Strong opinions, weakly held

Abusing foursquare

Jim Bumgardner explains how he used the command line tool curl and a bit of clever thinking to cheat at foursquare on a massive scale:

At some point last week, I devolved into a 12 year old hacker, and I spent many spare hours (and my computer’s spare cycles) abusing the system with a set of scripts operating fake accounts. Not only did I add new venues like the North Pole, but I started persistently checking into coveted landmarks, like the Statue of Liberty.

What can I say? It was fun, and foursquare’s incentives (badges and mayorships) spurred me on. Incentives invite abuse, even from mild-mannered folks like me.

I wonder if anyone has ever tried to calculate a percentage of the engineering budget that should be allocated in advance to fighting fraud and abuse? The folks at Glitch probably need to figure out what that number is.

Update: Speaking of the incentives to game systems, what happens when you create a system where teacher performance is evaluated based on how students do on standardized tests? Some teachers cheat on the tests on behalf of their students. Testing companies have developed a system that can detect this kind of cheating by evaluating erased answers.

1 Comment

  1. I work at the Bloomfield Science Museum in Jerusalem where I am with the team that develop an exhibition about measurement and testing.

    Prof. Gregory J. Cizek who is mentioned in the NYT article about cheating took part in an international workshop we held a few months ago.

    In 1999 he published a book titled “Cheating on tests: How to do it, detect it, and prevent it.”

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