Foursquare has opened up its basic location and venue info, so you no longer need to actually register to see the hot spots on a map, and to click through to the page for each venue/location. Foursquare’s initial location search system seems a little confused: tell it you’re in “North Staffordshire” and it takes you to Richmond, Virginia. But once you get it centered (on Stoke-on-Trent for instance) then it’s pretty easy to get a sense of what’s been popular with a certain part of the early-adopting smartphone toting demographic.

I learned a few things, locally. At the popular Moat House hotel on Festival Park I was informed that… “the free wi-fi is limited to 1 hour”. And that the men’s toilets at Waterworld (the UK’s top indoor leisure pool complex) are best avoided. Allegedly. As with any reviews and comments site, there may well be some comments-spin and axe-grinding going on.

Interesting also for the venues that are omitted. No activity at the city’s skateboard park (the biggest in Europe), suggesting young skaters are just not interested in using Foursquare. No activity at Trentham Gardens (one of the biggest family attractions in the Midlands), suggesting that few older people or affluent shoppers are interested. Yet some joker would have you believe that Sneyd Green is a “historic site” — and has made it the most popular location on the Foursquare map. It’s not. I suspect the most “historic” element a gullible tourist would find in Sneyd Green would be a packet of stale Staffordshire oatcakes.

This is the problem with crowd-sourcing venue information in lesser cities, I guess, even when “rewards” are on offer. What you tend to get is patchy, partial, and vulnerable to being ‘spun’ by commercial interests and jokers alike.