Sep 25 2007

7 Ways to use StumbleUpon as a Discovery Tool

Published by at 3:59 pm under StumbleUpon

A while back I wrote a Beginners Guide to StumbleUpon. Since then I’ve read a lot of articles about StumbleUpon being a great source of traffic. You’ll get no argument from me there. Having a look at my traffic referrals since I moved to this domain in May, and StumbleUpon has bought 21% of my traffic in that time, eclipsed only by Google (44%).

Recently there’s been talk about StumbleUpon power lists, and how important it is to increase your StumbleUpon Network.

But what I’d like to focus on today, is not what StumbleUpon can do for your blog, but rather how it can enrich your internet experience. Let’s face it, without stumblers there is no StumbleUpon.

Firstly, you need to be looking at your StumbleUpon Toolbar:

StumbleUpon Toolbar

What you’re looking for is the button with a drop down box that says “All”. If you click on the down arrow, you’ll be presented with the following options:

StumbleUpon Options

The numbers in red represent the points below. For any of the various methods, to get to the next page, you need to hit the”Stumble!” button on the far left of the toolbar.

1. Stumble Randomly

Stumbling randomly can lead you to a lot of new content. The problem is that it’s just that – random. This means that you can also be presented with a lot of stuff you’re not interested in. I prefer to be a little more focussed about my stumbling, so I find I use the following methods more.

2. Stumble Your Friends Pages

If you’ve chosen your friends wisely (i.e. friends with similar interests), you can get some really interesting pages this way. Simply click on the friends icon numbered at (2) on your toolbar or the drop down list.

3. Search for a Keyword

This is powerful! Hit the little magnifying glass / search link and you’ll get a search box which opens up. Doing a search here will return pages that have been tagged with that label (see how important efficient tagging can be?).

StumbleUpon Search

4. Stumble within a Topic

At number (4) in the image you’ll see all the topics you’ve nominated as your interests. These are in broad categories, with individual topics underneath. Great for targeted stumbling.

StumbleUpon Topics

5. Stumble a Specific Friend

Ever notice one of your friends seems to always have great, interesting stumbles? Using this option you can nominate a specific friend’s stumbled pages. Click on the “Pages From” and you’ll get a box which opens up. Here you type in your friend’s stumbleUpon nickname:

StumbleUpon Friend

6. Stumble your Favourites

This isn’t specifically discovery – more “re-discovery”. You can stumble through your favourites and see what fresh content has been posted at sites you like (this is the “star (icon) Favorites” button on the main toolbar).

7. Subscribe to a Stumble Feed

Yes, you can subscribe to a Stumble feed (as if you don’t have enough feed in your reader)! I love this function. You can monitor what your favourite stumblers are discovering via RSS and click through to pages that sound interesting (and maybe stumble them yourself).

To do this, navigate to a stumbler you’d like to follow, and at the very bottom of their “pages” page (and also in the address bar of your browser) you’ll see the RSS feed icon (the one on the left gives you just the link’s title – the one on the right gives you the title and what the stumbler wrote in the review).

StumbleUpon Subscribe to RSS

Tips and Further Reading


When you first start stumbling, chances are you’re not terribly picky about your friends – everyone wants friends! But remember that you are limited to 200 mutual friends so sooner or later you have to be selective about it. Choose friends who have nominated similar topics of interest, who are active stumblers, and whose stumbles are of interest to you. This way your relationship will be more mutually beneficial.

Make Discoveries and Stumbles Count

When you discover a new page PLEASE give just a moment’s thought to the topic you enter. This can really effect the exposure that a web page will get.

For instance (and I don’t want to call anybody out here, so I’m speaking generally) someone submitted a great article about website traffic under the topic of “transportation”. It doesn’t take Einstein to realise that the number of people stumbling “transportation” as a topic, are going to be much fewer than those who would stumble “weblogs” or “internet”. Aside from the fact that the page had nothing to do with transportation, so would be totally irrelevant there.

Also, with discoveries, take a moment to enter review text and some tags (as you can see from above, the tags can be very important for people searching specifically for a word). Remember, at the very least, you can highlight some text from the page before you discover, or thumb up and this will go into the review text box.

Tim Nash has written a very thorough explanation of how the StumbleUpon algorithm might work, which is a great read for anyone interested in how StumbleUpon weights stumbles. In the comments Tim also points out not to send a page to a friend if it hasn’t first been stumbled. Tim also answers some more StumbleUpon questions in his follow up.

Liz Strauss’ Secrets to Massive StumbleUpon Traffic is also a very worthwhile read. You’ll be surprised at how simple the solution can be :)

Lyndon has put together a massive list of StumbleUpon posts, which is a great resource.

How do you like to stumble?

17 responses so far

17 Responses to “7 Ways to use StumbleUpon as a Discovery Tool”

  1. Karen (Miscellaneous Mum)on 25 Sep 2007 at 4:22 pm

    I’ve discovered how useful a tool it can be for research purposes – depending on how you hone your keywords. For example, I’ve found a wealth of infomation on the Luddite revolts of 1812 in England (don’t ask) that I never, ever found on a google search.

    Ah – the friends one will be good I think… (point 2)….I just hope my friends don’t think I’m a terrible bore when they look at the pages I like!

  2. Tim Nashon 25 Sep 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Nice write up, and thanks again for including some of my links :)

    @Karen – while they are looking at your links and think how boring, you will be looking at their thumbed up kitten pictures and thinking how shallow ;), However Napoleonic era of British history is really fascinating its perhaps one of the greatest periods of change not only as the start of the industrial revolution but also because of the various trade routes many people tend to forget that at this period the British were the largest drugs dealers in the world shipping vast quantities of opium from modern day Afghanistan via the tea routes a dark part of my countries history but provides some interesting comparisons for today none the less. If you want Karen feel free to send me an email with your stumble name I would be interested in what you found :) t dot nash

    oops sorry Meg :) stumbleupon its a great tool honest, I really have gone of the use of the send to button not because I don’t think it was a good idea just everyone caught on to it and now its abused so has been devalued.

  3. Rubabon 25 Sep 2007 at 6:20 pm

    still getting the way out to benefited from SU

  4. Megon 25 Sep 2007 at 10:41 pm

    @ Karen – I’m sure they won’t :) Glad the search function has netted you some obscure results. Looking at who else enjoyed those pages is surely another example of discovery – people with similar interests.

    @ Tim – sounds like you two should be friends! Thanks and you’re welcome.

    @ Rubab – hope you find it soon.

  5. pelfon 26 Sep 2007 at 2:02 am

    I am still learning the ropes of stumbling, so let’s just say that I’ve began to crawl now, LOL.

  6. Dana Wallerton 26 Sep 2007 at 2:48 am

    Looks like we were on the same wavelength today Meg! You could use my post from this morning as a testimonial for your tutorial :) Great breakdown of your different stumble options.

  7. Alfredon 26 Sep 2007 at 7:46 am

    Nice post. Stumble upon is a great tool for discovery as well as traffic generation.

  8. Martin Neumannon 26 Sep 2007 at 12:05 pm

    Nice post, Meg – and here I was usually stumbling in the dark (which is not so bad at times when you’re bored or just want something different/unexpected)

    Although your tips take it to another level. I generally use apps such as SU on a basic surface level rarely digging deep enough into it – your post has awakened me out of my SU slumber… Thanks!

    #’s 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are my favourites. :-)

  9. Megon 26 Sep 2007 at 12:19 pm

    Hi Pelf – I didn’t really address the comment you made previously (I just couldn’t work it in). Happy crawling!

    Dana – great to see someone also enjoying the Stumble! button. You’re really notching up the stumbles (and as you say discovering lots of new sites & blogs)

    Alfred – thanks

    Martin – Glad you liked it :)

    Thanks to you all for taking the time to comment.

  10. Cellobellaon 27 Sep 2007 at 1:38 am

    Your timing is exquisite – I’ve just downloaded the stumble toolbar! CB x

  11. Megon 27 Sep 2007 at 6:23 pm

    Hey CB

    I hope you enjoy! Feel free to email me if you have any dramas.

  12. pearlon 28 Sep 2007 at 12:52 am

    just discovered this article Meg, very nicely written and some informative links there… Im still learning SU and enjoying it so far… although I am a bit unsettled at that every time I hit the thumbs up, I am asked to submit a review, even if the site already has tons of reviews … may be its in the toolbar settings somewhere?

  13. James - Visualized.Feel.Abundanceon 28 Sep 2007 at 2:50 am

    Hey Meg,

    Great post to share about using SU as a tool to find new and interesting post :)

    I have been doing that for a while and it rocks! It is very important to spent a little time to get the topic, tags and review in to get good stumble effects. If you are going to stumble it, make it count!

    Oh and get some friends, lots of them so you stumble has power.


  14. Megon 28 Sep 2007 at 10:32 am

    Hi Pearl

    I think you’re right about the Options. If you go into “tools” (should be on your toolbar), there are lots of options. You’re looking for the “configuration” tab. In there you’ve probably got the box ticked that says “Show page review after rating”. Hopefully unticking that will work :)

    Thanks for your comment.

    Hey James

    Thanks for your feedback. You’re very right about spending “…a little time to get the topic, tags and review in to get good stumble effects” & making it count.

  15. Neville Frankson 03 Oct 2007 at 10:13 pm

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