The One BIG Change Stumbleupon Needs to Survive

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StumbleUpon has been a favorite of Internet professionals for a long time – and for good reason. The social discovery engine presents a unique and meaningful opportunity to not only find new content (in whatever form it’s developed – be it videos, images, articles, etc.) but also share content.

I’ve been critical of Stumbleupon in the past as least as it relates to the service being an organic means of customer acquisition, but it now has another big (really big) problem as far as I’m concerned – its content, the websites (et al) it enables Stumblers to stumble is, well, old.

Once a week I fire up the Stumbleupon navigation bar and flip through a few of the general topics I’ve set up. Stumbleupon has specific categories for trending items too (which tend to be very timely) but most of my daily media consumption comes courtesy of my Feedly app and a few other sites. The problem, and I imagine it’s one that other Stumblers likely experience as well, is that when I stumble through the specific interest categories, a great deal of the content is upwards of four years old. When it comes to some of the more esoteric topics I like to follow (Programming, Javascript, etc.) recency means a lot – not everything, but quite a bit.

To be fair, it’s important to determine just how many “old” pages a random user might experience during a random stumble, on lets say, a Wednesday afternoon in June. So what is the percentage? It’s not easy to tell as many pages don’t have a date listed but it’s not too hard. I’m digging into the “open source” category to see the recency of stumbled pages and what percentage (of only fifty stumbles) could be classified as out of date.

The result? 52% of those sites I came across were more than one year old. In some cases, in some very extreme cases actually, some of the content was upwards of seven years old! The situation might actually be far worse as that for 8 percent of the sites stumbled during my session, I was unable to ascertain any publishing date at all. Why is this a problem? Well, if I’m newly interested in a subject matter, discovering outdated information is a problem – perhaps not an obvious one at the time but it’s still a problem (particularly if I want to go and share that information with others). I can’t imagine advertisers are too pleased either – what brand would want to see their messaging in an environment framed by grandma and grandpa content?

So, what should Stumbleupon do? I suggest a purge – an epic content purge of all sites more than one or two years old from its database. Unless I see that purge the next time I fire up my Stumbleupon toolbar, it will likely be the last time I use it – neither I or you can afford to spend half their time on sites whose information is no longer relevant to the social conversation. And with a slow decline in unique visitors (as reported by Compete in the chart below), Stumbleupon should listen up because they certainly can’t afford to lose any more users.

StumbleUpon was actually listed in Website magazine “10 Social Sites You’re Probably Not Using But Should Be” recently and our editors will definitely stick by that recommendation. There’s room for improvement though. It would be good to see StumbleUpon re-emerge in a big way among the content marketing community.

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