Foursquare recently implemented an “anti-cheater” system to curb the problem of people checking in to locations from their couch to obtain points, mayorships and badges. Now, you may check in anywhere, but in order to receive points, mayorships and badges your GPS must report that you’re within approximately 200-250 meters* of the venue’s map pin location (among other factors that Foursquare doesn’t disclose). If you’re outside of that radius, Foursquare reports that your phone thinks you’re “a little too far away” from the venue.
Most of the time, people making honest checkins get this error because of poor GPS reception or because the map pin location is incorrect. The map pin is determined by user entered data, which is inherently unreliable. Pins are often in the wrong place for a variety of reasons, from users entering partial addresses to the Google Maps API putting the pin in the wrong spot.
Here are a few recommendations if you’re having trouble checking in to a venue:
- Let the GPS stabilize: It can take a few seconds for the Foursquare app to get the best fix on your location since your phone must receive a signal from several orbiting GPS satellites. Each app has a different icon to show how accurate your GPS is. Wait until that stabilizes before trying to check in.
- Move outside: GPS signals can be blocked by the steel, concrete and wiring in modern buildings. If possible, move outside to get the best possible GPS signal.
- Walk toward the pin: If you’re only a short distance away from being able to check in, check the venue map on your phone to find the pin location. Try walking in the direction of the pin before trying to check in.
- Use the mobile website: Foursquare’s mobile website doesn’t rely on GPS to verify checkins; it has it’s own “anti-cheater” algorithm. If you’re not able to check in using your phone’s app, try the mobile site to see if it will allow the checkin.
- Request a correction: If the pin is in the wrong spot, you can request a correction using the appropriate thread on Foursquare’s GetSatisfaction support site. Be sure to include the venue URL and the latitude/longitude where the pin should be (how to find the lat/long using Google Maps).
- Report it to Foursquare: When the pin is in the correct spot and all else fails, you can report the problem to Foursquare using their form for geolocation errors.
For some large venues â€” such as college campuses, amusement parks, or airports â€” there are spots that could be more than 200-250 meters from the map pin, but are still within the venue. Under the current system, you might have trouble checking in from those spots, but Foursquare is tweaking the anti-cheater code every day and will hopefully have a solution soon.
*The 200-250 meter radius is not a hard and fast rule since it relies on other, undisclosed factors, one of which is likely the accuracy of your past checkins. There are reports that checkins have been allowed as far as 1600 meters away for some users.