How StumbleUpon Works

By: Jessika Toothman

StumbleUpon Terms

The Stumble! button can take you surfing through some great pages, which you can then rate with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.
The Stumble! button can take you surfing through some great pages, which you can then rate with a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.
HowStuffWorks 2008

Stumbling starts like this. First, you download the Web site's browser toolbar. You'll be prompted to do this from the StumbleUpon home page. The next step starts the personalization process, where you'll be requested to select a number of topics that interest you. After that, the sky's the limit -- you can begin stumbling, search for people you know who are already stumblers (StumbleUpon users), or visit your favorite Web pages to give them favorable reviews and add them to your Favorites section. You can even start by searching through other stumblers' pages and seeing what they've stumbled.

­Are you stumped about stumbling right about now? Don't worry, picking up the lingo is easy. Here are a few important StumbleUpon terms you'll want to learn:


  • Stumble: Look to the far left of your newly installed toolbar and you'll see a button that says Stumble! If you click that button, you're taken to a random, totally new Web site. However, that Web site isn't as random as you might think. Being directed to this new site is the result of a combination of several inputs entered into an algorithm. Your interests and positively rated pages are factors, as well as other information like what your friends and similarly interested users have viewed and rated positively. Those elements and more all help determine what you'll see while you're stumbling. To understand more about how these types of online directives work, read Why is the Google algorithm so important?
  • Stumblers: StumbleUpon reported nearly 5.5 million users as of June 2008. (Keep in mind, this is the number of people who have registered, not necessarily the number of active users.) And these stumblers have been achieving an impressive amount of stumbling -- about 5 billion stumbles in all [source: Shonfeld].
  • Thumbs-up and Thumbs-down: As you are stumbling or enjoying conventional Web browsing, you can use special buttons in your SU toolbar to rate different Web sites you come across: either a thumbs-up (meaning you liked the site) or a thumbs-down (meaning you didn't). This rating system helps StumbleUpon determine the kind of pages you'll enjoy stumbling and which you'd rather avoid. The pages you've thumbed-up are added to the Pages Liked section of your profile (we'll talk more about this later on).

Referring to StumbleUpon's Getting Started Guide and Help Guide can answer a lot of questions you might have upon setting up your account and exploring the site. These pages will help you get familiar with all the different aspects of the StumbleUpon experience.

Now that you can talk the talk, can you walk the walk? Learn how to start using your new StumbleUpon toolbar on the next page, so you can surf the Internet in style.