It’s been more than a year since foursquare last performed a mass upgrade of regular users to superuser status. Since then only a few users have been upgraded â€” and then only by contacting foursquare staff directly. In that time, foursquare’s venue database has grown from fewer than 1 million venues in a handful of cities to more than 15 million worldwide. Maintaining it is a massive job for the relatively small corps of superusers who volunteer for the job.
Today foursquare announced an initiative to help relieve some of the pressure on those users by once again upgrading regular users to superuser status. Users can now apply for an upgrade on their own, or through an endorsement from an existing superuser. Endorsed users will, of course, be given top priority.
Whether endorsed or not, users will need to fill out an application that will be considered by the foursquare staff. It asks why they want to become superusers and then quizzes them on some of the rules for superusers, which can only be learned by reading the superuser guidelines (I can tell you that third party blogs like this one are definitely not a source for official superuser guidance from foursquare). The final test is to properly edit a venue using foursquare’s style guide.
Existing superusers will find a new endorsement option on their admin dashboard. Users they endorse will receive an email notification and can begin the application process.
Superusers are volunteers who perform tasks such as merging duplicate venues, adding categories and editing venue addresses and contact information. In foursquare’s early days they were upgraded automatically based on their activity on foursquare. This method was found to promote too many cheaters, however, so foursquare disabled it in early 2010. Since then, only users handpicked by the foursquare staff have been upgraded.
With no mass upgrades in the past year, the number of active superusers has actually dropped through attrition (by leaving foursquare or getting burned out on editing venues). A handful of superusers handle the vast majority of merge requests, address corrections and venues flagged as mislocated.
The addition of new superusers â€” along with new superuser tools and rights â€” will help to get foursquare’s massive venue database cleaned up to make it more useful both for foursquare users checking in and for developers making use of the venue data provided through the Venues Project. It should also help to prevent some of the longtime superusers from getting burned out since they’ll have a little more help with some of the mundane tasks of editing venues.