Could Stumbleupon Help To Revolutionize Online Search?

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.

Written by Mark O’Neill


  1. no

    Stumbleupon must be the worst way to find information or online stores, etc. People on the internet are terrible at determining fact. As for those on stumbleupon, they are the worst – completely incapable, and will thumb up everything that includes “herbal,” “natural,” “lulz,” “green,” or “science,” without a child’s inclination to question the statements. Scams and spam flow through the system with acclaim; some 95% of the users will thumb it up and review positively. Don’t believe me? Look up a known scam on stumbleupon – for example, a homeopathic cures site. You’ll be lucky to see 1 in 20 (5%) recognize the fraud.

  2. Koka

    I love StumbleUpon. I never get bored online anymore since I can always be directed to a site that is of some interest. The SU community is also wonderful. I wish they would up the friends limit over 200 but other than that I think the people and the service make my searches online much more enjoyable and allow for discussions outside of the individual websites.

    Kokas last blog post..10 facts of Indiana Jones:

  3. Jaan Kanellis

    “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.”

    This is only because they have the toolbar installed. Normal visitors are not seeing these Stumble thumbs up.

    Jaan Kanelliss last blog post..SEO Classes To Begin At UC San Diego

  4. Internet Marketing Joy

    I have to admit that I really love using SU..especially if I stumble with new pages and sites that are on my interests..^^

  5. John

    Searching is such a pain for me. I’ve been looking for a web site that I used to go to awhile back and I can’t find it. Maybe someone can help me. The site was like a home page where I could put all my favorites web page links I visit each day. There would even be a logo to click on. It was a great time-saver for us “old folks”! I don’t what word to use to search or ‘stumble-upon’. Please help!

  6. Luis Pereira

    Check out It’s truly a human-powered search engine and relies on human-indexing from start to finish. There are no automated bots or crawlers indexing pages.

  7. R.O.

    I think StumbleUpon is a great site, but don’t jump the gun buddy. One of the main bugs I have found is that sometimes it won’t allow you to thumbs up content for some reason. I stopped using StumbleUpon for a few weeks because it wouldn’t let me add news articles that I need.

    Also, the StumbleUpon top users are pretty obnoxious. They swoop by your page and leave nasty remarks or ask you for advice and then neglect you as soon as they get what they want. It is basically a network of scavengers looking for free information and advice from other people. You can dominate it quite easily unlike Digg where you at least have to be a socially respected top guy. StumbleUpon is the easiest social media website to spam and control which is why it is so attractive to users who can’t get enough Diggs.

    R.O.s last blog post..Hayate no Gotoku ハヤテのごとく!

  8. Marc

    StumbleUpon is the funnest site i have ever seen, Ebay better not screw it up.

    Those idiots couldnt even leverage Skype properly, lol

    Currently it does factor into my clicks on search results pages, but as more and more spammers start abusing it…

  9. JD Rucker

    SU has the potential because of a search engine’s wealth of data to really make a difference. They COULD do a lot of things. We’ll see if eBay has the foward thinking necessary to make it happen.

    JD Ruckers last blog post..Body Mods

  10. VIshal

    @john – was it ?
    thats a social bookmarking web tool?
    otherwise it could’ve been one of the web2.0 “start pages” like netvibes

  11. John

    Thanks Vishal, is very close to what I was looking for. Perhaps if I put “start Pages” in the SU search box it might come up. Thanks for the tip!

  12. locjan

    i dont know in the future if they can but i think google still the best. simple, easy, lite, and powerfull. grin and page the owner of google can bring their dream into reallity maybe stumbleupon can do the same.

  13. Simon Slade

    I remember the first time I ever saw StumbleUpon, a colleague forwarded it to me back in the days before the toolbar existed. Anyways, I think socially-powered search results is a very interesting idea… but I don’t see how the engines could pull it off without being heavily gamed. It would be too tempting.

  14. Chris Crum

    I’m not sure that StumbleUpon will revolutionize search, but I think it has revolutionized finding. It is not so great for finding exactly what you’re looking for, but it’s great (even better than Google sometimes) for finding things that are incredibly useful that you wouldn’t have thought to search for. It’s a remarkable discovery tool.

    Chris Crums last blog post..Another Social Network for Small Businesses is Born

  15. Jeff Flowers

    StumbleUpon is BY-FAR my favorite social media site. It’s easier. It’s more user-friendly. It’s not as “cut-throat” as sites like Digg & Reddit. Plus, the traffic continues to roll in, even months after something has been submitted.

    BUT, I don’t think it will ever revolutionize online search. Google has that under control.


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