StumbleUpon stumbles into an overhaul, gets no-install-required toolbar and more

October 1, 2008

StumbleUpon has been my favorite way to find new web sites in a reasonably random way for quite some time now. Recently, marketers have discovered it as a marketing tool, but thanks to the ability to choose my interests and the StumbleUpon engine I still don’t get spammed with useless web sites that don’t appeal to me or have nothing to do with what I like.

When I read in my RSS reader that StumbleUpon was “set for resurgence” (TechCrunch) with a new toolbar and a general feature overhaul it gave me pause. My first thought was “I didn’t think StumbleUpon was broken”. And it’s true, I didn’t. StumbleUpon has been consistently easy to learn and simple to use, not to mention a fun way to pass the time and discover new sites in a quick, low effort way.

StumbleUpon Fact: “Over 10 million personalized recommendations (“stumbles”) are delivered daily.”

Possibly the only thing that has bugged me about StumbleUpon is the requirement that you have a certain browser (IE or FireFox) to use the downloaded and installed toolbar. Happily, the people behind StumbleUpon also fixed that in this overhaul. This is nice because it means that Safari users, and users of other browsers can play too, now that they don’t have to install a toolbar.

The web tool bar will “float” at the top of the screen in a frame and “travel” from site to site, allowing users to stumble at will. You can grab the new web toolbar on the StumbleUpon site. Oddly, StumbleUpon will also have partner sites now that offer customer StumbleUpon bars on their own sites (The Huffington Post is listed as one). This will allow users to apply the StumbleUpon interest-based algorithm to the posts and pages contained within a site.

I’m glad parent site eBay isn’t scrapping StumbleUpon. It’s one of my favorite internet tools. It feeds my need for new sites to enjoy and my severe case of internet ADD. It will be interesting getting used to a new web based toolbar, but overall I think the changes are positive.

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