave.

If you are unsure whether a location would be appropriate, just ask.

Types of tips

There are several categories of tips you might consider:

  • Background information: If you know–or discover–useful background information about a building or location, you can definitely use it in a tip.  The History Channel specializes in these kinds of tips, so see their FourSquare page for examples.
  • Useful facts: Menu items, services provided, events (if they are held regularly–very time-sensitive information or one-off events do not make good fodder for FourSquare tips, since you don’t know when someone will be checking in and tips are stored indefinitely). See Bon Appétit for some examples of different kinds of useful food-related facts for eateries.
  • Opinions, pro and con: Sometimes a recommendation to avoid a place or an item can be as helpful as a thumbs-up. However, be thoughtful in deciding what to say about the venues you choose. Remember that, like other forms of social media, FourSquare tips are stored and may continue to appear to users for a long time.
  • Ideas: One great way to use tips to help users (and increase the likelihood of ending up on their to-do lists) is to give them ideas for things to do in a given location. For example a tip for the Phoenix Public Market downtown could read, “Pick up some cold beverages and freshly made salads and sandwiches here, then head over to nearby Civic Space Park for a picnic.”

For examples of how other universities have used FourSquare tips to develop a knowledge base, see the profiles for Harvard University and the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. (The latter, it must be said, also contains some examples of the kinds of tips you should NOT leave. Remember that you are effectively representing ASU when you leave tips about campus or campus-related activities.)

The deadline for completing this assignment is class on Thursday, November 11. Since that day is a holiday and we do not have class, you have until 11:59 pm to submit your assignment electronically via Blackboard. If you have any questions or difficulties, feel free to visit me during office hours, arrange an appointment, email, or tweet. Also see the helpful tools and guides posted on the Resources page.

5 responses to “FourSquare assignment details

  1. Pingback: FourSquare assignment posted #mco494 | Media 2.0: Social Media

  2. We do not have class on Thursday November 11th. Will we be submitting our list electronically?

    • Wow, I completely missed that one! Thanks for pointing it out. I’ve amended the instructions: yes, you will be submitting your assignments electronically, and you’ll have the bonus of an extended deadline since we don’t have class.

  3. Question, if we have more than 20 tips are we still only submitting the 20 best or just all of them? And as for the assignment do you want us checking into places through the phone?

    • Yes, only the 20 best. You don’t have to check in at all for the assignment, if you don’t want to (although you’ll gain a much better understanding of FourSquare if you do). This task is all about producing a quality set of tips.

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