Economic Key Metrics for October and November 2007

Apologies for the delays in getting these out, folks, we’ve been busy behind the scenes trying to focus on some service improvements, stability, and instrumenting the system to deliver us more internal metrics – such as Teleport problems. I expect to more consistently release these within the second week of each month, to correspond with the week that I’ll be holding office hours. (Note: I have changed my office hours from weekly to monthly to better focus on delivery and service stability)

So, here’s the facts: October is now available in Excel, OpenDocument, and Google doc formats, though you’re likely going to bypass those altogether and look at November stats in Excel, OpenDocument, and Google doc formats since all of the October figures are included in November- excepting the breakouts of active users by country and age brackets, and the breakdown of Logged In users by Gender, which are always specific to the month published. Please check our Metrics Glossary for an understandable set of definitions of the figures we publish in these documents.

Key takeaways: In November, we had another slight reduction in overall Logged In User Hours (our first drop was back in August) that is related to the Unplanned service outages. Overall economic metrics continue to trend slowly upward, including the Lindex exchange figures and resident-to-resident transactions. Premium accounts continue to slowly tick upwards.

Change: Due to data quality concerns under the “Unique” population figures published historically, we are discontinuing publishing this figure. It had several challenges, regarding retroactive cancellation of accounts and the algorithm used for determining uniqueness.

Thanks everyone, and see you early in January for the 2007 Economic wrapup, where I’ll look to format these in an additional simple single-page with the top 10 key figures by month.

[update: Included link for Metrics Glossary page and Changed link to October google doc to one that includes the October Active Users by Age Bracket – the previously published set included “data through” on that tab for November – previous dataset visible here]

About Meta Linden

Data Warehousing and Metrics Analysis for the world of Second Life. A Linden Lab employee in California.
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61 Responses to Economic Key Metrics for October and November 2007

  1. Deltango Vale says:

    Hmmm, I truly wonder if SL will recover from the policy errors of 2007.

  2. Deltango Vale says:

    2007 was a bad year for SL: uncontrolled growth of anonymous accounts, erratic land supply, the unexpected policy reversal on gambling, the intrusion into residents’ private sexual relationships, the overnight imposition of VAT (17-25% sales tax) on 40% of paying customers, ID-based age verification, grid instability and poor customer service. Now, CTO Cory Ondrejka is leaving LL due to “irreconcilable differences” with CEO Philip Rosedale. The big question is whether Cory was the problem or the solution.

  3. What is up with the mainland supply? Why does it keep contracting? Mainland is mainland and once it’s out it should be out. It is not the same as retiring a private island. Why should we trust anything in these reports when you can’t keep the size of mainland straight?

  4. Thanks Meta Linden says:

    Premium accounts 2007 November 92,595 . Is Good thank you. 😉

  5. Keiko Rau says:

    @Want Back In
    If you keep posting in every blog (twice ive seen this now) I imagine, like myself, a lot of people will be happy that you’re out.

    Raise a SUPPORT TICKET for support – and dont ask here how to do that, read the FAQ.

    As to the metrics, despite its problems, Im sad to see the unique avatar data go. I guess “11 million users” sounds more impressive.

    … and just because you’re late with the metrics, thats no reason to polute November with old data. Perhaps that made the averages look better given the service outages in November.

    My RL job is producing stats, much like these, but I would be asked to do November again if it included October.

  6. Want back in says:

    No need to be rude, but thanks anyway…

  7. Keiko Rau says:

    Ok, so I spoke b4 I looked – Ignore me about poluting November, I see now thats not the case.

  8. Meta Linden says:

    @cristalle : The Land Size report specifically reports on *resident-owned* mainland in sq km broken out between mainland and island estates, by month. Mainland can fluctuate as each parcel is individually owned (and can be abandoned or still up for auction or Linden-owned like Welcome Areas) whereas Island Estates by definition are wholly owned by a resident. I have clarified the Metrics Glossary on this point, thanks for the question.

    @Keiko : If you look at the data that is published, you’ll see that most of the reports are “data through” the currently published month, and include the historical totals for prior months. The only exceptions are the breakdowns of Logged-in and Active user counts and hours by several dimensions (Age, Gender, Top 100 Countries) for the current month.

  9. Thanks Meta. I have a question about “other” sinks and sources – what exactly are these “other” sources in the L supply? Do you mean SLX and other currency trading?

  10. Still pretty useless with out stating the amount of alt accounts and removing the hours of traffic farms and campers. Just as well state it. It is getting pretty well known.

  11. Bobo Decosta says:

    Looks like SL is doing bad. If i Look at the avatar count on my country (Belgium) less and less people are using SL. As most people in my country speak and understand english this can only be explained by lack of interest in SL.

  12. Ric Mollor says:

    I’m looking at the “Monthly Active Users by Age Bucket” for October and November and the numbers are EXACTLY the same. How can that be? Even the fractional hours to 2 decimal places.

    Could it be that ALL these numbers are fabricated? One would think that with the reports being late LL would have time to at least make up different ones for the two months.

  13. Montana Corleone says:

    Unique users going? So we can now longer follow the downward trends? lol Nice one… They are actually also a useful measure in analysing other numbers. I assume therefore, we will also lose the “Business Users” on the web page, because those are equally dubious, and then we won’t see the income levels decrease down a bracket any more, and hey, no users, no money numbers, everything will be hunky dory !!!

  14. Meta Linden says:

    @Ric – The previous google doc version (linked at the bottom of the post now) for Oct had the November report in the “Active users by Age Bucket” tab – labeled correctly at the top, at least. The originally posted XLS and ODS formats were correct. These separate reports are run in a semi-automated process after , but are hand-assembled into a single “package” and manually validated, and mistakes in details of delivery can sometimes happen. Thanks for the quick eye.

  15. kesseret says:

    Thanks, Meta! 🙂

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  17. Ralph Doctorow says:

    I’m a very big supporter of SL, but if you chart the premium account numbers it’s pretty sobering. Before last summer it was growing at a rate of about 4000 – 8000 per month. Since then it’s about 500 – 1000 per month, more or less a 10th of the previous rate. It’ll be another month before we get back to the number of premiums we had last June if things keep up.

    Also as a RL and SL male, I’m not very pleased to see the usage by RL females continuing to drop. Any guesses why this is happening?

  18. mimi says:

    Lets hope 2008 will be a better year for sl!

    @2 sums up the problems nicely, where I am mostly annoyed by the ‘unexpected’ and ‘overnight’ way some of these isues were handled. Lets hope IDV will be handled in a better way.

  19. Tegg B says:

    I wonder how many of the “active avatar” and “total hours” numbers are just campers or bots instead of real residents.

  20. Chris says:

    Meta – I thank you again for getting these out. Sorry you have to limit office hours, maybe you should ask for an assistant!

    @Tegg Why do you think they left traffic in the search results? If they removed that, SL looks less viable as a place for business to display their products with at least 50% of those stats wiped off the charts in one month. Think to yourself how many times you’ve shown up at a highly rated search result to be unable to move for the 30 camp chairs all in use (with 5 other zombies waiting a chance to use them) right above the shop floor…. and worse finding that the term you looked up has no relevence.

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  22. Sonja Felisimo says:

    Very sobbering statistics if you ask me, you guys at sl should start asking yourselves some serious questions.

    If you think rationally and are realistic….then actually take the real in world situation in to account and remove a percentage of the numbers……resident count, hours online etc……which are campers, bots, alts, then things don’t look that good at all in my opinion.

    Thats why i think you guys at LL should start taking a serious realistic look at yourselves as to why there is a downward trend….i think it’s pretty obvious myself and most residents probably can see the reasons to 😉

    @17 Ralph i think one of the big reasons why the female usage is dropping in sl is the harassment from certain types of male users…………how would you like permantly to get IM’s with comments like……”wow your t.ts are great…….” or “hey wanna have a good time…..” or “baby lets f..k…….” and all this just because you happen to be walking past them or are on the same sim as them……..hmm think about it 😉


  23. U M says:

    `25 llabs doesnt care. All they want is numbers real or not.

  24. janeforyou Barbara says:

    I se in the gender stats that Female stays at neer same as October 2006 🙂 I was told by many that with Voice in SL this was going to drop. it dident! 🙂

  25. digest says:

    LL should stop the possibilty, to start SL more than once on one computer.


  26. Chris says:

    @Jane – my wife has three alts purely for the aspect that accounts are free and she enjoys the mundane aspect of playing ‘doll’ with them and making them different. She only uses one at a time though. The active avatar count is a terrible metric from an outsider looking in view as in this case and in many many similar, it’s the same person using the account. Another point I’d make regarding gender of avatar is back to campers and bots. I, being a mentor, have access to orientation islands. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen a massive injection of ‘junk’ av’s purely to camp for somebody and they don’t care what gender they are. In a few seconds, I can be standing before 10 ‘Brenda (insert random last name)’ who, in a mass group, tp away to their favourite camp location. Gender is based on the tick box when signing up. I wonder how it would change if based on a flag from IDV (optin of course), it would have more value, and was something Reuters quoted Daniel Linden as saying would be possible sometime in the future. But IDV wasn’t supposed to ‘capture’ any info so I don’t know. So if it’s based on the tick box when signing up, based on IDV, or based on avatar gender selection when starting up (my wife has one male av she ironically called ‘Ken’) would all make the stats mean something else but more a case of social engineering than reality. In the meantime, statistically thinking put aside, it’s not my business what RL gender they are nor do I care since I’m not looking for anything risque. I take the av as how they present themselves, male/female/alien/hybrid.

  27. Pepper Haas says:

    Changed your office hours from weekly to monthly —- oh, let’s make “live Lindens” even more inaccessible. Good idea. Not!

    Bring back live ingame help. Problems would get fixed a whole lot faster back in the days “live Lindens” would personally receive a barrage of help calls on it. I know that with some of the problems I had as a newbie, I would not have survived if I would have had to navigate help menus or JIRA for it. What helped is Data Linden coming on and saying, Things will be okay, do this or that.

    But now such friendly and helpful immediate contact is gone and all we are left with is these blogs and sometimes responses on them get shut down too.

  28. Vivienne says:

    Probably they listen now. Most probably they won´t and proceed with all these silly plan, as there are Identity Verification, merging of Teeen and main Grid and raising hardware demands to highest end level (Windlight). As if the introduction of Voice, accompanied by an unacceptable graphical interface and dramatic loss of performance, the Gambling Ban and a all this would not have been enough.

  29. Munji says:

    27 Chris Says:
    “@Jane – my wife has three alts purely for the aspect that accounts are free and she enjoys the mundane aspect of……….”

    So true, i know a woman from US who has 20+ alts that she is NOT paying to create.

    I will quote Chris again: “The active avatar count is a terrible metric from an outsider looking in view as in this case and in many many similar, it’s the same person using the account.”

  30. Deltango Vale says:

    Merging the teen grid in with the main grid would be the stupidest idea since New Coke. If anything, the teen grid should be closed down completely. SL is for adults – always has been, always should be. Let the kids go to or any one of the dozens of PG virtual worlds. Please don’t tell me that 2008 will be about yet another catastrophic strategic error.

  31. Max Desoto says:

    Still hoping you will add a column to the land size page that just gives the total number of regions.
    And why are some pages formatted differently? “Unique Gender by Usage ” is formatted newest on top, “Gender with Hours” is oldest on top. And other pages as well. Please decide on a standard format for crying out loud, and stick to it!!

  32. Bobo Decosta says:

    Get gambling back!

    Since the casino ban there is nothing to do anymore for residents. Oh i can still remember those posts saying that it wouldn’t hurt sl and that it would be a sl saviour. Well people look at the stats!

    If there is nothing to win what is there to do on sl? Shopping? Without wanting to offend anyone but shopping is so gay!

  33. Thanks for the continuing efforts at disclosure and transparency!

    I joined in June 2006, but arrived inworld in Nov 2006 with my broadband installation.
    *Concurrency up ten x [5k to 50k]
    *Premium accounts up 2.2 x [42k to 92k]
    *Population up 6 1/2 x [1.7 to 11.1 million]
    *Hours up 3 1/2 x [7 to 24.6 million]
    An interesting range of variation, but all increasing …

    -Paradox Olbers

  34. Phil Hanner says:

    Interesting that female av’s spend 2x the hours that male av’s spend in SL… Also interesting that average hours per week dropped 50% or more for both male and female av’s during the earlier months of exponential growth. We may be reaching the first plateau (i predicted complete grid failure or severe plateauing of the growth rate at 10 million and 50 million users, before there was 1 million =) Recent dips in average hours per week (from hours by gender page) seems to indicate a leveling out from the regains… Good. I predict 3-9 months of increasing stability before the next growth curve hits.

  35. Lao-Tzu says:

    @ 27 Your post was interesting. I have not looked at the LL stats as I really do not care-however the massive amounts of alts you see rez at orientation island bother me. We all have seen these camper avatars in skyboxes or even underground . Their only purpose is to artificailly inflate traffic numbers for each sim they inhabit. Higher traffic numbers supposedly means the land is more valuable. This is deceptive greed in action. This is deceit on the land/business owners’ part and us “real” avies should boycott those sims. LL: Find a way to streamline the amount of alts.

  36. Carter Creeley says:

    Under the top 100 countries tab of the Excel spreadsheet…#57 Puerto Rico is not a country in the same sense as the other countries on the list – rather it is an unincorporated organized territory of the United States.

  37. Vivienne says:

    @ 34

    “An interesting range of variation, but all increasing …”

    Unlike you i took acloser look to the monthly statistics. SL boomed within a few months: Nov 06 – June 06, andthe lion share of the newcomers were european, During that time SL received a lt of media attention in europe, so no wonder.

    Since June the numbers of new premium accounts almost stagnated. And since the gambling ban, the introduction of voice and the obvioulsy voice related software and bandwidth desasters the numbers of european accounts decline.

    I do not count the 11 millions, the most of these are alts or one timers or other people not contribting a cent to SL. There ARE a lot of very worthy non-premiums of course, but not mure than premium members at best.

    So, if you do not only wish to recognise the bright shiny windlight picture of SL, you cannot deny that wrong management decisions(as gaming ban, voice,VAT etc) as well as essential software flaws have slowed down the growth of SL almost as remarkably as the great media hype had boosted this early 2007.

  38. Slaton Ewing says:

    1.5 MILLION new accounts in two months for about 800 new premium accounts???? You gotta be kidding me. What a waste of resources.

  39. U M says:

    I see you people are still playing funny numbers game.
    shakeshead you expect us to believe “Countries By Active ” and “Countries by Hours “

  40. Montana Corleone says:

    @24 – That’s because nobody uses Voice lol. Like we said we wouldn’t.

    @38 – Actually far far worse. Hidden is the churn rate, that’s just an increase, and poor at that given the new people who come in to look and leave straight away. Firstly, taking off the 500K regular active users, that means from 60 Day Logins, 500K per month, come in look, and leave! So as many people use it, come look at it, and decide it’s crap EVERY MONTH. I wonder why that is, Linden… Could it at all possibly be connected with all the issues in the Open Letter that you ignored?

    It gets better (joke, it really means worse). Look at the Economic stats page on the web site: Sources and Sinks. See the Referral bonus money of L$9m? Well, that’s a L$2,000 they pay for every new premium friend you sign up, paid in instalments of 500, 500 and 1,000 over 3 months. So if they are paying, they are coming in, meaning at least 9,000, and as many as 18,000. So that means (and they won’t pay referral for every person) these are new premiums, but the total only goes up a few hundred. How can that be? Well, from here, or the forums on SLX, it will be people leaving, disillusioned, or downgrading. So that means at least 10%, as high as 20%, leave or downgrade EVERY MONTH. That’s a huge rate. That actually means average length of time is less than a year, so I don’t suppose a lot of those are annual subs lol.

    Again it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out why: simply look here, the forums, the JIRA, about what people complain about/want, and then what Linden does, because they are not the same thing. I’m sure there are a few geeks here that really want Havok/Windlight/Mono on their 5K new machines they spend half their life tinkering with, but most of us just want the bloody thing to work as advertised. Fix it and get it stable, and then add more shinies.

    @39 – Why not? They must be some of the most reliable: they can take that data from IP address and country domain lol. Yes, there are lots of foreigners about. Some stick with their own crowd so never see any, but I meet lots. There are many areas where you won’t find a word of English spoken. I mean, have you gone and checked each of the 15,000 sims out there to see what there is? lol Hardly.

    But yes, as a Brit living in France, who speaks English and French, I can definitely say there are less of them, the French sims emptier, echoing the third drop since Key Metrics were released. One wonders if the fact that there were at one time 14% French speakers around the world, highest after English, but no French web pages, one French speaking Linden (the same as for Korea with just a hundredth of that, 0.14%) and impossibility for some to by Lindens because neither LL nor PP takes their cards. But yes, been happening to Germany too, and other European countries, and of course the the “growth” countries of Brazil and Japan too: Brazil lost a third, 10K, from 37K to 27K in one month. There sometimes are spikes, which hide the downward trend, but if you draw graphs and do the stats, it is pretty bad, as people are saying. Especially if you add in the slowing or stagnating real money they are no longer spending.

    Of course, for every person that leaves, that’s another BIAB which damages all the rest of us, so we are in a spiral downwards I think. Stands to reason in a world with zero rules and more and more people ripping others off because there are no penalties…

    More people yes, but all noobs and zombies, while older, established, creative people leave…

  41. mimi says:

    I agree totally on the need to fix issues that bother us a lot.
    IDV and the increase in ripping might very well be two issues that could cost even more users (both are bad for shops, economy).

    However Havoc4 is NOT a shiny, its one of the measures SL tries to take to decrease lag and crashes. From what i’ve heard about havoc4 it will be a huge improvement in SL performance, less lag, less crashes. Its still in the testing phase, so it is quite buggy, but it hopefully will improve SL performance.

  42. Nathie Bolero says:

    Still LL ignores the fact that banning gambling and add VAT will kill this very nice place.

    Lots of european people now pay 20% or more then others just to use second life like others do.
    I’m still hanging on here but i see more and more europeans leave.
    Just trying to find ways to avoid paying VAT becouse i think its just not right to pay taxes for US and EU.

  43. Vivienne says:

    @ 40

    No doubt – The higher hardware demands get (Only about 30 % of all residents run SL on a higher framerate than average 15 (!) WITHOUT atmospheric rendering), the more people will leave this place. The internet did not succeed because of graphic cards and the fastest machines available. A web browser ran on every low end PC. Isn´t this what LL petends to achieve – an internetlike environment? No way for LL to match performance of “closed” action games like WoW, Halo or whatever, anyway. So what?

    I think that the introduction of all this performance and communication hampering pieces of (buggy) software, while NOT improving basic functionality, is one of the main reasons for the decline by the end of the year.

  44. @42: banning gambling = banning LL’s ability to receive CC payments. LL dies, and SL with it. THIS IS A NO BRAINER. It is not a moral issue, it is a legal issue. Now get over it.

  45. correction : keeping gambling = banning LL’s ability to receive payment.

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  47. Deltango Vale says:


    LL released a statement a few months before the ban on gambling stating that gambling in SL did NOT conflict with US law. LL assured residents that they had nothing to fear. Then LL banned gambling. Then LL imposed massive sales taxes (VAT) on customers living in countries where gambling is LEGAL.

    This is gross incompetence.

    A business cannot succeed if it alienates its core customers then adds huge disincentives to new customers. The instant someone creates a virtual world similar to SL in 2006 (before the introduction of the fatal anonymous accounts), LL will become a sidebar in MBA textbooks about how yet another company blew the ‘big idea’ through lack of vision, courage and intelligence.

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  50. Coyote says:

    In accord with other complaints above, @47 says “Then LL imposed massive sales taxes (VAT)…” I do believe that it is the European COUNTRIES that impose VAT. That VAT countries have a 12-20% sales tax is entirely up to them and their citizens, not Linden Lab. Linden Lab is required by law to collect it. They’ve amply explained why, and pointed to the EU requirements. If you’ve got evidence that LL is improperly collecting it and not remitting it to the charging EU countries, you’ve got a hell of a legal case — file a lawsuit in the EU courts. As for the suddenness of the VAT charges, do you think Linden Labs should have (or even COULD have) absorbed having to remit 12-20% of their previous gross European charges “for a while” once it became legally clear they they were required to remit VAT? Or that the countries in question would just say “oh, pay us when you finally get around to charging the VAT…”. No. I don’t enjoy taxes either, but put the “blame” where it belongs in this case.

  51. astartie says:

    A brief lesson in VAT History.

    In 2003 the EU actually extended VAT to include all payments for electronic data services, and for some time arguments ensued between the internet companies and the government.

    4 years later (2007) the governments and the internet world have caught up with each other, and now these internet companies, including LL, are forced to apply VAT to all subscriptions and other transactions. It is not LLs fault, so stop complaining and just think yourself lucky that it has been delayed for that 4 year period.

    Note also that this year all major online game providers have also had to implement VAT on all their European subscriptions. Why… because more and more monetary transactions are taking place over the internet…that is why the EU governments have clamped down on this issue.

  52. Deltango Vale says:

    @50, 51

    Please reread 2, 30 and 47. The problem is a failure of strategic planning and management at the executive level.

    While the conflict between CEO Philip Rosedale and CTO Cory Ondrejka over the nature and direction of SL explains the confusion and mistakes of 2007, it bodes ill for 2008 that the genius behind SL’s property rights structure just got fired.

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  54. I would be interested to read blog entries from different perspectives of Linden Lab – particularly:

    (1) Policy, such as land metaphor related policy on mainland and consequences.
    (2) Product (sorry, economy).
    (3) Technology.
    (4) Overall.

    This is because, of course, they are all tied together. *How* these different aspects of Linden Lab look at the same statistics would be much more informative than just the figures. There is plenty of room for speculation, but ultimately it is Linden Lab’s thoughts on this that guide the future of Second Life.

    I know that I have spent less time inworld because I’m waiting for Linden Lab to fix some things – fix, meaning related to policy and clarification of direction.

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  58. Deltango Vale says:

    In the name of safety and security – to protect residents from anything that might possibly be dangerous, offensive or even mildly risky or unpleasant – LL will announce that any activity requiring an ounce of intelligence (or might lead to a lawsuit) will henceforth be banned. “LL’s World. Zero Imagination.”

    And so, LL begins 2008 by destroying the banking sector. Can’t wait to see the February stats.

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