The StumbleUpon Digg Experiment

DiggStumbleUpon(The results are in.  Read them at StumbleUpon vs Digg).

Bloggers and webmasters out there who watch their traffic as closely as we do have been amazed by the “Stumble Effect”.  Many know about the sudden burst of traffic that comes from the “Digg Effect” when a submission reaches the front page of Digg (or even better, if it reaches the “Top in All…” section on the frontpage).  This is normally a day of joy (or terror if your server bombs) followed by limited tricklings of traffic.

Stumble has a different, more steady infusion of traffic that it can send to a website that gets stumbled, especially if it is hit by multiple top users.  The effect is sustained, but more importantly, can be rejuvinated by a thumbs up and/or review by the right person/people.

Digg, on the other hand, has the advantage of having “controlled” traffic.  Anyone watching their posts as they’re submitted and rising on Digg can pinpoint if and approximately when their page will go popular.  You know when the traffic is coming and you know when it will stop.

The thing that truly piqued our curiosity was something that happened last Sunday.  This blog has had several stories hit the front page of Digg and other social networks and has received a ton of Stumble traffic over the weeks.  Last Sunday, someone “powerful” Stumbled a story.  Shortly after that, someone else with power stumbler status reviewed it.  Ninety seconds later, our server was dead, and it took an act of congress and an upgrade in equipment to get the site live again.  That never happened with any of the Diggs.

So, let’s experiment.  The idea has been percolating for a while, but James Pegram’s Blog beat us to the punch.  No worries.  The post was excellent, but there is a ton more that can be learned.  On Digg, as stories move down the front page and on to the next, the traffic slows, like tall rollercoaster freefall that hits tremendous speeds, then gradually levels out and slows.  Stumble is like a bumpy rollercoaster in the dark.  You know the traffic will go up and down, you just don’t know when it’s going to go up, nor when it’s going to stop.

A quick note about incentive: This blog makes next to nothing in ad revenue.  That can be expected, as almost all of its traffic is generated by social media users who are normally too web-savvy to click on adsense or purchase from an advertising banner.  Most, in fact, surf the web so much that they are now “blind” to these forms of marketing.  Then, there are those who use browser extensions to block the ads altogether.

For this experiment, we won’t put any adsense or advertising in the story, just so nobody thinks there are ulterior motives involved.  The sidebar will have the coffee banner (there more for asthetic purposes, as nobody buys coffee from a social media blog) and some text ads, but the story itself will be cleaner than any others on the site.

That should make our $0.63 average daily revenue plummet, but for research, no sacrifice is too great.

No, this article will track the traffic generated as well as hour by hour, sometimes even minute by minute updates to the data stream.  Who’s Stumbling, how may Diggs, times on front page, added Stumble reviews — the list will grow as more data becomes available.  We’ll watch who stumbles it and when as well as where it moves on Digg.

There are potential drawbacks.  Despite the fact that this website does not make enough money to cover the hosting, there will be those who think it’s a ploy to somehow put cash in our pockets.  There will be those who get some kind of joy out of messing experiments like these up.  They will bury it on Digg and thumb it down on Stumble.  I’ll give it a 30% chance on Digg and a 50% chance on Stumble.

All data will be posted here with times and results as they become available.

* * *

Read more info at the Social Media Blog.

Leave a Reply


  1. Nice post, I am a big fan of stumbleupon, especially as the traffic is ever lasting unlike digg/reddit etc.

    I don’t know exactly how much traffic you got to make your server crash but I have received over 5000 visits in just under an hour before, made it to the first page of “buzz” for that one!

    What I like about stumbleupon is that it does matter how friendly you are to other people, your reputation counts and as ive been using it for around 4 months I can guarantee at least 500 unique visitors for one click of a button.

    Great post as said before!

  2. @Matt,

    Thank you for the nice plug about the story.

    As far as how much traffic, I’ll never know. The crappy analytics I had showed that I had about 350 hits in a couple of minutes.

  3. Michael

    I think it’s obvious that Stumbleupon is the winner. I Stumbled to this page, and this wonderful page only has a measly 53 Diggs. So, if you want your word to get out, just Stumble it!

  4. I like the comparison you make between the two social media sites. And I cannot agree more!

    Digg works great for getting a ‘spike’ in traffic, but what comes after that? pretty much nothing.

    Whereas, SU will continue to bring traffic in, so there’s not much of a spike, just sustainability. For that reason alone, I like to think that SU traffic is much more valuable than Digg traffic.

    I look forward to reading the results of your experiment.


  5. Joy

    I also just stumbled your page..^^..I added it on my “I like” page..^^

  6. Hello

    Very informative post.

    Would you write a review about a new cool web site for social bookmarking its


  7. my page has 0 diggs and 0 stumbles.
    i. am. awesome.


    They’re off!!!

    The data is pouring in.

    With the Digg hitting the front page 10 minutes ago, it starts off 7 hours and 2650 hits behind Stumble.

    But after 12 minutes on the Front Page, Digg has sent a modest 600 visitors. It’s pacing well, but can it sustain long enough to make it through Stumble’s sustained charge?

    The tortoise and the hare? We’ll see which works.

  9. Just thought I’d rep Digg (found it on Digg before stumble). This is an interesting comparison for web developers. Here is a comparison from a different viewpoint. I think there is a difference in content on stumble and Digg. Stumble does very well with sights that are awesome i.e. do something interactive. Stumble is not as good for news stories. Digg does very well with sights that are very current or have bran new up-to-date info i.e. news/current events (old stuff or non dynamic content gets buried and taken off the front page).

    just a prediction: After a Digg spike you will get a LOT more thumbs up. I think Digg comes first.

  10. or maybe i’m wrong…

  11. Currently:
    Stumble: 49 Thumbs Up, 11 Reviews, 8 hours since Discovered: 3696 Hits

    Digg: 266 Diggs, 14 comments, 36 minutes since going Popular: 2592 Hits

    Digg cut into the deficit, but Stumblers have stepped up for another nice surge as well. Possibly visitors FROM digg who then stumbled it once they got here? When the dust settles, we’ll know for sure.

  12. I think that solves the monetization issue in both cases.

  13. I’ve found that stumbleupon is a great tool for not only getting traffic, but getting noticed by bloggers of all sorts. Digg, on the other hand, is just frustrating to use (both as a reader and as a content provider)

  14. Interesting article. I’m new to this ‘social media stuff’ and you’ve written a concise and informative piece. Thanks!

  15. Nate

    it depends on when you call it, if you call it tomorrow, digg will win, if you call it next week, stumble will prolly take the cake.
    So it’s intirely up to you who wins becasue your teh one calling when the experiment ends.

  16. David Worley


  17. When it comes to Digg and any other social bookmarking website its not necessarily the immediate influx of traffic you get that’s important. If you do hit the home page for Digg rest assured Google will index your page and give you rankings very fast, therefore you will get traffic through the search engines. I have also noticed that once your site hits Diggs home page not only does that specific page/article get a boost but the entire site tends to see some boost in rankings. I think it is possible to use both sites for sustained traffic. The best traffic is targeted traffic so if Digg and Stumble Upon can both help rankings and bring in said targeted traffic then there is no winner, and both together are an amazingly powerful tool. We should all strive to produce content worth reading regardless of the tools available to bring in traffic.


  18. I dugg and stumbled it. I don’t have much power on either ;p

  19. I’ve always had better results from Stumble, cool experiment though. Stumbled & Dugg

  20. Brymcon

    Nates right you control who wins this by deciding when the experiment ends. Still an interesting article and yes I’m now probably going to stumble it.

  21. I think StumbleUpon is great and keeps bringing in traffic, but part of the power of digg is that you may get a lot of back-links from getting to one of the front-pages which will help in establishing PageRank and which will eventually bring you new visitors.

    Digg, Stumbled &’ed 😛

  22. StumbeUpon recently brought a huge amount of visitors to my site unprecedentedly. I’ve never used it before, so I might have to start.

    Trying to bring more visitors to my site I submitted one of my images to digg. While only one person dugg it that someone must have stumbled upon it, bringing in over 50,000 hits since. The max amount of daily hits was 6,450 on the 9th, and has been dropping steadily down since.

  23. Nice article.

  24. I think stumbleupon is an excellent way to get visitors to your website, digg however im not to keen on.

  25. our experience has certainly been that stumbleupon can bring in traffic for a longer peroid of time. it obv does totally depend on the site/content in question however… we have a very interesting/quirky and unique offering – which appeals to stumblers – whereas articles about our tech have appealed to diggers.

  26. Interesting article, just got here from stumble, we got on stumble for a weekend, actually power user labeled us as porn ever though we are a reminder service, but we did get lots of nice traffic and a good amount of users signing up. We have never been able to get very far on digg, so not much to compare it to.

  27. The Digg Spike of Death, leaves you with no choice but to try hard to create a perfectly attractive post whilst more stumblers are joining other groups to help stumble.

    Any1 use
    Check out DiggLicious also!

  28. I stumble upon here and found a nice post. What said is true, it does increase your traffic.

  29. WOW, some amazing data. Without sounding like someone trying to promote a “Tune in tomorrow for more “Days of our Blog”, I have to say that the results have been crazy to say the least.

    Prelimary report Saturday. Will keep 1 post and just add to it Sunday and for the next few weeks, but most of the good stuff will be available by Monday. In the meantime, my lovely wife is working on a post that will “fill the void” while we wait. Should be up in a few hours.

    Thank you for all the comments. I will reply to them all when I’m not exhausted. Goodnight.

  30. Great article. I am an avid stumbleupon fan. Since the use of it I have consitantly stumbled online. Not only a great way to network but also a great educational tool. Thanks for the post


  31. Bravo – you’ve managed to outwit dig users and get this article to the homepage.

    Like yoda, you have used the SEO force on the online population most averse to the tactic and through slight of hand you have appeased the digg masses and made them join your SEO experiment.

    This page should be included in all social media presentations at future SEO events.

  32. Bracey

    Hi im a stumbleupon user (i.e I use it enjoy it and like to post cool pics and naughty pics on my page thingy haha) But yea cool Ill happily thumb up and give this a review 🙂 Hope it helps. Bracey (p.s I stumbled onto this page obviously)


    Hi, I just Stumbled onto this page and would like to leave a comment but I don’t know how too..

    Please, can someone reply and tell me how to leave a comment on here?
    Thanks in advance. J

  34. Naughty19YearOld-Niki

    Guys – check this SU page, u will enjoy. Leave comment if poss.

  35. I came here via Digg, I dugg the article and gave it a Stumble thumbs up. Interesting experiment.

  36. Hey thanks for the plug. Glad you found something of worth in that article.. lol

    That’s a neat test JD, be interesting to see the final result.

  37. I stumbled here myself. Definite thumbs up. Great article, can’t wait for the results.

  38. I’m a huge fan of stumbleupon and rate it more highly than Digg, although I use Digg to promote my articles and others.

    The more involved you get with stumbleupon the more traffic you get i.e. if you write more reviews, get more friends, get more reviews the more power you have and the more traffic you get.

    Great article and looking forward to the results on monday.

  39. Initial Results:

  40. nice read thank you

  41. Liz

    i stumbled upon you and gave a thumbs up.

  42. crystal911

    thumbs up!

  43. Fadem

    *Presses thumbs down button*

    Not just because I’m an a-hole. No matter what your reason might be, never ever ask for a thumbs up.

  44. Agree totally – Linked to your post from here:

    Why StumbleUpon “Owns” Digg

    And of course you get a thumbs-up!

  45. roxy rose

    I love SU! I’ve made so many cool friends! I’ve Stumbled everything from how to make an alarm system from a piece of fruit to people sharing their art and music from every where in the world. My experience with SU is so positive and I am hooked. Soon there will be a need, if not already for Stumblers anonymous!

  46. Chance-upon Channel

    Shouldn’t current web etiquette always include a time and date stamp at the top of a post ? Just wondering if this or my comments are simply moot.

  47. Thanks for sharing

  48. I have also been monitoring the effects of social media marketing. There are some interesting results that I put together in a blog post. I am interested in seeing how your experiment turns out.


  49. For pure traffic volume stumble upon wins hands down in my experience. But I find it’s easier to get digg users to actually read your content, probably because they don’t have their finger hovering over the stumble button.

    With stumble upon it’s very important that your site looks visually appealing and has content that will get the reader interested quickly.

  50. Savannah

    I Stumbled here.

  51. Thanks for the info. I find Stumbleupon a lot better than Digg for non-tech or pop-culture related topics. I also find very useful for driving traffic.

  52. PeteY

    From a user point of view, stumbleupon® is much more attractive as it lets the user become a passenger while other users with similar interests do the driving.

    Even if a user has no intentions to do the driving, they may find something they like (a page of interest, say), then they may give it the thumbs up and another user with the same topic of interest will stumble upon it randomly.

    But there’s no way of telling whether the page of interest will even be seen because stumbleupon® selects the next page randomly (even if the user is only stumbling the one topic of interest)…

    …It’s just more likely to be seen.

    This randomness is most likely the reason why stumble traffic is unpredictable.

    In my opinion the most attractive thing about stumbleupon® for a user is the way users control content and the reporting system that limits (to a great extent) advertising and off topic stumbles. Such an example would be…

    …A user who is an advertising PR exec (i.e. pure evil concentrate) starts up a stumbler profile. He/she then would submit a thumbs up and review of a page or pages pertaining to their client’s goods and services. Or even a page with no real content and a lot of banners, pop ups etc.

    Other users who are savvy would pick up on this violation of stumbleupon® policy and report the stumbler as a spammer. Consequently our PR guru would be banned and have their profile deleted.

    Digg content on the other hand seems bit too contrived and controlled by moderators and possibly pure evil concentrate.

  53. Loa

    Does this mean a cleaver soul could use Stumble and Digg to engineer a denial of service attack with out those actually perputrating the attack ever knowing what they’re involved in. Think about it you only have to post fake reviews and thumbs up relating to the site you want to bring down and the two systems are going to aim loads of traffic at it, it seems this crashed the site mentoned above. I dont know whether this is a really cleaver h4ck or a massive oversite on the part of the operators of Digg and Stumble.

  54. First of all, great idea! I’m sure the results will be of most interest. I just have a question: what makes an important stumbler “important”? Is it de amount of stumbles in his/her behalf? Is it how many followers he/she has? Is it the amount of reviews or discoveries? Or the time he/she has been part of the stumble community? I didn’t know that stumbles have a “specific weight” when it came to likes (Y) or dislikes (N) and a relatively noticeable influence in stumble traffic…

  55. BTW, I just noticed the date of this post…

    Where or the results?!

  56. Ferril

    Where are the results and statistics?

    “All data will be posted here with times and results as they become available.” ….

  57. hey, nice read. Who are you hosting with if you don’t mind telling me.
    I’ve been hit with the “digg effect” on my site and ofcourse shared hosting being what it is, server died. I want to know what sort of specs it would take to survive both the digg effect and stumble.
    u can email me at the email i provided in the comments form.

  58. I love Digg, and in fact I usually Digg post instead of Stumble, but most of my traffic comes from StumbleUpon. I really need to start using it more. LOL!

  59. Michelle Foster

    I was surprise to learn that Stumbleupon was actually getting more traffic than I thought. It says here they have reached 1 billion a month I honestly love digg but after that huge update they made, I don’t enjoy it that much anymore. They should revert back to the old template they were using or they may end up losing readers to competitors like stumbleupon and reddit which keeps on improving.

  60. For years, I was a digg fan, but recently in the past 4 months, because of the complete difference in overall traffic and ease of use, I’ve been using stumbleupon more.

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