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  ‘Second Life’ Transactions-Per-Day Stats Rigged? [Updated]  
 
 
Posted 2006-11-10 by Tony Walsh
 
 
     
 
The Second Life Herald broke news today alleging that Linden Lab has published inflated statistics on the home page of its virtual world platform Second Life. [Update: Flaws in the stats system have apparently been known to insiders for some time, see two comments here, and a recent Reuters update.] According to the Herald, stats that showed $1.6M USD were transferred in a 24-hour period were generated in large part thanks to a Second Life user, who gamed the system by repeatedly passing a fixed amount of cash back and forth between accounts. The user explained to the Herald "When I started the test, the 24 hour total was approximately 486,000 USD. After about an hour and half, my system pushed the total to over 1.5 million. What this means is that Linden Labs does in fact include transactions that net a zero sum."

If true, Linden Lab has potentially been overstating the value of its virtual-world economy--an economy which has been the subject of much media attention this year, and has attracted the interest of large, real-world corporations over the last half of 2006. Last summer, Linden Lab tightened up its population statistics, providing more realistic numbers than had previously been published. By that time, however, mainstream media outlets had reported some wildly overblown population numbers--this data is still commonly misreported. Seems like it's overdue for Linden Lab to tighten up its transaction data (if said data is indeed easily gamed). This might help companies make better decisions about establishing a presence in the virtual world--but what about the businesses who have already opened up shop in Second Life based on potentially-flawed data?
 
     
 
   
 
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  12 Comments  
 
   
 
Comment posted by Brace
November 10, 2006 @ 1:49 pm
     
 
"The Second Life Herald broke startling news today alleging that Linden Lab is publishing inflated statistics on the home page of its virtual world platform Second Life."

Startling? Hardly. Where yall been at?

"but what about the businesses who have already opened up shop in Second Life based on potentially-flawed data?"

I found a blog that documented the (pretty sad) reality of this guy that came into SL based on the article in Business Weekly.

He was very meticulous in recounting his blow by blow attempts to get a business going. This was no rookie - had a lot of experience in RL business etc and he felt completely betrayed.

I'd linky up his blog, but its been since taken down after his last post expressing his disillusionment with the hype vs the reality.

Yeah, it was just one guy, but I'm sure we could multiply that by the hundreds if not thousands.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
November 10, 2006 @ 3:38 pm
     
 
Yep. We've discussed this before. Gambling was an example I used previously where each transaction could end up totaling to a zero end sum. Other people have cited other potential zero sum activities. No surprise here.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 10, 2006 @ 3:46 pm
     
 
Thanks for the corrections, folks. This is a case where I didn't follow my own rule of thumb: Just because *I'm* surprised doesn't mean it's surprising... or even news. I've been ripping on people for doing this lately, so shame on me.

This is the first time someone's admitted gaming the 24-hour transactions, isn't it? Csven or Brace do you have any further linkage on this I can check out? I'll post an update if I can get some additional reference material.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 10, 2006 @ 3:54 pm
     
 
I posted an update, but will add more info on previous examples if available.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Urizenus
November 10, 2006 @ 4:18 pm
     
 
In the comments under the Herald article, Hiro Pendragon mentions a guy who did this before and contacted LL about it. You might ask Hiro who that was.

Brace, do you have a link to that blog article from the business guy who felt he was misled?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 10, 2006 @ 4:43 pm
     
 
Thanks, Uri. Brace, if we can get the URL or name of the blog, the guy's site might still be cached in Google somewhere.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Brace
November 10, 2006 @ 5:17 pm
     
 
T-Dawg, yer crackkin me ups! How can *you* be still surprised at all this stuff? hehehe

I still love ya tho :D

I don't have any linkage on gaming the transactions or anything. I've never believed the numbers LL trots out on ANYTHING, so this is no news to me to get confirmation.

Uri (mah babeh daddy) as I mentioned in my post, the blog got ixnayed - but for what its worth, here was the url http://bowsersmillions.blogspot.com/

I had linked it to http://brace-coral.livejournal.com/58888.html
That post on my bloggety - I made a comment on it weh down at the end.
I kept following his progress after posting the link and it was pretty tragic.

I guess he's poofered by now. I never DID track down is name in world. Maybe he did make it after all?
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
November 10, 2006 @ 5:38 pm
     
 
I'm with Brace. Could have sworn we discussed this here months ago. It was probably included with comments concerning our general disbelief in the population stats, but I'm unsure.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 10, 2006 @ 6:48 pm
     
 
I'll do some searches here at the blog to see what I can dig up. I generally focus on the population numbers over the econ stats, since I don't really follow the SL economy all that much. It never occurred to me (that I remember) that LL's $/day stat was also a completely bogus number. I know that sounds dumb, and it probably is, but there you have it :) It's hard to believe, but I did have a grain of faith that at least some of LL's data was realistic. But not any more.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
November 10, 2006 @ 9:19 pm
     
 
I'm only recalling one conversation on the "zero sum" stuff. It's not something that's been discussed to often I don't believe.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by csven
November 10, 2006 @ 9:24 pm
     
 
Here ya go - Link. Not so long ago after all.
 
     
 
     
   
 
Comment posted by Tony Walsh
November 11, 2006 @ 10:49 am
     
 
Excellent, thanks csven! I think I might do some kind of follow-up post about all this. LL recently addressed the zero-sum issue on their official blog.
 
     
 
     
   
 
 
     
 
     
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