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Nosquare and Nowalla: Polluting the Stream


Location-based services are great. But please stop sending updates (check ins) to your Twitter and Facebook accounts. It is the perfect example of social-networking tie-in gone wrong.

Why do I say this? It’s simple. For those of us that are hundreds or thousands of miles away–which could be many of your followers–tweeting your current location provides zero value. In fact, it is a (big) waste of your followers’ time.

In a recent article, I stated this:

…for absolutely every person I currently follow on Twitter, I don’t care who just booted whom out as the mayor of whateverville. I don’t want that drivel polluting my pleasant paddle down my River. It adds zero value to my day and provides little if any entertainment.

I also rarely need to know (nor care to know) whenever someone has just stopped by a Starbucks, or is eating at this and such restaurant 1000 miles away, or is on a treadmill listening to Kid Rock on their fancy Zune.

I am not against the occasional fun, non-work-related tweet. It is one of the things that makes a social network social. But, at some point, my Twitter stream started to resemble a scrolling marquee of useless drivel and it became clear that the location-based tweets were the big offenders.

The Foursquare, Gowalla, and other location-based auto-tweets are nothing more in my opinion than a form of advertising. They do not fall into the idle chatter that occurs between friends and colleagues. They are not the type of content that makes sense plastering all over your various social networks.

To Follow or Not to Follow

One of the reasons I am not following more people on Twitter at this time is that when I check out many people with whom I do actually have a genuine interest in following, I discover that their Twitter stream is too cluttered with location-based tweets. When I consider how many location-based tweets will be added to my Twitter stream, I quickly decide to pass them by.

Here’s why.

If I follow 150 additional people each who easily auto tweets on average seven Foursquare or Gowalla check ins each day, that is a total of 1050 location-based tweets added to my stream each day. Since I scan my tweet stream at about 1.5 seconds per tweet, only stopping on those that appear to have worthwhile content, that means I will waste more than 26 minutes each day looking at worthless location-based tweets. In a week that adds up to more than 3 hours* wasted!

I don’t know about you, but that is A LOT of time. I sure could use that time more productively. And I do by simply not following more people. It’s too bad because I really would like to follow more tech-centric people.

Now, I am not against location-based services in general, nor the fun-natured gaming aspect of Foursquare. I think Gowalla, Foursquare, and others have created interesting services that provide value when appropriately used.

I’m arguing that it is best for users to keep their location-based check ins isolated within the location-based services they are using. If I want to find out where you are, to discover if anyone in my network is nearby, I’ll simply fire up my Foursquare or Gowalla app on my smartphone. So please turn off the auto updates to your various networks. They truly provide me with little value and zero useful content.

#Nosquare and #Nowalla

I think it is time for those of us that are fed up with having our Streams polluted with location-based check ins to stand up and make a point. Tweet to your network that you’d appreciate the cessation of your followees auto-tweeting their Gowalla, Foursqaure, and other location-based check ins. Post to your Wall that you’re sick and tired of having to wade through updates that provide little value to your day.

In fact, I’m considering unfollowing those whom I deem abuse my time by virtue of auto posting their location-based check ins to Twitter. I’m not going to share what I consider an abuse of my time, but you can get some hint of my criteria above.

Finally, start using these hashtags to communicate that you’re fed up with this nonsense: #Nosquare and #Nowalla.

* ((( 150 people x 7 useless tweets each x 1.5 seconds per tweet ) / 60 seconds per minute ) x 7 days ) / 60 minutes per hour = 3.0625 hours per week. To be fair, it is more than likely that most of those 150 people would not pollute my Twitter stream with that many location-based auto tweets every single week. Some weeks (maybe many weeks), it might be a lot less, some weeks more. But, you get the idea.

UPDATE March 18, 2010:

I found an interesting post that argues for the need for people to manage their own flow: Manage Your Social Network Flow…NOW!

Chris Messina made a Google Buzz post today where he announced an experiment to “remove Twitter and Flickr as connected sites in Buzz” to see how that is received.

Article Comments

  1. Justin Korn says:

    Jeff, great write-up. I agree with you 100%. Within Buzz particularly, I’ve started unfollowing people that pollute their stream with Tweets and FriendFeed entries and think twice before following new people with the same issue. The biggest issue, within Twitter and Buzz, is the lack of filtering abilities.

    Like I mentioned in my post you linked to above, if the services you using don’t provide your follows to filter properly, if you don’t want to lose followers, you need to take matters into your own hands and manage how your data flows from place to place. Personally, I post directly to each service as appropriate. If there is something that is appropriate for all places I participate in, I currently use to pass that message on to them all.

    • Jeff Sayre says:


      I appreciate the comment. I too rarely cross post as I value the time of those who follow me just as I hope they value my time. The reality, though, is that most people pollute their streams with all sorts of cross posting between networks. My efforts at treating their streams with some respect more than likely go unnoticed.

      We regards to filtering of stream content, that is a much needed feature with many social networks. I wrote about that in my detailed article, A Flock of Twitters: Decentralized Semantic Microblogging. You may need to read the first half of the article to make sense of some of the issues I discuss.

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