If you think that star ratings are oftentimes faulty or unspecific indicators of a location's true worth, the people at Foursquare agree with you. In order to provide what they think are better ratings, the company is now attaching a number score to locations when you find them via the Explore tab.
Now, when you are browsing through the Explore feature, each location with sport a number between 1-10. That number should be seen as an indicator of "how much people love it," according to Foursquare.
Foursquare's not explaining exactly how they are calculating this number score, but they are saying what types of signals go into it:
"Instead of other sites where every place gets 3.5 stars, we come up with our scores using the same Foursquare magic that powers Explore. We look at signals like tips, likes, dislikes, popularity, loyalty, local expertise, and nearly 3 billion check-ins from over 25 million people worldwide. And, with every check-in and Explore search, our scores will get smarter and better" they say.
Foursquare has been taking steps recently to move "beyond the check-in" and make their explore feature a well-rounded service that can compete was a standalone local search destination - a move that they hope will allow them to make gains on similar local search sites like Yelp or Urbanspoon. Last month they opened up their explore feature to non-members, directly accesible via Foursquare.com. And last week the company expanded that functionality to their BlackBerry app, allowing mobile users to reap the benefits of Foursquare's personalized results without signing up.