BrightKite for Dodgeball users

Now that Dodgeball is gone, here’s a short guide on how you can replicate the Dodgeball experience in BrightKite.


The notion of friendship is more complicated than Dodgeball’s. First, in order for people to see your exact location, you’ll need to make them a trusted friend. Also, how you receive their checkins and posts is configurable on a friend-by-friend basis. If you want to receive all checkins from all friends via SMS, you’ll need to choose “Edit Friendship” for each user and set that. So, in short:

  1. Make each of your friends “trusted”
  2. Choose to receive their posts and checkins via SMS


There are a bunch of features that deal with meeting new people, and being alerted when other BrightKite users are in your vicinity. This is configurable under Account Settings -> Notifications -> Nearby Notifications. You can theoretically use this single area to control notifications from all of your friends, but because it’s location-centric (“only let me know when people check in within x kilometers from me”) the only way to replicate Dodgeball’s behavior is to configure your friends on a user-by-user basis, above. So, that’s how I do it.


They have very similar SMS commands to Dodgeball, including the @ notation for checking in and ! notation for posts (nearest equivalent to the Dodgeball “shout out”).


The way they do locations (ex. @viceroy) is similar to how Dodgeball did it in the old days – that is, they validate that they know the location you’re requesting in a database before allowing the checkin. You can create custom-named places (called “placemarks”) like this: search on their site for the thing you want to check in to, by address (ex. “1501 Pike Pl Seattle, WA 98101”) on the resulting page you’ll be able to add that address as a Placemark and give it a friendly name (ex. “Pike Place Market”). When you’re out somewhere you can also type “MARK friendlyname” to create a placemark for your current location. I think those methods only create a placemark for you but they have a hack for creating public placemarks as well.

Cool New Features

It had a few things dodgeball didn’t…

  • You can define a “Quiet Time” when you don’t want to receive SMSs… good if you have friends who check in at the airport at 7am.
  • Rather than having everyone check in at the same place, on person can checkin and the others can just text “JOIN username” to replicate their checkin.
  • It has a full iPhone app that’s pretty sharp
  • You can add pictures to your checkin, which go into the friendstream and also, optionally, can be sent to flickr.

Why not…

  • Google Latitude? They currently don’t support iPhones, nor (to my knowledge) do they offer a basic SMS interface for people with older phones.
  • Twitter? It’s not location-centric and your posts go to everyone who follows you.
  • Loopt? Was, at least for a while, very iPhone-centric. It looks like it’s on more phones now though. I just haven’t heard much about it recently. Also, when I was using it the model seemed a bit different. You didn’t “check in” so much as you opened it and it broadcasted your location. There were options to post messages though.
  • FourSquare, from the creators of Dodgeball? We’ll see what it’s about when it’s released, hopefully soon.