My favourite social bookmarking site by far is StumbleUpon. It’s a little known fact that StumbleUpon is the closest  bookmarking service to the original concept of blogging – where you would post interesting links you’d found throughout the day, ‘logging’ your journey through the Internet.

StumbleUpon has a neat little relevance algorithim that shows you random pages matched to your interests. Initially it does this by getting you to ‘tag’ your interests, but as you discover, rate and review more web pages, StumbleUpon gets a better picture of your likes and dislikes and serves you up more relevant pages. And although it’s got the requisite top stumblers and most popular pages, StumbleUpon is a much fairer system than sites like Digg. As a result, it appeals to a wider audience.

I’ve been a StumbleUpon member since July 2006. Yes, I’ve submitted some of my own pages. That’s not as taboo in StumbleUpon as it is elsewhere. You’re targetting the page to people who are interested in your topic, so they may actually appreciate it. Aside from that, I’ve put a few thoughts together on how I use StumbleUpon that might be useful for people.

  1. Friends – There are actually two ways to approve other SU users. One is to give them a ‘thumb up’ as you would any web page, then give a quick review of why you like them. The other – which I’d forgotten about until recently – is to add them to your friends.
  2. What’s New – Every Stumbler has a ‘what’s new’ link in their profile. This shows you the most recent stumbles from your friends. If you’ve chosen your friends wisely, you can find some great content in here. Bonus tip: There’s a little ‘person’ icon at the top right hand column beside the mail icon. A red number beside this tells you how many new entries are on your ‘what’s new’ page.
  3. Reviews – Like I said, StumbleUpon is what blogging should have been, so I try to pass comment on any notable pages I thumb up. I also check out the reviews of pages I like to find Stumblers with similar interests. And if I find someone who’s got similar interests to me and interesting Stumbles, I’ll do a review of them too.
  4. Increasing relevance – only Stumble what you like. I never get involved in voting cabals, because I actually use StumbleUpon. Start thumbing stuff up that you don’t like and StumbleUpon will start recommending that kind of page to you. I remember one time thumbing up a post about knitting and suddenly started getting knitting and craft type posts in my stumbles. Not good.
  5. Messaging – Lately, I’ve got into a couple of good conversations with other Stumblers through the messaging feature. Some are other webmasters and bloggers and we’ve developed pretty good relationships where we’ve been able to help each other outside of StumbleUpon.
  6. Recommendations – I’ll only do this with close friends and family, but if I come across a page I know someone will like, I use the Send To feature to recommend it to them. This queues it up as their next stumble and overlays a little message from me on the page.

I don’t count myself as a power user of StumbleUpon. However, this is how I use the service, and I think I get a lot of benefit and enjoyment out of StumbleUpon that I don’t get from sites like Digg and Reddit.

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