Sorry, but I stumbled upon “StumbleUpon”!

Saying goodbye to my fear of technology? Sorry, but I stumbled upon “StumbleUpon” on my way trying to overcome my fears. StumbleUpon is with about 10.6 million users one of the most popular social networking sites these days. Never heard of it? Don’t worry! Come on! Let’s stumble together!

What is “Stumble Upon”?

StumbleUpon was founded in November 2001 by Garrett Camp, Geoff Smith, Justin LaFrance and Eric Boyd during Garrett’s time in post-graduate school in Calgary, Canada.

Wikipedia describes it as following: “StumbleUpon is a discovery engine (a form of web search engine) that finds and recommends web content to its users (so-called stumblers). Its features allow users to discover and rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to their (…) interests using peer-sourcing and social-networking principles.”

It’s a service that helps you find websites that fit your interests and uses information you provide to suggest sites that you will find interesting. Toolbar versions exist for Firefox, Mozilla Application Suite, Google Chrome and Internet Explorer. Garrett describes in a BBC interview the moment for him in which he felt the company had really taken off: “When we passed the half a million mark (in registered users), it seemed more real. In December 2002, StumbleUpon had 1 million users. The web site grew incredibly fast: With about 10.6 million users today, it is a hugely popular community- based surfing tool.

Miguel Helft, an author of the “New York Times”, wrote in his article “A way to find your corner in the internet sky” in October 2007: “A Web service called StumbleUpon has spent the last six years trying to satisfy such a need, perfecting a formula to help you discover content you are likely to find interesting. You tell the service about your professional interests or your hobbies, and it serves up sites to match them. As you “stumble” from site to site, you will feel as if you are channel-surfing the Internet, or rather, a corner of the Internet that is most relevant to you.”

How does it work?

StumbleUpon uses collaborative filtering to build communities of like-minded surfers. Rating websites creates a personal profile and generates peer networks of websurfers linked by same interests. These social networks coordinate the  distribution of web content, so that users “stumble upon” pages recommended by friends and peers.

The ranking-system is very easy to use, you just give sites a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” on the StumbleUpon toolbar to rate them. Stumble Upon uses that information and then when you click on the Stumble Upon icon, it will suggest potentially interesting sites for you. In addition, you can optionally leave a review on the site’s review page, which also appears on the user’s blog. Furthermore, users have the ability to stumble their personal interests like “History” or “Games”.

As with all social websites, user participation is the key. You don’t have to participate to enjoy the benefits of StumbleUpon, but they have made it easy to give a thumbs up to websites you like, and a thumbs down to sites you just don’t. The more you stumble, the more sites the program will recommend to you.

How to start “stumbling”?

It’s simple: Just go to and create an account. (You can also get started via your Facebook account) Download and install the toolbar in your browser. Now, pick your favorite topics and place the ‘I like it‘-Icon just over or below your post. Whenever you see something you like or dislike, you simply click the thumbs-up or thumbs-down button.  You don’t have to do it for every site you visit, but the more you do it, the more the program will know about you and your preferences.  You can also allow people to bookmark your blog and place their review.

Why use StumbleUpon?

Jessica Winter wrote for “The Oprah Magazine” in her article “The most addictive website ever” in early 2009: “StumbleUpon is the greatest thing ever invented. The site makes the Internet infinite in its possibilities yet totally accessible. Warning: never has a website hijacked my brain, my attention span, and time itself quite like StumbleUpon.”

What are the advantages StumbleUpon offers?

For users in general:

  • It’s fun and random. – StumbleUpon is a great way to find new material in your area of interest. It’s wonderful for discovering new websites you might not have found otherwise or just for killing some time.
  • It’s various. – You cannot only “stumble” websites but also e.g. stumble videos & pictures.
  • It’s easy. – The toolbar is easy to access and simple to use. Rating websites has never been easier. (“thumbs-up” & “thumbs-down”)
  • It’s social and communicative. – You can find many interesting people to follow and build virtual communities. You can see who first submitted a certain site as well as who else favorited it. You can then go to their profiles for more potential informative websites to discover.  You can consider it “social networking connected by ideas” because these people are giving the same opinions on the same websites that you are!  You can also see who else favorited something after you did and find relevant people to follow in this way. Once you find people you want to “follow,” you “subscribe” to their feeds of websites that they favorited.

Here are some advantages Vera listed on her blog especially for bloggers:

  • StumbleUpon can generate rapid exposure for a specific website, brand or concept.
  • You can establish a reader base for your blog very quickly.
  • It’s possible to gain numerous backlinks from StumbleUpon visitors with websites.
  • StumbleUpon is a real alternative to Twitter or Facebook and maybe an even more powerful tool for bloggers. It has better privacy rules and restrictions than Facebook.
  • You can share your website reviews.
  • StumbleUpon makes tagging easy, so your content is easy to find.  You do not need any super technical keyword research. Broad keywords work best.
  • It is easy to see what your competition is up to…subscribe to their Stumbles.
  • It offers the great possibility to build a network of friends.
  • Rating and leaving comments is easy. – You can comment on the site StumbleUpon, or you can send your comments on the page itself fell into a comment box. This not only helps to establish your online credibility, but if you leave a comment, others are more likely to do the same for you.

Can I get traffic from Stumble Upon?

  • Utilize good review to indirectly leas people to want to see the rest of your website.  – Basically you can expect targeted traffic because of the tags placed in the review. Your reviews must be of real good quality so that visitors are animated to have a look at your blog. To encourage visitors to stay in your page and click the “Thumb-Up” button, the contents must be very informative and readable so that visitors enjoy reading it. The more thumb-ups you receive, the more other stumblers will start to see your content.
  • Add as much people as possible in your profile. – Joining new communities means that every review can reach as many people as possible at the same time.

If your blog has a good content and you created many relationships and you have shared in the thousands of websites and thus have become a “StumbleUpon Channel” for others, the potential rewards for traffic back to your own website are huge.

Another great feature that got released is SU.PR a plug in that can e.g. be used in WordPress. Click here to learn more about it

What about disadvantages?

  • It’s not specific. – Stumble Upon can be a lot of fun, but it is not a great tool if you are looking for something specific.
  • It takes time. – If you want to be able to get many views to your content, you should invest time to improve the quality of your reviews and contents. In addition you should regularly look at other peoples Stumble pages.
  • It is highly addictive. – Once you started participating StumbleUpon, you can’t stop using it. Believe me! :)

Come on! Let’s stumble together!


About NerdyLaura

Born and raised in Berlin, Germany. 20-year-old girl. Studying "International Business Management" at Berlin School of Economics and Law although my Time-Management is really bad ;). Hates: Rainy days and people who are driving 30 km/h when 50 km/h are allowed. Loves: Kitschy staff, jewellery, gardening (green fingers) and movies (good and bad ones). View all posts by NerdyLaura

4 responses to “Sorry, but I stumbled upon “StumbleUpon”!

  • Bruce Spear

    Excellent, NerdyLaura!

    I knew nothing about this (maybe I shouldn’t make such a confession in public?), so I’m grateful for the news!

    I like how attractive you’ve made it appear to those of us who are new to it, and I think a next step might be to shift from the consumer’s point of view to a manager’s point of view, for instance, by reducing what you’ve written here by about half and so leave room to talk about the millions of investment money (, how it is being used for social organization (, and market competition (a href=””>

    This probably is not for this semester (you are all bringing it to a close beautifully), and maybe I write this mostly for me, as I am now thinking of how I might do things better in the next semester, but I will be very curious to learn what you might research and write about next!

    All the best,


  • Johanna

    Hey Laura!

    As I wrote about stumble upon myself some weeks ago, I really wanted to check out your post! Congrats! You found nice pictures and I love the order of your text! Like you I literally “stumbled upon stumble upon” and I used it a lot. Mainly to procrasitinate to find interesting pictures, videos or articles about street arts, recepes or travelling and I find (or it finds me…) pages I’d never have found in the vast www-world :)

    It seems to be amazing, such a great help to “arrange” the intimidating and unbelievably broad internet, right? But what I found out while researching and using stumbleupon myself is, that you definitely pay a price for using it. After some days stumbling and naming my likes and dislikes I detected adds which definitely were triggered by some of my “thumbs-up” at stumble upon. And you know what was extremely freaked out and creepy? Eventhough I never told that I liked latin music (apart from my i tunes player I use) I literally got spammed by stumble upon recommending me reggaeton pages, ticket offers and dance lesson. This was the moment I gave up my short but intense Stumbling career.

    I am quite curious now…what do you think about this? Did you experience the same?

    Anyways, I stumbled upon my favorite cupcake recepe thanks to stumble upon ;) maybe you want to have a look:

  • Bruce Spear

    Excellent comment, Johanna!

    I think what you experienced was the result of third-party cookies, as described here: ‘Scrapers’ Dig Deep for Data on the Web – Unless you select “private browsing” and wipe out your cookies on a regular basis, your every move is being recorded, mined for information on your habits, and sold to others …

    This post and comment would also make a great start for students in the next semester, thanks!


  • natiliab

    Hi Anja,

    Your post is amazing. I have never heard about stumble upon before and now I am very curious to try it out!! You outlined the most interesting facts about the social website and now I have a 360 degree view about the topic.
    I think that stumble upon is an excellent possibility to organize the web pages one is interested in. I always think that I only know a tiny bit about what is going on in the web because there are so many websites, blogs etc existing that one person alone can never find out everything he/she is interested in.
    Sometimes it is easy to look for webpages but I always know that I have only access to a couple and if I imagine that other people with the same interests suggest websites, the time it takes to research will become shorter.
    Your post shows that you put a lot effort in writing the article because you presented different opinions (advantages and disadvantages) and you provided an overview and clear instructions how to set up and use stumble upon. I think that stumble upon seems very easy and the advantages clearly overweigh the disadvantages.
    This is a link to a blog. The author writes about stumble upon on the iPad which is I think a very important factor that all social networks are available for iPad and iPhones:

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