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Posted at 10:44 AM ET, 08/17/2011

StumbleUpon takes a more targeted approach

StumbleUpon is adding a new way to explore the Web.
StumbleUpon, a tool for Web explorers, has introduced a new feature to let users cast a wide but focused net as they use the service to wander the Web.

The “Explore box,” which rolls out today, will let users find content by using keywords instead of by interest, recommendations and other broad topics.

But it’s still not search, said StumbleUpon CEO Garrett Camp in an interview, saying that the new tool is supposed to act as a trigger point to help people explore a subject they’re researching.

“[Search] is essentially a record of the Web — you have to know what needle you’re looking for in the haystack. This is more like poking around in an area of the haystack,” he said.

Camp said that StumbleUpon has been slowly adding tags and interests to the site, but developers realized it would be better to have a more fluid way to use the service. Using keywords in the explore box is great for getting more education on a topic and is an alternative to heading to Wikipedia, he said.

The new feature makes it easier for new users to the site who might get overwhelmed by the one-at-a-time tour through their selected interests, and works particularly well for visual searches. But it will also help longtime users improve the quality of their stumbles and further tailor their interests.

“It has that same sense of surprise,” Camp said.

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