Thursday, July 20, 2006

Don't Surf...Stumble!

I've spent years surfing around the web, picking up links to web sites that I thought might be interesting or even useful. I've subscribed to several newsletters that post me lists of useful sites, I've bought magazines listing web sites and I even, on occasion, search for sites by specific topic or category. But now I've found something else…

StumbleUponStumbleUpon Online  Service

StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites by only suggesting sites that match your own chosen set of personal preferences. I've trolled through the popular sites list on and, while it is possible to find a gem or two in there, this is even better.

Like, StumbleUpon is essentially a free social bookmarking service that allows you to tag, rate and comment on sites. Where it differs from the others is the fact that it stores your personal preferences for web content and only suggests pages that match your choices and that have been rated positively by friends and like-minded stumblers.

Interaction with the service is done via a browser toolbar, which is available for both Internet Explorer and Firefox (so Mac OS X and Linux users needn't feel left out). I've experienced several such website promotion toolbars over the years and they've mostly just been ways to push site advertising at you but this is a more user-focussed and friendly system, so much so that it's almost addictive.

It's also really easy to use. If you find a site you like or dislike, then just click on the thumbs up or thumbs down buttons to rate it. If you click on the Stumble! button, you'll be taken to a site matching your preferences and you can narrow that range of choices down by selecting a search category first if you want to. You can also share sites with others via e-mail and it does this without having to launch an e-mail client.

Like other social bookmarking sites, you can also comment on and tag a site and then browse or search through your remembered sites.

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