I discovered from a post on Techcrunch today that I am ranked #8 on the newly released Top Foursquare User list by Osnapz. When I saw that I was within the top 10 "most friended" users on on Foursquare I was definitely surprised because Foursquare to date hasn't provided friend count stats on user profiles. They measure and display a lot of other statistics on user profiles like number of check-in's, badges, mayorships, etc., but not friends. I was never sure why they didn't show a friend count on profiles, but I imagine it is because they wanted to encourage and reward users for their participation rather than popularity (which is what Twitter does by only displaying following and follower stats on user profiles rather than any kind of real engagement metric).
With that said, since I started on Foursquare I have had a few debates with other Foursquare users about the fact that I accept every Foursquare invite I receive, no matter if I know who they are or not. I always understood the argument against accepting friend requests from people you don't know. Foursquare is a platform for users to inform their friends where they are hanging out and compete with each other for the most number badges, which signifies who is the most adventurous out of the group.
Although I respect why most people restrict their Foursquare network to real life friends, I've always looked at it differently. I like to use Foursquare when I am out socializing and crusin' around NYC as a way to help me connect in real life, with both the people I know very well, and people I don't know well at all (yet). When investing so much time into digital relationships, it's a unique opportunity to be able to tell my close friends where I am at, and at the same time unexpectedly meet others that I likely would have never connected or had a real life conversation with.
Also, as Foursquare expands to more cities and countries, the opportunity when traveling to meetup with and learn from your Foursquare friends who live there can make an unknown city a friendly, local experience. As soon as you switch cities on Foursquare, you can see what the locals are doing and where the most checked-in hangouts are.
I've had lots of people tell me that sharing my location publicly, with people that are practically strangers, is weird and creepy. But they also said similar things about Twitter in the beginning, and look what Twitter has done to change the way millions of people connect, communicate and learn from each other. And although at first it feels awkward, there is nothing better than turning a stranger into a friend.