The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

15

In the last month or so a lot of stuff has been going on in the background at CLUAS. Below are just some of the developments that have taken place behind the scenes (just so you don't think we do be sleeping on the job, or something like that).

Biggest readership of a single CLUAS article. Ever.
CLUAS writer / blogger Steven O'Rourke got his paws on a 3 days Super-Deluxe-VIP-Access-All-Areas-and-thous-shalt-avoid-the-portaloo-queues pass to Oxegen and in return for such a lavish gift from the Gods he wrote up a review of all three days of Oxegen 2008. What's more, diligent man that he is, Steve published his three articles (one per day of the festival) within 12 hours of the end of each day. They were picked up immediately by Google (and Google News) and the consequence? Google sent over 1000 visitors to the reviews the day after the festival ended and, by the end of that week, the reviews had been checked out by 2647 visitors. This was a record for the site, no gig we've covered has ever attracted so much traffic, this even surpassed the number of visitors Michael' O'Hara's (now legendary) review of REM in the Olympia got (which when you consider that his review was linked to by REM's official site it is really saying something).

Three new writers
In the last fortnight a total of 3 new writers have joined the CLUAS crew having submitted their first reviews. Welcome on board to:

Want to join their ranks? Well just submit a review!

New social booking marking tool at bottom of all blogs
The CLUAS blogging platform (which is developed by a team of chancers, myself included) was recently upgraded to the latest version, which brought in a number of enhancments to our blogging software. The first of these is that all blogs and reviews on CLUAS now have a social booking marking tool (at the end of the review or the blog entry). This will allow you to easily save the article or blog entry to the likes of Digg or Delicious.

New Avatar fucntionality for comments on blogs and reviews
Another improvement that came with the blog upgrade was the possiblity for those leaving comments on blogs or on CLUAS reviews to now have an Avatar (provided by the Gravatar service). If you don't have a Gravatar yet be sure to sign up for one.

Optimised addresses for search engines
The improvements of the blogging platofrm don't stop with Gravatars and social bookmarking.The URL (i.e. the web address) of CLUAS blog entries and reivews previously used to always end with the meaningless 'default.aspx'. Meaningless in the sense that it did not give a reader - or a search engine - any indication what the review or blog entry was about. That's changed, as the word 'default' is now replaced with the title of the review or blog entry. Have a look above in your browser's address bar to see what I mean.

Simplification of how bloggers can publish blog entries
Bloggers can for the first time publish their entries with the nifty Windows Live Writer tool (this means they can publish blog entries without even opening their browser - and more importantly they are no longer required to use the rather clunky CLUAS publication interface which our gold-plated readers can be thankful they have never been exposed to).

Calendars added to all CLUAS blogs
All CLUAS blogs now have a calendar so that readers can more easily navigate to old blog entries.

(Health warning: the new two adcances for the site are a bit "backroom nuts'n'bolts" in nature. My advice is that only most hardy among you read on because, if I am to be honest, they are not really that riveting...)

Improved 'title' tag for all discussion board entries
It is widely accepted in SEO circles (that is 'Search Engine Optimisation', BTW) that one of the things a search engine gives most weight to when assessing a web page is that the page has a 'title' tag and that this title tag is unique and contains words that reflect the content of the webpage). CLUAS does a good job of this, except on our discussion board. The discussion board may indeed have unique title tags, however all the board's title tags contain superflous words that send the wrong signal to search engines. And it just doesn' look pretty, here are a few exapmles:

  • "Ash to stick to singles > CLUAS | Discussion Board | > CLUAS Irish Indie Music"
  • "MCD vs Consumer Association > CLUAS | Discussion Board | > CLUAS Irish Indie Music"

See that comon part - "CLUAS | Discussion Board | > CLUAS Irish Indie Music"? Does it really serve any purpose? Is it really necessary? Of course not. Last week I therefore set up some rules so that when a disucssion board page is being pulled from the database the title is given a neater, more to the point 'title tag'. The two examples above now look like this:

  • "Ash to stick to singles > CLUAS Music Forums"
  • "MCD vs Consumer Association > CLUAS Music Forums"

This is something that many users would not notice (nor would they care) but it something the search engines will notice and I am betting that it will result in a better ranking in search engine result pages of CLUAS discussion board topics. 

Faster downloading of pages
Earlier this year CLUAS started compressing the size of all pages requested by visitors and then sending the visitor the compressed version of the page (the page would usually be compressed to 25% of its usual size resulting in a faster download time, and hence happier customers). What's more the compressed page would then be immediately 'cached' on the CLUAS server so that when the next vistitor requests that very page the CLUAS web server does not have to go and rebuild it and then compress it. The server just plucks up the copy of the already compressed file and then sends it to the visitor. It's a brilliantly effective system that ensures the CLUAS server and database are not overloaded due to the traffic levels we get. Anyways, last week I tripled the size of the CLUAS cache as the previous amount of space we had available for the cache was getting filled too quickly. This meant that many compressed pages would not get saved to the cache and each time they were requested by another user the server would have to get to work again, unneccesarily. Bottom line? Downloading should now be quicker for even more pages on CLUAS.

I have another 10 or so other improvements lined up to be rolled out throughtout September. Watch this space for the details.


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Nuggets from our archive

2005Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?, written by Aidan Curran. Four years on this is still a great read, especially in the light of his recent death. Indeed the day after Michael Jackson died the CLUAS website saw an immediate surge of traffic as thousands visited CLUAS.com to read this very article.