In the past, I’ve mentioned that there are two sorts of Foursquare badges – ‘core’ badges, and ‘partner’ badges, the latter of which are in conjunction with other companies to promote their services within the Foursquare eco-system. But now there’s a third – ‘expertise’ badges.
Essentially these are the ‘x checkins in pizza places’ and ‘x checkins in libraries or book shops’ badges which already existed, but the major difference is that they now have rankings and consistent criteria to unlock. All the expertise badges are unlocked after 5 checkins to a qualifying venue, or 3 checkins to 3 different venues in the category. You get the level 2 badge by checking in to 5 unique venues, level 3 at 10, level 4 at 15 and so on, up to a current maximum of level 10. This is a major change; many of these badges required as many as 30 checkins previously so they are now more accessible. If you qualify for a badge under the new rules but don’t have it yet, it’ll be unlocked at the next checkin to a valid venue.
21 of the existing core badges are now expertise badges and now appear in a separate category on the Foursquare web site and in the mobile apps. Additionally, three new badges were added last week – for vegetarian, Mexican and Japanese restaurants respectively – and another three this week, for malls, jazz clubs and spas, bringing the total to 27.
Foursquare will, in turn, use these badges to rank tips; a tip left by someone who has a level 8 Fresh Brew badge is probably more knowledgeable about coffee shops than someone with level 2 – this is why they’re known as ‘expertise’ badges. Foursquare’s tips are a valuable asset and can be very useful when deciding what to eat, or whether the place is frankly rubbish and best avoided.
At present I only have 2 expertise badges – Handmade Hero level 1 and Bookworm level 2 – but I’m likely to unlock a number of others at my next checkin. Fresh Brew and Pizzaiolo were badges that I was close to under the old criteria so I may even go straight to level 3 or 4 when I unlock them.
Unlocking badges is one of the things that makes Foursquare fun and having levels means that there’s more incentive for long time users to keep checking in; once you’ve been using Foursquare a while and obtained all of the easy badges it gets quite hard to unlock new ones.