Iowa State students partake in StumbleUpon’s ‘Stumble to Spring Break’ challenge

Tessa Callender

StumbleUpon, a discovery engine created in 2001 and now with more than 12 million users, finds “the best of the web” by catering its results to each individual and loads Web pages unlikely to have been found using a regular search engine.

“StumbleUpon is a great source of entertainment and information,” said Katie Gray, marketing communications manager for StumbleUpon.

“Whether you’re looking for a quick break or to do deep research, StumbleUpon will open your eyes to new topics, ideas and media.”

Gray also said the site is good for combating writer’s block.

“If you’re ever looking for a way to breathe some life into your paper, ‘stumbling’ can often help.”

Due to the site’s popularity with college students, StumbleUpon decided to host a nation-wide challenge called “Stumble to Spring Break” that started in mid-October; two Iowa State students are participating in the challenge.

Their team, “Expansion Pack 4: Growth Collision,” is composed of Amanda Howell, junior in art and design; Emily Thomas, sophomore in pre-graphic design; and two college students from Texas that Thomas knows.

Both Howell and Thomas heard about StumbleUpon from their friends, and when Thomas heard about the challenge, she got her friends together to partake by informing and introducing as many people to StumbleUpon as possible while expressing their love for it in the process.

“This competition challenges students to utilize their organizational and marketing know-how to make an impact for StumbleUpon that can also be applicable to various professions they’ll undertake,” Gray said.

There are currently 63 teams composed of up to four students from more than 70 schools in the U.S., all participating in the challenge with the goal of trying to sign up the most people to StumbleUpon by the March 1 deadline. The team with the highest number of sign-ups greater than 5,000 will win the “Stumble to Spring Break” challenge and will receive a trip to anywhere within the continental U.S., with the hotel and flight being paid for up to $5,000.

Additionally, those teams that sign up 1,000 people will automatically receive FlipCams for all of their team members and those that reach the 5,000 sign-up mark will all receive iPads. There are even prizes for those teams who use creativity in their approach to keep their users “stumbling.”

Both Thomas and Howell agreed the prizes are a huge incentive in getting people to sign up, but they also genuinely believe in the value of StumbleUpon.

“It’s like crack, and I’ll potato-it out for hours on the site, and I will get off knowing 80 more random cool facts,” Thomas said.

Howell loves that StumbleUpon has such an “enormous yet random knowledge base,” and really enjoys all of the random facts she learns.

“It’s just a great way to kill time while still being educational,” Howell said. “There are so many things you don’t realize are out there.”

Howell and Thomas both like stumbling upon photos. Thomas even uses the website when she wants to bake or be crafty, but doesn’t know where to start so she’ll search the topic and hit “next” until she finds something interesting.

“Our recommendation technology adapts in real time to your tastes, preferences, social connections and even moods,” Gray said.

“StumbleUpon also taps into an interest network; unlike other recommendation sites, StumbleUpon compares your interests with those of like-minded users to serve you unique content that goes beyond what your friends might like.”

StumbleUpon offers nearly 500 topics that users may choose to indicate their interests and preferences, producing relevant content in each stumble; especially when you can “like” or “dislike” each website that appears so you will continue to get quality websites in the future. Therefore, when you stumble, you will only see pages that friends and like-minded stumblers have recommended.

“Expansion Pack 4: Growth Collision” — a name that was just as random as the things you can find on StumbleUpon — has a goal to reach at least 5,000 sign-ups. So far, they’ve focused on getting personal with people and sharing their experience with StumbleUpon as well as their newly acquired random facts, but hope to expand on their marketing tactics when second semester begins.

To support “Expansion Pack 4: Growth Collision” in their endeavor, visit their Facebook page, sign up for StumbleUpon and check up on where you placed them compared to other teams in the running. And for those of you that are already avid stumblers, this is an opportunity to get your friends hooked while helping some fellow Cyclones in the process.