Friday, July 03, 2009

Why StumbleUpon Visitors are Not Welcome

Recently I began to notice StumbleUpon as a referrer in the logs for this blog. I had seen it before, but that was to a specific post, and I had no problem tracking down the recommendation someone had made on the site. This time, though, the link was to the front page, and try as I might I could not find such recommendation on the StumbleUpon pages. The referrer link itself was no help since it is just a pointer to a marketing page trying to get me to advertise with them.

A friend mentioned that he recalled a button in the StumbleUpon "toolbar" (really an outer frame) to randomly choose a site. This idea also seemed to explain why many times only some of the images are downloaded (the visitor simply clicked on "stumble" again when the first impression wasn't appealing). So it seems, that this it the source of my StumbleUpon visitors. They are people randomly hopping around the web hoping to find something "interesting".

At first I was basically neutral about this but as I saw more and more such visitors I found I was beginning to feel irked. I write this blog for myself and for people who share an interest in the type of things I think and write about. I don't do anything to "drive traffic" here. I have no interest in increasing the readership. I certainly find satisfaction that my 300 or so subscribers enjoy my writing enough to be subscribers. I am very happy when a post here is publicized on some other site and people visit to read it. Some folks stay around and read more, some even subscribe so they can keep up to date. This is all very nice.

But, I perceive an essential difference between people choosing to read something that looks interesting to them and people randomly "stumbling" in here hoping that I will entertain them. The aren't friends, they aren't like-minded, they are just people filling my logs and using my bandwidth. Even when someone happens upon this blog because of a search engine result that is tangentially related to the content, they at least have a semantic connection to my writing. The aren't just seeking random entertainment. They are pursuing some vector of ideas on which my writing lies.

I didn't ask StumbleUpon to send you here, nor did you. I don't write this blog for you. I am not selling anything, and your stumbling isn't any value to me. You are not welcome here because you didn't intend to come here.

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Anonymous Steph said...

That's a bit extreme don't you think. Your blogs are of interest to people, some of whom would have only come across them using Stumble. You may not want additional people reading your 'wisdom and ideas' but the moment you post them online you have no right complaining about people who have come across them using a tool that you dislike. I'm sure you have no problem with Google, and the only difference between this and Stumble is that you specify words to be searched for instead of topics. Seriously....grow up.

Wed Sep 15, 11:39:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Yaakov said...


I am not sure that you read the essay carefully. My complaint is not concerning people who come across my blog because they are choosing, specifically, to pursue some idea in which they are interested. My complaint is prompted by the very large number of "stumblers" that clearly have no interest at all in my writing. I can see by my logs that the stumble in and don't even wait long enough to load the entire pages before stumbling out again.

As far as my "having no right", I don't really understand that comment. First, I most certainly have as much right to complain about it as any other right I have. Why wouldn't I? What is the authority that denies me that right? Second, it isn't the "tool" I dislike, it is a particular feature which, from my position looks like mindless intrusion.

I am sorry that my annoyance annoys you but this really have nothing to do with maturity. In fact, it seems to me I could say that your unfriendly rant is much less justified than my own complaint. Why do you have the right to complain that I don't like it? You are not forced to read my blog, nor do you have any stake in it. Conversely, I clearly have a vested interest in my blog.

In any case, I am surprised by the vociferous reaction to what you appear to consider an ill-considered, immature stance. Why are you so bothered? Just don't read my writing.

Wed Sep 15, 01:05:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Graham Snell said...

Having come across your site through an accidental (thoroughly appreciated but nonetheless unintentional) manner. I do feel your opinions on this matter take no account of serendipity or the obscure mehanics of synchronicity. Two of my lifes guiding forces, nearly always to my advantage. Your opinion I respect, but I would hope you dont act on it.

Thu Jun 16, 10:42:00 PM EDT  
Blogger Yaakov said...


I have received other comments like yours. I fear that the essay doesn't clearly delineate the case that I am unhappy with.

My complaint is with those people who use the "Stumble" button on the StumbleUpon toolbar. It is something like walking up to me in public, at random, and challenging me to entertain them, then, before I can even finish a sentence, walking away.

Note that many of these people aren't even allowing the entire page to load. The decide, without reading, or by reading almost nothing that I am not entertaining and move on. The entire business is about them expecting me to entertain them as if my blog is a storefront. I don't even run ads, I am not in business, I am not collecting readers. They don't benefit me by "trying" my blog.

On the other hand, if you happened upon me in public, and we got to talking, and we found we enjoyed each other's company, that would be a human interaction of a type I consider ethical.

So, it isn't that I don't appreciate serendipity, but putting a saddle on chance and riding it around is not the same thing, in my mind.

Thanks for your comment.


Fri Jun 17, 06:47:00 AM EDT  

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