Stumble Upon is a community-based website recommendation engine that serves up fantastic random websites. Completely addictive, it still does that. But now that they have added search (including video and image search), it has moved from frivolous to useful, and Stumble Upon is beginning to replace Google as my primary search engine. You cannot yet add Stumble Search as the primary search engine in your browser, but the Stumble Upon tool bar makes it nearly as convenient.
Let’s say you are looking for a new dining room table. If you put “dining table” into Google you get a gazillion crappy tables. If you put the same search entry into Stumble Upon you get 100 of the coolest tables on the net. The same is true in its video and image search engine. For instance, when I wanted to find a video for my wife who was learning Roller Derby, I searched You Tube and got thousands of results, almost all of them below mediocre. But when I searched Stumble Upon Video I got only 10 results, and all of them were awesome.
The key to the system is that for every site that you “stumble upon” in your web surfing, you can give it a thumbs up or down (or tag or comment it). Really cool content propagates through the network fast, yet people trying to game the system to give their pages high stumble ranks get voted down very quickly. When I met the founders of Stumble Upon recently I asked how they managed to do this so well, and they said that they did not write a single line of code until they had worked out the anti-spam strategy. While there are several recommendation engines on the web like Digg, Delicious, and Reddit, Stumble Upon’s interface, huge active community, and easy tools make it the one that always delivers the highest level of cool stuff. It is basically how I find everything that I blog about.
— Alexander Rose
Related items previously reviewed in Cool Tools:03/14/08