Discover the Best of the Web With StumbleUpon

The internet is so vast is can be difficult to know quite where to begin when you go online looking for entertainment. Hit Facebook, Twitter or other social networks and you’ll find links to hilarious pictures, ridiculous stories and news.

But where do people posting these links find these sites? There’s a chance that they have used StumbleUpon, and the new Windows 8 app enables you to discover best the internet has to offer as well.

Getting Starting

If you’re unfamiliar with StumbleUpon, the concept is pretty simple – it makes it possible for users to crowdsource new web sites and interesting online content. When you browse the web, you probably happen across (or stumble upon, if you will) great sites that you share with your friends, and they probably do the same for you. StumbleUpon enables this to happen on a global scale.

StumbleUpon is not just an app; there’s also a web site that can be used to stumble.

StumbleUpon is not just an app; there’s also a web site that can be used to stumble.

As a service, StumbleUpon has two roles. Firstly it can be used to find new sites and online content that match your interests. Forget hunting high and low, using random phrases in Google to get your kicks, StumbleUpon and its other users can do the hard work for you.

Secondly, the service, and the app, enables you to share with the rest of the world any great sites you do know of or discover on your online travels.

If you’re new to the concept of stumbling, and introductory slideshow brings you up to speed.

If you’re new to the concept of stumbling, and introductory slideshow brings you up to speed.

Account Configuration

If you’ve never used StumbleUpon, you can sign up for an account from within the app, but you can also log into an existing account or log in with your Facebook credentials. To help StumbleUpon direct you to online content that you’re going to be interested in, you need to let the app know what you like.

What do you like? StumbleUpon has hundreds of categories for you to choose from.

What do you like? StumbleUpon has hundreds of categories for you to choose from.

To help tailor its suggestions to your preferences, you can choose from hundreds of different topics – literally. If you don’t fancy working through the list in its entirety, you can stick to making selections from the Popular section so you can get started more quickly.

While the StumbleUpon app is simple to use, there is a tutorial displayed to help you to familiarize yourself with the interface. This is a nice touch and it’s something that would be welcome in more apps – it’s something that is very common in iOS and Android apps, and there’s no reason that Windows apps should not follow suit.

It might seem like a small thing, but a brief tutorial at the start of the app serves as a gentle introduction.

It might seem like a small thing, but a brief tutorial at the start of the app serves as a gentle introduction.

Stumble Away

There is more than one way in which you can start stumbling for interesting sites. You’re presented with a series of images with more available as you scroll to the right.  There is nothing to let you know quite what any particular image will take you to, so you may find that you are just clicking randomly on images that grab your attention.

A picture tells a thousand words and they could hide the best web site you’ve ever seen.

A picture tells a thousand words and they could hide the best web site you’ve ever seen.

Keep scrolling to the right and you can access different sections such as trending sites that have proved popular with other users. These can also be accessed from the menu at the top of the screen where you can also jump to any of your specified areas of interest.

Looking for something more specific? Limit your stumbling to individual categories.

Looking for something more specific? Limit your stumbling to individual categories.

But perhaps the most important feature of the StumbleUpon interface is the Stumble button – this is not visible until you right click, and then it will appear in the lower right hand corner of the screen. If you don’t like the page that has been picked for you, or when you have finished looking at it, click the button again to move to the next random article.

The slide-up menu at the bottom of the screen is also home to the Like and Dislike buttons. It’s not compulsory, but if you click one of the buttons to indicate whether or not you liked a particular page, StumbleUpon will be able to do a far better job of pulling up content that you will be interested in while avoiding the subjects you has indicated a dislike for.

Let StumbleUpon know what you like and what you don’t to help it to come up with better suggestions.

Let StumbleUpon know what you like and what you don’t to help it to come up with better suggestions.

In Summary

Unlike some Windows 8 apps which can feel as though they have been made just for the sake of it, StumbleUpon works amazingly well as a standalone app. Part of the idea of StumbleUpon is to act as something of a time killing tool, so it makes perfect sense to break things away from your main browser.

A good deal of attention has been given to the look of the app, and many other apps in the Store could learn a lot here.

But most importantly, it is great fun – there is no way of knowing quite what you’re going to see in any one stumbling session. It’s an amusing and entertaining way to kill some time when you’re on a coffee break.


Summary

An endlessly entertaining way to find new web sites that match your interests and share your discoveries with others.

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