Codes of Conduct

Wordle 04

Word cloud created by the author at and comprised of keywords for coding user-generated Foursquare tips.

After coding and analyzing the full data set for broad topics (i.e., coffee, service, etc.), I began to peruse the tips in an open and undemanding way, allowing phrases, words, and sentiments to simply settle in my mind. Subsequently, patterns and word “gems” caught my attention. A frequently used construction consisted of (1) announcing a consumable and then (2) declaring its goodness at varying levels of intensity (i.e., varied use of the exclamation point). Note: all of these tips can be viewed from the full data set by clicking here

  • Orange juice squeezed fresh daily! Yum. [179]
  • Sticky muffins!! Yummy!! [237]
  • Orange & Basil Scone! Yum!!! [213]

While not a construction per se, there were also instances in which the entire tip was simply a naming of an item; only suggesting that it was enjoyable and worthy of sampling (e.g., “Honey vanilla latte!” [223]). This construction was reworked any number of ways. Sometimes the writer would insert a command, insisting that the reader also get said consumable. In other cases the writer imposed grammar (an article and a verb) to communicate a more refined recommendation. Naturally, examples of refined commands presented. Furthermore, commands varied (i.e., go, get, try, and have).

  • Get a redeye, it’s awesome! [211]
  • The Honey Vanilla Latte is awesome! [251]
  • Try the velvet. And get whipped cream. It’s homemade and delicious. [138]
  • Get the chorizo crepe if you like delicious crepes. [330]
  • Have a breakfast burrito. A little pricey, but great local ingredients and delicious! [150]

Carefully selected words, such as “indulgent” and “savory” made otherwise common tips stand out from others. However, some of the first word “gems” that got my attention were invented, emergent, or otherwise modified words, such as: awesomesauce (awesome), delish (delicious), fav (favorite), food coma bliss (satisfying), and my personal favorite — an example of onomatopoeia — om nom nom (presumably the sound of one eating with reckless abandon somewhat like Cookie Monster).

Urban Dictionary is a serious and entertaining lexicon that crowdsources definitions for emergent words, including awesomsauce. Here we have the current high-vote definition for awesomsauce.

“Something that is more awesome than awesome. It is a modifyer [sic] of your basic awesome into a more awesome version.”

Not surprisingly, I began to notice tips that I would characterize as “insider information” for those who are “inside” the Foursquare network. This can include references to the “mayorship” of any given venue, but also details that may not be readily apparent from the first few visits, such as wi-fi codes, items not listed on the menu, understated practices, or skillful employees that don’t otherwise standout from their peers.

  • Wireless password is: bean2010 [252]
  • Ask to try the Dr Lux – whipped cream, dr pepper, and espresso. It’s different. Not on menu. [106]
  • Locally owned neighborhood cafe with sort of secret drive up service, and they are dog friendly!! It’s a winner!! [206]
  • If you go for cocktails, look for Ben, the tall hipster mixologist. Ok, that was kinda repetitive, but his creative work behind the bar bears repeating. Ask for his take on the mojito. Or anything… [394]

With these observations, some questions began to percolate in my mind and I returned to the data set with the intention of developing a list of keywords to look for in order to identify more complex constructions and uncover common linguistic practices. Naturally, I was also curious to see if any of these qualities lent themselves to more Likes/votes than others and if there were any curious variations among the different coffeehouses. I created a database “score card” using Microsoft Access that allowed me to set up columns containing multiple keywords. The result is that I would be able to filter tips for individual and collective keywords. This process came to resemble the method referred to in “The Coding Manual for Qualitative Researchers;” specifically, the three-column approach promoted by Liamputtong and Ezzy to render “code jottings” into established code categories. After reviewing the tips and making notations numerous times, I settled on the following codes and identified the keywords that counted for them.

In Microsoft Access, using columns with multiple “lookup” values makes data filtering easier. In this case, the highlighted row will be included in searches for user tips that refer to the coffeehouse space, food compliments, or general liking, Click image to enlarge

Examples of Keywords, [concepts] and (synonymous keywords)

Code Description Examples
Directive Tips that insist a reader consume, experience or otherwise partake in the recommendation. Get (also: enjoy), try, have (also: go with), go (also: get, show up)
Declarative Tips that make a value judgment about the location or its products or services. Like, love, favorite, heart (<3), best, [goodness] (including: yum, delicious, tasty, awesome, etc.)
Intensifier Tips that contain instances of non-verbal elements, such as ellipsis or emoticons; use of exclamation points, or use of “my” or “I.” Ellipsis with 2, 3, and 4 periods, smiley face emoticons, exclamation points individually or in groups of 2 or more, use of “my” and “I”
Localness Tips that use words or phrases to emphasize the local qualities of the coffeehouse or the ambient qualities within it; also, references to the artisanal qualities of their menu items. Local, home, neighborhood, homemade, well-crafted, ingredients, atmosphere, setting, hang out, [insider tip]

This is page 4 of 9 in a Foursquare Coffeehouse Mini-Ethnography
Click here for page 5: Copper Star Coffee

About Seth Goodman

Denizen of the southwest, college employee, ASU graduate student, unofficial student of Edu Tech; focused on family...tentatively enthralled by everything else.
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