Facebook uses Gowalla’s old icons

I was a big fan of Gowalla, a location service check-in app. It was similar to Foursquare with one big exception. When you checked into a location sometimes you would find virtual treasures. Gowalla made checking-in a game. Instead of just saying, “I’m here,” like Foursquare, Gowalla created incentives to check-in as many places as possible.

Today Gowalla no longer exists. It was acquired by Facebook a couple of years ago. The location service part of the app became Places in Facebook and the icons representing the locations and virtual treasures have been recycled as “Rate These Places.”

Facebook’s Rate These Places on the left and a Gowalla map on the right.

Banned from friending people on Facebook because I friended people on Facebook

facebook_friendLike most people who love to use social media I’m on Facebook all the time. And like most other social media websites I invite or “friend” people that share the same interest I do. So I was shocked when I receive a notice form Facebook saying, I have been banned from requesting new fiends for 30-days.

Really? Why? I don’t recall sending anyone a friend request in the least two weeks on Facebook.

The notice also said, I can only friend request people I actually know personally.

Well that’s a slap in the face to those of us who are seeking out other people who share similar interest and hobbies. Not to mention if you play any of the online games supported by Facebook. I don’t think I know more than 3 out of the dozens of people I play against in Words with Friends.

I decided to look up Facebook’s rules regarding friending people. The statements below were taken word for word from Facebook’s own web site.

Why am I blocked from sending friend requests?
If your account is temporarily blocked from sending friend requests, it’s because friend requests you’ve sent have gone unanswered or been marked as unwelcome. From now on, please don’t send friend requests to people you don’t know personally. Facebook is a place for connecting with friends, family, classmates, coworkers and other people you know well.
Who should I send friend requests to?
Facebook is a place for connecting with friends, family, and other people you know personally. You should send friend requests to people you have a real-life connection to, like your friends, family, coworkers, or classmates.

So apparently those people on Facebook who have thousands of friends are actually family, classmates and coworkers? I don’t think so.

Then I saw this Facebook rule.

Who can send me friend requests?
By default, anyone on Facebook can send you a friend request.

Wait! “Anyone” can send you a friend request? But that conflicts with the other rules. Obviously this rule has not been thoroughly thought out, or at the very least updated.

I understand the point Facebook is trying to make. They want to reduce spam as much as possible. But most of us are harmless. We are just looking to make new friends or at the very least new people to chat with online.

The system that monitors who friends who appears to be automated, a conclusion I came to after reading this statement on Facebook’s website.

If you’ve been blocked by mistake, we won’t be able to end the block early—but you’ll be able to send friend requests again soon. We’re sorry for the inconvenience! In the meantime, you can still use other Facebook features to connect with your confirmed friends.
Source: https://www.facebook.com/help/232530170162023/

Disgruntled I tried to reach out to Facebook but they provide little if any practical way to communicate our problems to them. No email, phone number or even an online form which would be the most logical way to do it. And the fact that they say, “we won’t be able to end the block early” just tells me they have no interest, at this time, in dealing with it.

It seems unfortunately that all any of us can do who have been blocked is just wait it out and hope it does not happen again.

A couple of other Facebook rules regarding friending people you mite want to read.

Dad tied up daughter and put her in a dog cage

James Tapke

James Tapke

A Cincinnati man is charged with tying his 12-year-old daughter by her hands and feet with duct tape and placing her in a dog cage. Ha also threatened to electrify the crate as punishment for her bad behavior.

James Tapke, 41, was charged on January 19th with child endangering. His attorney, Christopher Jackson, told a judge that the incident was “some horseplay” and a joke that “got out of control.”

Police said the girl’s 13-year-old brother let her out after about 20 minutes, but their father put her back in after she poured water on his head.

Police also said that Tapke and the girl’s brother took pictures of her while she was in the cage and that the boy posted them to Facebook. Police said the pictures were later deleted.

The children are in their grandparents’ care, authorities said.

Music integration in Facebook

f8 conference 2011

Facebook is expected to announce programming tools to licensed music services like Spotify, MOG, Rdio and Rhapsody so users can find out what songs their friends listen to.

Facebook has yet to negotiated licensing deals with major music companies so tools associated with the service won’t amount too much on its own.

Rhapsody launched a beta version of its integration using Facebook’s sign-in tool, Facebook Connect. Rhapsody customers can now “like” an artist or song, and doing so lets others know in the person’s Facebook news feed. Liked artists are synced across both services and Rhapsody subscribers can listen to artists that their friends have liked on Facebook.

But there is no way currently to find out exactly what a friend is listening to at a particular moment, nor can a Facebook friend join in and simultaneously listen to what a Rhapsody user is playing in real-time.

Spotify allows Facebook friends to access playlists their friends have chosen to share. Rdio allows people to connect through Facebook, follow other Rdio users and find out what albums they have been listening to the most.

Facebook is expected to reveal the details at its “f8” developer conference on Sept. 22.

Related articles
Facebook Music Service Rumor of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
Facebook may show music service Sept. 22 with Rdio, Spotify (electronista.com)

Foursquare vs. Gowalla, big differences

Foursquare and Gowalla are location-based social networking services. Users “check-in” while visiting a local venue by accessing the app on a mobile device or the web site and selecting the venue from a list that the application locates nearby. Each check-in can award users with points and or “badges.” Users can also post their current check-ins to twitter and facebook.

Both Foursquare and Gowalla were launched in 2009 but Foursquare seems to be leading in use and recognition. While most people I talk to know about Foursquare, less than half have heard of Gowalla. Yet while researching for this blog I found indications that Gowalla is rapidly gaining ground over Foursquare and that a “location-based” war is raging between the two.

So what are some of the big differences among Foursquare and Gowalla?

Color and design

Starting off as a location-based game the creators of Gowalla designed all of their graphics and icons in color. Foursquare on the other hand was started as a data tracking program so very little effort was originally put into images and graphics. However the blue, black and white design of Foursquare is clean and easy on the eyes.

One advantage Gowalla has over Foursquare is that Gowalla is incorporating the logos of actual business into the game. While most places are tagged with a generic icon, business like Starbucks, Holiday Inn and Walmart have their own icon to represent their venues. Also the number of different generic icons Gowalla uses is more elaborate than Foursquare.

Checking-in / Creating new venues

Using both an iPhone and a Droid I have notice that Gowalla is far more accurate with your location. Both services use GPS and WiFi to acquire your location but I find that with Foursquare I can sometimes be a hundred or more yards off target. This can be a problem when creating a new venue. If the location (coordinates) of my new venue is off in Gowalla I can go to the web site and actually move the location icon and save it in the correct spot on the map, changing the coordinates of the venue. Foursquare does not allow you to do that. If the location icon is in the wrong location in Foursquare you will have to contact them and ask to have it moved.

Your reward

You’ve checked-in to several locations and are earning points, badges, stamps and pins. Oh and you’re the mayor of McDonald’s. So what does that mean? Well in a nutshell they are rewards for using the service, incentives to play the game.

In Foursquare you can earn points for checking-in to locations, creating new venues and the distance traveled among them. What do you get when you earn a lot of points? Nothing. All the points you earn during the week expires every Sunday at 11:59 p.m.

Badges are reward icons that are earned when you check-in to specific venues numerous times or if the venue is special, like the Super Bowl.

Mayorships seem to be the biggest draw to Foursquare. It’s the digital equivalent of the kids game “King of the hill.” If you check-in to a venue more than anyone else, you remain the mayor.

Gowalla does not use a point system or mayorships, instead they have Spots, Trips, Pins and a Leaterboard.

Spots are Featured Places like sports arenas, monuments, and parks created by Gowalla. You earn special badges for checking-in to these locations.

Trips are badges for special locations created by Gowalla and YOU. Yes you can create your own Trip that other people can complete in-order to earn the badge. For example I checked-in to all the Charleston County Libraries. Then using the “Create a Trip” option on Gowallas web site I selected all the libraries and created a trip called Charleston County Public Libraries. Now when anyone checks-in to five or more libraries in my Trip they get a special badge.

Pins in Gowalla are the same as badges in Foursquare. They are icons that represent the venues you have check-in to.

The Leaterboard is the closest thing to being mayor in Gowalla. It shows who has checked-in the most and their number of check-ins. But unlike Foursquares Mayorships, the Leaterboard is not prominent on the app or web site, you actually have to do a little digging to find it.

Checkout where I’ve been

In Foursquare it’s called “Friends’ Recent Check-ins,” in Gowalla it’s “Friends’ Activity.” It’s a list of all the places that you and your friends have visited in the last few hours. Both show avatars of you and your friends, where everyone has been and when. In Foursquare if someone uploaded a photo a camera icon is displayed. Select it and the photo appears. In Gowalla the actual photo is shown in the activity list.

Another cool feature that Gowalla provides is when you checked-in to several different locations a map will show all the venues with a zigzagging line from one location to another in the order you visited them in.

Finders keepers

Have you found an “Item?” Items are virtual icons that you find as you check-in to different venues while using Gowalla.

Items can have different uses. If you are one of the first people to check-in at a new venue, you can drop one of your items to become a founder. You can try to collect them all. Or you can trade them with your friends.

At last count there are 160 items that you can find world-wide.

Unfortunately Foursquare does not have “items” or any things like it.

Who’s checking-in

So where do you check-in? Are you a Foursquare fan or do you like Gowalla? Each has it own advantage and disadvantage. While Gowalla has more to offer the biggest disadvantage seems to be fewer users. Foursquare on the other hand could end-up losing users if they do not start adding new elements to its game.


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