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StumbleUpon: A Network of Everything

StumbleUpon.com is one of the internet’s most interesting and effective web services. For those who have never heard of it, allow me to explain. When you first go to StumbleUpon.com, you create a profile for yourself where you select your personal preferences out of a list of over 500 categories. This profile tells StumbleUpon what kind of websites you would like to visit. Then, all you have to do is click the “Stumble!” button on the toolbar that pops up in your browser, and it will automatically bring you to a page that relates to one or more of your preferences, and has been rated someone with similar preferences. Basically, it is the ultimate procrastination tool, giving you page after page of websites that fit your own personalized profile of what you find interesting.

At first glance, it’s hard to see how this is a network and not just a tool to waste time on the internet, but the really interesting stuff comes from how StumbleUpon works. It’s entirely based on user feedback, so the more people that stumble and “like” pages, the better it gets at determining what the perfect website for you is. So whenever someone is surfing the web and comes to a page that they find interesting, or that they think others may find interesting, they can add it to StumbleUpon. Once other people stumble to the page and vote like (thumbs up) or dislike (thumbs down), the page gets ranked and sorted into its category. The more people with similar interests to you that like a page, the more likely you are to stumble to it. In that way, the pages themselves are like edges of a network and the different people are nodes. The more likes a page has, the stronger of a tie it is between people. People can connect to each other through following. If you follow someone, you can see the sites that they liked the most, and talk to them through messages. StumbleUpon is also closely linked to Facebook and Twitter, so you can add followers that way to increase your stumbling network.

Another key network that StumbleUpon creates is between websites themselves with people as the ties. For example, if a blogger wants to get his blog read by more people, adding it to StumbleUpon can dramatically increase readership. Justin Germino at Dragon Blogger Technology & Entertainment said that StumbleUpon “brings more traffic to my blog than Facebook, Twitter, BlogEngage, Digg, Reddit, and Mixx combined.” He also was able to connect to fellow bloggers that he wouldn’t have noticed using other networking services due to StumbleUpons ability to find people similar to you.

Since StumbleUpon crawls over the entire internet, it truly lets anyone in almost any field connect to anyone else. Websites with completely different purposes can connect if there are people interested in both. All it takes is one influential stumbler to thumbs up a page, and its traffic can increase exponentially.

For more information on how StumbleUpon works, click this link: http://www.stumbleupon.com/aboutus/

And to read Justin Germino’s blog post about StumbleUpon, click here: http://www.dragonblogger.com/expanding-stumbleupon-network/

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