Dogspotting Is The Game That Will Save Facebook
If you’re getting burnt out on Facebook, here’s my advice: join a few groups. Facebook groups is where all the fun action is now. One of the weirdest yet most consistently rewarding groups is “Dogspotting”, a game where people post photos of dogs and fellow group members assign semi-arbitrary points to each photo.
Dogspotting as a sport started long before the Facebook group among a small group of friends, but the group has recently become incredibly popular, with over 22,000 members now.
The sport was invented by Boston resident John Savoia. “Its something I came up with in 2006 and just shared with a couple friends,” he told BuzzFeed News. “This was before mass smartphone adoption and picture messaging and such. All we did was keep track of daily point totals. It was all about the points and gamifying looking at dogs. No cute factor then.”
The rules are fairly simple: post a photo of a dog you spotted somewhere, and the group assigns points. Don’t post “known dogs”, i.e. your own dog (negative points are assigned for known dogs).
Writer David Thorpe is an admin for the group. He learned about Dogspotting from John Savoia through forums on Something Awful. However, he has a slightly different philosophy to the game. Thorpe explained:
John is the inventor of the Savoian Freepoints system, which is the scoring you probably know from the group; it awards points for dogs of all sizes and allows scorers to award creative bonuses for attributes of the dog they find particularly impressive.
I’ve been Dogspotting and tracking my points for years, long before the group existed, and have introduced it to many friends and family members. Personally, though I have massive respect for John Savoia and his pioneering ideas, I am not a Savoian spotter. I have always and will always use the Boruff Orthodox scoring system, which is much more rigorous and challenging.
The most controversial attribute of Boruff Orthodox is that small dogs are awarded negative points. Several admins of the Dogspotting group are Boruff Orthodox spotters, though we acknowledge that Savoian spotting better serves the populist attitude of the group. Savoians and Orthodox spotters generally respect each other, though there’s some healthy competition.
The group’s recent surge in membership from just a few friends to thousands of dogspotters has not been entirely smooth. “I don’t know exactly what happened but it just started exploding,” Savoia said. “Lots of growing pains as people figured out it wasn’t just cute dog pics. By now the community is self policing to a good degree and we have 5 admins cleaning up after people its like a real thing.”
Last week, a new member posted a photo of her own two cats, thinking that this was a group that enjoyed any pet photos. Hell broke loose, and admins had to clean up the mess. In another incident, someone posted a photo of a bird. Unlike the cat owner who simply didn’t understand the group, this bird-poster was intentionally trolling.
Do yourself a favor and make Facebook useful again by joining Dogspotting.