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ProBlogger is Banned from StumbleUpon

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of August 2008 Social Media 0 Comments

banned-stumbleuponThis story has been updated at the bottom of this post.

This morning a number of readers have emailed or tweeted me to let me know that when they try to bookmark a post on ProBlogger that it leads them to a page saying that ProBlogger has been banned from StumbleUpon (thaks to @Fussypants on Twitter who was first).

You can see a screen capture of the page here – subtle isn’t it!?:

Picture 2.png

The page says that we’ve either been banned for abusing the service or have been asked for the site not to be included.

I can tell you that it was not the 2nd option (and if it had of been I would be pretty upset to see it presented as ‘banned’).

I’ve sent off an email using Stumbleupon’s contact form to ask for more information on this – but to be honest I’m pretty shocked and a little angry at this.

I can’t think of any way that I’ve abused StumbleUpon and if I had I would have thought that they’d have banned me as a user of it as well or instead of banning my URL.

I’ve got two theories as to why I may have been banned

1. ProBlogger does get a reasonable amount of traffic from StumbleUpon and perhaps the powers at be at SU think I’ve manipulated the system to get it. This is not the case and I’d suggest that perhaps I get more traffic from SU than some other sites because:

  • I’ve written about StumbleUpon many times. Writing about any bookmarking site tends to get people who use that site to bookmark those posts
  • I write to an audience who use social media a lot – ProBlogger readers are a very social media savvy lot and probably bookmark more than the general web user.

2. My recent social media love-in and list of bloggers who use StumbleUpon might have been interpreted abuse.

Perhaps I should have checked with SU before running that social media love-in but my motivations for doing it were not abusive. All I was hoping to do was to build community here on ProBlogger and give readers an opportunity to connect with one another in mediums other than here on this blog.

If anything I thought it would promote and build traffic on the social media sites that we developed lists for. If SU don’t want bloggers to use their service and don’t want sub communities within their user-base then this is their prerogative – but I’m a little put out that as someone who has actively promoted and used their service and even encouraged my readers to advertise on them that they simply banned me.

Some articles I’ve published on StumbleUpon for bloggers include:

I’m also a little angry that people voting for my posts get led to a page that accuses me as the owner of this site of abusing their service. If that’s not a slur against my character then I’m not sure what is. If this upsets you I’d encourage you to Stumble a ProBlogger page, click the ‘contact us’ link and let them know what you think (that’s what they’ve asked for on the page anyway).

Dear StumbleUpon

I am obviously feeling a little put out by you banning my blog from your service.

I do love StumbleUpon and hope that you’ll reconsider your decision and I’d love to hear from you with how I can remedy any actions that I might have inadvertently taken that don’t fit with your terms and conditions.

update – just heard from StumbleUpon’s Community Manager (who I emailed) – he’s also commented his email in comments below. We’re going to work on sorting this out and then I’ll post about the results in the coming days so we can all learn a thing or two about why this happened and how we can avoid it happening to others. Fingers crossed that this is resolved soon.

update 2 – 1 hour and 44 minutes after I posted this post I’m no longer banned from StumbleUpon. I put this down to you – my amazing readership who reacted with emails, Diggs, Tweets and more. I’ve never seen first hand what a blog community can achieve like this so quickly. Now if only we could pull ourselves together and work so hard to do something that REALLY matters like doing something about poverty or the environment…. :-)

update 3 – Check out this post that I’ve written the full story of how I got banned and unbanned from StumbleUpon in under two hours.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Regardless of whether Walter and yourself resolve this, StumbleUpon’s management are obviously, plain and simple, idiots for using potentially defamatory language on that page—if they’re going to make that accusation they better be damn sure about it.

  2. Hey Darren, look forward to see this resolved. I was so shocked that Problogger could be banned from SU and I love SU! Keen to see how it gets fixed. Good luck!!

  3. Walter,
    Hopefulluy you and Darren can get together soon to get this sorted…. As you can see, there’s a lot of heartache going on, on his behalf.
    The otehr point (which you’ve probably realised…) is that we do care about and we (the community) don’t think he’s abused stumbleupon, or more importantly, us.

  4. Dear Darren, Stumbleupon is facing some problems or bugs. When I submitted some sites, those are successfully submitted but not showingup in the “submitted list”. They need to act quickly.

  5. I’m sorry this happened to you Darren. And, it is disturbing to me too – since my blog receives significant traffic from stumble as well.

  6. This happens to hundreds of sites and users. But probably because you are extremely popular compared to the average joe out there… you will get back on the ride.

    But I doubt that is the case for “smaller guys”

    Diana Valerini

  7. Should we show some respect to SU because they unbanned Darren in less then 30 minutes?


  8. I just saw your Tweet that you’re un-banned. I wrote to them and I’m sure loads of other people did, too. I had no doubt they’d un-ban you but nice that it happened so quickly!

    Loads of bloggers can create one big, loud voice :)

  9. Wow – what a crazy story! I’m glad problogger is back within the SU system and I’m guessing that the reason your pages get stumbled so many times is because they are always so clearly written, useful, and entertaining.

    To celebrate your return I’m going to give this page a big old green thumbs up.

  10. I can’t figure out from the comments if Jeff (above) is responding on behalf of StumbleUpon (though on second glance, it looks like he’s not). To be perfectly honest, while I did not participate, I think the “social media love-in” was a brilliant idea and was by no means malicious or intended to be abusive. Asking people to acknowledge others’ social media profiles is now a violation of the SU TOS? What about adding a StumbleUpon badge on a post and asking people to stumble content? Or using the “Send To” button on the toolbar excessively? Wouldn’t those “infractions” be far worse? (Oh right, those are part of the service and can’t POSSIBLY be abused! My mistake!)

    I’m glad that Walter came and resolved the conflict, but this concerns me. The fact that Darren’s outreach of goodwill and community building got punished is disturbing. I’m disappointed that the StumbleUpon team acted rashly without even consulting with Darren to begin with.

    Like I say about social media communities, research them before you promote content so as to avoid being ostracized and blacklisted by the community members. In this case, StumbleUpon, you guys should’ve researched Darren’s blog before you made a stupid decision that reflects poorly on your lack of judgment.

  11. I’m glad the issue has been resolved. I gave this post a thumbs up ;)

    Learned about this issue via your Twitters, btw.

    I don’t know why anyone would want their URL excluded from SU, but the wording on their ‘ban’, I agree, sends the wrong message about the banned website. The word ‘banned’ implies some kind of wrongdoing.

  12. @JMom—Absolutely right, but I think the damage goes well beyond the word “ban” itself.

    It says that either Darren abused the service, or Darren requested that his site be excluded from SU submissions.

    Everyone knows Darren wouldn’t have made such a request, and in the odd case that he did, I doubt he’d do it without posting on the topic here.

    The automatic assumption for many people—especially those newer to the blog who don’t already know that he always operates with great integrity—will be that he abused the system. That’s an assumption damaging to Darren’s reputation.

    He didn’t abuse the system, of course, which means this is defamatory, whether it lasted for an hour and forty-four minutes or a year and forty-four days.

  13. Glad to hear that SU resolved it. But I’m still going to Stumble and Digg it…. No way you deserved this one, Darren….

  14. I am really shocked and annoyed by this. I really look forward to hearing about their reasoning on this. I think in the very least SU owes you a major apology. I’m pretty sure quite a few of us problogger readers would abandon SU all together if that is how they operate. You did nothing to deserve that. Keep us posted!

  15. Yea, they also banned me for doing a similar thing. Unfortunately I didn’t get my stumble account back.

  16. I am glad for Darren to get this resolved but …

    StumbleUpon is owned by Ebay and …

    They are here for the MONEY, not you, not me, not him.

    The honest answer to why Problogger was unbanned was simply the social clout. This is great for those who can pull enough people to be loud and make the pockets of Stumble tremble but …

    That leaves almost every other member of stumbleupon as a target, every site shared a target, every msg sent a target, every other single one of us, a target.

    With a company calling itself a social media site of the people while selling the traffic by using YOU and YOUR private information to deliver it …. ummmm …
    Well just try and read the stumbleupon terms of use.

    YOU / I / WE have no rights or recourse when it happens to the rest of us … Just sayin’

    Congrats Darren/Problogger for you I am happy, you did a good turn and were rewarded. Not by stumble but by the people. That is cool, that is what it is all about.

    peace bra

    Mich D aka @MichDdot

  17. Christopher Clayton says: 08/01/2008 at 3:27 pm

    They had to unban him because their emails where flooding up!!!

  18. SU punishing those who seek to help broaden the network community is indeed very disturbing. Why would SU otherwise exist?

  19. Vacation Rentals, a word of advice: use your name (instead of the term you want to rank for) in your profile (and in your blog comments here). Be genuine and don’t overpromote yourself. That might have caused it!

  20. You go Darren – you’ve just shown us all the REAL power of the blogging people!

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could all band together to right wrongs and support worthy causes? Bloggers Unite!

  21. I am so glad to see the issue is resolved.

  22. So now stumbleupon has one rule for one person and another for the little people like me.

    One of my websites was banned from stumble for reasons they would never tell me all i know is i NEVER submit my own websites.

    I was told bans are NEVER reversed no matter what.

  23. Deepak says: 08/01/2008 at 8:49 pm

    Here is the issue mate! You keep telling people about how they can get a couple of thousand visitors from Stumble upon. AFAIK you even had a post a while ago through which your readers could win a certain number of visits from StumbleUpon. It is no wonder that you were banned.

    I posted a similar comment on your site a while ago but you did not approved it. Let’s see if you are game enough for this comment to be published.

  24. I am shocked with this in deed but I have been banned without a reason before. Good luck to u

  25. I know the feeling. Google banned my 9 year old site with a PR6 back in September when my host service caused a 4 day problem. The only difference is Stumble Upon was nice enough to reply to you and review it – whereas Google ignores me.


  26. There are alot of product managers without alot of life experience out there with no common sense in writing business rules. Another situation like this happened on my domain with another service recently. It’s likely happening to many sites.

    It does beg the question though, in a post CPM ad driven world will quality of traffic replace the current obsession many have with quantity?

  27. Recently, my account also got banned on another social media site. I was most angry, after spending time really participating in the community and voting for other people’s posts as well. I’ve yet to hear from the site. However, I’m sure glad that you’ve got a much favorable response from the folks at SU.

  28. I know that you keep a tight rein on keeping your blogs “on-topic” and not using/abusing the loyalty of the community you’ve built. That said, I would love for you to use this valuable forum for a humanitarian cause of one sort or another. Maybe you could make it a contest of some kind?

  29. Darren’s got good karma : )

  30. Deepak… mate….

    the post where people could win traffic from SU was by me buying them an advertising campaign on SU – purely legitimate.

    In terms of your previous comment – I can’t see it anywhere. We don’t delete people’s comment for disagreeing with us. Some comments get falsely picked up in our spam filter but your comments would not have been deleted if it was a legitimate comment.

  31. Congratulations on getting the ban lifted… although perhaps “congratulations” might not be the best word since it implies you “won” something… when this is a situation that should have never occurred in the first place.

  32. This is all a little bit odd. I think the power to ban people is awfully getting ridiculous. This gives me one more reason to hate stumbleupon.

  33. Glad to see you back, Darren. You know, SU really should consider their accusations wisely as they could get themselves in trouble for falsely accusing you (or someone).

    I wonder though if you didn’t have such a big following and “voice” if you would have been unbanned so quickly?

    I’m off to check out the banned/unbanned article now.

    BTW, saw the vid of you and your son, he’s cute. I too am about your age with a 2 year old son and a 3 month old. Congrats on the new one!

  34. Way to start off a Friday. Glad to see you got back in. Cheers!

  35. It’s first time for me to hear about this news..I just hope SU will reconsider their move..co’z I think in a way, their site will also be affected negatively.

  36. It’s great that StumbleUpon reacted quickly and that you were able to use your social network to get reinstated, but I’m wondering what would have happened to a smaller blogger.

    I was recently banned from Google AdSense. I understand that’s a slightly different situation from being banned from social networking, but I was also angry at the implication that I had manipulated the system. I was not successful in my appeal, but I couldn’t help but think that a blogger of your scale would never have been banned in the first place or that Google would have worked with you (and quickly) just as StumbleUpon did to get you reinstated.

    I’d love a post on what smaller bloggers can do in situations like this.

  37. Their system probably automatically banned you based on certain filters they have on the site.

    I doubt they would be foolish enough to manually ban you, especially considering all the praise and traffic you give them.

  38. great to see the instant reaction from su.
    it was heart less on there part to ban a member who is the heart of this blogging community
    good luck darren

  39. Wow to be banned from stumbledupon… talk about a blow to traffic generation… hope everything’s resolved now…

  40. Glad you got it worked out. I think banning must be on automatic pilot.

  41. Anonymous says: 08/03/2008 at 2:09 am

    SU should be more polite, and it should give people a warning before banning them. But I think your social media love-in could indeed be considered abuse. It creates a group of people that just promotes each others posts out of self-interest. Which is happening already too much on SU.

  42. Martin Jones says: 08/03/2008 at 5:38 am

    I’m facing a similar situation with Digg.

    I purchased a site for my three sons to work on, only to find out the URL had been flagged by several sites for spam, etc due to the practices of the previous owner.

    Every other site, including Google, StumbleUpon and others were willing to work with us to clean things up and have the bans lifted. Digg was not.

    I was told in an email that regardless of the sale, the site was banned and the decision was irreversible. I’ve offered proof of the sale, etc. Doesn’t matter… The decision is irreversible.

    Amazingly, the previous owner is still active in the Digg community with his other sites! Yet, our site is banned with apparently no recourse.

  43. Martin, I wonder if you could just create a new domain name and point to your site from it? That is unless Digg doesn’t ban via ip (unlikely).

    You can keep your old domain name, but just use the new one as a “pointer”.

  44. ProBlogger banned from StumbleUpon?! This is so unthinkable, it’s just cool that things have settled down and worked out good for both SU and ProBlogger.

  45. Hey D… Your last line;

    “Now if only we could pull ourselves together and work so hard to do something that REALLY matters like doing something about poverty or the environment…”

    Why not?..


  46. Thanks a lot. going through your blog has always been very informative. hope this complexity gets sorted out for you soon.i’d love to see a post on tips to avoid being banned, with the point that many amateur bloggers will also read it ardently for ‘enlightment’.

  47. Wendy says: 08/06/2008 at 1:51 pm

    Well if you’re banned how come I still keep stumbling your site… personally I wish they would ban it, there’s nothing here to read that’s useful or interesting.

  48. Hey Wendy – I’m sure you realise just how daft your post is?…

    I mean, if you took the time to read the blog post above, you’d note that SU removed the ban one hour and fortyfour minutes later, which a: is why you can still SU Darrens posts, and, errr… how, if based on this blog post, do you know that there’s nothing useful or interesting to read? – you clearly don’t read the posts anyway…

    Well done!

  49. I just got the dreaded SU ban. Happened yesterday. In the morning fine then later I couldn’t access my account. Here is part of the email I got: StumbleUpon’s Terms of Service prohibits the unauthorized use of our platform to promote a
    specific Web site, product or service. Because
    this account has violated that ban, we’re unable
    to restore access at the present time.

    I’ve asked them what I did specifically but have gotten no response. I’d like to know what specific site, product, or service I promoted. I’m not really expecting to be unbanned. It’s real disappointing that I site I’ve had so much fun with and built so many relationships with now feels that I’m not worthy.

    • Did your ban get sorted out? Wouldn’t it be better if SU helped in removal of the offending content, rather than banning the user entirely? I have no intention to unethically use the website. Just that I am writing my own content and sharing it. My community is limited, and from what I can gather on the internet, I am not reaching too many people, and they have banned me without notice.

  50. Hey Darren,

    This is Darrin & Josy from Mycutepetpics. First off I am glad to see you got the Stumble thing worked out and we hope all is well. Unfortunately like a few people said in here they won’t overturn their ban for almost anybody else, unless they are a monster site like yours. It also helps that you have such a huge following and great readers to back you up. As for the smaller sites like myself I doubt we would get the same treatment.

    Our hosting service TypePad unfortunately went down right when we were finally about to break into the Alexa 100k gang. Since our site went down we lost so much traffic from all the social sites. We all figured it was because so many people must of thumbed down our site and reported our site as a dead link for the 6-8hrs TypePad was having issues. Due to that we got removed from Stumble’s homepage and from the popular sites list.

    So I wrote Stumble a very kind letter that was truly from the bottom of our hearts thanking them for having our site on the front page and as a popular site. I asked if there was any forgiveness for the time the site was down as far as not counting all those thumb downs during that time and that I could even have TypePad contact them.

    So What happened? I appear to be the latest victim and all I did was go popular on their site. One of my posts had around 25k hits from stumbles front page and I had nothing to do with it whatsoever. I only had 10 friends on there and 5 good friends that we all shared stories and photos with, but I am being accused of promoting a website. If that were the case why did I ignore every friend request from users that state in their profiles ” You visit my site, thumb up, let me know and I will return the favor” If I was trying to promote a website why wouldn’t I friend these people or add a lot more friends then just 10 people. If I wanted to be a spammer like those people I would of added my stumble account to my website, myspace, facebook and Digg community and so on.?

    It seems that people in here are right and if you go popular on Stumble they either ban you or do what they did to us and ask us for money!

    How wrong is that? It’s supposed to be a community driven social site and how can i be blamed or my site going popular on there?! I sit at home completely disabled for life with nothing much to do but blog and chat with my social communities and now they have taken away my easy way of chatting with my other disabled friends. Some that I have been helping with not giving up in life. This is the letter I got from Walter:

    Josy & Darrin —

    Thanks for your note. We’re unable to address any
    of the issues you raised in your email, as we have
    a strict policy against adjusting reviews and
    ratings submitted by our members.

    Additionally, we’ve received complaints that your
    account has been used to promote a specific Web
    site, a direct violation of our Terms of Service.
    Because this account has violated that ban, we’re
    unable to restore access at the present time.

    If you’re interested in learning about advertising
    on StumbleUpon, please visit this page for more

    Who were those complaints by? Competitors and our competitors friends I would bet. We know from Twitter and from friends that several sites out there have been stealing our ideas and doing the same as us as far as posting the same exact stories or same topics on the very next day. It’s funny because one of the sites is a monster and everything we seem to do, they do the next day even if they have never spoken on that topic before. So if they are following us there then we imagine they followed us on SU and had their malicious/jealous members and staff make false accusations in order to try and bury our site on Su. Or maybe nobody complained and this is just a ploy to get money from us by StumbleUpon. Money a disabled person doesn’t have. I wrote Walter back and hope I get the same treatment as you did but I doubt it. Maybe one day my numbers will be close enough to yours where they will let me back in but that day is not as close as I would like if it ever even comes.

    Darren you know we all love your site and your posts have taught us so much since we first got here. If it wasn’t for you we would of never made it here. Thank you so much for that.

    I am so sorry for the rest of you guys in here who have also gotten the short end of the stick. Maybe we can start a union of sorts and stand up for ourselves. Until we are a threat like Darren we have no hope. All I can say is find a new social site that’s not in it for the money or get everyone you know together and we can all stand together against the machine.

    God Bless You all.
    Josy & Darrin

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