Out of all the online social networks I have tried, the one I always continue to use on a regular basis is Stumbleupon. Clicking that Stumble button is like a drug and many a hour has disappeared without a trace while I find sites that I wouldn’t normally have found without the aid of this amazing social network.
But to simply label Stumbleupon a social network where you can find other amazing websites belittles its other amazing potential. For example, I have noticed it starting to influence search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Could Stumbleupon’s human-filtered search results be the beginning of the next evolution of search engines that could see the all-powerful Google algorithim be made redundant?
If you switch on the relevant feature in the Stumbleupon toolbar and then go searching in Google or Yahoo, you will then see this in your search results :
I chose “Garfield” as it was the first thing that popped into my head!
But you’ll see that there are now Stumbleupon factors in the search index. There are thumbs up, indicating a positive reaction from a Stumbleupon user, a speech bubble (indicating there are reviews available to read), the name of the Stumbleupon user that recommended the page and the category that the website appeared in Stumbleupon.
Now for Garfield, it’s no big deal whether someone likes him or not. But if you’re looking to buy something online or you’re looking for facts online, it helps to have pages that have been recommended by actual human beings, rated by human beings and reviewed by human beings.
Google may brag about its all-powerful algorithim but the one thing the algorithim doesn’t have is its ability to smell a scam or its ability to work out when a fact isn’t a real fact. Only real human beings can do that and that’s what makes Stumbleupon users with their ratings and reviews stand out from the crowd.
I’m very fond of calling Stumbleupon the “fledgling web democracy” because that is precisely what it is. It isn’t just a bunch of people looking at stupid websites and making profile pages. It’s a democracy of web users filtering out webpages and voting them up and down. That part, I think, is often overlooked by others and now that Stumbleupon has integrated itself into Google and Yahoo, that web filtering can start to influence overall search results and all the bad sites can now be voted to the very bottom. Something an anonymous computer algorithim can never do. Stumbleupon is the “Quality Control” of the World Wide Web.
If you want to take part in this web democracy, all you need to do is download and install the Stumbleupon toolbar and then switch on “Highlight Recommended Search Results”. Then start stumbling and voting!
But feel free to look at some LOLcats every now and then.