Ash Nallawalla's blog

StumbleUpon leans on BlogCatalog group administrator

StumbleUpon (SU) is a recommendation (rating) engine. Its users “stumble”, that is, vote for a web page they like. The theory is that most people will recommend pages that most people will consider to be interesting. The reality is that most people who use the web have probably not heard of SU and the ones who have are likely to stumble their own pages or those of their clients. SEOs and anyone who fancies themselves as a social media consultant are heavy users of the SU toolbar, which makes it easy to recommend or thumb down a page while you are looking at it.

So what’s the point to SU? I am not entirely sure, but eBay bought it for US$75M in 2007 and sold it in 2009 for an undisclosed sum back to its founders and some VCs. That was great for the founders but what about the web surfer population? I still don’t know.

When I enable the SU toolbar (I have to login), SU knows my surfing patterns and probably stores the information. If I am the first to flag a site, I get to write a review, but this is always an option for subsequent surfers. I have stumbled fewer than 40 sites, usually when I am reminded about SU by some tweet. SU links are no-followed, so there is no SEO value in the exercise, but there is some traffic value if you get enough votes and rise to the top.

My mind isn’t so vacant that I need the SU toolbar to find me a random, cool site to visit, but I believe there are many people who need such guidance. Each to their own.

BlogCatalog Group

Hartley B. Singer of Winnipeg is (for a few more hours) the administrator of a BlogCatalog group called Stumble.  I am not a member of that group. A few hours ago Hart announced that he is closing down the group because SU suspended his account indefinitely. To quote Hart’s post at BlogCatalog in part:

Your StumbleUpon account privileges have been restricted and the account is under review.

When I enquired to WHY I was under review and my account privileges have been restricted .. I received this reply:

Your account has been suspended for a violation of our TOS, which may be viewed here: www.stumbleupon.com/terms/

A list of the most common reasons for an account being suspended may be found here: www.stumbleupon.com/help/What_caused_my_account_to_be_suspended/

I have reviewed the account in question and must advise you that the suspension will remain in force indefinitely.

You may find it useful to share a link to our Terms in this group – www.blogcatalog.com/group/stumble/ – since other members may also find themselves in breach of our Terms, and their accounts subject to suspension.

Threads from the soon-to-be-defunct Stumble group at BlogCatalog
Threads from the soon-to-be-defunct Stumble group at BlogCatalog

It’s fine for SU to set whatever TOS they want and most people will agree that getting votes artificially doesn’t help anyone. SU doesn’t want its asset to be devalued by spammy votes. Fair enough.

However, I consider their approach heavy-handed and tantamount to bullying (stronger words come to mind). What happened to the friendly-but-firm approach of sending a warning email?

So, the SU accounts of about 4,592 people are under review and possible suspension just because they joined a BlogCatalog group? What do you think?

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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5 Comments

  • HART (aka PetLvr) on 12 July 2009

    Hi Ash! Thanks for support and mention.

    This is a long time coming. Blogcatalog ranks well in the search engines, and you have to be from MARS not to think that somebody is watching .. this applies to all BC groups .. It’s unfortunate that my short stint there didn’t give me foresight to remove myself from admin, besides walking away from that group. Think all we want about the fairness of SU terms of service (or not) .. it’s still their site and their terms. I’d like to keep in their good books and removing the group is long overdue i.m.h.o. anyway 🙂

  • timethief on 13 July 2009

    Although I am not a member of the group in question I am deeply disturbed by what has happened to Hart. I have known him for over a year now and without doubt he is a person of high integrity so it’s sad to see him taking the fall like this.

    More disturbing still is the fact that all his helpful posts to the group which contained information about how to use stumbleupon in the manner it was designed to be used, and also contained warning with regard to what not to do have mysteriously disappeared. In addition, I am aware that he has sent email to the Admin of BC which has gone unanswered.

    Hart gave a full weekend notice to group members as a courtesy to people who aren’t misbehaving and tomorrow morning the group will be deleted. It’s a perplexing situation indeed that Hart is under indefinite suspension, and I want to thank you for publishing your post.

  • Tony Berkman on 14 July 2009

    SU’s approach is somewhat humorous given that most stumbles are the result of friends asking friends.

  • Brian on 19 July 2009

    Good riddance to them. Break the rules, pay the price.

  • HART aka PetLvr on 20 July 2009

    @Brian .. i personally do not believe I broke any rules, and btw I was reinstated July 14th… (in case anybody curious)

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