Are You Really “Ghost Banned” on StumbleUpon?

I have had a lot of good comments about the article “How to not get Banned on Stumblupon“, and I appreciate all of them. One issue that has received a lot of attention is the “ghost banning”.

stumbleupon_collageI want to clear something up for those of you who are now afraid to thumb up your friends stuff, or who think they can no longer thumb or review their favorite sites. I am going to explain how the process works from my knowledge in hopes of putting your mind at ease.

First of all, when you go to check one of your recent discoveries and find that it says “discovered by someone” rather than yourself, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ghost banned. You may be experiencing:

  • A glitch. They happen all the time on most sites and SU is no exception.
  • You are sandboxed, which I will explain below.

I got a lot of my information for the term “sandboxed” from a post Jeff Quipp made a couple of years ago.  Where ever you are buddy, thank you! I wasn’t sure how to explain it until I found his post.

There’s no way I can predict the algorithm of SU, however there is a process SU uses to combat spam.  They found the best way is to not inform these suspected people that they are watching them.  They want to watch their usual activities versus giving them a warning, because they will eventually return to their usual spammy ways after a while and the process would start all over again.  Why not build up enough evidence that can’t be disputed?

If you have been reviewed or flagged before, there is a chance that your discoveries or certain discoveries are getting sandboxed. And if you haven’t been reviewed before, but are receiving a lot of flags, then this would apply to you as well.  What this means is that they take your discoveries and make it appear as though they are active, until it’s determined that tags are fitting etc (there’s more to it, but you get the idea). People you share with see your discovery, they can review and thumb it.  Everything goes on as usual, or so it seems to the submitter and the friends it was shared with, except one thing — the discovery is being reviewed.  Once it’s cleared (usually very soon after the discovery), then you get listed as the person who discovered it, and it becomes a normal discovery which can then be viewed by more people. This is obviously a very loose interpretation of the term “sandboxed.” In all actuality, it’s more complicated. However, it works very well.

Ghost banned means that basically all your discoveries are under review, and usually for a longer period of time. This usually means they have reason to believe that you are spamming based on their reviews, or a lot of flags on multiple posts. At this point, they are looking very closely at your patterns, friends, etc. That does not mean that they review all your friends however, just certain friends who have been thumbing all your discoveries, especially if they are leaving reviews.  Those particular friends will either be sandboxed or ghost banned as well.  This is necessary to eliminate the spam rings or circles. At this stage, you will lose all or most of the work you have put into SU in regard to your discoveries.

The next step is usually an email to let you know that you are under review, usually you cannot access your account during this period of time. There is a possibility of being permanently banned if they find evidence that you are spamming.

SU is not necessarily wanting to target the people who thumb up these sites in question, but the people who are actually discovering them. You will not know who these people are that are being watched, and that’s the reason you need to be careful/mindful of your friends.  It’s not being deceptive on SU’s part because it’s giving their users the benefit of the doubt. It may also appear that the other obvious spammers are getting away with it because there is no indication those people are even being watched.  But, the fact is, they are just building up the ammunition they need to ban them completely, if they are indeed a real spammer or a spammer ring.  I have only seen this with the real spammers guys, not an innocent user, so don’t think they are out there watching your every move just waiting to swing the ban hammer.

One of the reasons the actual user is not aware they are being sandboxed is because SU is basically giving the user time to prove they are or are not a spammer.  SU does not randomly chose these users.  They have only been brought to their attention because there have been multiple people thumbing their disoveries down, marking them as spam or un-useful, and if they have been flagged for nudity/porn when they are not listed as an x-rated site. And if you have gotten in trouble before, and you are still being flagged.

SU also understands that there are people who do this on purpose to get rid of a top user because they are haters, or they are tired of seeing their stuff etc. Basically SU is giving these flagged users the benefit of the doubt as I said before (I am being very redundant, I know). And keep in mind that SU doesn’t usually ban someone unless there’s a lot evidence, not just flags.

I can name a user off hand (in my mind) who is a top stumbler.  He is good, and I don’t consider him a spammer simply because he has quality stuff from a lot of good sources.  He has been reviewed at least twice that I know of, but he hasn’t been banned, and probably won’t be unless he changes his pattern. The reason it seems he is being targeted is because of some haters out there that feel he is spamming certain sites, there seems to be a large group of them who’s intentions are to “clean up” SU. However, sometimes their intentions may be a little misguided by their own jealousy, but that’s just my opinion, and it is only a few. SU can’t ignore it’s users, however, and they will do their best to weed out the good users from the bad ones.

You may see your good friend get temporarily suspended who you feel doesn’t deserve it, and then see some crappy user spam their health blogs or whatever, it doesn’t mean they (the obvious spammer) is not being watched while your friend gets picked on. Chances are that these obvious spammers are being watched, so their days are short.  SU tries to make their users happy, and like I said before, it’s a big accomplishment for a social media site these days.

Please don’t be afraid of thumbing your friend’s stuff.  Just make sure you take a look at what they are submitting, if it’s from the same source each time, or if it is obviously very low quality.  If it is, then just remove them, or don’t thumb it.  And if you feel it truly is spam, report it.  This will make it a lot easier for the rest of us who are on SU for the right reasons.  You have to be accountable for who you chose to be your friends, so getting upset that you are under review because you kept thumbing up joebob’s (hopefully that’s not an actual user) health blog that sells vitaimins over and over again, seems a little silly.  Common sense is the best advice I can give you.

I am in no way affiliated with SU, nor do I know anyone who is.  I am only a long-time user who loves SU, and write what I have learned from my own experiences and research.

* * *

Read more about StumbleUpon on this Social News Blog.
Image courtesy of Pandemic Labs.

8 thoughts on “Are You Really “Ghost Banned” on StumbleUpon?

  1. Thanks for clearing this up. After I read the first article, I was a little bummed out and felt like I might have hurt fellow bloggers by thumbing up some of their posts. I don’t go crazy with it and only Stumble stuff I really like, regardless of the site. I’m not trying to be the person who “discovers” everything.

    As a small-time humor blogger, I can use all the help I can get–from people who think it’s funny, obviously. I’m glad that I haven’t damaged anyone’s rep.

  2. @kathcom

    Thumbing up your friend’s post is not going to hurt them in the least bit. It’s you that would be hurt by it, if let’s say, you were thumbing up the same spammy sites often, and reviewing them , which I’m sure isn’t the case. Let’s also say a spammer thumbs up one of your posts, or my posts, it wouldn’t effect you or me unless they were reviewing them all, and that spammer was being watched. Otherwise, that would be unfair to those who are just innocently posting good content. Does that make sense?

    The only time a website gets effected negatively by a stumbler is when the same person discovers the websites’ posts often. It shows that they are not reaching a diverse audience. It can effect the traffic quite a bit as well, and it can also raise some flags of the person discovering the posts, and even the website itself since it seems a little suspicious that the same person is discovering them all the time.

    Like I said, there is no need to worry if you are doing things naturally. I wrote the initial article to warn some of my social media friends who are thumbing and reviewing pages sent to them, blindly, without realizing who is sending what.

    Just be mindful of what you are discovering, and keep it diverse as far as the sources are concerned. If it’s a large source, like or Timesonline for instance, discovering their posts often isn’t as alarming simply because they have many different stories they report on daily, and have different people discovering different stories every day. However, it’s the smaller blogs and websites that are effected by the same person discovering their posts, because they usually have very few posts per day. I hope I’m not making this more confusing. But, I think you get what I’m saying.

    Thank you for your comment, and I hope this helped you.

  3. Since a long time already I have “Ghost Banning” problems with my SU account. It started for me at the end of July, when I also was removed unexpectedly from the Top Stumblers list.

    The problems were:
    1. Not credited as the discoverer of discovered links on the review pages.
    2. Omittance of reviews on the review pages
    3. Omittance in ‘Recent visitors’ lists

    I had contact several times with the StumbleUpon support team. Initially I was told that “ghost banning” does not exist and that my problems might be related to bugs in recently installed software.

    On August 7 I was told that bug fix, related to the discovery process was released, and that I should see my name next to all my discoveries, which was since then indeed the case. So at least problem 1. was solved for me.

    The problems number 2 and 3, however persist and in a recent contact this was no longer attributed to a bug, but I was told that: The review pages display their content variously in public views, in signed-on views, and to different users and that the manner in which these are displayed are revised periodically.

    So now it seems to be a matter of waiting for a reset to normal for my case.

  4. If you want to submit your site to stumbleupon but you are worried that you have submitted from that site too much, you can submit your site to instead. My Awesome Links will frame that since and you can submit the myawesomelinks page… The result, stumbleupon drives traffic to your site through the other domain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>