If you are one of the 3.7 million people who have downloaded the StumbleUpon toolbar to your browser, you may have noticed that whenever a Website that’s been “stumbled” comes up in a Google, Yahoo, or Windows Live search, the StumbleUpon icon and its star ratings appear right beside the link in the results page. (A page that’s been “stumbled” means that a Stumbler found it useful and gave it a Digg-like thumbs up). Now, StumbleUpon is expanding that feature to search results for AOL and Ask, as well as for Google News, Yahoo News, Flickr, Wikipedia, and YouTube. StumbleUpon calls these SearchReviews. In addition to the general star ratings, members will also be able to see whether any of their friends have recommended or reviewed a particular site or page.
“We are doing social search,” says StumbleUpon founder Garrett Camp, “but instead of creating a completely new search engine where you have to change your behavior, you can use the same search engine you use now.” As long as you have the toolbar, StumbleUpon’s ratings get layered on top of other search engine results and Web pages. “We should be able to do this for any site on the Web,” adds Camp.
So why isn’t eBay, which now owns StumbleUpon, one of the sites? The short answer, says Camp, is that it was easier to turn on the other sites first. Making the feature work on eBay would require some custom work, not to mention the temporal nature of its auctions throws a few wrenches into the equation. What’s the point of looking at highly rated auctions that have already expired?
Camp seems more excited about future integration with Skype, which is another eBay-owned client download that sits on many more desktops than StumbleUpon. People who use StumbleUpon like to share their stumbles with their friends, and Skype could offer an instant way to do that. This could be particularly appealing for sharing videos, photos, or music found on the Web. “Skype has that streaming technology that will enable sharing not just of a link,”notes Camp, “but of anything.” This isn’t an announcement, he’s just thinking out loud.
But another added benefit of doing something with Skype would be the ability to import your Skype contacts into StumbleUpon so that you can automatically start sharing with any Skype contact who also happen to be a Stumbler. (Incidentally, you can already do this with Stumbleupon and Facebook, which suggests a partial hack around the general prohibition against importing your friends list into other applications).