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Use Stumbleupon For Inspiration

17 Mar/12

I have ignored Stumbleupon for years, and just stumbled upon the service again while checking broken links here on the site. The site was big back in the days when Digg dominated the tech news landscape and MySpace was the place to be on.

The company behind Stumbleupon has rolled out a new interface last Monday which should now be live for all users of the service. After playing around with my old account and the new Stumbleupon toolbar for a while, I ended up with new inspiration for future articles.

It sometimes happens that I do not really have anything to write about on a slow news day. I then use a handful of sites for inspiration, and while I have not used Stumbleupon for that in recent years, it feels like I should add it to my rotation in the future.

You need to take care of a few things first though before you can use it for that. Your interests play the biggest role here. All sites that get liked on Stumbleupon are sorted into interests (which are categories), and you need to make sure you select the right categories for your sessions.

If you select the software category for instance, you only see random software related sites when you click on the stumble button in the toolbar.

Let me give you a quick rundown how it works. After you have installed the toolbar / button and created your account, you can add interests to your Stumbleupon account. These and others are displayed in the toolbar, where you can select all or a single one that you would like to explore. The screenshot below shows the software interest as the selected category. Whenever you click on the Stumble button, a new random web page is loaded in the active tab.

stumbleupon toolbar

You can like or dislike the site, comment on it, share it, enter a specific interest in the search form, or click on the stumble button again without doing any of those things.

The interesting thing here is that you can click through a lot of sites in rapid succession until you find one that you can use for inspiration. Twenty minutes of stumbling in the software category led to a dozen interesting sites and programs that I could write an article about. Naturally there were also articles and sites that I could not use at all, but it is easy enough to skip those with a single click. There is even enough time to down vote the worst offenders before you click on the stumble button again.

If you are fast, you can go through 30 sites in a minute. In reality, you will be stopping more often before you hit the stumble button again as you sometimes need more than a second or two to check out a site.

Have you used Stumbleupon recently? If so, what’s your experience with the site?

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