StumbleUpon Banned Me

Ian Lurie

[Update: After about 2 weeks, StumbleUpon lifted their ban on me and several of my staff. My guess is that our single office IP address flagged something in their spam algorithm, and after human review they let us back in. If you get banned, and you haven’t been spamming, send them a note explaining what you think happened. It seemed to help in this case.]

Yup, it’s true. After 3+ years as a StumbleUpon user, over 1300 Stumbles, a bunch of contributed content and all my talk about them, StumbleUpon banned me and shut down my account.

Here’s the informative somewhat opaque e-mail they sent me:

I’ll admit: I have, on occasion, done slightly naughty things on StumbleUpon. Of my 1300 or so stumbles and a few dozen pieces of discovered content, I’ve probably promoted my own blog a few times.

On the other hand:

  • All of my stumbles and discoveries are genuine. I only ‘like’ stuff if I really like it.
  • I love your service. It’s fun.
  • If my pattern of usage warrants a ban, who exactly can use StumbleUpon?

The Real Story: Why StumbleUpon Probably Banned Me

At the same time that StumbleUpon banned me, they also banned a number of other folks in my office. My office, like most, uses a form of local area network where everyone in the office has the same ‘public’ IP address.

I suspect that StumbleUpon can’t figure out that there are 10-20 people here at Portent who like their service and use it. Instead, they see a dozen of us happily clicking away on different stuff and think we’re some kind of black-hat stumbling server farm.

I contacted them, of course. I doubt I’ll ever hear back. But I’d sure like an explanation, and my account turned back on.

It’s frustrating (infuriating) to put so much energy into behaving yourself, only to get dinged anyway.

Maybe I’ll just go black hat. Proxy server, anyone?

Ian Lurie
CEO & Founder

Ian Lurie is CEO and founder of Portent and the EVP of Marketing Services at Clearlink. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). He's recorded training for, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Follow him on Twitter at portentint, and on LinkedIn at

Start call to action

See how Portent can help you own your piece of the web.

End call to action


  1. Same here, got the axe. I didn’t think about the same IP being a problem, but I only have one account.
    If you hear back, let me know. I doubt I will be able to get back in, since 95% of my stumbles were my own websites.

  2. @Desk yeah that’s not so good. You need to show you’re contributing to the community, too. Of course, that doesn’t appear to matter at this point…

  3. I definitely use StumbleUpon to promote my site. I didn’t know that it was not allowed *blush*. I didn’t read the TOS. Luckily, my account has not been banned. I guess it may be a matter of time before my account is banned:-)

  4. Ian Ian Ian, the IP issue is a HUGE deal and is almost 100% why you and your office got banned. But that is social media 101. Our office got a few Digg accounts suspended a very long time ago, when we first started using social bookmarking sites. So we learned our lesson that way. I also got my first Sphinn profile banned (I was unfortunately an ignorant newbie to SMM at the time and submitted too many of my own posts) I am ashamed to say. For some reason when Danny Sullivan scolds you it feels like you are being scolded by an angry step father, but that is another story.
    They may let you back in IF you can get to someone and explain. Does their TOS say anything about IPs?

  5. Miguel, Miguel, Miguel we weren’t doing anything that violates SU’s terms of service. Having an office with 25 people on a LAN that uses NAT addressing doesn’t violate their TOS. The vast majority of companies out there are set up this way.
    If they really can’t figure out how to track a NAT addressed IP to multiple accounts, they’re the morons, not me. And Digg is hardly a shining example of intelligent filtering, either…

  6. Same thing happened to us. No really sure why we got banned, two of us sharing same IP. We were doing the same things you talked about, nothing really out of the ordinary. Tried to contact them, never got an answer back.
    It did affect the amount of traffic we got to our sites after that but in reality the length of time stumblers spent on our site was not long at all, so I’m not sure we lost much.
    There is life after Stumble upon…:)

  7. If a member can’t use the site in the way you’ve been doing (99% general contribution and a little self-promotion), then the value of the site is greatly reduced.
    I see people on SU who hardly seem to do *anything else* but plug their own blog. What’s up with that?
    Cue sneaky members enlisting friends though outside channels to stumble their stuff…

  8. Keep us informed on this! Let’s hope StumbleUpon doesn’t join Newsvine, NowPublic and Wikipedia in the axis of arrogance.
    Their email to you may have been opaque, but it at least wasn’t as snide and some communications from these other sites.
    I understand the desire of social networks to keep out spammers, but you, Ian, are no spammer.

  9. I too was banned. I got a less informative first email from them. It just said my account was under review. I did get a response after emailing them and they told me I violated their TOS for promoting a particular site. I pleaded back but haven’t heard anything since. Yes, I did self promote. But I don’t feel like it was overboard. I promoted plenty of other sites as well. Many more than my own. What gets me is I asked what particular site I promoted but I was given no answer. It could be that they didn’t like that I thumbed another site that I liked. I had noticed that the site’s user had been banned as well. So here’s the lesson: Don’t like any one site too much!!

  10. Sux Ian….I would be pretty darn P.O.’ed if my account got dinged!
    Approaching 10k quick and it’s my favorite network.
    Thanks for the heads up I will be monitoring my stumbling patterns more closely.

  11. Ian, there’s no point in getting upset about this.
    You’re not the only one banned out of the blue.
    I too have had my account frozen 2 weeks ago.
    I even submitted a ticket to SU.
    Got a simple answer from their community manager, quoting some ToS bulls**t.
    I obviously replied, and after 2 weeks, still got no answer.
    As every other user involved with Social Media, I might have crossed the line a few times, but I really doubt it that it was such a big deal. Real spammers still reside on SU, sending 20 messages per day asking for votes.
    How I crossed the line? Probably by voting on my friends’ submissions repeatedly. But hey, that’s why we call this thing social networking? Else, why would they be my friends if I wouldn’t enjoy their submissions.
    I too am sick of their attitude, and hardly keeping calm, after “promoting” their service wherever I could.
    In the end, they don’t care about it. Or they care as much as only sending you a simple ToS quote, without a further explanation.
    Initially I wanted to write about it, as you did here, but guess what? If they can’t give more than a s**t about their users, why should I give them one more link?

  12. They seem to be very active now. They suspended me yesterday, although I stumble just 2-3 sites a week.
    Maybe a wrong one was included. Okay, I don´t mind, my time is over there …
    Looking back my own stumbles have been pretty useless, on the other hand I own a site which gets a lot of stumbles and traffic from them – without doing anything.
    Alexa Traffic for stumbleupon is 63 % down, so they seem to further shorten the number of users.
    Lets keep them coming closer and see the number of users further melting down !

  13. I also was recently banned.
    I had 7000+ thumbs up. A member for 2 years. I had thumbed up my own stuff a dozen timesd, normally I waited until someone thumbed it up before I did.
    I did however use the send to button in THEIR toolbar.
    Thats the mistake, never send anything of yours to your SU “friends”.
    By doing that you are SU as a social networking site, which they are not, or are they. They claim to be but apparently are not.
    Isn’t social networking and SU about sharing things?
    They started out so good and have ruined a great service.
    Anyone have $20 million they want to donate to start a new “SOCIAL” service?
    Remove SU links and buttons from your blogs!!

Comments are closed.

Close search overlay