Shut Out by StumbleUpon

You may recall it was only a little more than a week ago that I wrote a blog post praising StumbleUpon, and giving tips on how it can be used.  Well … my StumbleUpon experiment is coming to an abrupt end.  I’ve not been banned, but apparently StumbleUpon has decided that the content I find should not be seen by anyone.  Let me explain…

Previous to the last handful of days, when I discovered something and then submitted it to StumbleUpon with a review, it would receive anywhere from 50 to 200 “views” by StumbleUpon users.  My network was growing on the site, and I was starting to stumble more and more content, including (of course) content that I didn’t write or own.  Essentially, I was doing what I suggested in my previous blog post.  In fact, I was sure that I wasn’t using the site improperly because I received this review of my previous StumbleUpon post from a community manager at the site:

A truthful and well-thought article from someone who understands StumbleUpon and how to properly use it.

Then … the bottom fell out.  I discovered a client article last weekend, and it received only one view.  I figured it was a fluke, because that’s happened before.  Then, I discovered and reviewed a client news release from PRWeb.  It received 12 views, which is well below average.  I still wasn’t worried, though.  The next three articles I discovered, stumbled, and reviewed received only one view each.  This included the post I wrote here about the new Facebook Weekly Page Updates, which was well received elsewhere.  Now I knew something was up.

These five stumbles I mentioned came from four different domains and covered four very different topics.  So, it’s obvious that StumbleUpon isn’t including my articles in their list of sites that can be stumbled, regardless of what they are or where they come from.  I posted a question about it on the StumbleUpon help forums, which received this answer:

Monica, Official Rep

StumbleUpon’s recommendation engine is built on complex algorithms that monitor user activity and connections to determine what users see while Stumbling. StumbleUpon does not disclose specifics about our recommendation engine, but you can see an overview of how it works here:

StumbleUpon users may occasionally add their own content to StumbleUpon without running into system restrictions. Ultimately though, StumbleUpon’s Terms of Service prohibit use of user accounts to promote specific domains.

If you wish to promote your content on StumbleUpon (if most of your discoveries come from the same domain or a limited number of domains), you may do so with StumbleUpon Advertising: StumbleUpon Advertiser accounts allow you to actively and legitimately promote a site to a targeted audience within our community.

Hope this helped.

This is pretty much the answer I expected, because this is the answer they give anyone who questions why their service isn’t working for them.  I understand StumbleUpon’s desire to keep their site from being spammed, but it appears they’re willing to shut out users who are submitting quality content from different domains that isn’t selling anything or even showing advertisements.  Meanwhile, if you go to their site or use your StumbleUpon toolbar to stumble randomly, you’ll find a lot of useless junk. Yes, I was promoting my content and my client’s content.  Imagine how quiet and boring other social media sites would be if they shut out people for doing that.

So … what now?  I’ll probably stumble and review this post, and that will be it.  If you have a one-off blog post that you want to submit there, you’ll likely receive some views, but woe onto you if you submit the same domain to StumbleUpon more than their undisclosed limit.  They’re sticklers over there, I tell ya.

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10 Responses on “Shut Out by StumbleUpon

  1. Steve Mullen says:

    Here’s an update: It appears StumbleUpon may have turned the spigot back on for me. I noticed spikes in traffic over the last couple of days on my client site where I used this strategy. After checking Google Analytics for the source of those spikes, I found StumbleUpon is responsible. Apparently one of the articles I stumbled at the end of February has taken off, and now has 664 views through the service. I haven ‘t stumbled anything since writing this blog post, but I may start limited stumbling again, to see what happens.

  2. john says:

    I am somewhat surprised that you are disappointed that a social networking site actually wishes to be social and not a unpaid advertising site. SU’s _raison d’etre_ is that of recommending sites that _you don’t have anything personally to do with_ to friends and acquaintances. For example, if I thumbsupped for the double down thingy, it’d be because I liked the double down, not because KFC paid me to do it. If your tastes are defined by the almighty dollar, that is your lookout, however, don’t expect that I as a SU user desire your commercial tastes to influence what I stumble next

  3. Steve Mullen says:

    Hi John — I hear what you’re saying and there’s no need to educate me on the “raison d’etre” for StumbleUpon. What irked me was that I wrote a blog post describing a good strategy for helping people find your content on StumbleUpon, received a good review from a community manager from SU, and then got cut off for using that exact strategy. If you’d like to read that post, it’s linked in the first sentence in this post.

    If what I was doing was wrong, then it appears one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing at StumbleUpon.

  4. jon says:

    Stumbledupon are in the business of delivering an audience to their advertisers. That is how they make their money. A minimum of 10% of stumbled sites are paid advertisments.

    That is why stumbledupon exists. It does not exist for you or me or him but to make money.

  5. lord xeon says:

    So you submitted your own site, or your client’s site for the sole purpose of getting traffic. You claim that the content was original, and worthy. You complain when you only get a few dozen views.
    You don’t know how SU works.

    I’ve discovered thousands of different pages, and the views range from a mere 11 all the way up to 36k. (the K stands for thousand by the way) I don’t judge the SU by the number of views a particular discovery makes, but rather by the amount of new, original, quality content I submit.

    I will admit, I have a few websites that I run, and I’ve submitted a few things from them to SU, but more often then not I’ve sent to my friends I’ve made on SU specific blog posts that I wrote that I knew they would be interested in. And if they thought it was interesting, they discovered it.
    That’s the way SU is supposed to work.
    You need to utilize you’re friends, and I don’t mean to be mean about this, but it sounds like you have no friends, you should get on that and make some.
    (lord-xeon =>me)

    Just so you know though, I despise people who send me link after link with the same responses “Thumbs up and review if you like this” I rarely give it a review, and after about a steady week of getting links from them, I remove them from my friends list, and sometimes give them a negative review and mark as a spammer.

    I also don’t care how many views the things I stumble get. I don’t care how it looks for my internet ego. The real jewel to SU is that 7 months after you post something, submit it and get 12 views, someone else will “discover” it, give it a thumbs up, and a healthy review, and all of a sudden your server is broken for a week.
    (I’ve had that happen to me, several times)

  6. Steve Mullen says:

    No one needs to tell me how StumbleUpon works. As I’ve said, what irks me is that I wrote a post giving suggestions on how to use the site, I received a thumbs up and a positive review from a site manager, and then within a week I was thrown in the sandbox (or whatever they call it over there). I was not promoting commercial/advertising content, and I was stumbling a lot of content that was not mine. They have formulas over there for who will successfully use the site and who won’t, and the final decisions appear to be made by software, not people.

    Because additional conversation on this will simply lead to me repeating myself (again), I’m not going to comment any further. Disagree with me if you like … I don’t have a problem with that. But, if it gets personal (like this guy who calls himself “lord xeon” nearly did), I simply won’t approve your comment.

  7. eb says:

    It seems to me like you should take “Monica’s” advice and start using their paid services.
    You say that you were submitting quality content that got well reviewed elsewhere, but is it possible that no one else cares? I just looked through my discoveries (I’m not a hardcore SU user) and I have several, more than two hands worth of discoveries that I thought were AWESOME, that no one else cares about.
    I understand your disappointment, but that’s how the internet works.
    And honestly, it really annoys me when I stumble to a website several times in one session/day/whatever where the person doing the discoveries is obviously the same person that runs the site (i.e., using the website name as their SU username).
    Also, the internet is personal. Are you really going to censor people because what they say is personal? So lord xeon says you have no friends, say someone else calls your mother fat, it is your right as admin to do reject a comment, but to actually admit that you won’t allow comments that “get personal?” Censor the spam, the rest is what makes the internet great.
    Also, I did NOT find this through stumble, but through a friend, which is part of the magic that lord xeon alluded to.

  8. Steve Mullen says:

    It’s my web site, so I make the rules, eb. I’m all for discussion and debate, but I’m not going to approve comments that include personal insults … particularly when they’re aimed at me.

    With that out of the way, I can say that I’m pretty certain this has nothing to do with uninterested audiences. My previous discoveries (whether my own content or someone else’s) received at minimum 50-100 views. Those views stopped abruptly, as if a spigot was turned off. It’s pretty clear that StumbleUpon shut that spigot off, and I’ve heard of this happening to others. And, yes, I could advertise on StumbleUpon, but from my research I’ve learned that advertising there is largely a waste of money. Facebook and Google ads are a much better use of my and my clients’ money. So, I wrote this blog post almost two months ago now to let others know about my experiences, and I’ve moved on.

  9. David says:

    Thanks for this article and discussion. I was wondering why I got 1000 views within a day on a self discovererd blog post and then suddenly it stopped… I may have self discovered one too many of my posts within a short space of time and now their algorithm is punishing me. 😀 I will start using it properly from now on I think.

  10. Mike says:

    First off, I do submit my own stuff, but never more than once a month, so as to as to stay within the StumbleUpon guidelines. What I have found is that StumbleUpon will totally ignore some of my pages, but feed some of my other pages like mad. Also, I will see a few “hot” months with steady referrals from StumbleUpon, then it goes “cold” for a couple of months or so before sending me more visitors. My hottest page was one that was discovered by a friend. Can’t say I really know how it works, but I guess they like to keep it a secret. So far, SU has been good to me. Cheers.

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