When it’s not testing changes to ads or tweaking the layout of Timeline, Facebook can be found tinkering with other elements of its site. This week, the social network is testing new language for its star rating scale in hopes of encouraging more members to rate the places they’ve been.

Facebook has been putting more emphasis on local businesses and the likes and recommendations of friends as of late. Last month, the company relaunched its Nearby feature under a new name, Local search, in an attempt to boost discovery. More recently, it redesigned mobile Pages, putting giving much more attention to business details and ratings.

Now the company hopes more members will utilize the features it has given prominence to. Starting today, after someone has checked into a place or been tagged in a post with location, he or she might see a “Rate These Places” module along the right side of Facebook. Hovering over the stars will reveal what each rating means, something that might have more of an impact on consumers than you think.

For some, stars one through five are defined as “would never recommend to a friend,” “probably wouldn’t recommend to a friend,” “might recommend to a friend,” “would recommend to a friend,” and “would definitely recommend to a friend.” Others are seeing “really don’t like it,” “don’t like it,” “like something things about it,” “really like it,” and “love it.” In the past, the social network used descriptions like “really don’t like it,” “don’t like it,” “like it,” “really like it,” and “love it.”

As Inside Facebook pointed out, different definitions could have a positive or negative effect on how, or if, someone rates your business. For example, an individual might not elect to give a place a three-star rating if three stars means “like it,” but he or she might if three stars means “like some things about it” or “might recommend to friends.”

On the other hand, the new descriptions could cause some members to change their existing ratings. Because of this, you might notice some fluctuation in your current rating. We should note that the ratings option won’t appear to anyone who hasn’t indicated that he or she has been to your location. This should help to deter anyone from manipulating the system.

[Via: Inside Facebook, Image credit: Jared Tarbell]