Beyond social booknetworking
January 17, 2007 8:44 PM   Subscribe

StumbleUpon is now bigger than, counting 1.3 million users. Is it just another social booknetworking site, or a way for me to finally "surf" the intertubes? Just ten more Stumbles before bed, and this time I'm serious.
posted by Area Control (37 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I always liked how you could get "reviews" of almost any site on the Internet by constructing a URL like the following:
posted by vacapinta at 8:53 PM on January 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

Hmm, in this sort of thing, you have to consider demographics... is very geeky relative to other places... metafilter is more intellectual/pseudointellectual vs. digg, reddit, boing boing, etc. I don't know about the demographic of StumbleUpon, but I always find to be a convenient way to find the best technology-related stuff.
posted by tmcw at 8:57 PM on January 17, 2007

"booknetworking"? Really?
posted by TypographicalError at 9:00 PM on January 17, 2007

Meh, forces me to use Firefox or IE. Bzzt.
posted by unSane at 9:01 PM on January 17, 2007

Doesn't support Safari.
posted by wxsnoozle at 9:02 PM on January 17, 2007

metafilter is more intellectual/pseudointellectual

i thought it was more ephedrine/pseudoephedrine
posted by pyramid termite at 9:05 PM on January 17, 2007

Videosift sees a good deal of stumbleupon traffic daily. Certainly more than we have seen from since around launch.
posted by sourbrew at 9:08 PM on January 17, 2007

I always liked how you could get "reviews" of almost any site on the Internet by constructing

Ooh, thanks. I like that better than having my surfing history online and having to have more junk in my browser.
posted by Listener at 9:17 PM on January 17, 2007

Speaking as a web server owner, I have really come to despise them because their tool produces bogus referers.

For a while I had them blocked in my .htaccess file for exactly that reason.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:41 PM on January 17, 2007

As someone running a "Web 2.0" site, StumbleUpon is a really mixed situation for us. It's by far our biggest referrer day to day (and has been for the past two+ months) but because StumbleUpon's users are in this stumble...stumble...stumble... grind, they tend to spend very little time at the site. Our yield of SU users is atrocious compared to users who follow specific links. So in that sense, SU has a big challenge. It drives lots of traffic, but it's not intentional traffic, so it will be harder (I imagine) to monetize through advertising or premium revenues; we would certainly never pay for preferential SU traffic because it's so fleeting. That said, it seems to be a compelling user experience that's not going anywhere, so there will certainly be value to extract somewhere.

(For the interested, I wrote a blog post for my site a while back talking about our experience with reddit and delicious traffic that is somewhat apropos. You can find the site in my profile and look around on the blog for it. It was in early November.)
posted by heresiarch at 9:41 PM on January 17, 2007

metafilter is more intellectual/pseudointellectual

i thought it was more ephedrine/pseudoephedrine

Huh. I thought it was ephemeral/pseudointellectual.
posted by ibmcginty at 9:43 PM on January 17, 2007

The success of comes not from the number of users, but the quality of the average user. Better signal to noise ratio.
posted by mullingitover at 10:09 PM on January 17, 2007

In olden tymes, their Firefox extension would cause incredible instability in the browser. Does that still happen?
posted by popechunk at 10:09 PM on January 17, 2007

In olden tymes, their Firefox extension would cause incredible instability in the browser. Does that still happen?

I don't know but I uninstalled it ages and ages ago just for that reason. It was killing me.
posted by loquacious at 10:17 PM on January 17, 2007

I am not too interested in any site which requires the installation of a browser extension.
posted by caddis at 10:23 PM on January 17, 2007

I thought it was ephemeral/pseudointellectual.

maybe it's more femoral/jugular
posted by pyramid termite at 10:26 PM on January 17, 2007

Doesn't support Safari.

i wish every browser that is not firefox would disappear into a tornado of doom.

that is created by the firefox's awesomely huge tail.

that is bigger than the world!

and fiery!
posted by dminor at 10:36 PM on January 17, 2007 [2 favorites]

My username is taken.......didn't want to play anyway....stupid Firefox extension.
posted by SinisterPurpose at 11:02 PM on January 17, 2007

it doesn't send web servers as much traffic as you think. it does send a lot of bots and other things though, it seems.
posted by cell divide at 11:14 PM on January 17, 2007

Yep, I took down the extension a long time ago too. I don't mind having a bit of a random wander through user pages for 5 or 10mins when I see an inbound link, but I don't find it particularly easy to use as a visitor. Stumble is dissociative whereas delicious is associative. One is just random channel surfing and the other is a (generally) logical information source. That said, I've found a couple of stumble user pages I return to - but they're just link blogs by any other name.
posted by peacay at 11:34 PM on January 17, 2007

I've recently been turned onto it. It's pretty cool, but it's hard to decide whether something is good or sucky too often because they are only comparable in context to the other random sites I stumble, which usually have nothing to do with the site I'm attempting to decide how to vote on.
posted by Kickstart70 at 12:39 AM on January 18, 2007

Stumbleupon has, IMO, always been just a "find new sites similar to other stuff I like" - but although I've flagged lots of things as "I like it" or "I don't like it", there's precious few that I spent any time at, and even less that I actually added to my favourites.

Most of the time I seemed to get stupid games or animations - boring. There were some gems though, like Zug, and PointlessWasteOfTime, and stuff like that.
posted by Chunder at 1:31 AM on January 18, 2007

People are right about being focused on technology-related stuff; this makes it a negative for me, particularly when I go to the front page to see what's "popular"... I'm sick of links to the "10 Ten Ways To Monetize Your Web2.0 Lifehacking Social Network Using Your iPhone", although I'm sure heresiarch would that kind of stuff ;)

But that doesn't really matter, because I can set up with my inbox and network to find fairly interesting links anyway. And the interface is clean and beautiful. And the API is open and well utilized by dozens of third-party sites.

I did use Stumbleupon once, before I ramped up my usage, but the interface is just clunky, overdone, and the site itself looks a little bit like Geocities circa 1999. I think it does a good job, but it needs a hell of a lot of modernization before it overtakes again for me.
posted by Jimbob at 2:06 AM on January 18, 2007

Speaking as apparently the only Stumbler™ in this thread, my experience is that, after a point, I stopped using the Stumbleupon function to find new sites and, instead, used the system for socializing and, particularly, blogging.

What I like about SU:
-the system allows for limited modding of one's page so that the eye-searing atrocities of MySpace and the like are precluded.
-the participants generally make an effort to craft interesting or attractive pages. This is not to say that there aren't pages and pages of "pretty" landscapes, "tasteful" nudes, and "funny" kitty/office humor.
-the Stumbleupon function can be targetted so that it generates sites within a designated subject, so it's not quite a random link generator. And Stumblers do index some good sites. So, while it's not MeFi without the snark, it's still predicated on filtering for one's sense of the intersection of one's taste with the collective taste. That said, there's a fair amount of pr0n, overwhelmingly het'ro.

I myself don't find the extension intrusive or destabilizing (and I use a not-particularly-new iBook) but, then, I'm a fan of Firefox and its extensibility.

And, hey, here's a self-link to my Stumbleupon page which you may or may not be able to access depending on your platform, browser, time zone, or age. My latest entry discusses a new, external add-on which allows Stumblers to Thumbs-Up items in wish-list style so that other Stumblers can buy it for them. It's generally been dissed by those who've cared to comment but may be a sign of encroaching commercialization. StumbleAds anyone?

And that's more than you ever wanted to know about Stumbleupon.
posted by the sobsister at 6:09 AM on January 18, 2007

Metafilter: Great site. Watch the hilarious antics of a bunch of pompous windbags who know it all. Membership comprised entirely of lefty gays. Allegedly reading this site inspired Osama bin Laden to mount the 9/11attacks.
posted by matthewr at 6:12 AM on January 18, 2007

I was quite taken for a little while with Stumble but got bored after awhile. It was a way of finding new sites I might not otherwise have found but even that gets old pretty quickly. I poke around with it every once in a while now but only if boredom has completely taken over.
posted by etaoin at 6:40 AM on January 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

I haven't gotten into the social bookmarking yet, i just use SU the way their slogan suggests, to "channel surf" the web.
posted by TechnoLustLuddite at 6:49 AM on January 18, 2007

I too prefer the context-based nature of link-mining with If I'm in the mood for randomness, I tend to use the recent page (turned down to "1"). also does have a (potentially NSFW) random button, but while it's results can be interesting, I prefer to have a little more control over what I'm willing to surf.
posted by ktrey at 8:00 AM on January 18, 2007

Apples are now bigger than oranges?
posted by gwint at 8:07 AM on January 18, 2007

I'm also in the Fuck Firefox category.
posted by dobbs at 8:26 AM on January 18, 2007

metafilter is more intellectual/pseudointellectual

**coffee shoot out nose**
posted by spock at 12:17 PM on January 18, 2007

My current workflow for killing time:
Fark, Fazed, Metafilter, Comics Curmudgeon, YouTube searches for "rally car crash", then Stumbleupon. I still use delicious to save the links I want to keep. I load Stumble up with links that express my interests, regardless of whether I will return to them. I use Stumbleupon the same way I use TV. It's worth noting that the more you use it, the less "random" the links become. That being said, I have a very short attention span, I click that button a lot, and I do get repeats from time to time. But still, a lot of sites I found via Stumbling have made it into my permanent toolset. I have seen no browser instability.
posted by Area Control at 12:41 PM on January 18, 2007

I've been using stumbleupon for almost 3 years now and I've turned a number of friends on to it. I hardly ever actually "stumble" anymore, if only because the number of interesting sites that I come across in a short time greatly exceeds my information-processing ability. Now I mainly visit friends' pages and send/recieve links amongst friends - it's the only social-networking service I use. The S/N ratio is mostly determined by you - who your friends are and the sites you've stumbled, so don't blame SU if you added 20 random people as friends (or no one) and you get shit results. I generally find friends through comments pages or shared interests/movies/books. In general the intelligence of stumblers seems to be higher than average for the internet. I've also found that since it's based on the trading and reviewing of websites, it tends to avoid the "I had an orange for lunch today and it sucked" blog posts, and focuses on what I'm looking for: where to find interesting information on the internet and/or why it's interesting. In particular, I've found more art that I like on SU than anywhere else.

It's not a replacement in my mind - I use both. SU gets sites I either have something to say about or find especially noteworthy, gets anything I want to bookmark. Maybe this is another reason people have gotten poor results? I've also had no stability problems.
posted by nTeleKy at 1:12 PM on January 18, 2007

heresiarch, your blog post is clearly related to this post, don't be coy, go ahead and link it here so interested parties can find it with an easy single click.

I stumbled quite a lot ages ago, when it seemed quite new (maybe it was? I joined June 12/03) and I liked it, channel surfing the web on my topic of interest only. Found so much stuff! As the community grew so did the many things stumbled upon. It's gone from a precious few pages in some small topics to thousands. From a handful of topics to what seems like hundreds. I'm bored with the social bit, never went there for that and now I keep forgetting to install the toolbarwidget.
posted by dabitch at 1:18 PM on January 18, 2007

Stumbleupon is nice, but I tend to use it a whole lot for a couple days, hide the toolbar, then forget about it for 3 months.

Then I heavily use it again for 2 days.
posted by aerotive at 1:27 PM on January 18, 2007

Do you still have to pay to not get advertising sites?

When I tried it a couple years ago, I was impressed until I started getting a lot of repeats of obviously placed sites (like product order pages). I could pay a fee to not get them anymore, but fuck that.
posted by dozo at 2:04 PM on January 18, 2007

Yeah, you still occasionally get advertising sites if you don't contribute the massive sum of $5/year.
posted by nTeleKy at 7:07 PM on January 18, 2007

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