The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011



There have been numerous media reports of surges in internet traffic once word was out that Michael Jackson had died. For example, the spike in traffic that hit Google was so out of the norm they thought they were being hit with an automated attack.

Michael Jackson - traffic surge on CLUASCLUAS too saw a surge in traffic as soon as word was out that The King of Pop had passed away. In our case this was due to our 2005 article on Michael Jackson's fall from grace ("Michael Jackson: demon or demonised? Or both?") that Aidan Curran authored. It alone was visited a whopping 1190 times last Friday (see graph, the spike you see is for the number of page views the article had on Friday). A huge increase when you consider, according to our web stats service, that in the year before Jacko passed away, this article was visited an average of 8.6 times a day.

Over the weekend the traffic kept flowing to the article, and by Sunday evening it had been visited a total of 1820 times over four days (see table below). This is just another example of how's focus on optimising its pages for search engines can, when you least expect it, deliver a result.

Visits to Michael Jackson article on CLUAS
Day Visits
Thursday June 25 110
Friday June 26 1190
Saturday June 27 274
Sunday June 28 246
Total 1820


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Anatomy of the CLUAS writers poll (part 2)As promised last week in the first part of the anatomy of our poll to find the top Irish albums released in the last 10 years, you'll find below the albums that were voted for but did not make the top 50. In total there are 86 albums that were voted for but that did not make the final published list of ranked albums. Of these, 5 were voted for by 2 writers, the rest secured a solitary vote.

A quick glance and you can see some acts who were 'penalised' for their productivity in the last decade as their votes, being spread over multiple albums, diluted their rankings and so reduced their prospects of making the final top 50 (e.g. Ann Scott, Redneck Manifesto, Future Kings of Spain, Nina Hynes and Pony Club).

[Aside: I didn't have the time to do a forensic eligibilty check on the albums below so you may come across entries that were not full length albums, or were released before 1999, or are by acts that are not Irish...]

Albums outside the top 50 that secured 2 votes:

  • Bell X1 - Flock
  • Crayonsmith - White Wonder
  • The Dudley Corporation - In Love With The Dudley Corporation
  • Hybrasil - The Monkey Pole
  • Super Extra Bonus Party - Super Extra Bonus Party

Albums outside the top 50 that secured 1 vote:

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Cork Indie Music ScenePerplexingly, CLUAS continues to be Ireland's number one website for jazz music (well, at least in the eyes of Google, Yahoo and Bing). Not happy with just addressing the needs of jazz aficionados, CLUAS has strived to earn it metal stripes and we are now the number 1 website for Irish heavy metal music (according to Google and Bing where CLUAS holds both the 1st & 2nd slots on searches for 'Irish heavy metal music', while chez Yahoo we currently hold the 3rd and 9th spots for the same search).

Now we are on our way to becoming the top website for the Cork Music scene. This, er, radical development is thanks to a new page I published on the site last week without any fanfare. The page brings together links to all articles from the first 10 years of CLUAS that relate to Cork bands in addition to reviews of gigs that took place in Cork. I simply stuck a link to this new page from the main CLUAS page and then around the website I found a few instances of the word 'Cork' and I simply changed them into a link that points to the new Cork specific page. I then sat back and let the search engines do the rest...

A week has passed and already the results are impressive for the major search engines, just see the table below:

Search phrase Our ranking on Google Our ranking on Yahoo
cork indie scene 1 2
cork indie bands 1 7
cork indie music 1 not in top 10
cork music scene 4 2


[I also checked our ranking on Microsoft's excellent new search engine Bing but it is not - at the time of writing - throwing up CLUAS as a result for any of the above searches. I expect that to change in the next week or two].

To be honest I was not surprised at this quick result. For years I have been honing CLUAS so that it is optimised for search engines and, indeed, a very significant proportion of our traffic comes from search engines. In time I expect this new page to attract a healthy and steady number of new people to the site who are interested in Cork music, and if even a fraction of them become repeat visitors, and maybe even join the CLUAS writing team, it will have been worth the effort.

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Anatomy of the writers pollThe CLUAS writers poll to find the best Irish releases of the last 10 years has, as I expected, sparked off quite a bit of commentary (I particularly enjoyed The People's Republic of Cork forums and the comments section of Jim Carroll's On The Record blog).

No matter what one makes of its results I can say it was a considerable, but worthwile, effort to pull the poll together. It was worth that effort alone to see the poll results reveal (definitively of course) that 2001-2002 was the vintage period for Irish music in the last 10 years. For those of you enjoyed the number-crunching that delivered such a conclusion here below are some more numbers on the poll:

  • 35 writers cast a vote in the poll
  • 9 of these writers were "CLUAS Alumni" who haven't written anything for the site in over 5 years but were active in our first half decade. The remaining 26 writers who voted only got published on CLUAS for the first time in the last 5 years.
  • A total of 280 votes were cast, meaning...
  • ...each voter cast a preference for an average of 8 albums (no writer voted for less than 3 albums, nor for more than 10)
  • Approx 130 different albums were voted for.
  • 55 albums secured votes from 2 or more writers
  • 30 albums were voted by just 2 writers, therefore...
  • 25 albums were voted by at least 3 writers.
  • 9 acts managed to get two albums into the list and they are The Divine Comedy, The Frames, Simple Kid, David Kitt, Cathal Coughlan, David Holmes, U2, The Tycho Brahe and JJ72).
  • Since its inception 40 albums have been shortlisted for the Choice Music Prize. Of these, 27 secured at least one vote in the poll but only 11 made the top 50.
  • There was only one point seperating the no. 1 and no. 2 albums in the poll!

Next week, in the second part of this 'poll anatomy', I'll publish the list of albums that were outside the top 50, all 80+ of them.

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Vintage WineThere was one thing I was conscious of when I opened the polling booths for the CLUAS writers to vote for their top Irish albums of the last decade - the possibility that the final results could be biased towards releases from more recent years, considering more recently albums could well be to the fore of a writer's mind when casting their votes.

The first chart below however testifies that the CLUAS writers are not such a fickle bunch. It shows the breakdown - by year of release - of the CLUAS writers' top 50 Irish albums of the last 10 years and it is encouraging to see their choices are nicely spread across the full decade (although memories apparently don't stretch too well back to 1999, with only one fin de siécle album making the top 50...).

Top 50 Irish albums clustered by year of release

One thing that is striking in the above chart is 2003, which saw the release of more albums in the top 50 than any other year. Before rushing to the conclusion that 2003 was, therefore, a vintage year for Irish music I thought it'd be instructive to check the average ranking in the top 50 of albums released in a given year (see chart below).

Average ranking of top 50 irish albums released in a given year

First up, it shows that 2004 does not appear to have set the writers on fire in terms of memorable releases - the five 2004 releases had a low average ranking of 38 in the top 50. The other end of the scale reveals that, while 2003 may have produced the highest number of albums in the top 50, the average ranking of the 2003 albums (8 albums with an average ranking of 25.3) was lower than the releases of 2001 (3 albums with an average ranking of 16.7) and 2002 (5 albums with an average ranking of 18.2).

Conclusion? It is clear that, without any shadow of even a micro-doubt, the real vintage period for Irish music in the last decade was 2001-2002. So that's one discussion laid to rest then (until someone asks a different 35 people for their fave Irish releases of the last 10 years and get a completely different answer...)

Annex 1: The albums in the top 50 released in 2001 and 2002, i.e. the "vintage period":

Year Artist Album Ranking
2002 Damien Rice O 3
2002 Cathal Coughlan The Sky's Awful Blue 13
2002 JJ72 I To Sky 34
2001 The Frames For The Birds 1
2001 Ash Free All Angels 5
2001 David Kitt The Big Romance 16
2001 Divine Comedy Regeneration 25
2001 Snow Patrol When It's All Over... 44


Annex 2: The albums in the top 50 released in 2004, i.e. the poorest performing year in terms of rankings:

  Artist Album Ranking
  U2 How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb 29
  The Tychonaut Love Life 35
Made from Sand 38
  Damien Dempsey Seize the Day 39
  Waiting Room Catering For Headphones 49

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Note to CLUAS regulars:
he following blog post has nothing to do with music. And it may appear at first glance to be completely irrelevant. But it relates to the technology we use to run the site (DotNetNuke) which - it is sad to say - your humble webmaster is quite keen on. Read on at your peril and if you get to the end and go 'Er, so what?' you cannot say you weren't warned.

DotNetNukeRecent email exchanges with other DNN Blog Module team members got me thinking about how popular the DNN Blog module is relative to the other 22 free DNN Modules (or "Projects" as they now seem to be called) available via the DotNetNuke mothership. Measuring "popularity" of a piece of software is an imprecise - if not impossible - science. All the same, I made a stab at it by assuming that number of downloads of a module is an indicator of popularity.

Each of the core DNN modules has a stats page on Codeplex (from where the modules are downloaded) and it shows you the number of downloads for each module over different stretches of time (for example here's the stats page for the blog module). I pulled the number of downloads over the last 3 months for each of the 23 modules and the table below brings all the data together, with the modules listed in order of average downloads per day over the last 3 months.

The most downloaded (or popular) module? That'll be the "Form and List (formerly User Defined Table)" module (with an average of 51.9 downloads per day over the last three months). Biting at its heels in 2nd place is the Blog module with 42.9 downloads per day in the same period. I am not surprised to see the Blog module with such a relatively high number of downloads. But I never thought it would be the Form and List module that would top the table (even if I for one have been very keen to deploy its latest version on in order to replace the - dare I admit it? - FrontPage forms that are still used on the site).

Ranking Module Downloads per day
1 Form and List (formerly User Defined Table) 51.9
2 Blog 42.9
3 Survey 42.2
4 Gallery 38.5
5 Announcements 33.0
6 Events 32.2
7 News Feeds 31.0
8 Documents 28.7
9 Store 28.6
10 Forum 28.5
11 Links 24.9
12 Repository 21.7
13 Map 20.9
14 (joint) Feedback 20.3
14 (joint) Media 20.3
16 Wiki 20.2
17 IFrame 17.5
18 FAQ 17.0
19 Reports 17.0
20 Contacts 17.0
21 Help 13.4
22 Users Online 12.6
23 XML 10.6


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CLUAS facebook gender statisticsIs there less oestrogen then testosterone 'round these parts? Well, according to the Facebook stats for those who are fans of this site, more men than women dig CLUAS...

Since the CLUAS Facebook page was launched last week 104 people have so far become fans of the site, but only 42% of them are ladies and 58% are men. So much for the site's 21st century, progressive equal opportunities policy.

Maybe a dash of pink is required in the CLUAS logo? Or a super-smart javascript that, er, changes the site layout to nice pastel shades if it suspects the visitor is a member of fairer sex? 

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CLUAS on FacebookCLUAS has always been well ahead of the curve. Sure, weren't we on the internet a full year before U2 decided it was time they had a website?

Therefore it will be no surprise to hear that CLUAS continues to plough a path at the bleeding edge of 21st century technology. The latest example of this? Our decision to set up - only yesterday - a page for CLUAS on Facebook.

So if anyone else out there is also an early adopter of Facebook, you can now add yourself to the CLUAS Facebook network. And if you have never heard of Facebook, remember it was right here that it first came to your attention. All part of the service m'luds and ladies.


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CLUAS 10th birthday partyCLUAS will be hitting the 10 year milestone in May 2009 and as far as I know it is Ireland's longest running music website. Am I wrong? Am I forgetting some obscure gem of an Irish music site out there that was knocking around before May 1999 and is still on the go?

I thought might also have been around 10 or so years but it turns out not to be the case. With a bit of digging (thanks to, the ambitious online project that is keeping a snapshot of web sites over the age) I was able to establish that was home to an offset printing company based in Santa Cruz, California up to Dec 2000. Hmmmm. The domain name, it seems, was only acquired by Hot Press magazine in early 2001 (but no content was published to the site until some time between June 2001 and January 2002). Maybe was around a bit longer? Once again comes to the rescue, with confirmation that Hot Press' .ie incarnation only began leaving a trail on the web from Februrary 2001 onwards.

What about Surely those innovative, technophiles (or something like that) were doing their thang on the web early on? Well, er, no actually. Their website didn't go live until some time in August 2000, giving CLUAS a 15 month headstart on everyone's favourite Croke Park regulars.

So, The longest established Irish music site on the web? Yeah?

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Mechanic at workBack in January I upgraded the CLUAS discussion board to the latest and greatest version of the software that it uses. As I blogged at that time it introduced a whole bunch of improvements, including a considerable reduction of trips that had to be made to the database to pull data required for building a discussion forum page (the sort of thing I - sadly - get excited about as it means faster loading of web pages for users).

Nonetheless there was a downside to this upgrade: the code we used on the home page to automatically insert links to the latest discussion topics was broken by the upgrade. I was reduced to manually putting links to recent discussions on the home page which in the hands of anyone - especially me - is a terribly inefficient thing to be doing. I did try to fix the broken code myself but, with a massively elementary understanding of SQL, I just didn't have the wherewithal to do so.

However, at last, it has been fixed and needless to say, it was not fixed not by me. CLUAS writer Stephen McNulty stepped into the breach and strong-armed Rod, an SQL wizard colleague to update the code. I updated the home page with this code late last week and ever since the links to the latest discussion topics are automatically added to the home page.

When putting Rod's code in place I also fixed another problem on the discussion board (this one involved the content of some pages on the CLUAS disscussion board being pushed downwards so that you would only see the text if you hit the 'page down' button on your PC). Thankfully I did not have to call in the experts to fix this one - I managed to work it out myself (to be honest it was a no-brainer, all it took a was the deleting of a single declaration in the CSS style sheet).

The bigger picture however is that these two updates are only minor details. There is something else cooking on the site at the moment, something far bigger (some eagle eyed readers may already have stumbled on some hints of it). For full details on what I am alluding to look out for the CLUAS newsletter in your inbox some day soon. Not subscribed to the newsletter? Then you need to sign up now...

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Nuggets from our archive

2008 - A comprehensive guide to recording an album, written by Andy Knightly (the guide is spread over 4 parts).