Making use of a decade of online Irish banter

29 Jul 2008

What do the Irish talk about online? Who do we prefer to gossip about? How have our tastes changed since the onset of the Cappuccino years (roughly 1998 onwards)?, one of Ireland’s busiest websites, has gathered 10 years of data chronicling what we have been chatting, ranting, expressing and discussing on the site’s various message boards.

This data has been compiled and made available to the public for download as part of a new competition launched by the Digital Enterprise Research Institute (DERI) at National University of Ireland Galway, in association with

It is interesting to note that those of us who use frequent seem to prefer the ‘after hours’ area, where all sorts of off-beat things are discussed, including the worst thing you’ve discovered while stalking someone on the internet or why women wear pyjamas in broad daylight.

The next most popular forums are soccer, motors, poker and computers, with a discussion on the concept of the virtual pub representing the longest-running conversation on one topic.

The idea behind the competition is to encourage entrants to use this data as creatively as possible, maybe creating a Facebook application that generates a random Boards quote of the day, or perhaps one that maps the data to music to create a digital composition based on discussions including the keyword ‘cowbell’.

“Entrants may create whatever they feel is interesting based on this data: it could be a novel web application that makes use of the data set, a report on analyses performed on the data, a tool that allows one to visualise or browse the semantic structure, or whatever else the imagination can come up with,” said Dr John Breslin, researcher in DERI and co-founder of the site.

Details on the competition can be found at and the closing date is 30 September 2008.

By Marie Boran 

Pictured: graphical representation of topics on popular Irish site