Quick Guide to StumbleUpon Categorization and Tagging

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CC: Stumbling into happiness by szea.

One of the most annoying issues on StumbleUpon, both from an user and a webmaster perspective is the bizarre categorization system. SU mixes tags and categories in a way nobody really grasps.

You can only memorize them by using this flawed system in a trial and error way. After more than a year of SU practice I finally got it, but most people don’t. So I present to you a quick guide to StumbleUpon categorization and tagging.

Why bother in the first place? As I said before, StumbleUpon is channel surfing on the Web. It means that, metaphorically speaking, if you put celebs on the discovery channel or cars on the politics channel you won’t reach your desired audience.


CC: Stumble and fall by andreasnilsson1976.

Miscategorization means:

  • No traffic beside the initial push of a few hundred people
  • High bounce rate of those people who are not interested in your subject matter
  • Bad angry reviews
  • Spam reports

I get miscategorized all of the time that’s why I wrote about the categories that make sense to submit my posts to:

  • marketing
  • search
  • stumbleupon
  • blogs
  • web development
  • internet tools
  • writing
  • business
  • internet

depending of course on the topic of the post. Most people just drop every post of mine in “internet” even if deals with a tiny aspect of the Internet but mostly with a marketing or search specific subject most SU users don’t care for.

Ironically people submit my posts that really deal with the Internet as a whole to the marketing category where nobody cares.


CC: Stumble Inn by Andy2Boyz.

Likewise most people miscategorize technology posts and websites. They all end up in science/tech. The science and technology category on SU is not meant for the latest Internet craze, gadgets or hardware news. You have lots of categories for that:

  • internet
  • internet tools
  • cyberculture
  • IT
  • computers
  • computer hardware
  • computer science
  • electronic devices
  • electrical eng.

There is another problem besides miscategorization due to lack of understanding the system. Some of the most bizarre miscategorizations happen due to the non-intuitive tag to category translation StumbleUpon performs. Some tags get assigned to categories but not always the way you think. At least one category even leads to nowhere. SU sometimes just assigns a seemingly random category which has nothing to do with the post or is based on the site’s general topic.


CC: The stumbling monk by sparktography.

So here is a little StumbleUpon tag to category dictionary. On the left is the tag you enter, on the right the category it ends up in:

electronics -> electronic devices

web design -> web development

web-design -> web development

blogs -> weblogs

design -> graphic design

health -> health/fitness

technology -> science/tech

electricity -> electrical eng (electrical engineering)

non profit -> nonprofit/charity

iraq -> iraq conflict

These tags will result in empty category (which basically kills a StumbleUpon submission):


SU offering a category that does not exist!

society -> [empty]
This is a default main category SU offers in the discovery pane you see when hitting thumbs up on a yet to be discovered page but it leads to nowhere!

tech -> [empty]
Use “technology” or some specific category from the above list.

children -> [empty]
Use “kids” instead.

charity -> [empty]
Use “non profit” instead.

Last but not least any submission that you mark as “adult” will end up in the porn category where most people won’t see it at all. So think twice before doing it just because you see some breasts on your image.

Add more categorization and tagging issues in the comments! I’ll be glad to add them in the post.