StumbleUpon is a social bookmarking community. The idea behind social bookmarking is simple: rather than bookmarking webpages you like so that you access them through your browser and only you see them, you instead bookmark them (or like them or whatever) to a website like StumbleUpon. This still preserves the bookmark for you, but it also enables others to see what you find interesting.
When you sign up for StumbleUpon, you create a profile and identify certain categories that interest you. For instance, you might choose “science” or “writing.” You will also be able to find your friends and follow them, much like you do on Facebook or Twitter. Following your friends lets you see what pages they bookmarked.
What makes StumbleUpon so interesting is the “stumble” feature at its core. When you go to the main page, you’ll see a bar at the top that has a “stumble” button, as well as other typical social media icons, such as likes and comments. If you’ve set up your interests, you can “stumble” through them, which lets you browse the web according to specific categories.
Some of the webpages you’ll browse have been categorized by StumbleUpon, but many of the pages you’ll see are ones that other users have bookmarked. In fact, when you stumble on a page that is someone’s bookmark, the toolbar at the top will show you a user name, which you can click to see more of that person’s bookmarked pages or to follow that person.
Certain popular websites, such as Mashable or FunnyorDie, have their own StumbleUpon channels, which allows you to browse through their website. This is a quick and easy way to sift through your favorite sites and still share them with your friends.
You’re not limited to sharing your favorite sites only on your profile page. The toolbar also gives you the power to share the page directly on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
For bloggers and businesses, the site’s submission feature enables you to directly submit your webpages to the community as one of your bookmarks. With millions of visitors everyday, StumbleUpon is a powerful medium for promoting your brand, and it doesn’t offer the same penalties as other social bookmarking sites. (Reddit, for instance, will block you from submitting new pages if you’re only submitting your own.)
Whether you choose to use it for personal enjoyment or as a promotional endeavor, StumbleUpon is guaranteed to introduce you to pages and websites you probably would not have seen otherwise.