Part 1: Official Rules
The SNS I am examining: Foursquare
Foursquare is a geo-social network that is accessed through a smartphone. A user dashboard is also found on the web. The link above lists the "house rules" for foursquare. This page is not accessible via the iPhone app though a savvy user could point their mobile web browser towards it. Personally I find this to be a bit problematic as nearly 100% of the time users access the SNS it is done via the smartphone app.
The house rules go through all of the DOs and DON'Ts of Foursquare. The DOs are helpful for people seeking questions about the basic use of the site like finding friends, checking in and leaving tips. The DON'Ts are basically a quick summery of the policies. In summery the five DON'Ts are:
1) Don’t check in when you’re not at a place
I imagine that many people break this rule but it would be difficult to find any data to really know for sure. The location in Honolulu with the most check-ins is the airport (HNL). The user who holds the mayorship (most check-ins) has checked in 47 times. This seems high for an airport so my guess is that this user works at the airport or is checking-in without actually being there. However, either way there is no real value gained by being the mayor of the airport so it might be an accurate check-in count according to Foursquare rules. Needless to say, this would be an extremely difficult rule for the Foursquare team to monitor and enforce.
2) Don’t create venues that do not exist
It is much easier to find data concerning this DON’T as all venues on Foursquare are searchable. The rules state specifically not to post locations such as “stuck in traffic” yet in Honolulu alone there are 34 different locations that violate this rule.
I also found a place in downtown where you can check into outer space. (Disclamer: Outer Space does exist but not on earth. This might also be a real venue I just don't know about).
3) Don’t check into someone else’s home if you’re not there
This rule goes on to say, “Home venues are sensitive and it can creep people out to see non-friends checking in.” On Foursquare home venues are encouraged but to help with privacy they do not show up through a location-based search. Instead guests would need to search for home venues by title. I agree with this rule but am unsure how foursquare is enforcing/monitoring it. There are few (if any) options to report/block a user who are checking into people’s homes.
4) Don’t leave tips with inappropriate language or negativity directed at another user.
[Warning: Explicit Language Below]
This is straightforward. Yet, what constitutes “inappropriate language” is always debatable.
I'm not really sure what to make of this tip:
5) Don’t spam via tips.
It always bothers me when I see tips suggesting people to try a different venue for a better product. I always assume these are written by the competition. (I see this more on Yelp then on Foursquare). After doing some quick searches on Foursquare I was unable to find tips that looked like spam. Venues will sometimes add their own tips in an effort to promote their product. I am not a fan of this either but there are no rules against it.
Part 2: Interpersonal Conflict
Interpersonal conflict is difficult to find on Foursquare. There is very little “chatting” that happens on this SNS. I also was unable to find any evidence of any official actions or warnings happening.
Below are a couple of tips left on Foursquare that lie outside of the way this SNS’s intended use.
And my all time favorite (More funny to me then anything else):
Part 3: Taking Action
One of the things that attracted me to Foursquare was that the features can be used in several different ways. Gazan  states, “In a Web 2.0 environment, there are often multiple communities operating simultaneously within the same site, at different levels.” With this being the case on Foursquare, I imagine it would be difficult to manage all levels equally. If the purpose of using the site is to keep a digital record of places a user has been then the content in the tips might be of little importance. If, on the other hand, the user wants to know more about a venue then tips that contain little or no “chat” would be useful. However, if users want to communicate with other users than more “chat” in the tips would be what they are looking for. Regulating this so all the different levels work and benefit each other would be difficult. Gazan  goes on to make the point that users continually reshape the communities and that the designers cannot plan how the reshaping happens but that they can be ready when it happens. It seems for this to be effective designers would need to keep a close eye on how features are being used on the SNS.
As a user of Foursquare my biggest complaint is that sometimes I cannot find a venue or a venue is being called something other then what I know it by. A more rare problem is that sometimes a venue is listed more then once. Both of these issues are solved through member-generated input. Using this method has its pluses and minuses. As Cosley et al. states concerning member maintained communities, “Some people will do a poor job, while others may deliberately sabotage the community.” Members can always create unlisted venues but this would require an active member to actually go in and do it on the SNS.
Kollock and Smith state, “The temptation is to enjoy a public good without contributing to its production, but if all reach this decision, the good is never created and all suffer.” This is an interesting statement when looking at it through the lens of Foursquare. Very little activity happens on Foursquare as opposed to the larger SNSs. There is also very little interaction between users outside of following social patterns. Looking back at the check-ins at HNL, there are a total of 24,123 by 11,356 different users. This venue has 89 tips. Some users have left multiple tips but the list cannot be organized by user so it’s difficult to know exactly how many are repeat tippers. With all this being said only 1 in every 128 users are leaving tips. This is less then 1% of the users communicating in ways other then simply checking in. To put this another way, less then 1% of the Foursquare community is contributing while the over +99% is benefiting. (A more in depth analysis would need to be done to get more accurate numbers).
This leaves a lot of room for unintended use to take control. The “Patriotic Nigras” example by Dibbell is interesting in the sense that these websites seem very vulnerable when interactive use is so low. It would be easy for rouge users to punk the system and when this happens the very large number of casual users will become annoyed and loose trust in the system.
If I were a systems administrator for Foursquare I would want to make sure there was a system set up for users to edit venue information by making it open source. Users then could clean up things like multiple venues or wrong venue names. As of right now all a user can do is flag a venue [See screen shot below].
It would also be a good to add a “flag this tip” feature for inappropriate tips.
Foursquare has an option for some users to be come “supersusers” (SU). There are different ranks of these SUs. Depending on their rank they can edit venue information. As of right now Foursquare is not upgrading anyone to SU.
4: 5 Unwritten Rules
1) Only leave tips that will be of benefit to the largest undefined consensus of people. Inside jokes or day specific information is useless and might result in user distrust.
2) Only check into venues during operating hours.
3) Do not check into a venue if you are an employee. (This is actually a difficult rule because I think employees should check in so customers can know who is working but I think it would be more useful for Foursquare to develop a feature for employees specifically. One tab for who’s here and another for who’s working).
4) Do not leave tips that redirect users to another venue.
5) Do not create multiple pages for the same venue.