Foursquare released another teaser image for the #allnew4sq that’s coming on Thursday — and this simple image shows the biggest change yet. It’s foursquare’s first real acknowledgement (in the app, at least) of something they’ve been seeing more and more lately: people are using the app for recommendations, but not checking in.
The tweet that accompanied it read:[blackbirdpie url="http://twitter.com/foursquare/statuses/210080996182327297"]
It appears you’ll finally be able to offer a rating, either positive or negative, for the places you visit. Like it? Tap the heart. Didn’t like it? Tap the broken heart.
Foursquare has long relied on the places you and your friends have visited to influence its recommendations. That works great if you’re willing to share your location on foursquare, but many people simply aren’t willing to do that. This change appears to be a nod toward those people. Presumably, they’ll now be able to like or dislike a place — and thus influence their Explore recommendations — without ever checking in.
On top of that, likes and dislikes tackle the “I was there, but I didn’t like it” problem. As someone who likes to explore, there’ve been more than a few times that I’ve checked in somewhere and then found out later that I really didn’t like the place. In foursquare’s algorithm, those places got equal billing with the ones I checked in and loved. With the new like/dislike system, foursquare can provide better recommendations to both me and my friends based on the feedback I provide (this was the key concept behind the now-defunct Bizzy).
As far as other local search sites go, Urbanspoon uses like/dislike to calculate a percentage of people who like a place. As the only signal, it’s not incredibly useful, especially for places that don’t see a great deal of activity. Yelp uses a star system, but it’s also unhelpful, since most places tend to group in the 3.5 star range. Google+ Local integrates ratings from Zagat, which offer a better picture of a venue, but are more complicated for a user to enter.
Foursquare already has its advanced Explore algorithm that I find provides better results than the other sites. Adding like/dislike to the signals it already uses only makes its recommendations stronger. It also gives the people who aren’t checking in a way to personalize their recommendations, too.
What do you think of the change?
Updated at 4:00 pm to add more info about the advantages for people who aren’t checking in.