StumbleUpon helped you find a website. Do people want that anymore? People are busier and have less time now. People want to find a specific thing, even when they don’t know what that thing is or what about. Who wants to find a site where you then have to browse to find a thing?
NO. THAT IS NOT WHY.
People still want it. There are plenty of people around the internet asking about StumbleUpon. It was very useful. I’ve used it a lot, and spent plenty of time looking for an alternative.
The real reason is that it is very difficult to monetize a website that sends users away to other websites. You want users on YOUR site, clicking on your ads, clicking on your affiliate links, sharing your content. You don’t want to send your hard earned user away to some other site, where they will share somebody else’s content on their social media. They will click the affiliate links and advertisements of the other site, not yours. It’s tough!
Great article: https://productmint.com/what-happened-to-stumbleupon/
Their popularity declined compared to simpler more visual platforms like Pinterest. After a while of declining in popularity, they called it quits. Steve Jobs famously said “people don’t read anymore”. This was back in 2010, soon after the iPhone came out. Now things are getting more extreme. We have AI to answer our every question. Everything is getting more efficient and fast.
But why did StumbleUpon have to shut down? Couldn’t they just keep running the servers? It’s because they were a for-profit venture-capital led company. They kept pushing for growth to the end, then pivoted to a business model that seemed more likely to succeed (mix.com which was just a clone of Pinterest). The new site probably also took less effort to run. It didn’t make financial sense to keep the original site running. Instead they migrated all user accounts to the new site, to get them to use the new thing. This strategy did not yield greater value for society. It was just a financial decision.
A major reason why community services and knowledge bases fail is because the community-generated content degrades (gets worse) with time. Even Facebook in 2016-2021. Once a platform becomes mainstream, it becomes profitable to exploit it. People shamelessly self-promote, and promote their own business or ideology, at the expense of community content.
It’s profitable to take advantage of internet algorithms. Look at this post for example. It’s been posted to several questions on quora.com. At the bottom of the “answer” is a link to their site. This is called “link building”. It is done by people, not bots, so it is very hard to control.
Can we take advantage of such market dynamics, of people exploiting systems to self-promote? Maybe it is possible, with a business-oriented site? We’ve seen this in Crypto. Plenty of communities have grown out of shameless self-promotion. Each crypto-token is a community. The members of that community have a monetary incentive to promote not themselves, but the community. This is very interesting. Unfortunately, it becomes an “echo chamber”. It does get people to recruit others into the community though. If this effect is harnessed to promote and empower a greater cause, it could be very powerful. I am not clever enough to understand all the implications and possibilities of Cryptocurrency tokens and blockchain, but I do see that there is potential for something to come of it. What if StumbleUpon’s success would somehow directly benefit its members? This is what Crypto founders are saying is possible. But how can it be done technically? Execution is very important. There will always be people gaming the system, taking advantage of algorithms. If the platform’s profits were distributed to all members, for example, more to members who post more, then people would post more nonsense. It would take a sophisticated system - the points system of Reddit translated into ownership.
Why don’t I like ReFind.com? Or Mix.com? Or any typical aggregator of content? Because...
I don’t care about “content”. Content is cheap. It is literally everywhere. It begs to be clicked.
I am tired of reading through long blog articles. I’m tired of skimming lists of headlines.
I want something that will make a difference in my life.
Something that will inspire me, empower me, help me create, help me explore.
I do not have the same interests as everyone. But I can create a site focused on someone with my interests. There are plenty of them. I’ve read and stumbled upon many pod asts like Failory, Mixergy, Indie Hackers, and video channels on YouTube. Creators, bootstrappers, entrepreneurs.
But what about text content? I just listed audio/video content as example. Do I read? Sometimes:
- to find an answer
- to know what news is happening in the world
- to find something to do tonight or this weekend
- when I come across a new website or service that I want to see if it is useful
It has to be useful from day 1. Look at refind. It probably has potential, idk, but its initial suggestions are terrible.