When the Ban Hammer Comes Down on StumbleUpon

Jan 16, 2009   //   by Gerald Weber   //   SEO Blog, Social Media  //  36 Comments

Ban Hammer

I’m assuming that most reading this are already using StumbleUpon, or at least know what StumbleUpon is all about. If not, check out Tyler Banfields post from December Are You Stumbling Yet? Tyler really does an excellent job of explaining StumbleUpon, how to get started, and its benefits.

The purpose of this post is to address a legitimate concern that new and seasoned Stumblers alike need to be aware of and that is the possibility of being “put under review” by the SU gods. Being put under review generally means that you will not ever be able to use your SU account again…

Imagine you are Stumbling along, building your friends list, having a good time and about a year into it: BAM. You are “put under review” (banned). No warning, no initial explanation, you just suddenly cannot use your account anymore. This is precisely what happened to a friend of mine.

My friend, who shall remain nameless, I can say with certainty was a quality Stumbler, and definitely not a spammer. So naturally this scenario is a little perplexing to me. I decided to review StumbleUpon’s terms of service and their rules. I found mostly everything to be pretty straightforward and it seemed like common sense. Don’t do things like harass other users, promote only your website or blog and the general “no-spamming” language.

Before we proceed I’ll share with you one of the actual email that was sent to my friend that was “put under review”

Thanks for your note.

Members may submit links from personal or business
sites to StumbleUpon, but when we receive
complaints from other members — or when our
software detects an abuse of our system — we
suspend access to the accounts in question pending
further review.

We take this step to preserve the quality of
content in our database. When members repeatedly
submit content from a single site or a small group
of sites, it undermines StumbleUpon’s mission of
discovering and sharing Web sites with others.

If we determine that a member account has been
used for unauthorized promotional reasons, we
generally do not restore access to the account.
If and when access is eventually restored to your
account, we’ll notify you via email at this
address.

If you have any additional questions, please
review our Terms of Service and Community Rules:

http://www.stumbleupon.com/terms/

http://www.stumbleupon.com/rules.html

If you’d like to learn about advertising on
StumbleUpon, please visit this page:
http://www.stumbleupon.com/ads

After reading some of these emails and doing further research, I determined there seems to be a common denominator that tends to get people in trouble with the SU powers-that-be, and that would be Stumbling pages under the same domain(s) or similar domains(s) too many times. In other words, if you have a blog and every time you write a new article you stumble and send it to the same friends, and they regularly stumble, you are creating a pattern of stumbling the same domain and sending to the same friends. Beware of this pattern!

The best idea would be to have a friend Stumble to get it started and when you use the send feature to send something to a friend try to not send the exact same domain(s) to the exact same friends all the time. In other words, mix things up. I cannot be 100% sure that this will resolve the issue, but it’s definitely worth a try, and something I have been doing lately.

Another thing you can do is use a service like StumbleUpon Exchange to get a new submission going or simply ask a new friend to Submit it for you. Also you can get some of your SU friends on IM (as many diggers do) This can be a good way to ask someone to Stumble or submit something for you without it being recorded that you sent it to them by the StumbleUpon system.

At the end of the day, the best way to avoid the SU Ban Hammer is to simply use the platform as it was intended. Be sure to actually use the Stumble toolbar (every day if you can) to discover new websites. Thumbs up when you like it and thumbs down when you don’t. Occasionally submit your own content or have a friend submit it for you, but in moderation. Make some friends along the way and most importantly have fun.

Have you, or has someone you know, been banned by StumbleUpon? Please share your thoughts or tips with us in the comments below.

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Gerald Weber

I founded Search Engine Marketing Group in December 2005. More recently I co-founded viralcontentbuzz.com. which is the free platform that helps bloggers generate REAL "social buzz" on their best content. Feel free to follow me on Google+

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Comment Policy

  • Well … thanks for the heads up! I haven't had any problems with SU … but I was banned from Digg (because I was a total newbie and followed some bad advice LOL) so I will be more careful and follow your advice here. Thanks! *SmiLes* Suzanne

    <abbr>Suzanne Franco’s last blog post..Blogging for Bucks BootCamp Countdown ~ 7 … 6 … 5 …</abbr>

  • Pam says:

    Gee, thanks for the heads up! I've been thinking about getting on SU, but I think I better do a little more checking out first.

    <abbr>Pam’s last blog post..Rose Quartz Cross and Heart Charm Bracelet a great Valentine gift</abbr>

  • Frank J says:

    I recently wrote a blog on StumbleUpon on how to avoid being put under review.

    http://www.techjaws.com/how-to-avoid-being-banned

    Good information!

    <abbr>Frank J’s last blog post..Reduce Temporary Internet File Space</abbr>

  • Sarah says:

    I'd been wondering how the ban on StumbleUpon worked – I'd heard of a number of people getting banned, but no one really seemed sure of what they'd done to earn the ban.

    I agree with the advice in the final paragraph: using the tool as it was intended is surely a way of maintaining access to your account. Giving a little Stumble love to other sites, rating them up and down and using the Stumble button will help to keep the traffic coming to your own site.

  • Dennis Edell says:

    Excellent for an SU newbie, thanks!

    So it’s OK to stumble your own as long as it’s not every article, and you continue to stumble a mess of others in between, yes?

    Sounds like all other social sites of this nature…not to mention plain common sense. :)

    Dennis Edell’s last blog post..Blogroll Effectiveness – What Do You Think?

  • JD Rucker says:

    This is exactly why I prefer Reddit to Digg and Stumble. It isn't that the site is necessarily better or anything. I just like the fact that they'll talk about things with their users. No site likes to be gamed, but Digg and Stumble take their paranoia to a new level and they are so reluctant to communicate with their users.

    <abbr>JD Rucker’s last blog post..Twitter and Blogging, Tips and Tools</abbr>

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      JD Rucker,

      Great point. At the end of the day the objective (at least for me) is to have fun. Having the ongoing threat of the ban hammer over your head at times can take the fun out of it. I don’t want to be looking over my shoulder all the time. Know what I mean?

  • Alisa Bowman says:

    Good article. I "liked it," even though I've liked your stuff before. But heck, I really did like it. Am I tempting fate?

    <abbr>Alisa Bowman’s last blog post..How not to stay balanced</abbr>

  • Wayne Liew says:

    I became a very active user of StumbleUpon lately and this spot definite had highlighted some important watchouts for me. Thanks. :)

    <abbr>Wayne Liew’s last blog post..7 Evaluation Subjects for Lecturers of College Entrepreneurs</abbr>

  • Sam says:

    This is a very informative and novel approach, especially for a beginner like me.

    What I don’t get, is why they aren’t more forthcoming with what is and isn’t allowed on their site.

    In my opinion it would go a long way to improving their site if they were more open with their users.

  • Frank Carr says:

    Since I'm more of a SEO fan I like to use SU as more of an entertainment vehicle than a promotional one. I'll occasionally stumble my own articles on my flagship sites but that will be in-between many stumbles of funny cat pictures and the like.

    <abbr>Frank Carr’s last blog post..Earn Online Cash Using PayPal</abbr>

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      Frank,

      Interestingly enough I'm actually I'm actually in about the same boat. I come from an SEO background and very much use SU for entertainment and making friends. After all isn't that what is supposed to be all about? ;-)

  • MayhemChaos says:

    I used to often stumble my own posts, but now just let the community decide if my content is worth a stumble or digg.

    Good post.

  • Brian says:

    150,000+ stumbles and I haven’t had a single problem. :)

  • Pheak Tol says:

    I didn't even know you can get banned from SU. I hardly use it right now, just because I have so many other websites that i use and feel does more for me.

    but this is good to know for those that is actually creating this pattern with their friends or what not.

    <abbr>Pheak Tol’s last blog post..Useful Twitter Apps and Websites</abbr>

  • FFB says:

    I had an account banned. Like you said no warning. Just got a vague email saying I violated their TOS. When I emailed back they couldn't give me specifics as to what was done exactly.

    I know part of this is prevent spam but I think it's also motivated by them wanting you to use their advertising feature. They actually offered that up to me in the same email they banned me!

    I think I got hit for thumbing friends articles. I noticed a few friends who were banned too. But where is the line drawn between liking a friend's piece and just spamming it? I dunno.

    I've noticed that traffic has changed as well for SU. I think their algo really looks for variety of discoveries and thumbs and doesn't like the same people thumbing your site.

    <abbr>FFB’s last blog post..Where Obama’s New Economic Stimulus Package Will Create Jobs</abbr>

  • John Sullivan says:

    I was just going to write Stumbled

    but I'll add cool post;)

    Stumbled

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    Ha ha.

    Thanks John.

  • kelly says:

    Wow! I never knew StumbleUpon's "axe" is actually a "good luck and goodbye"! That is a good warning. Thanks Gerald!

  • Ileane
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hi, a fellow blogger refered me to this post and I'm glad they did (thanks timetheif).

    I have to admit, I spent zero time reading SU's terms of service and maybe about 2 minutes trying to understand the point of the site. I'm a visual learner and I didn't see a video so I just tried to "figure it out". Sadly, I think that is what the majority of users do.

    Here it is 3 months later and I find out that SU was not created with the intention of promoting your own (or your friends) blogs or websites.

    So now my question is – why don't they just tell you that on page one? or how about on the toolbar? Maybe a little pop up before you stumble or thumbs up a post that says something like "Please don't stumble your own work". Or maybe they could create a 2 minute video explaining how it is supposed to work…

    Thanks for this post, it has certainly helped enlighten me about using SU. Like you and some of the other commentors, I will let others stumble and thumbs up my posts on their own without any encouragement from me.
    .-= Ileane´s last blog ..Do Twitter Backgrounds Attract New Followers? =-.

    • Gerald Weber
      Twitter:
      says:

      I’m glad you found this post useful. It would be a great thing, if StumbleUpon had some kind of a guide for newbies. Here is another post that covers some other aspects of Stumble that you might find useful. StumbleUpon Essential Basics, A Beginners Guide

      I hope you find that useful. Also keep in mind it’s not against terms of service to stumble your own domain but it’s best not to over do it.

      Also thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope to see you around here more in the future. :-)

  • I have seen several sites with excellent content that are obviously banned including BlueHatSEO. When I try to review them I get this message:

    “This Web site is not available for StumbleUpon members to rate or review

    From time to time, we may remove sites from our database for a variety of reasons. If you have a question about why this specific web page is unavailable, please contact our Community Support team, and we’ll do our best to get back to you quickly.”
    .-= Gail from GrowMap´s last blog ..Better Twitter Retweets From Favorite Twitter Apps =-.

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    I’m glad you found this post useful. It would be a great thing, if StumbleUpon had some kind of a guide for newbies. Here is another post that covers some other aspects of Stumble that you might find useful. StumbleUpon Essential Basics, A Beginners Guide

    I hope you find that useful. Also keep in mind it’s not against terms of service to stumble your own domain but it’s best not to over do it.

    Also thanks for stopping by and commenting. Hope to see you around here more in the future. :-)

  • Gerald Weber
    Twitter:
    says:

    I have even seen StumbleUpon ban Problogger once but then later ended up lifting the ban. I'm sure their intention is to prevent spam but not sure what methods they use to determine if something is spam or not spam.