I Know You Don’t Normally Do This…A Look at One of Ireland’s Most Popular Websites

Karl Monaghan

Karl Monaghan

They have the traffic but sometimes the reason eludes them.

With 13 million visits over the last year, the satirical Irish website Broadsheet.ie is one of Ireland’s most popular. But telling which articles will be popular can be a challenge.

And, now in its fourth year, Broadsheet is still growing. Visits were up over 30 percent on the previous year.

But, according to Karl Monaghan (@KarlMonaghan), the developer behind the project, Broadsheet is run on a budget. He works on the site in the evenings because he has a day job.

“I really do this out of the goodness of my soft heart,” he told this month’s Refresh Dublin, the monthly meetup hosted by the Science Gallery in Trinity College.

Monaghan’s talk was called “three years of typos, things that look like Ireland and stolen bikes.” Topics covered included traffic, apps, comments and the future.

Broadsheet is run on WordPress with a few plugins on a single server, Monaghan said.

Most of the site’s traffic comes from Ireland – 73 percent. “We make no apologies for being a parochial website,” Monaghan said. That means there will continue to be a lot of posts about stolen bikes in Dublin and cows in backs of cars in Mayo, he said.

But, for ex-pats, ‘Its a real piece of home for them.”

Details

Monaghan gave numerous insights in to where Broadsheet’s visitors comes from, what they searched for and how word is spread about the most popular stories on the site.

Referrals from social media continues to grow, Monaghan said. The most important sites are Twitter and Facebook. Google+ “barely registers,” he said.

For example, Broadsheet’s most shared story got 12,723 Facebook likes, 1,135 Tweets and 36 +1’s. Other sources include Irish bulletin-board sites like Boards.ie and Politics.ie, and places like Reddit, he said.

The most searches were for Rosanna Davison, a former Miss World who also appeared in the German edition of Playboy, Monaghan said. Noting the terms went from her name only to more specific ones that included the European Playboy, Monaghan quipped, “You can see the quality of user that came in to the website.”

An image that continues to draw traffic is one of a horse that tried to mount a member of An Garda Síochána, the Irish police force. It makes a re-appearance on Reddit every so often and attracts more visitors, Monaghan said.

He was asked later if he knew what posts would be popular. “No, I wish I could,” he replied.

Comments

Monaghan called these the “bottom half of the internet.” Last year, Broadsheet got 211,491 comments from 11,743 authors, he said. That is up from around 150,000 comments the previous year.

As for quality, Monaghan said it was a case of “everybody going in circles and nobody listening.”

The most commented articles were one on whether the Irish were among the most anti-Semetic in the world. “The usual crowd came in and had at each other,” he said. An article by an unemployed man attracted a lot of feedback, as did a video of a head-cam wearing cyclist who had an encounter with a motorist.

Monaghan said if they could source articles by unemployed cyclists, “We’d wipe everybody off the map.”

Image of Karl Monaghan shamelessly swiped off the Refresh Dublin website.