How Many Bots In The World Are There? Half The Green Dots Are Bots

by Alphaville Herald on 22/11/08 at 6:00 pm

Anya Ristow visits 524 sims, measures 50% bot/camper population

by Pixeleen Mistral, National Affairs desk

Opting for science rather than being gulled by Zee Linden’s claims, Anya Ristow of Project Green Dots spend two days visiting 524 sims selected at random for a bot census. The census revealed unlike Zee Linden’s claim of 10-15% bots in the resident population, half of the avatars present were either bots or campers. Ms. Ristow also noticed an interesting correlation between sims with more than 5 avatars present and gaming of the sim traffic statistics:

For sims with 5 or fewer avatars there was an average of 13% bots and campers (42 bots out of 325 avatars). For sims with more than five avatars there was an average of 70% (439 bots out of 628 avatars). The overall percentage of bots was 50%.

This news contradicts the spin ex-Linden staffer Hamlet Au puts on the issue at New World Notes, where math-challenged Hamlet is just like so totally impressed that Vlad Bjornson took Linden Lab’s propaganda at face value, assumed that traffic boosting bots would be run 24 hours a day, and worked out that assuming 10-15% of the players are bots means assuming 10-15% of the hours online are bot-hours, so 10-15% of the population are — wait for it — bots!

Isn’t it amazing what you can do with circular logic and mathematics? The next thing you know, Hamlet will reveal that Urizenus Sklar is identical with himself.

Ms. Ristow’s data also shows a disturbing number of sims were completely empty when she visited – 326 of 524 or 62%. One might wonder how much Linden Lab’s business model and creaky infrastructure depends on having nearly 2/3 of its land mass uninhabited – certainly the Lab is not going to win any green computing awards unless they have found a way to shut down vacant sims until an avatar arrives.

Ms. Ristow is not the only player to count bots – Second Travel did their own census and found 45% of the avatars were simply traffic statistics – 25% bots and 20% campers.

Second Life now a giant bot camp site

Gaming traffic statistics to present the appearance of popularity has a long history in Second life, but this was originally limited to hiring individuals to park their avatars for small payments of L$s – a practice that gained popularity after free accounts were introduced to Second Life.

This situation was taken to the next level by the combination of unlimited free accounts and open source Second Life clients – perfect conditions for a vigorous market in mass-produced bots controlled by a single individual – and mass bot camping developed. This led to a virtual arms race among the traffic conscious land owners.

For a store or club owner looking to improve their standing, the logic of employing bots is compelling – bots can be cheaper to operate than payments to campers who occasionally decide do something other than sit in place for L$ spacebuck micropayments, and an escalating traffic hyping race developed as players try to out-bot each other.

Some speculate that this bot traffic arms race may account for a significant part of the growth in peak concurrent users, and point out that if half of the population are either away from their keyboard or bots, SL really only has about 38,000 human controlled avatars online at peak – could this by why it is so hard to find intelligent life in SL?

Herald writers are not the only ones noticing a decline in the sociability of the avatar population – Ms. Ristow finds it much harder to find people that can talk than in the past, and says

I have the darndest time finding conversation. It hasn’t always been this way. When I signed up in September 2006 I got drawn into conversation everywhere I went. I added to my friends list daily. I occasionally stayed up until 6am chatting. I want to know why it isn’t still like that. I don’t think it’s a matter of degree or perception or nostalgia. It’s a night-and-day difference.

Will the decline in sociability in what is meant to be an online society move the Lab to action? It seems unlikely that Linden Lab will make any sudden moves to remove bots from the world given the risk that this could cut the apparent population in half – something LL can ill-afford on the heels of the OpenSpace sim pricing fiasco. While some argue for the removal of traffic statistics, this seems unlikely given the importance of keeping up the appearance of vitality for the Lab.

37 Responses to “How Many Bots In The World Are There? Half The Green Dots Are Bots”

  1. pointing out the obvious

    Nov 22nd, 2008

    Yes the Lindens are again marching out the alts posting pure crap in various places. We have the bullshit on bots going to defend the retarded and blatantly obvious promotion of falsified participation metrics–an immediate termination offense elsewhere, and now the great linden alt Hunter Benazzi is out once again trying to premeditate support for wiping SL out by way of eliminating fictitious account names and suggesting all accounts be listed as their rl name age and gender. (over on xstreet) Hunter fucked up once so we all know Hunter works for Linden Lab. He stupidly spoke in first person in terms of “we” when discussing Linden Lab activities. So I guess this better than thou Klingdon guy is busy trying to burn SL down.

    Yea the prediction that Linden Lab will be closed in 2009 is looking pretty solid. And only because of the Linden Lab CEO.

  2. Sigmund Leominster

    Nov 22nd, 2008

    Bah humbug! I must be going to the wrong sims. All the ones I go to are either empty or full of real people who WANT to talk! Being naturally misanthropic (hmm, I suppose that’s an OK word to use when applied to avatars that are actually manipulated by warm bodies) I am usually looking for some peace and quiet, preferably in a bar where I can order a virtual whiskey and, at most, chat with a bot waiter. I can then sit back and plan my next article or interview using IM as the prime medium for interaction.

    Bar bots are fun. I like them. I like to talk to them and see them struggle. Call me perverse, but I love the pseudo-sentient way in which a chat bot can enter into a conversation. Sure it can become repetitive after a while, and something like a Rogerian psychotherapy session, but a clever bot is a fun bot.

    I don’t count these as being in the same vein as dumb bots – those that are simply empty shells that stand around. A chat bot at least provides some entertainment and some – such as the Robotar – can actually provide useful product information (although I haven’t had one yet that could tell me the ingredients for a Brandy Alexander).

    Rather than complain about bots per se, I’m simply irritated by the use of stupid bots! My own personal bot is called Alice, and she hovers above the living room table in my skybox. She’s strategically positioned between me and the TVs (MBC and SLNN) so that I can watch the programs AND chat about them with her. Trying to explain to her what SL wrestling and snail racing is all about can be bizarrely rewarding.

    So, my position is out with the dumb bot – in with the smart.

  3. My Butthurts

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    Gee, Pixeleen, SLH sure is going on about this “Urizenus is self identical” and “Idoru Wellman” crap. I think there has been like 20 articles on SLH that mention codec’s article subtly like this for the past few months. Somebody must have struck a nerve. Does your butt hurt due to pwnage? For those of you that don’t know what I’m talking about, look here:

    They now have “Idoru Wellman” writing articles for SLH regularly and numerous articles mention uri being “identical with himself” and similar. I lol’d.

  4. SLH is fake journalism huurrr

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    Naw, Pix is pissed because she just found this:

    Apparently someone did think the story was newsworthy.

  5. Two Worlds

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    Pixeleen, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

    (Also I mean platonic friendship in case you really are a guy) (no homo)

  6. Oh please

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    Ok science??? NO. First I’m going to quote from this data’s creators site. “When I signed up in September 2006 I got drawn into conversation everywhere I went. I added to my friends list daily. I occasionally stayed up until 6am chatting. I want to know why it isn’t still like that.”

    Um, maybe its you? Cause I have plenty of active friends, and make new ones, AND I’m not a “friends” kind of person. So ya, at least as much bias as any linden here with “green dots”.

    This person’s whole criterion for calling a dot a bot is whether or not the person is in a conversation when they show up, or is around AND willing to talk them… You’re kidding right? Even in VERY social situations, people tend to fall into private IMs and pay no attention to public chat. But now they are all bots. Working on something in Photoshop? Bot. Need to eat, pee, stretch your legs, but stay logged in? Bot. Simply have better things to do than answer every random “Hello”. Yep you’re a Bot too.

    All “Project Green Dots” has found is the 50% of logged in avatars, are actively talking to someone in the min or two “someone” might be around, or are willing to talk to a random stranger, and that’s WAY more than you are going to find in RL. (Poke around your local RL book store, OMFG Bots!) Logically there were WAY more bots back in “September 2006” before the gambling ban than now. 5-15% Bots depending on the time of day and day of the week is far more reasonable number in my experience.

    Sims with 75 bots are a joke, give us the sim names Green dots. And get a grip, Lots of land is private, just for the owners use when they are around. So if I don’t, make my private land public, have a party 7/24 at my house so one is going on when you show up I live in a ghosttown??? Sorry some of your old friends have left SL, make new ones. Hey do something interesting and they will come to you.

    Yes the Lindens make the stats look better in their favor, but anyone can do that do, just like green dots.

  7. TakeAnotherLittlePieceOfMyHeartNowBaby

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    RE: that article on, The SLH sure took Codec down in a way that LL never could. It is a little embarassing reading about a ‘warrior’ needing a friend though. And then to go and get all chodafied over her just to find out it was really a guy doing research. Is that gay? On which sides part? Oh well, thats what you get when you think you are a warrior but are really vunerable I guess. Too bad. Fell in love with someone 20 years older of the same gender with an agenda. Then died too young. Overwhelmed.

    As far as NASTY BOTS go… when the SL Population meter says: 64,000 ONLINE, what that really means is aprox. 32,000 real people and 32,000 BOTS online… so I believe this SLH article to be true. 50% of Second Life are bots… man thats bad…

  8. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    We’ve known pix was uri ever since the ‘identical with myself’ article. Who the fuck cares?

  9. River Ely

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    Written by River Ely: Nov 23rd, 2008-11-23

    I pointed out in February the financial stability of owning small islands in Second Life with the intention of renting out space was declining. I was poo-poo’d It is madness in anyone’s eyes, to continually generate more and more land while the user base has been visibly shrinking, its as though they are printing money to satisfy the cost of hiring employees.

    They (Linden Labs) are aware of the issues, but have (in my opinion) no way of altering the decline as the original motivators have either left the company, retired with fat cat pensions or have been fired. The bot population was evident at the beginning of the year and I found an island near one of my own, with a platform at 700 meters, crammed with 40 avatars, all in neat lines, all facing the same way and all in newbie player clothing and dress style. We called them ‘Ruths’, and could not understand at the time, the logic of so many people standing still for no reason. had they been dancing it might have been a party, but like Chinese terracotta armies, they stood in silent rows facing a nonexistent orator.

    With the introduction of a relaxed rule set governing Voids or Open Space Sims, the final decline was initiated. A greedy move to generate more income was exploited and made available open space sims to about anyone at low cost. We had regular renters abandoning sound high prim low cost lots on conventional sims, in favour of the open spaces Sims that were starting to flood the market. For a while, it seemed the only way to retain these customers, was to convert main sims to open spaces and to buy in more and more open spaces. Still, the Europeans like myself, were fighting a losing battle in the early summer, as profit margins dropped, USA players could settle on a ten percent profit line. Sadly, with a European Player being hit with an additional VAT cost, 17.5% to 25%, we become early victims in the price cut wars. We watched our islands empty as the users followed the trail of cheap rentals and lots of space.

    The Linden Income Generation factory has now changed the rules with a huge price hike on the cheap plentiful oversold Open Space population. The global economic downturn is not evident it seems in Linden Labs as they raised the cost of an Open Space sim by 66%. With some 15,000 open space sims to be affected, the price hike, if accepted by the users, would generate a massive income boost for the company.

    The shifting USD-GBP ratio means that now I pay considerably more for my open Sim than I did in February, so my margins compared with the USD holder are more than depleted, they are trashed. If you are not a United States Player, I feel it is no longer an option to own islands in Second Life, that is if your aim is to generate income to cover your own player costs, plus a small profit. The frequency with which I have been giving islands away, asking Linden Labs Concierge Service to switch off open space sims and letting them expire in order to stem the flow of Money Out compared to Money In is alarming. I am but one player in SL, I had 12 Full Islands and number of open space sims, I am down to one island, with a single open space due to close in a few days time as tier rolls around again.

    The summer surplus that has in the past kept me afloat until the autumnal players return like snowbirds flocking in for the perceived winter sunshine has been eroded over the last winter, hammered in the summer and is now all but dried up completely and I can no longer afford to sit on empty sims in the hopes that renters will any moment, flood in and restart the income generation.

    The business model I had was sound, as was that of countless hundreds of other sim owners. The failing was the assumption by Linden Labs that everything in the garden was rosy and they failed on three counts.

    One, they skewed the traffic stats and believed their results were the truth, regardless of the shouts from people like ourselves, Island owners with more empty sand than was comfortable

    Two, generated more and more land for the nonexistent players thus deforming land prices beyond the point of stability.

    And three, rather than introducing a package that encouraged land owners to retain and promote their land, they increased the cost of ownership to a point the market no longer would bear. They seem to have been blind to the loss of money spending account holders, and seem to have been treating bots, campers and alts as if they are real players all needing to own their ‘space’, a ludicrous and unsustainable situation to find themselves in. I bet the original creators, having sold second life to the current board, are laughing all the way to the bank.

    We have been predicting the failure of Second Life for some time, it is a shame the Linden Labs Board Members could not have done the same.

  10. deadlycodec

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    SLH didn’t take me down. My experiences at SLH got me work at the Metro Spirit, where I have since written dozens of articles. I also make way more than $6.45 in spacebux per article. Plus the Metro Spirit is in print AND on the web. SLH made me stronger, despite my recent cancer diagnosis I assume you were referring to when you said “died too young.” Tizzers has a big fucking mouth. He was the only one I told, which leads me to believe that you’re his e-wife, Intlibber. In case you haven’t figured it out, I’m not dead yet, docs say I could have as much as a year, maybe two. I still work and I go to school and I am far happier than I can remember being before.

  11. Sigmund Leominster

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    @River: As has been brought up ad nauseum, VAT has NOTHING to do with Linden Lab(R) or the US. It is part of the taxation system introduced by a sovereign state – the UK government. Until the US liberates the down-trodden slaves to the wicked Socialist junta, making the UK the glorious new 51 state, all questions, quibbles, queries and qualms about VAT should be aimed at Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. VAT does not generate any revenue for Linden Lab and is out of their control.

    Also, any suggestion that Linden Lab or ANY exporter – should lower its prices because of VAT is a non-starter. Think about it: all that does is subsidize the UK government! If LL drops its prices to “compensate” for a government’s taxation policy, all that happens is the US company loses money. The government STILL takes its 17.5% or whatever. It is NOT the job of a private company to prop up governments, other than to pay its taxes and employ its citizens.

    As to the death of Second Life, I won’t hold my breath. For five years, people have predicted that the death of the Herald is “imminent” – but here it is, having celebrated its fifth birthday a few weeks back, while the “stable” Avastar and Reuters have gone belly up.

    Most people using a crystal ball turn out to looking through a glass darkly.

  12. Joshua McCracken is an idiot

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    “I was also concerned about my privacy. I didn’t want the personal information I shared with Pix to end up being published.”

    But you have no qualms about “outing” Pix, even if it’s not true. Hypocrite.

  13. deadlycodec

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    I never told anyone that I was a warrior or anything like that nor was I interested in portraying myself as such. Thats just plain cheesy.
    Additionally, to suggest that being infatuated with Pixeleen at one point makes anyone on either side gay is obnoxious and immature.

    The term “chodafied” is equally obnoxious and immature. Seriously, how old are you? It’s all moot though. Once you step away from the keyboard for long enough you begin to see just how petty it is for people in SL to get so worked up over the types of things that cause someone such as yourself to continually rage at me long after I have pretty much disappeared. I am no longer in Second Life because (thankfully) I have a life. From where I’m sitting, it’s kinda sad that you’re still trying to get even for my vandalizing your e-lawn so long ago. There are much more important things for you to consider, like what in god’s name you’ll do with your life when LL gets finished failing and SL is gone. What will you do when all of your life’s purpose goes down the pipes with Second Life? I would suggest building some sort of foundation in your first life. I mean, it’s not like you’re seeing all that much success in SL these days anyway.

  14. Two Worlds

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    Okay, getting back to the bots…

    I understand the “going idle” thing, but the difference is usually pretty clear. Actual Residents have group affiliations in their profiles, their profiles are filled out to one extent or another. Bots don’t. Usually bots have pretty half-a$$ed names, like “Juan1192 Shooter”, while usually residents don’t. Sometimes bots of the same surname all cluster together. Usually Residents actually make an attempt at fitting themselves out with a good avatar. Bots either have the default avatar, some kind of Ruth-looking thing, or if their owners make more than a token effort at covering up the fact that they’re a bot, some kind of half-a$$ed attempt at skins/clothes.

    Or maybe, yeah, just asking them “Are you a bot?” will suffice. Once bot owners get clever enough to come up with a good automated response to that (and they will), going through some line of questions may also be best.

  15. lawl

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    If it wasn’t true then it wouldn’t have been published by a real newspaper(not a fake one like SLH) with over 200,000 weekly readers in Augusta, GA. Thats only counting the people that read it in print, not web traffic. If it wasn’t true then Pix could file a lawsuit, couldn’t she? Oh wait, she couldn’t because codec made it clear that he didn’t know for certain, just suspected and many people agree with that. Plus it prob is true.

  16. Gypsy Dover

    Nov 23rd, 2008

    It makes no difference if the author has a beef with something. I did my own investigation into this. And what I found was shocking. Out of the sims I visited (not giving out numbers), which were quite a few, there was a 35 percent bot rate to avatar rate. I didn’t take under consideration campers. Because I didn’t feel I could justify saying they were bots over an avatar using the camping device. I am sure however that many of those campers are indeed bot campers or useless resource dwellers.

    Put on your speed flight pack and track it. Since the build height was adjusted, you might have to fly a bit higher with your trackers, but they are there. And not only in the heavens in numbers of 50 or better, but under the floor boards in caved out areas for the bot huddles.

    It’s insane really. Let alone the ethical implications if you feel it’s “gaming” or “cheating”, it’s most certainly resource intensive and produces both a negative aspect on a users experience with lag etc.. as well as not giving decent statistics to work by when wanting to know the population of regular users.

    Linden should remove the bots. It will no doubt reveal that the numbers of consecutive online participants are much much lower than the advertised. It would certainly do Linden good to be handing out accurate numbers the best they can. If it’s what I see, as mentioned, the numbers would be far far lower than what is shown. But it would still be good for Linden business to not allow statistical manipulation of the data. That is the information picked up on by the larger media. And a acknowledgment of the issue is like saying.. “Yes, we know we have bots, but we like our numbers”. That don’t cut it. It’s certainly a bot fest in SL these days and action should be taken to eliminate them altogether.

    No bots – No reducing or limiting because people will take advantage anyhow.

    Just my opinion. We need to know how many “real” active users are logged in at one time. My guess is 35 percent less than the advertised.

  17. Russy

    Nov 24th, 2008

    We could argue about Pix’s methods (whether an avi that doesn’t say “hi” back is necessarily a bot or a camper), or whether 50% is against baseline logins or peak logins, but I have little doubt that Pix’s basic points are right on target:

    - Bots and campers represent *much* more than 10-15%, at least of baseline logins.

    - There is *way* too much land compared to the number of real, active residents. (This became *much* worse in the OpenSpace boom earlier this year, but had already been a problem.)

    - LL has little credibility in terms of stats because they will do everything possible to cover up the truth, which is that SL survives from a fairly small group of hardcore users, with new sign-ups barely offsetting attribution from those who are fed up (whether with SL’s continued poor performance, or with LL’s ill-considered attempts to milk more money from the cow) or just bored.

    What should LL do?

    Well, stop gaming the statistics (which I can’t imagine would fool any smart investor for long) and do the following:

    (1) Kill the bots and campers by eliminating traffic-based rankings. Painful in the short-term, but if LL doesn’t act boldly to fix this mess, SL will die soon anyway.

    (2) Focus on real residents who bring money into the SL economy. Make it easy for them to make modest payments into SL. Recognize that much of the world does its banking differently, e.g. with bank transfers, and either doesn’t have, or doesn’t like to use, credit cards (especially with the fees for charging in USD). And many or most of us can’t be bothered with PayPal. So: Set up local pay-in bank accounts, especially in EUR, where people can just pay an amount, give their exact SL account name in the description, and LL will automatically convert to L$ and credit to the given SL account. If the payor matches the name details in SL, that’s also a reasonably good form of payment verification i.e. age verification.

    (3) For that matter, why not require accounts to be payment verified within one month (whether by entering credit card info, or by making a small bank transfer or PayPal payment)? LL’s age verification attempt was a hopeless flop (the name “Don Quixote” comes to mind), and this would probably work as well as anything – not to mention trimming the burden of campers, bots and freeloaders who burden the network and asset server without contributing to the SL economy.

    (4) Make premium accounts worthwhile in terms of superior performance and features such as more than 25 groups. (Yeah, they’re supposedly working on something here … we shall see.)

    (5) Give people privacy in their homes by letting people have an option on their parcels to “enforce camera constraints”.

    (6) Most importantly, FIX PERFORMANCE, especially rez times (asset server?). When rezzing is painfully slow, I for one don’t go shopping – and that’s bad for the SL economy. My daily experience (especially on Sunday afternoons) grossly contradicts M Linden’s blogs about how everything is getter so much better. For me, it’s been horrible in recent months. And funny how the same old problems keep cropping up: friends list not working, failed TPs, map not working, viewer crashes, …

  18. Nuschi Martynov

    Nov 24th, 2008

    hi, this is second travel blogmaster nuschi.

    @”how to judge who is a bot and who isn’t”:
    please have a look at the link behind my name. you will see pictures of bots. the colours are windlighted, but you will see anyway: you can tell it when you stand in a botfarm!

    @”does it harm our SL experience”:
    yes, it does! bots don’t produce as much lag as a moving avatar, but they do use the SIMs capacity. AND WORSE:
    their use makes people feel that they are being cheated, and discontented users will leave SL – not to speak of companies that could bring some normal money to LL (which they need to keep up the service for us non-payers).

    @”why can’t botspotters leave us land owners alone and mind their own business”:
    that’s a quote from our discussions on this topic in the SLinfo-forum in germany, often used and increasingly aggressive (the thread on botspotting is still alive there – since july!!). we ARE your business. we are buying your stuff, renting your malls and islands, we are the target of your advertising, which is based on TRAFFIC that you make up – secretly – using bots.

    @”what can i do”:
    post beautiful pics of bots everywhere. why not including the name of the SIM? make people aware that there are bots IN MASSES and how to estimate traffic.
    and its a thrill to locate those guys ^^ (especially when you come across security fences that bash you off that SIM).

    greetings from the bus, nuschi

  19. IntLibber Brautigan

    Nov 24th, 2008

    Uh, Deadly, that wasn’t me posting there. I just woke up…

    Glad to hear you’ve got a bit more time on the clock, and happy to see you are finding a meaningful pursuit in RL.

  20. Nuschi Martynov

    Nov 24th, 2008

    i forgot something:
    if more then one avatar logs in from the same IP-#, show all of them on the map in non-green, explaining this might be a collection of bots. and don’t count them for traffic.

    (it might be “real” avatars, e.g. a university seminar. but for them it’s not important to be seen on the map and attract people.)

    LL says they cannot disinguish a bot from an avatar technically. but they know the login-IP, so this is possible.

    BUT with bots being less attractive, LL loses its cool USER HOUR NUMBERS – so they will not do this. shame.

    greetings from the bus, nuschi

  21. The Real IntBlubber

    Nov 24th, 2008

    It wasn’t me, I swearz.

    Give us all a break – when a compulsive liar says he didn’t do something, we believe?

  22. Two Worlds

    Nov 24th, 2008

    Man, you guys are a lot more fun than some of the toolsheds on Hamlet Au’s blog. What a bunch of Mr. No-Fun’s.

    Also, another good way to bring awareness to bot retardeness: Name and shame. Find out who owns them, who owns the property, who’s responsible for it. Business owners want good promotion, they’ll shy away from bad promotion. Name and shame: It’s what the Internet was made for.

  23. We

    Nov 24th, 2008

    All LL has to do really to get rid of bots is get rid of the useless, antiquated, and thoroughly gamed system of “Traffic”. It has it’s uses (generally I can judge some amount of popularity through traffic by immediately cutting off a good chunk of the top high traffic results, and checking the middle to low area.) but they’re far outweighed by the sleazy club/mall owners who see nothing wrong with packing a skybox full of bots to jack up their traffic rating and make their place appear to be really popular. They were smart enough to get rid of Popular Places, as probably 19/20 of those places were either camping, free sex, free money*, or bot sims. None of which leave a very good impression on SL’s community to new users looking at this list of “popular” places, so why not chop off the last part of this system and end all this camping, bots, and other forms of traffic gaming once and for all?

  24. Jahar Aabye

    Nov 25th, 2008

    I seriously doubt that this finding is statistically significant. Looking over the numbers, it doesn’t look as if Ms. Ristow was purposefully cherry-picking data, it just looks as if she really isn’t very experienced or educated in how survey data needs to be collected (the lack of p values is another tipoff).

    Look, first off there’s the fact that she didn’t really collect data from 524 sims. If 63%, or 326 sims, were empty, then she collected data from 194 sims. 198 sims on a 30,000 sim grid isn’t a very good sampling at all. Also, it is not actually surprising that many of the sims are empty at any given time. There are roughly 30,000 sims, and peak concurrency is around 70,000. So even at peak concurrency, there’s only about a 2:1 avatar to sim ratio. Since many sims that do have avatars have several avatars on them, some very basic math should tell you that a large number of regions must be empty at any given time.

    Now we can look at the actual numbers. For starters, the table is horribly done. It almost looks as if it is intended to deceive, rather than to provide real data. However, once you actually look through it, you see a few thing things that jump out:

    Most of the sims with high percentages of bots are sims with greater than 10 residents. However, note that there are actually very few of these high-population sims sampled. I count 17 sims found with greater than 10 “green dots.” Out of the supposed original 524 sims. Granted, high-population regions aren’t that commmon, but I have to wonder what would have happened had the author of this study included more high-population regions. The truth of the matter is that the majority of the Green Dots were from these 17 regions, and only these 17 regions. So all it takes is for one or two of these to be a bot farm for the data to be incredibly skewed. The other supposed 524 regions surveyed act as a smokescreen for the effect of a few concentrated bot farms to inflate the number of bots found.

    I’m not sure if this is a case of “lying with statistics” or, more likely, “babbling with statistics.” The author has collected data, but lacks the education or experience to correctly analyze it. Unfortunately, Prof. Sklar does (or at least ought to) have the experience necessary to examine this data further. I am actually rather surprised that a news outlet run by an academic does not even try to dig up p values for a study before running it to the presses.

  25. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Nov 25th, 2008

    “Also, another good way to bring awareness to bot retardeness: Name and shame. Find out who owns them, who owns the property, who’s responsible for it. Business owners want good promotion, they’ll shy away from bad promotion. Name and shame: It’s what the Internet was made for.”

    Okay! – Live sim, owner Danx Daniels, 37, 133, 20 – 8 bots underwater – Live sim, 7 underwater bots nudged until their heads were above water (hee hee) – Boquito sim, owner Pepita Owners, 128, 62, 542 – 10 bots in a closed room – Estrella sim, owner Pepita Owners, 32, 14, 696 – 8 bots in a closed room (with transparent sides) – Limpertsberg sim, owner is a group called Madeline’s Collection, approx. 94, 62, 1050, – 10 bots way up high – Wonder Isle sim, owner Kristel Wunderlich, approx. 91, 63, 670 – 10 bots in a room up high – Skin Oasis sim, owner Bagnaria Wunderle, 147, 1869, 591 – 5 bots sitting at a table (with creepy slow-mo typing animation AOs) with 10 more at two different tables in the background (there are 81 people in the sim!)

    This is fun!

  26. LOL

    Nov 25th, 2008

    I still find it AMAZING how everyone allways complains about the state of SL, all the problems they have with the game, and the problems created by Linden Lab, yet EVERYONE THAT COMPLAINS STILL LOGS IN, BENDS OVER, GETS FUCKED, AND HANDS LINDEN LAB THIER MONEY! Like oh my god how stupid are these people! Shit or get off the toilet, don’t sit there and get hemorrhoids.

    Who really cares if 50% of the avatars on secondlife are bots and\or fake accounts. Why do you care if some fool wants to spend upwards of 1000 $USD on a private sim only to fill it with robots. At least they are spending REAL DOLLARS on Second Life unlike the majority of people who just got a basic freebe account and Log into SL for a total of 10 min a day for cybersex.

    Linden Lab is not as stupid as everyone thinks, infact the residents of Second life are the stupid people. Linden lab is actually extremly smart, they are selling you pixels, and no matter how bad it is, secondlife residents pay more and more for it! Perhaps there is a reason linden lab head office in the game is on a sim called ELETRIC SHEEP!

    I have no pitty for anyone who is\was STUPID ENOUGH to actually pay Linden Lab for Pixels. Also just FYI, for the cost of your adverage run of the mill animated sex bed, you could most likely go to a REAL LIFE BAR, buy some one a drink and have REAL LIFE SEX, or you can go, spend that money on a Sexbed in Secondlife and masturbate to a naked female avatar who in reality is most likely a 40 year old, fat, single, male living in his parents attic!

  27. glctard

    Nov 26th, 2008

    Bwahahah, the GLC is going after inanimate Bots now that all the griefers have gotten bored and left. LOL. Just wait until word of THIS jihad gets around Second Life. “GREEN LANTERN CORE BEGINS SECOND LIFE BOT IDENTIFICATION AND OWNER SHAME PROGRAM” Better get busy Excelsior, Brainiac needs all that Bot info. Store Owners: Get a shotgun and be on the lookout for a gay looking guy in a green suit.

    ABUSE REPORTING PARTY: “Green Lantern Excelsior”

    REASON FOR ABUSE REPORT: “Avatar not moving very often”


  28. Sigmund Leominster

    Nov 26th, 2008

    “… spend that money on a Sexbed in Secondlife and masturbate to a naked female avatar who in reality is most likely a 40 year old, fat, single, male living in his parents attic!”

    Shit! How did you find out? And I thought I’d done so well at hiding my Real Life identity. Guess I’m going to have to move to Twinity…

  29. GreenLantern Excelsior

    Nov 26th, 2008

    “Bwahahah, the GLC is going after inanimate Bots…”

    They are?

    “…now that all the griefers have gotten bored and left.”

    They have?

    This is news to me.

  30. Two Worlds

    Nov 29th, 2008

    “I have no pitty for anyone who is\was STUPID ENOUGH to actually pay Linden Lab for Pixels. Also just FYI, for the cost of your adverage run of the mill animated sex bed, you could most likely go to a REAL LIFE BAR, buy some one a drink and have REAL LIFE SEX, or you can go, spend that money on a Sexbed in Secondlife and masturbate to a naked female avatar who in reality is most likely a 40 year old, fat, single, male living in his parents attic!”

    Yeah but maybe I play Second Life because I AM that 40 year old fat, single, male living in my parents’ attic, and I’m just making money off all the tools who wanna get off to my shapely female vagina-laden av. Yes…yes…lots and lots of spacebux for my virtual vagina mwahahahahahha

  31. realperson

    Dec 1st, 2008

    Someone who wanted a name of a sim that has bots. well, try Tuzandi, 28 bots sitting in a bubble doing nothing all day long. (dania’s garden paradise). and this is only 1 location.


    they are real and i would believe the green dot project is real as well. i was shocked once i started to notice them.

    It was almost like being in an alien movie where everyone was stuck in a cocoon, only in sl, its a small little bubble, and you can’t even have fun with them by knocking them all to the ground. i am certain that the linden numbers truly are closer to 35k per day, not anywhere near 70k, open up your eyes people.

  32. realperson

    Dec 1st, 2008

    post beautiful pics of bots everywhere. why not including the name of the SIM? make people aware that there are bots IN MASSES and how to estimate traffic.
    and its a thrill to locate those guys

    I completely agree with the above. until this is exposed, we will continue to see more and more bots. We need to start posting the pictures and the sim names. I am all for that and I am going to start doing this because it is getting ridiculous. what is the most absurb is that many people have never seen these bot farms because they never look for them.

    I stumbled accross my first bot nest by accident and now i know for a fact that the numbers are off. When you see 70k users online, you can be assured almost half are bots.

    lets start posting the pics now to show these non-beleivers, and also, so that linden is forced to get the traffic numbers adjusted to be what they really are. And currently, the numbers are off by 50%, and that is a fact.

  33. Cocoanut Koala

    Dec 2nd, 2008

    I’m glad to see someone (a couple of someones, looks like) has made a study of this.

    For months (maybe over a year), I’ve estimated the number of bots at close to 50% myself.


  34. LittleLostLinden

    Jun 7th, 2010

    I concur. 50% is about right.

  35. Little Lost Linden

    Jun 7th, 2010

    Hey. I noticed the Green Dot Project seems to be defunct now. Maybe I’ll contact the owner and see if he’ll let me take over the site. In the meantime, I’m starting a new blog called The Bot Zone:

    Little Lost Linden

  36. Little Lost Linden

    Jun 9th, 2010

    I sent the owner an IM. Still waiting to hear back.

  37. Little Lost Linden

    Jun 10th, 2010

    Linden Lab lays of 30% of Staff!

    Holy Linden Moly!!

    I wonder how this new development will affect the number of bots and campers inworld? With 30% less Lindens on staff, will the bots go rampant with no one left to enforce the ‘almost‘ bot\camper policy?

    Only time will tell. It may be time to stock up on extra bot repellent. This is going to be one wild ride of a year for Second Life.

    Hell has definately frozen over down at Linden Labs…

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