This week I’ve been spending a lot of time covering the first StumbleUpon viral, as the story broke and from the perspective of an internet marketer. For my last post on the subject it seemed fair to interview the person who created StumbleCards, Adam and get his point of view. Why did he do it, what for and how does he answer his critics?
Hi Adam. Lots of people have called StumbleCards spam. While recent copycats have been adding Adsense or links to their sites, your intentions were less obvious. Why did you create StumbleCards?
I was reading about an online viral campaign that involved solving a mystery. People were given clues to work out, some very abstract and random. Yet the buzz it generated, inspired people to interact with the viral and pushed them to solve the mystery. I felt inspired by this communal, online type of event and thought maybe I could create my own. Being a seasoned Stumbler I thought, wow I would love to stumble onto something like this, a mystery to work out or a puzzle to solve.
As for the content, I’ve always liked collecting trading cards, zines etc. and thought why not create a digital set of cards that people could collect and trade online. Some I would make easy to find and others I would bury deep in the web.
It’s fair to say that no one invents a viral. Sometimes ideas just catch on and spread. When you were making the first StumbleCards though, did you expect this to explode?
I did think I was onto something new in StumbleUpon. However I thought that Stumblers who were into collecting and solving puzzles might be in the minority for that audience. So no, I didn’t anticipate the way the cards took off.
Since you launched the concept, lots of copycats have appeared and flooded the SU system. I’ve read some reviews that are less than flattering about the person who invented this meme. Do you have anything to say to them?
I thought there was a chance people would copy the idea; I just didn’t think they would do such a blatantly bad job of it. My only gripe with the copycats is that they are most likely creating these ugly and even offensive versions intentionally, as a means of killing off the meme or gaming StumbleUpon. The original spirit of the idea is now lost, with most people calling it spam. This was never my intention!
Many of the early reviews to your StumbleCards were positive. What do you attribute that too, the quality of the artwork, the fact the meme was new or other factors?
Maybe it was the quality of the design or the new idea, as these were the first cards to hit the web. The reviews started to turn negative when the copycats came along. The fact of the matter is the original cards are being stumbled less because I have deliberately made them harder to find.
Most people’s experiences of StumbleCards have been through the copycat versions whose sole aim is to upset the StumbleUpon community by spreading their versions as quickly as possible.
People seem to be attributing this meme to SEOs or online marketers but from my own investigations, you come from an artistic or web design background. In fact your website doesn’t offer any marketing services at all. Do you find it strange that the first StumbleUpon viral came from a non-marketer?
I don’t think it’s strange at all. I’m a web designer so it’s important that I have at least a basic understanding of viral marketing. However, my intentions were always coming from a desire to inspire, entertain and engage Stumblers in the hope they might participate. I don’t have anything to sell or advertise, only the idea itself.
When the meme first started there was a definite sense of excitement for some users, who were confused by this viral and keen to see where it was going. Since then, a backlash has developed as the fakes overtook the system, and the meme seemed little else than a way to game the StumbleUpon system. So tell us now, is this going somewhere?
I have created a set of 25 original uP’n’@tOm StumbleCards. My hope is that for those Stumblers who are genuinely interested in collecting the set, will ignore the fakes and go on to find the original 25. To those Stumblers that would like to participate, not all the cards will be easy to find, but isn’t that what collecting is all about? No one wants it to be too easy… it kind of spoils the fun.
As to where they are going, I can’t say too much right now. Unfortunately there may be more fakes, there isn’t much I can do about that. But I know there are people out there who would like to participate and will go searching for the cards nonetheless. Maybe it’s because they have a keen sense of adventure and would like to solve a mystery, just like me.
Thanks Adam and good luck with the game.