“See that ‘Online Now’ number on the SL client? Reduce it by 10%.”

Bots are, unfortunately, a fact of Second Life.  I’ve started facing them myself; the region where I keep store has been infested by another store — selling porn art — that turns on a stack of bots at times to drive traffic to their “displays.”  (Fortunately, it’s across the sim from me, so I don’t have to cope with them too much, or look at their walls.)  Many of us have run into an unresponsive avatar that isn’t sleeping in AFK mode — it’s just standing there, taking up space and resources.  Three guesses what that is.

It’s been known since late last month that approximately 10-15% of the logins are bots.  What I didn’t see then was that Linden Lab is counting them in the Online statistics, the famous “concurrency” numbers that have been setting records of late.  Those numbers may still hold as records, but you’d better knock a tithe or so off the total; that makes them not quite as impressive as they were….

Hamlet Au reports a Q&A with Robin Linden, in which three questions he used, Robin replied to the last (“Can you please tell me Second Life’s real current peak concurrency by Lindens’ best guess (assuming Zee Linden’s 10-15% estimate), discounting the bots?“):

“This question assumes that ‘real’ peak concurrency wouldn’t include bots, which wouldn’t necessarily be more appropriate. Like Residents, bots can both contribute to the in-world experience and utilize server resources, and so with bots included this number still gives a sense of the volume of activity in-world. Peak concurrency is currently at 76,318, including any bots.” [This quote was offered on November 25]

I’m normally a tolerant type, but this answer really bites the biscuit of cluelessness for me.  I can understand Robin’s point that any bots in world are consuming resources and therefore should count toward usage.  But how do they “contribute to the experience” except as a drain on those resources, a deliberate gaming of the system to influence traffic, and a general annoyance to most experienced users?  If they want to improve that resource usage, perhaps they should consider eliminating those 6,000-7,000 “residents” that are doing nothing more than standing around and adding a green dot to the map.  True, that population is concentrated in a relatively few spots; but the atmosphere of those spots might improve in the process.

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Posted December 19, 2008 by Harper Ganesvoort in Issues and Trends

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